What Good Are Pasture-Raised Ducks to Whole Farm Systems?

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2008: $14,942.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: poultry


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, parasite control, animal protection and health, grazing - continuous, free-range, manure management, pasture fertility, grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Production Systems: holistic management, permaculture, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: social capital

    Proposal summary:

    The benefits of chickens in an integrated system are all but proven. However, ducks are a similar vertebrate bird that could potentially exceed the benefits from chickens. Ducks are hardier than chickens, do not require nighttime heating when fully feathered, are more resistant to diseases and produce more than 300 eggs per year that are more nutritious and command a higher price.

    This Farmer/Rancher Grant will examine the contribution that layer ducks on pasture provide to the soil health and weed and pest management of the Morning Owl Farm in Boise. Farm manager Mary Rohlfing will quantify the change in soil health, pest populations and weed populations in four 1,600-square-foot plots stocked with ducks. The project will encourage a sustainable agriculture system that provides economic benefits from selling the duck eggs.

    Rohlfing will share her conclusions with growers in and beyond the Treasure Valley of Idaho on her weekly radio show, by developing a website and hosting on-farm workshops.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.