I think we can all agree ticks are pretty much the worst creatures on the planet. In today’s environmentally-conscious world, increasing numbers of people are looking for green solutions to common issues like pest control.
As backyard poultry keeping grows more popular, many people find themselves asking the question: do ducks eat ticks?
The answer is a resounding YES!
Why ducks are the best natural tick control
Instead of dumping harmful pesticides all over your lawn—which are a health hazard for people, pets, and wildlife—why not add a few ducks to your homestead?
Ducks are perfectly happy to rid your lawn of as many creepy crawlies as possible, and ticks are no exception.
I live on five acres, and my ducks are allowed to roam around the yard and forage all summer long.
There have been times over the years when I haven’t had ducks roaming through some portions of my yard, and without fail, those areas will become horribly infested with ticks.
But when the ducks are kept on those problem areas, the tick population drops drastically!
You need to be realistic, of course; no yard will ever be 100% without ticks, so if you’re rooting around in the bushiest parts of your yard, you are still likely to encounter a tick.
However, if ducks have been regularly “scouting” that place, they absolutely will make a noticeable dent in the population. Number of ducks also matters—two ducks won’t accomplish much on twenty acres.
But if you’re interested in natural, pesticide-free tick control, ducks are an amazing (and fun!) way to eliminate ticks from your property.
Ducks are naturally drawn to foliage and love to root in underbrush, dead leaves, and tall grass.
How do ducks compare with guineas?
If you do any research at all about the best poultry for eating ticks, you will likely find guineafowl mentioned. If you haven’t heard of them before, guineas are an exotic-looking bird from Africa.
There’s a huge amount of propaganda out there about guineas being the best poultry for tick control. But, after owning both guineas and ducks, I disagree.
It’s my opinion that ducks have guineas beaten in every category, including tick control.
To understand why ducks are better for tick control than guineas, one needs to only understand their anatomy and behavior. The beak, or bill, is the main reason why ducks are better tick eaters than guineas.
Guineas have a small, pointed beak much like a chicken’s, but ducks have a very long and wide bill. Not only is the bill simply larger, which means it’s more likely to encounter a bug, but it has combs inside.
These tiny combs are the duck’s filtering system. Ducks constantly nibble on everything, and when they find a bug, it gets trapped in the combs while they filter out the rest.
Check out that built-in tick filtering system!
In other words, a guinea has to see a tick and intentionally pick it up, whereas ducks can simply grab a mouthful of dirt, or grass, or anything else, and pluck a tick off of it. It’s like the difference between using a pair of tweezers or a sand sifter to do the same job!
On top of that, Guineas are loud, many people find them ugly, and they’re impossible to keep contained—which is especially problematic if you have a smaller yard and they wind up on your neighbor’s roof. They are also extremely skittish and virtually impossible to get to go in a coop at night.
In comparison, ducks are (comparatively) less noisy, easy to herd and teach to go in a protected house at night, easy to take care of, social, and just plain adorable.
What’s not to love?
Are ducks hard to take care of?
So, this all sounds pretty great, right? But I’m sure your next question is, “just how hard is it to take care of ducks, anyway?”
The answer is… EASY! At least, after a minor investment to set up a duck house and buy some supplies.
I thought on top of answering the question of do ducks eat ticks I would elaborate on just how easy ducks are to raise. I figure if you’re looking up this question, chances are you’re new to ducks.
There’s so much information out there, it can be a little overwhelming. But, consider this: All ducks need to be happy is daily fresh water, free choice access to grain, and a shelter to go in at night. That’s it. Nothing fancy, just food, water, and shelter.
Contrary to popular belief, ducks do NOT need a pond to be happy, and in fact, keeping ducks on a pond is not desirable if you want them primarily for tick control. Not only are they more at risk for predators (the term “sitting duck” should come to mind!) but they will be more interested in dabbling for bugs in the water than foraging in your yard.
However, they do love water, and need plenty of it to be happy and healthy. The good news is you can use this to your advantage when using ducks as natural pest control in your yard.
I’ve found a good method is to place a tub of water for ducks near an especially tick-infested area I want the ducks to explore. They tend to congregate around the water and forage around it. (Don’t worry; they will wander far away from water too, but it’s definitely more inviting to root around the watering hole.)
Some happy ducks returning for a drink, while others root for ticks in the brush nearby.
Ducks are arguably even simpler to take care of than chickens. I love my chickens, but the ducks get top marks when it comes to ease of care.
Chickens are pickier about temperature—extremes, both hot and cold, can result in dead or sick chickens, whereas ducks are far more resilient.
As long as your ducks have a windbreak in the winter and shade in the summer, and drinking water year-round, they will prosper. Since they bathe and preen so often, they are also far less likely to get mites than chickens.
There is an initial start-up cost to making sure your ducks will be safe.
You absolutely must have a shelter to keep your ducks in at night. Ducks make tempting targets for many predators. There’s nothing sadder than losing a duck to a fox or an owl.
While predator attacks can unfortunately happen during the day, the majority happen at night, so you can guard against predators by locking your ducks up in a house every night and letting them out in the morning.
There are many possibilities for building duck houses, but if you’re new to ducks and unsure what to build (or have someone else build!) I highly recommend the following book: Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks, by Dave Holderread.
Going quackers for natural tick control yet?
Hopefully after reading this article, your days of wondering “do ducks eat ticks?” will be over. Ducks absolutely love ticks, are easy to take care of, and way more efficient at eradicating ticks than guineas.
Plus, I can promise you, adding a few ducks to your yard will brighten your day. Who could keep from smiling at that face?
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