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Testing The Water – What Does Your Horse Drink?

We all feed the feed we believe is best for our horse. We add on those pricey but necessary, and oh so carefully selected supplements. We choose hay that is good quality, and a pasture that is free of toxic plants. Our horses are our best friends, our athletes, our partners and our family. We strive to keep their well being in mind, and pour hundreds of dollars into their health every year. Yet so many of us overlook the most basic and fundamental substance that our horses need to consume not just to thrive, but even survive – water.

 

Giving your horse constant access to clean, fresh, water is one of the very basics of stable management. Many horse owners dedicate hours of research into their feed of choice, they meticulously gather information on any supplements they use, yet when it comes to water, why do so many of us fail to see its importance? We tackle feeding with a fine toothed comb, giving so much careful consideration to what we choose to input into our horses, yet so many of us let the most basic input of all go unchecked.

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Water isn’t just consumed by your horse every time he dips his head to the bucket you fill each night in his stable. The automatic drinkers, the stream running through the pasture, the field trough or the pond he likes to wade in, all give him access to water too. This water isn’t pure just because it appears clean, and though we police what we put into our horse’s body feed-wise, so many of us forget to question, what exactly is water bringing to that mix? As a natural solvent, this liquid picks up little pieces of the environments it has travelled through. From minerals through to chemicals or bacteria, so much can be dissolved in water, while us, and our horses, are none the wiser.

 

One end to this uncertainty, and a safeguard against it, is water testing. Many barns today, draw their water from wells, making testing even more important as potential for contamination is particularly high. Even water from a main public or city line can, in some cases, be a cause for concern. Although this kind of water is filtered and tested extensively at the source, any fault from there on out, be it in the pipes, the storage, or the plumbing, still results in a problem with the end result – the water you provide for your horse. Though water may appear clean and safe, it is impossible to tell what levels of which harmful compounds are, or aren’t, lurking hidden inside that bucket, without testing it.

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Test results show you the levels of the compounds and bacteria in your horse’s drinking water, and even the pH. One compound that can be tested for is Magnesium. Along with Calcium, these salts could be giving you ‘hard’ water. While this is usually no problem for your horse, at high levels, Magnesium can cause unpleasant diarrhoea in equines, meaning being in the know is important. Iron is also on most test panels. Underground, the compound is usually colourless, but on exposure to air or heat, it has the potential to stain water red or rusty in colour and carry a metallic taste. This iron can lead to iron loving bacteria, which feed on the compound and create a rusty slime that covers the inside of your pipes, reducing their effectiveness and lifespan. Another mineral worthy of mention, is lead. Although its effects on horses are not well understood, we’ve all heard the term ‘lead poisoning’ and it’s not hard to imagine high levels are best avoided.

 
horse-troughTotal coliforms levels check your water for bacteria that usually lives in soil and both animal and human waste. Though these bacteria themselves are not particularly harmful, their presence can act as an indicator that your water supply may be contaminated with run off water from a septic tank, or even the muckheap, paving the way for contamination with things you definitely do not want your horse drinking! Pesticides and extremely harmful substances such as blue-green algae can also be identified through having your horse’s water checked. Testing puts you in the know, and arms you with the information you need to make choices about exactly what your horse’s drinking water exposes him to.

 

As well as protecting your horse, water testing can also be beneficial for increasing the lifespan and integrity of your pipes and fixtures. For example, pH, which tests the acid or alkaline levels in water, is helpful in this area. Acidic water can contribute to corrosion of pipes, while an alkaline result suggests a high chance of deposits of crusty minerals lining your pipes, reducing their efficiency.

 

It is advised that water supplied by a well is tested annually, though if any changes in your water occur, it might also be time to get tested. This could include a change in colour, odour or taste of the water, as well as any horse, human or other animal getting sick with a water-borne disease, flooding occurring near your water supply, or work being carried out on the pipes or other fixtures.

 

In addition to testing, following a few common sense water tips can also pay dividends when it comes to staying in control of what your horse consumes, and making sure he stays healthy. All water buckets, baths, or troughs should be checked and filled daily, to ensure a continuous supply of clean water. This applies to automatic drinkers too. Be vigilant for any signs of contamination, be it build up of dirt, algae, or poop, and ready to clean accordingly! Don’t allow horses to have access to any stagnant or contaminated water, and if you’re not sure that the water is safe, remove access and find another source, until it has been tested and has the all clear.

 

It can be difficult to find specific guidelines for horse’s drinking water, as generally they are lumped into the livestock category. By undertaking water testing, you can at least ensure that the water they consume is, clean, safe, and is suited to their needs as possible. After all, the average horse drinks at least half a gallon of water for every 100 pounds of their body weight, per day, giving it the power to make a significant difference to their overall wellbeing. Water testing eliminates the unknown. It ensures that you really do have rule number one of good stable management down, by confirming the water your horse has access to really is clean, and safe for him to drink.

 

By Emma Doherty – Luna Sport Horses

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Mycorrhizal Fungi: Nature’s Gardeners

mycoMycorrhizae are fungi that live in a symbiotic relationship with plants in which energy and nutrient exchange benefit both organisms. The relationship results in improved survival and growth, increased rooting amidst more efficient soil structure, and bio-balance pathogens or other plant species. It is thought that as many as 90% of vascular land plants participate in such a relationship; many could not survive on their own.

Why do Mycorrhizae and Plants Co-Exist?

Mycorrhizal fungi live on the roots of the plant and either physically enter or surround the roots. Here they generate a network of filaments among multiple species of plants, soil bacteria, and other fungi. Mycorrhizae provide additional surface area for nutrient and water uptake, as much as 100 to 1,000 times. All 15 major macro and micro nutrients available in soil are absorbed and transferred to the plant.  Nitrogen and phosphorus are contributed by bacteria and shuttled to the plant through the network of filaments.

Using photosynthesis the plant then converts these building blocks into carbohydrates. This process nourishes both plant and fungi. The fungi cannot produce carbohydrates so the symbiosis is essential for survival. Nutrients are shared within the system and can be diverted to ailing members. Scientists believe that the network of mycorrhizal fungi, plants, and soil bacteria can encompass an entire forested area.

Mycorrhizal fungi also contribute protection to the plant by bio-balancing pathogens. The covering of mycorrhizal filaments acts as a physical barrier. Exudates are secreted by the fungi to bio-balance disease-causing organisms.

Why Do We Need Mycorrhizal Fungi?

A benefit of the presence of mycorrhizal fungi is increased soil porosity and improved soil structure. Tightly bound nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron are dissolved by enzymes the fungi release into the soil. Mycorrhizae improve soil structure in two ways. First, the fungal filaments help hold soil together.  Second, the fungi excrete glomalin, a sticky substance that binds soil together. These actions allow for increased soil porosity, aeration, water movements in addition to erosion resistance.

Many common agricultural practices have reduced or eliminated the presence of mycorrhizal fungi. Irrigation, top soil removal, tillage, erosion, road and home construction, fumigation, and the introduction of non-native plants all contribute to the loss of mycorrhizae in soil.  Commercial applications of mycorrhizae have been developed to combat the effects of today’s man-made environments featuring compacted soil, the loss of top soil, and the absence of necessary organic matter.  Botanists often amend soil with mycorrhizal fungi as it known to increase rooting generation, drought resistance, salt tolerance, crop yields, and reductions in transplant shock. Mycorrhizal plants fare better under drought conditions than plants without a fungal relationship.

Not every plant needs mycorrhizal fungi in the same way. As there are a myriad plant species so are there thousands of fungal species. Each fungus excels in its own way, be it improving soil or capturing nutrients. The dependence of the plant on mycorrhizal fungi depends on its own capabilities and environment. Some plants need a mycorrhizal relationship to survive while others merely need it during times of stress. It is clear that without the mycorrhizal relationship the Earth’s flora would be a mere whisper of its potential.

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Could Your Cellphone Could Causing Health Issues?

What is amazing about the possibilities of any damage coming from using cellphone’s, as well as all the electronic devices we feel are necessary for day to day life, is that it is not positively known if they do damage. There seems to be many indications that this is the case, there are scientists who believe this is the case, but as yet there is no concrete proof. So they are still mass marketed and we all have to have one. Is that wise though?

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Consider that by the time science can give us proof, and that if that proof is yes it does cause health issues, then what do we do? We have all been using these things for years and will continue for years more. DDT was used for years before there were any provable bad health effects. We now know from statistics it was the cause of cancer in people that did not show until years after the exposure. We could be doing that again.

The problem that is being considered is the EMF that is generated by cellphones, (electromagnetic field) these fields emit electromagnetic radiation. All electric devices that run on alternate current (AC), have this affect. Some products have more than others, but they all have it. This also includes wireless transmitters like cell phones. So essentially we are holding a radiation emitting device against our skulls. Keep in mind if you think this is alarmist; our bodies are moved by electrical current. It seems doubtful that there would be no affect whatsoever, all things considered.

There are those who believe we should wait for definitive proof of harm before taking any action. Most of these groups are predictably industry leaders who sell, or profit from the sales and mass use of cellphone’s. This makes sense when you consider there are several different industries that market one form of electronic device, or software made for cellphone’s, or cellphone accessories or any one of many more that make up billions of dollars a year in sales and manufacturing. That is collectively millions of employees and employers whose livelihood could potentially be affected. Even with that being true, it still does seem like a good idea to at least find a way to lesson potential damages in the future. There may be billions of dollars at stake, but there are hundreds of millions of people whose health could be at risk.
cell-phone-towerYet that side of the argument saying that until proof comes out it should be business as usual is not just the cell phone companies. Consider the whole power grid in the United States is an EMF generating network that reaches most people in America and 75% of the world’s population. Not only is that not something that can just be switched off, it is something with powerful backing. In the United States there are leaders who say that there is no danger because the FCC says so, despite any indications to the contrary. Big corporations pay their scientist to find answers they want, not answers that are actually real answers to the question, and it is becoming more and more clear that that is who the FCC listens to in many cases.

I recently learned that most college or even high school health classes all the way into nursing or earlier doctor training do not mention EMF radiation. It seems the only time it comes up is that it is a part of the equipment used in diagnostics. The fact that it is not even mentioned seems like a mistake. Health practitioner training should at least mention that there is a debate about that subject. I do not know if this is a concerted effort by the industries and their scientist to make the knowledge less accessible, or just our culture. Modern society is run completely on things powered by electrical energy, generators, and batteries. It is so much a part of everyday life for most of us it is not something we think about. Perhaps we do not think about it because of the implications.

The power went out for a week outside the Seattle Washington area 5 to 7 years ago and it was fairly widespread. Computer, phones, heat, and lights were all off. I remember reading how that people would drive just outside of the affected area to get gas for their cars and not only was their lines around the block, there were fist fights over getting gas for cars. This is how tied into EMF radiation emitting devices we are. The pumps don’t work so people go somewhere else and fight over it. This alone is proof on a small scale that there is no way we could just shut things down. It is too much a part of our society and consciousness.

The other side of the argument is scientists and analysts who believe in taking a precautionary approach to any public risks like this. The problem they are fighting is that there is nothing concrete on what the health risks might be, or would constitute safe usage. Like, how long a day should you use your phone before it becomes a health risk, that sort of thing. There is one thing that has been proven though and that is that all electromagnetic radiation impacts living beings.

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Studies are currently underway, and have been for years, on the effects of electromagnetic radiation. Possible cancer links are being investigated and the effects on nature are being studied as well. The honey bees dying off are by many, being attributed to the overall increase of this radiation. Many peer reviewed studies and experiments are pointing towards the possibility of this radiation causing health problems worldwide. Since there is no concrete proof however, there is nothing being done.

This is what really needs to be considered by the health community and those in positions of authority in our societies worldwide. Does it not make sense, to at least look at precautionary measures now, because of the possibilities of problems down the line? There is no way people are going to stop using their devices; I do not believe that will happen at this point. So how about research and development on phone shielding of some kind. I do not know if that is even possible, but I am sure scientists would love to investigate. That is what they do, shouldn’t we let them. You can detect EMF at home with a EMF Detector.

That is part of the problem today. We have plenty of scientists who are willing and able to investigate this matter whole hog. The problem is funding for it. These days funding for science exploration is more and more coming mostly from industries and they have a very narrow view on what they want discovered. This is not how America made it to the moon. When President Kennedy told NASA we are going to the moon in 10 years, make it happen, there were no restraints on the direction the scientists could look for answers. Due to this not only did we go to the moon, we stumbled onto enough new scientific information that our manufacturing base in the country was fueled for the next 30 years. Wouldn’t it make sense to just tell scientist to “make it happen” again. They would figure something out and modern society could continue in our need for our gadgets and electricity. We would not have to worry if our cell phones were killing us.

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How To Fix Things

I am not sure if Bob Ellise is playing a joke or totally crazy. http://www.ellistabletalk.com/2014/12/01/how-to-fix-things

 

My version below:

Gift all Mining Rights to Current Land Holders.

Allow More Gina Rinehart’s to Create Jobs.

Increase the GST to 15% including Food and Change the Income Tax to a Flat 20%.

Tear up Zoning Laws that Limit the Number of Shopping Centres per City.

Legislate to Reduce Council Rates by One Third.

Make it Compulsory that People are not Forced to Pay for Public Transport via Rates/Taxation.

Legislate that No Council can Limit the Number Parking Stations Built.

Introduce a Form of National Service so Instead of Paying Income Tax you can do National Service One Weekend a Month if you Wish.

Stop Paying People to Have Children.

Stop Paying People to Have Children Play Musical Instruments.

Sell a Quarter of Queensland’s State Owned Land.

Encourage the Chinese to Buy Australian Houses, Flats, or Farms.

Sell all State Assets that the Private Sector Cannot Perform.

Deregulated all Agriculture Marketing Boards.

Legalise all Uses of Marihuana.

Ask Holden to Pay back the Bribes we Sent Them.

Legislate that all Australian Submarines and Warships are to be Built by the Best and Most Efficient no Matter their Race.

By these means we would double, probably, the number of young people working, and supporting the older generations now in their eighties and nineties.

Think about it.

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How to Make a Garden on a Tight Budget

gardenHaving a beautiful garden can seem complicated and expensive but if you follow these steps, you will see that is something you can do with little money. Make the project design and creation of your garden. Divide the project into phases of your garden for you to go by gradually creating the garden of your dreams. Consider consulting a landscaper and get their opinion, although we can give you some tips on how to make a garden with little money.

 

To make beautiful and economic gateways for your garden, you can use cobbles, gravel, stone or concrete. If you use pieces of gravel, it is recommended to select small-less angular gravel 1/4 centimeter- and avoid rounded gravel or other stones.

 

To furnish decks and patios we suggest you choose chairs and economic tables as you can find in DIY centers or even thrift stores. The best prices for garden furniture are usually found in late summer. In another article, you will find tips on how to decorate a space.

 

To make a garden, if you have enough space you can also place a water closed loop, so you will not waste water and be more economical. In stores home improvements are available pumps and fountains that can be installed in the garden, terrace or patio.

 

Before planting grass, make sure this is appropriate to the climate of the area where you live, as it does not support well the hot, dry climates. If you live in a region with high temperatures and / or slightly moist, it will be convenient to opt for an alternative to grass. Thus, you can be useful our articles on how to choose or how to put artificial turf artificial turf.

 

You can create flowerbeds with a garden hose to achieve curved, and then install edges to define them better. You also interested to know how to care for plants in a grow bed.

 

Be advisable to enrich the soil with compost and other accessories in accordance with the advice of qualified personnel. To make it even cheaper, you can see in this article how to compost at home.

 

It is convenient to plant trees, shrubs and native or indigenous flowers in your area, as these are more likely to thrive and do not need a major commitment and investment to keep them in top condition. It is also recommended to plant evergreen trees

 

You can add torches, outdoor lamps, lights on poles or candles to create a cozy atmosphere at night. You will find here some more tips on how to illuminate terraces and gardens.

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Raw Milk Ban – The Result of Political Left Blowback

There is risk in just about everything. As adults we should be free to evaluate these risks verses the benefits. Many of the left of politics love to use government to ban things that could cause harm. It is ironic that the same system they advocate turns against them and bans freedoms they enjoy eg. raw milk.

If you want to ban knives, guns, fast food, GMOs, vaccines, fireworks, sweeteners, Monsanto and you advocate giving power to the government, don’t be surprised when they ban raw milk, unvaccinated children, medical cannabis and others.

Stop supporting the coercion of others by advocating banning. Using political power to get things you want banned does backfire. Punish those who do wrong not everyone and use persuasion instead of coercion. Is it really that hard to understand?

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Eggs – A True Superfood

farm-eggsEggs have a long track record of being demonized as an unhealthy food due to their fat and cholesterol levels. One large egg contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol, which is indeed a lot when compared to most other foods. However, studies have proven many times that the dietary cholesterol in eggs do not adversely affect blood cholesterol levels.

 

Although many nutrition professionals advise individuals against consuming eggs, they can actually help to raise HDL good levels of cholesterol. In a 2013 meta-analysis, researchers studied 17 reports regarding egg consumption and health. The researchers discovered that eggs generally did not have an association with either stroke or heart disease in otherwise healthy people. This may sound groundbreaking; however, this is not new data. Several older studies have already proven this point.

 

High in unique antioxidants

Eggs are high in two unique antioxidants- zeaxanthine and lutein. Both of these antioxidants are known to build in the retina of the eye and help protect against diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Research has proven that by supplementing your diet with an average of 1.5 egg yolks per day for 5 weeks, you can increase blood levels of lutein by 50 percent and zeaxanthine by 142 percent.

 

One of the most nutritious foods on the planet

Eggs contain high quality proteins and good fats, minerals, vitamins, and various trace nutrients. One large egg contains 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, all 9 essential amino acids and only 77 calories. It is also rich in vitamins A,B12, B2, B5, selenium, phosphorus and iron. One large egg also contains 113 milligrams of choline, which is an important nutrient for brain development. When consuming eggs, make sure you can eat the yoke, which contain all the above listed nutrients.

 

A key component in healthy weight loss

Eggs score highly on a scale called the Satiety Index, which means they are capable of reducing your appetite and helping you to consume fewer calories. They also help to stabilize blood glucose levels due to their low levels of carbohydrates. A brief study that consisted of 30 obese women showed that those who ate eggs for breakfast consumed fewer calories during lunch and for the following 36 hours, compared to the study participants who consumed a bagel for breakfast.

 

In a separate study, a group of overweight women and men on calorie restricted diets were given a breakfast of 1 bagel or 2 eggs. After an 8 week period, the group who consumed eggs for breakfast experienced the following benefits:

  • 16% greater reduction in body fat
  • 65% more overall weight loss
  • 34% reduction in waist circumference
  • 61% greater reduction in body mass index

 

These benefits were experienced even though the breakfast of both groups contained the exact same number of calories. Due to their satiety factor and low calories, eggs played a major role in boosting the participants’ weight loss.

 

If any food can be classified as a true superfood, it should be eggs. Start your day off with two organically raised, free- range eggs to give your body a healthy boost of nutrients and maintain a healthy weight.

 

If you know/have children and want to increase their egg intake in a fun and interesting way try our egg cuber.

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Importance of Soil pH and How to Correct It

soil-phSoil pH varies from area to area widely. Some areas have very acidic soil or low pH (usually represented as a value of under 7 on tests), and some areas have alkaline or high pH soils (above 7). Acid soils are known as “sour” soils, and alkaline soils are known as “sweet” soils. Plants generally do best in soils that’s a balance between the two, or neutral pH soil (around a value of 7). However, some plants prefer alkaline soil and some prefer acidic soil. Depending on the general quality of your soil or if you have certain types of plants you want to grow with specific needs, you may need to correct the pH of your soil. Here are some basic tips on how to correct soil pH.

Testing your soil to know where you soil generally lies on the pH scale is a good start. You can get inexpensive kits at any garden center to test. We have a simple to use soil pH meter if you want to give it a go. If you have soil that’s alkaline and you want to lower the pH, ferrous sulfate and aluminum sulfate are the two recommended soil amendments that will help make your soil more acidic. To raise the pH of your soil, lime, or ground limestone, is recommended.

Products for adjusting soil pH differ and it’s best to stick with the recommended application directions usually available on the bag of the product.

More natural methods of correcting soil pH to a more generally plant-friendly level involve simply adding plenty of well-rotted manures and compost to the soil that you plan to grow in- and top dress with plenty of mulches that break down into the soil easily in the spring and fall around landscape ornamentals and in production beds. If your soil remains very acidic and compost isn’t helping, try adding wood ash or oyster shell.

Raised bed gardening is also another way to ensure good soil pH without a lot of work. Simply fill containers and raised beds with plenty of rotted compost and potting soil and add more at the end of each season after growing is done.

PH adjustment and correction is very important for a lot of reasons. Most notably, the pH of soil determines what nutrients plants can use and how fast they can use them. Often, there are some nutrients that become bound in soils that aren’t well balanced and plants can’t take up the nutrients they need to grow well. For example, most vegetable crops need slightly more acid soil to grow well so that they have access to the nutrients they need to quickly produce large amounts of fruit.

Sometimes the reason for adjusting pH of soil may simply be a cosmetic preference, specifically when it comes to the bloom of hydrangeas. Some hydrangeas bloom pink in acid soil, and the same type of hydrangea will bloom blue in alkaline soil. Sometimes, crafty gardeners have gotten both colors, even purple, by playing with the pH of the soil that their hydrangeas grow in. There are specific products sold that you can apply to the soil of your hydrangea if you wish to try- commonly found in garden center stores.

Soil pH is important but not difficult to correct. We hope this article helps you understand the basics better so you can grow better plants!

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Should You Consider Keeping Backyard Ducks over Chickens?

duckChickens have been domesticated for thousands of years, are kept on almost every continent around the world, and are a commodity and a mainstay of human civilization. Ducks are in a way as well, especially in certain areas- but their popularity is small in comparison. Why is that? Why do people seem to prefer chickens over ducks? Why do chickens get so much attention and ducks happen to be sort of a sideline? As a keeper of both, I ask myself this a lot- and for good reason. Here’s why.

Ducks are Healthy

Given basic good care, ducks are healthy animals. They have excellent immune systems, and are hardier in cold and even hot weather than chickens. There are some breed specific exceptions to this rule but overall, a duck will give you a lot less to worry about in terms of sickness than a chicken will over its lifetime. There are so many terrible diseases that befall chickens compared to ducks- even some diseases that have vaccinations ready and waiting should you think you need them. There are no vaccinations for ducks, as they don’t need them.

Ducks are Hardy

Ducks take cold, wet, and snow in stride. They wait out hot weather without much fuss. They seem to ENJOY those cloudy, cold, wet, windy miserable days that make chickens (and humans!) sick with annoying upper respiratory infections and other such nonsense. They will play in the snow in temperatures well below zero. When chickens are hunkering against the house with the cold north winds tossing up their light and fluffy feathers each way, ducks are out in the thick of it rooting for worms and bugs in the middle of the field. When it’s hot, a small kiddy pool of hose water keeps them happy, and if you have a pond, even better. You won’t see a pant or a complaint from a duck.

Ducks Provide Really Well

Despite what many people think, there are breeds of duck that lay better than the best laying breeds of chicken, even in the cold and snow, such as the Khaki Campbell. A duck will also lay better and longer than a chicken will. Expect an egg a day with a well laying duck for 5 years or so. Chickens typically top out at a year, and then production suffers. Duck eggs are delicious, more nutritious, and more “gourmet” than chicken eggs. Duck eggs are excellent in cooking and baking, and they’re rich and beautiful eaten fried or scrambled. Square eggs are a great novelty for kids. Ducks also taste heavenly- their flesh is all dark meat and delicious, and easy to prepare. Processing duck is a lot like chicken, and with the right equipment is also just as easy.

Ducks Live Happily with People

Domestic breeds of duck are very friendly animals and often make loving, long lived pets. With a light in a coop, ducks reliably coop up at night in a secure space and enjoy nesting in clean straw and bedding. They make excellent and gentle garden pest eradicators- as they don’t scratch or eat new plant seedlings and destroy garden beds like chickens do. They’ll leave your tomatoes alone, eating the grubs and bugs that want to eat your tomatoes. They are quiet animals and don’t crow loudly, making them good choices for inner-city birds.

Ducks are wonderful birds to have on the homestead for food, and wonderful, healthy pets. They have many advantages over chickens. Consider adding some ducks to your flock!