So far, I prefer having ducks to chickens, but I’d rather have both. Due to avian flu, however, it’s illegal to have both free-range ducks and free-range chickens in the same enclosure in Denmark. So, I’m just enjoying having the ducks for awhile.
The cons of duck ownership:
Ducks are messier than chickens, and they need water to dunk their heads, as well as splash around and mate in: they foul the water pretty quickly, so I’ve been changing it once or twice daily.
They are also much more “wild” than chickens are: I didn’t imprint on the ducklings because we got them at two weeks old, and they are showing no signs of being tame. All sources seem to indicate that living with them is basically like having a wild animal around that you feed.
They don’t have much of a roosting instinct, they lay their eggs all over the place, and they are terrible at incubating their own young.
The pros of duck ownership:
Ducks eat larger pests in the garden: the ones that chickens usually avoid. They absolutely love huge slugs, and will go nuts for all kinds of insect protein.
They also eat larger weeds, and preferentially go for large leaves of things like dandelions, instead of just small seedlings like chickweed.
They don’t scratch when they forage like chickens do, and neither do they take dust baths, so they are less likely to dig things up.
Indian Runner ducks–which I have–are prolific layers. They lay between 180-200 eggs a year (comparable to a bantam hen), and the eggs are 1.5 times the size of a hen egg.