They say it’s a perfect protein. A glorious, fresh-from-the-backyard, egg. It’s also an essential component to the greatest breakfast in the world, the Loco-Moco, and if you haven’t had a really good Loco-Moco, you haven’t truly lived. Thankfully, the possibilities for preparing eggs are damn-near endless, and when you have an abundance of them, you tend to get creative.

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We keep both chickens and ducks in our yard and even an occasional rooster. We eat fresh eggs like crazy around here and appreciate the protein they provide, and spend a fair amount of energy maintaining our feathered ladies. I’ve learned a lot over the years about keeping chickens and it is super easy to do if you know what you’re doing.  Not everything is feasible for everyone, and sometimes you have to try different things and do whatever fits into your budget. Getting started requires a little bit of research and it may be best to get everything in place before running out and buying any fowl. In my experience, I have found that ducks are different than chickens and require much more drinking water and a pond to splash around in to be happy and healthy. This is something I took lightly at first until I realized the small water buckets I had were getting drained and muddy every day. I have since dug and filled a small pond inside the pen and added another large water bucket.

Additionally, I like to keep most things to minimal or zero cost to maintain as part of my frugal living plan, and it’s easy if you can give them kitchen scraps and raise your own meal worms. My chickens and ducks are not technically “free range”, but they have plenty of space in their pens, and we let them out on the weekends to roam around the yard and forage for insects. The pens are set up where there are actually two large pens with a “doggie door” between them and one side has a repurposed small shed with shelves and bedding for nesting. We kept costs down by using old fencing and broken greenhouse piping to build the cage-like structures. Since first starting to keep fowl, I have had to build a pen that is covered with chicken wire because we have problems with hawks. It is heartbreaking to watch a duck get attacked by such an unapologetic predator and not be able to do anything about it. 🙁

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The granular food is put into a trough and they get a combination of chicken scratch, layer feed, meal worms and kitchen scraps. They all have darling names like Greta or Ruby, and each bird has their own distinct personality. Some of them are really good egg layers, such as the Rhode Island Reds, and can lay an egg almost every other day when happy. A sustainable family of four should get a fairly steady supply of eggs from four or five chickens and two or three ducks. It’s nice to have the variety and the duck eggs are higher in protein.

Thankfully, there are so many helpful places to seek information about what’s best for your type of fowl. In my Pinterest board, My Sustainable Island Life, there is a section on raising chickens, which also includes useful pins for raising ducks and grouse.

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