Below is a informational guide on the basics of raising ducks.
Why raise ducks?
Ducks can be a great addition to any flock. They have been a choice bird for farmers for centuries. Ducks have common been kept for:
Commonly Kept Egg Laying Breeds:
The runner ducks unique appearance makes it one of the most popular duck breeds. This breed is commonly kept for their egg laying qualities as well as snail control. Runners come in a variety of colors but are commonly available in Fawn and White,Black, and Blue. Please note that if you choose to go through a hatchery your runners stance will most likely not be as unique as breeder and show birds.
Khaki Campbells are a very popular choice for egg layer. These gals can often average over 300 eggs a year. This breed is much stockier than runners so are sometimes also used for dual purposes. Many people rave about the overall temperament of Khaki Campbells.
Commonly Kept Meat Breeds:
The Pekin duck is most likely the most common duck breed. The yellow fuzzballs you see at the feed store during spring are usually Pekins. This breed gets quite large with some specimens weighing over 10 pounds. They are also a fair layer and often kept for dual purposes by some farmers.
Muscovies are lovely breed often kept for several reasons. Due to their large size the are the clear choice for meat for many farmers. The females are extremely broody and are often used to hatch out several other species other than ducks. Also, a unique trait of the Muscovy is that it is one of the only breeds not derived from Mallards. Though they can produce offspring with Mallard derived breeds the offspring will be infertile.
How much are ducks?
Hatchery ducks are often purchased in the 5-7 dollar range at your local feed store. Breeder and potential show birds will cost a bit more. Price will also very depending on breed.
What do you feed them?
Ducks can be fed a very similar diet to chickens when adults. Layer pellets are commonly fed to females but the excess calcium is not advised for drakes. Feeding a all stage feed with oyster shells is a common practice for mixed gender flocks. Also ducklings will need more Niacin than chicks so this will need to be supplemented.
Can you house them with chickens?
This will depend on the individual birds. Many people have had great success keeping the two together. However, drakes must not be allowed to breed your hens. This can cause serious damage and even kill the hen.
Can they be free ranged?
Yes they can be free ranged but just like any other animal they are vulnerable to predators.
When do they lay eggs?
They can lay eggs as early as 20 weeks but I've found most ducks to start around the 6th month mark
How many eggs will they lay?
This varies widely depending on the breed. However, some breeds can lay well over 300 eggs a year.
Where can I buy ducks online?
If you would like to order online here are a few hatcheries:
How do you sex ducks?
Males will have a very raspy voice while females will have a loud quack. Also, drakes will develop a curl at the end of their tail.
Are duck eggs edible?
Yes they are
How long does it take for eggs to hatch?
28 days for Mallard derived breeds. 35 days for Muscovies.
Someone mentioned Niacin. Where can I find this?
It can usually be found at Walmart as well as many Health and Wellness stores. Just avoid the time release ones as they are not effective enough for ducks.
Are ducklings hard to brood?
The hardest part for me is the fact that they can be quite messy.
Why do some ducks have a mohawks??
The "Mohawk" is actually a lethal gene associated with many health problems. You can read more about it here:
How do I fix angel wing?
Angel Wing Fixing
Do they need a pond?
No they do not need a pond. A kiddie pool will work fine for domestic ducks.
I see ducks at the park. Can I release my ducks?
No. The act of releasing domestic ducks is ILLEGAL and CRUEL because they will quickly be killed by predators.
Welcome to the Duck section
Edited by Kevin565 - 9/17/12 at 7:31am