Farm and Field Fowl
Ducks and Geese have been used for more than their meat and egg production for centuries. Fowl on the farm can be extremely beneficial in clearing out unwanted weeds and insects; working tirelessly all day and picking out even the smallest intruders. Best of all, you don’t have to apply pesticides that could contaminate your land or livestock.
Preparing Gardener Fowl
Using fowl for your gardens, fields, orchards etc. can be beneficial to your plants, save you money and the time it would take to work the fields yourself. However, you need to be patient and spend some time preparing your birds first. It starts with your ducklings or goslings as soon as their arrive in the mail or hatch out of their eggs.
You will of course need to feed your fowl with starter mash at first. The trick is to slowly introduce your birds to the weeds and insects that you want them to seek out. At about two weeks of age, your fowl will be able to stomach some smaller weeds, you will want to find the weeds that are causing you problems on your property and harvest fresh cuttings to feed your fowl. Giving your ducks or geese a taste for the problem plants and insects at an early age is essential for training your birds as expert gardeners (Improve Your Land with Grazing Waterfowl, Jessica Klick).
Once your birds have a taste for the chickweeds, dandelions, purslane or whatever weed is driving you mad, they will seek and destroy! Ducks will not need to be trained to find slugs or snails as their hunger for those slimy buggers is ingrained in their DNA. They’re excellent at foraging. Your fowl will require supplemental grower feed throughout their life, but depending on their appetite and the amount of forage available the need for store-bought feed can be greatly diminished.
Ducks are particularly good at finding and wiping out insect, slug and snail populations. Indian Runner Ducks are particularly deft in at finding and eradicating slugs and snails.
Geese, Vicious Vegetarians
Geese live off a wholly vegetarian diet, as opposed to ducks. A goose has a serrated beak, perfectly suited for tearing tough grasses and vegetation up. Of course, geese are also much larger than ducks so they have a tendency to trample plants. Geese would not be ideal for bringing into a garden, however, they are very capable of clearing weeds in pastures or orchards and their droppings will enrich the soil like you wouldn’t believe.
Geese are also better suited for fending off predators and living on their own. A large Embden Gander (Male) can exceed 20 lbs in weight at full maturity and go toe to toe with most predators.
Garden Friendly Fowl
Your feathered friends are not the brightest bunch, but they can be trained, maintained and watched over to a certain extent. The garden friendly duck needs a good amount of space to range and forage. A large flock of ducks contained in a small field or garden will run out of weeds and insects fast, only to turn on your vegetables and flowers.
Fortunately, domestic ducks can be contained quite easily. with a fence no more than 2 feet high due to their inability to fly and jump. Many gardeners will simply fence off their younger more delicate plants and vegetables, allowing their fowl to freely range around establish plants in the garden, hunting weeds and insects at will.