Backyard ducks the latest urban farming trend

Ducks are taking over for chickens as the latest urban backyard egg producer.

Ducks starting to gain in popularity for urban backyard coops

Welsh Harlequin ducks live alongside chickens in Kevin Romanin's backyard in Esquimalt, B.C. (Kevin Romanin)

Backyard chickens have become common in many cities across Canada, but a new bird is starting to turn up in urban poultry coops.

In Esquimalt, B.C., Kevin Romanin was already keeping some chickens, but this spring he added a few female Welsh Harlequin ducklings into the mix.

Romanin said the chicken coop in his yard was built up on stilts, leaving adequate space for a duck cabin to sit underneath.

Three-week-old ducks in Kevin Romanin's yard. (Kevin Romanin)
They have two separate spaces because we didn't want them mixing," he explained. "We dug a bathtub into the ground, [and] we use straw because the straw brings worms and critters and it helps them forage."

This backyard duck-raising trend has come up for a variety of reasons. Ducks behave differently from chickens, they eat different foods and, to some, they are more personable animals.

Chickens are known for their tendency to scratch at the soil, which can be damaging to lawns and gardens. With their webbed feet, ducks tread more softly.

"Chickens are more your composters  they can eat everything," Romanin said. "Ducks can only eat certain leafy greens, but ducks can be released into the garden to help with pests like slugs."

When it comes to egg production, Romanin said ducks can be more prolific than chickens. Their eggs aren't available commercially and have a thicker shell with a richer, bigger yolk.

Ducks also typically lay an egg a day for about five or six years, as long as the ducks are healthy.