Ducks are popularly being kept not only with a pond available but also a water tab provided you refill it with clean water daily.
Why keep ducks?
- They are rarely attacked by red spider mites.
- They are excellent layer s and eggs are good for baking
- Ducks meat contains less cholesterol.
- They feed on variety of feeds that is kitchen and market wastes.
The Kenyan duck, the Campbell, Ancona Duck, Indian runner are excellent egg layers
Peking and Muscovy for meat
Keep ducks in an enclosed at night unless they are in a predator free enclosure. Ducks room do not need perches although the doorway should be as large as possible since ducks tend to do things together and will trample over one another if they go through a small opening. Provide a well ventilated house facing away from direct sunlight or moonlights.
1m2 area is required for keeping 2-3 birds.
Duck Egg Incubation and Hatching
Collect duck eggs daily very early in the morning before they get dirty or damage. Store eggs in a cool place for a week without affecting the fertility. Place the eggs pointing downwards and rotate them at an angle if 900 atleast twice per day. This helps in stopping membrane from sticking into the shell.
Egg laying duck hens are poor mothers so use a mother hen or Muscovy in incubating eggs naturally.
If you transporting eggs from somebody else, then allow them to rest for atleast a day by placing them facing downwards before placing in an incubator.
Duck eggs take 28days to hatch with optimum conditions provided.
A hen provides all the required conditions to the ducklings and directs them on what and where to feed.
Provide a heat source to ducklings of around 380C and reduce the heat as they grow. Completely remove heat source after 3-4 weeks. At this stage, the ducklings are regulating well their temperatures and feathers are well developed.
Feed the ducklings with waterfowl starter crumbles with protein content about 20-21%. The amount of waterfowl starter crumbles offered is 30-50g/duckling/day. Accompany this with plenty of water to the ducklings. Do this up to two weeks of age. Provide grit to ducklings mixed with feeds.
Care and Feeding
Ducks love to forage for snails, insects, worms especially near water or when sifting through the water or mud. Feed domestic ducks with more food when laying because they have been bred to lay more eggs and are restricted into a small area. Ducks should be offered 150-200g/day depending on their size. Make sure that their food contains around 16% of proteins.
Feed adult ducks on layers pellets and wheat. Keep the dry pellets in a hopper hanged inside the house and place half a bucket of wheat under water. This is to soften the feeds and keep away other wild birds from feeding on it.
Laying ducks require more calcium which is available in the pellets so make sure you feed enough to them. Layers mash is not good for ducks because when mixed with water, it gets stuck in their bills so it should be avoided.
After 6 months the first egg is laid and feed your hens with chicken layer pellets at a rate of 200g/duck/day. This should contain 14-16% of protein content. It is advisable to provide the birds with plenty of calcium that is crushed oyster shells.
Provide nest boxes to ducks at about 5 months of age for the birds to get used to it early enough.
Ducks spend 10% of their day’s time in water and so provide a plastic water tab which should be cleaned and refilled with clean water daily.
Advantages of keeping Ducks
- Ducks are highly resistant to the common avian diseases.
- You can feed your ducks with a wide variety of foods. A duck’s regular food includes cassava, copra, corn, rice, fruits and any other low cost and easily available foods. They also have the natural tendency of foraging on aquatic weeds, algae, green legumes, fungi, earthworms, maggots, snails, various types of insects etc. which directly reduce feeding cost.
- You can also use your ducks for controlling apple snails or some other harmful insects from your garden.
- Ducks need less expensive, simple and non-elaborate housing facilities. As a result housing costs are very less for setting up commercial duck farming business.
- Ducks are very hardy bird and they need less care or management. They can adopt themselves with almost all types of environmental conditions.