How To Raise Ducks For Meat, Eggs, Companions ❤
Ducks are wonderful animals, They are great egg layers, meat birds and companions. Although they may seem easy to care for, there is more to ducks than meets the eye.
When choosing your duck there are so many beautiful breeds it can be hard to choose.
First, always be sure to research the breed of duck before buying. If you are thinking of buying ducks for meat then I suggest getting either Rouen, Muscovy, or Ancona's for their plumpness. If you are wanting good egg layers then some really good breeds are Kaki Campbell's, Buff's and Jumbo Pekin. It is very hard to tell if the duck you are getting is a female or a male, If you are wanting to buy ducks for meat then I recommend that you to to get a male because they tend to be bigger and fatter. If you look in the group of ducks you are picking from, the males are most always the biggest ones there. When trying to find a female duck it is very hard to tell them apart in the group but I seem to have good luck by choosing the small ducks but make sure they have tons of energy because a lot of times the small ducks can be the sick or weak ones.
Caring For Your New Ducks
When you get your ducks home make sure you have a clean cage, a heat lamp, water with poultry electrolytes ( because shipping is hard on them the electrolytes build up their energy ), and food. Always start your ducks off with a poultry crumble for baby ducks because there is too much calcium in chick food, then when they get older switch them over to poultry pellets. As your ducks age you will want to start lowering the temperature of their heat lamp because they will start getting feathers and the heat lamp will make them too hot. Ducks are very messy animals so be sure to clean their cage at least daily. You can use wood shavings in their pen but I recommend not using cedar chips. When your ducks start getting really dirty then try giving them a bath. Put them in either a container or the bath tub with 1-2 inches of water but make sure they can stand up and that the water is luke warm. Don't leave them in too long or they will get cold but they don't need their heat lamp in that time, I recommend letting them swim for about 5-8 minutes. DO NOT USE SOAP ON OR WITH THE DUCKS BECAUSE IT CAN HURT THEM. They will clean themselves, just watch them to make sure they don't get tired and drown. Be sure to dry them of in a towel and put them back in their cage with the heat lamp.
Coming Of Age
In about 8-10 weeks you should start to introduce your baby ducks to the other poultry or just start to put them outside without a heat lamp. Make sure when you put your ducks outside that they have a nice pond or baby pool so they can clean off. If you don't give them a pool/pond then your duck can get eye infections and mites. Be sure to clean their pool every other day or it will get very muddy and it will not help them. It's good to let your duck have as much water as it wants. Your ducks will grow fast and should start laying eggs by about 14-17 weeks. If you are raising your ducks for meat then they should be ready to butcher out by about 15-18 weeks but it depends on the size and breed of your duck. When feeding your duck I recommend giving them lots of greens like grass and lettuce. They love vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber and other soft veggies. They also really like table scraps and it's really good for them. My ducks eat about 1/2 a cup of pellets per duck/per day, but each duck varies so test until you find the right amount. Your ducks can get sick from many things like bumble foot, mites, and constant dirty water, so every couple weeks do a routine check up.
Weather conditions are hard to manage. For Summer you usually want to give your ducks lots of shade, cool water, and fresh dirt because they tend to stomp it down a lot. It's also a good idea to put ice in their water and to put frozen water bottles around their pen so they can lay up against it to cool down.
For Winter weather conditions you want to give them heated water dishes ( So it doesn't freeze ), Smaller water dishes ( So they don't climb in and get cold/ sick ), and lots of warm bedding in their house. You don't need a heat lamp but you can use one if you think it will get to cold in their house. Try to keep the heat lamp away from straw and high enough it has space around it so it doesn't start a fire. Don't use too hot of a bulb, just make it hot enough to keep them warm and from getting frost bite. Duck can stand temperatures down past 15 Fahrenheit without a heat lamp. So a heat lamp is not necessary if you have good bedding and a warm house.
When your ducks start laying, their eggs will start out very small but get bigger over time. During the Winter your ducks won't lay much because they won't be getting the 14 hours of sunshine they need to lay an egg a day, so you will not get many eggs unless you put a heat lamp in their house. Make sure you give your ducks a lot of fluff in the nests. I seem to have problems with my ducks burying their eggs so you might have to look around for awhile to find their eggs. If you keep a clean nesting box with lots of fluff then they should lay there for most of the time. Sometimes when they first start laying the lay their eggs outside on the dirt before they learn to go inside their house to the nesting boxes. If you are having trouble with them not laying in the nesting boxes put a golf ball in the nesting boxes to encourage laying there. You should start to get a very good duckie egg laying team.