Hey there everyone.
I recently moved into a new home on 20 acres with my family. Eventually we intend to live as self-sufficiently as possible. Because of simplicity, we are starting our learning with ducks. We are planning on purchasing our first batch of Pekins at the beginning of May. But there are a few questions I have regarding generations and breeding that maybe some of you veterans could help me with.
1. I have my first set of Pekins. Should I try to get the male ducks and female ducks from different sources so there's no inbreeding? I am not sure how this sort of things matter with waterfowl.
2. We are keeping the birds for meat. However, we want to be self-reliant, and we want to keep mates to spawn new ducks for us. This is legitimate practice, right? We have done a lot of reading but can't seem to find an answer on how often ducks actually lay fertile eggs. I also haven't found any good information on how to tell if an egg is fertile--- since we plan on collecting some eggs for eating. Any tips on breeding really would help... I have read a few texts but none seem to be answering this question specifically on Pekins. (Easier to find info on Muscovies.)
3. What's a good number for a beginner? Assuming I'm keeping 2-3 hens for producing eggs and spawn. Should I get equal numbers of males to keep them company? I know that ducks tend to mate for life, but I've also read that Pekins may not be the same in that regard. Can someone help clear this up for me? I would like to only have to pluck 4 ducks at most when it comes time--- since it is my first time and I've heard plucking is HARD. I don't want to be stuck plucking 5+ ducks come 4-6 months from now-- I do eventually plan on getting a plucker, but I want to make sure I love the meat first. That being said, is 3 breeding pairs too much or little for a beginner? Should I buy PAIRS? Or will one male do the trick?
I hope these aren't too much of ignorant questions! I really want to be well prepared. Any tips or resources regarding this information would be very useful! I've been reading "Barnyard in your Backyard" and "Natural Farming and Sustainable Living." Let me know what you're reading!