Behind the Scenes with the Ducklings at Metzer Farms

February 12, 2018


WARNING! This article contains some seriously cute duckling photos, and as such, I take full responsibility if you decide to add ducks to your backyard!  


Several months ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to tour Metzer Farms in Gonzales, California. I've long been a fan of owner John Metzer for his work with the Livestock Conservancy helping to preserve so many of the duck breeds whose numbers are dwindling. I finally met him in person early last year and was so excited when he extended an invitation to me to come visit his farm while I was out on the West Coast.   


Needless to say, spending the day with adorable, fuzzy ducklings was sort of a dream come true for me. I just wanted to take them all home with me, but unfortunately I think the airlines frown on that sort of thing! But I definitely got to check an item off my bucket list after this trip. 

Of course, despite all the cuteness, Metzer Farms is a business which ships ducklings, hatching eggs, and also goslings and supplies all across the country. My visit was timed to coincide with hatch day, and it was fascinating to watch as the ducklings hatched in gigantic incubators, then were transferred to large tubs to be sexed (now that's a job right there I bet not too many kids dream of!), then boxed up according to the orders that came in the previous week, and shipped out. 

-hours-old ducklings being sexed-

Watching the process was amazing. John has it down to such a science and I couldn't help but chuckle to watch his employees walking around the duckling room with a cardboard box and paper order slip in one hand, plucking a duckling here and then one there out of the different breed bins to fill each order, because it reminded me of employees boxing up Happy Meals! 


As soon as each box was filled, "energy gel" was added to give the ducklings a bit of something to eat on their journey, then the box was taped shut and a shipping label stuck on and the boxes headed right to the post office. 

-mallard ducklings enjoying some gel before being shipped out-

After watching that process, we headed out to the duck breeding pens. I was really impressed with the level of biosecurity that is maintained on the farm. There were signs up all over, reminding of good practices, and we had to wear knee-high plastic booties when we visited the ducks. I wasn't actually allowed in any of the breeding pens of course. Although ducks are generally hardy, I was happy to see that the Metzers still take biosecurity very seriously.



-yes I know these are geese, but I just loved their a-frame shelter/nests-
-and how about these bicycles that the staff uses to get around the farm?-

Okay, so that's enough of me talking, I know you just want to see some cute duckling photos, right? Well, here you go!











So have I convinced you that you need to add a few ducklings to your backyard? Check out the breed selection over at Metzer Farms. They offer low minimum orders and if you live close by, you can call ahead and pick up your order to avoid shipping costs. Unfortunately, they don't offer tours, which is one reason why I was so excited to be able to get a private tour (and to share these photos with you all!) 

Duck Breeds for Sale at Metzer Farms


The sheer number of duck eggs that had been collected and were waiting to be put in the incubators was mind-blowing. An interesting fact about duck eggs is that they all are either white or cream or bluish/green (well, except for Cayuga eggs that are charcoal gray/black), but within a breed, some ducks will white and some will lay colored eggs. This chart shows the probability of getting greenish/blue eggs depending on the breed. 

Duck Comparison Chart







If you're really serious about raising a couple of ducks, you might want to pick up a copy of my book Duck Eggs Daily which will walk you through all the aspects of backyard ducks including housing, feed, water needs, treats, health care and more!




If you've never raised ducklings before, here's an article that might be of interest to you. 

Raising Ducklings

All About Duck Eggs


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