ARE A SMALL FLOCK OF DUCKS FOR YOU?

duckflock

A small flock of ducks can be kept in your garden for peanuts at a low cost. What you need for the first week are that the basic infrastructure and equipment needed to get started are a simple structure, like a partially enclosed shed, a home made brooder, inexpensive fencing, a feeder or home made trough made of wood and a simply constructed watering device. The Duck house shelter should be located on a well drained area of your garden. Naturally sandy or porous soil is preferred as so that it does not sog up and leave you wondering what is that wonderful stench about it drains well. The floor of the sheltered portion should be bedded with dry absorbent material like padi husks or sawdust. Low fencing is good enough for Pekins since they do not fly, but not for Muscovies which are rather adept to making their escape flight.

Ducks can be kept successfully on open ponds, provided a nearby dry sheltered area is available. Ducks kept on ponds may obtain part of their food from plant and animal life in and around the pond which include like snails, plus small amounts of insects, leaf material, prawns, crabs and frogs. You probably need to offer supplemental feed only when the food supply in the fields is inadequate. In our farm we combine duck raising on ponds with fish farming. Ponds are stocked with fish such as Tilapia and Catfish which are raised for our own consumption.

The duck shit dropping’s provide nutrients for growth of animal and plant life which the fish consume. You will need to limit the number of ducks kept on ponds as to prevent an over-supply of nutrients causing an overgrowth of plant life which will in turn stink up cause depletion of oxygen in the water and kill your fish.

Information on brooding chicks, available in poultry textbooks and other sources on the internet, can be applied to ducklings. If ducklings are hatched artificially, rather than by a broody duck, then you must provide the newly hatched ducklings with a warm dry brooding area free of drafts, with a source of heat, such as radiant or hover-type gas brooders or in our case a 25 watt bulb, and feed and drinking water located near the heat source so that the ducklings learn to drink and eat soon after they are placed in the brooder. We remove the heat source when they are 1 week old.

If ducklings haven’t learnt to drink within a few hours, it may be necessary to dip their bills in the drinking water in order to coax them to start drinking. In the case of earth or cement floors, the brooding area should be bedded with clean dry litter such as wood shavings, chopped straw or padi husks. Newspapers can be put down on wire floors for the first few days to guard against drafts. Ducklings should be allowed access to more of the floor area of the pen as they grow older.

Overcrowding ducks can be extremely detrimental to their health, growth or egg production. Please provide adequate floor space at each stage of development is basic to successful duck raising. While under crowding is not usually a problem, it is better to stock ducks at near the recommended density in cold weather so that body heat will help warm the room in which the ducks are confined.

Floor Space Allowances For Ducks

Age of days = Space/Duck (sq ft)

  • 1 = 0.31
  • 2 = 0.62
  • 3 = 1.10
  • 4 = 1.50
  • 5 = 1.90
  • 6 = 2.30
  • 7 = 2.50
  • Developing Breeders = 2.70
  • Laying Breeders = 3.00

You should avoid flooring that will or could injure the skin covering the feet and hock joints of ducks. The smooth skin of ducks is not as tough as that of land fowl, and is more susceptible to injury when ducks are confined on surfaces that are too rough, or abrasive. Slats, wire floors or cage bottoms may cause injury to the feet and legs of ducks, unless these surfaces are smooth, non-abrasive, and free of sharp edges. Stones, mixed with the soil covering the duck yards can also cause injury.

Ducks drink and excrete more water than chickens or turkeys, their droppings are over 90% moisture. It is therefore necessary to take extra measures to maintain litter floors inside sheltered areas in a dry condition. This will require regular addition of fresh bedding, on top of the bedding that has become soiled or wet, and when necessary, cleaning out the old litter and replacing it with fresh litter.

Under semi-confinement growing, in which case ducklings spend most of their time outdoors during the day (after the first 3 weeks), waterers should be located outside, as far away from the house as possible. This will reducing tracking water to the litter. Duck yards should be maintained in a clean condition by removing the upper few inches of soil and replacing it with clean soil (preferably sand) whenever necessary.

As they grow older they are able to store increasing amounts of feed in their esophagus at each feeding, and thus need to eat less frequently. By about four weeks of age, Pekin ducks can easily consume 100 grams or more of pellets at a single feeding. It is important to provide about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of feeder space per duck for about the first 3 weeks. Afterwards this can be gradually reduced to about half this amount so long as there is no crowding at the feed hoppers. Developing breeders that are being fed an allotted amount of feed each day should be allowed plenty of feeding space so that all birds can eat at once, which requires about 4 inches (10 cm) of linear space per duck.

As a general rule, ducks need twice as much feeding space as hens. Flock feeders are the most satisfactory types of feeders for ducks. Provide each duck with a feeding space of at least 12 cm (the equivalent of four 2 m flock feeders per 100 adults).

Waterers designed for chickens and turkeys are usually satisfactory for ducks, as long as the size of the duck’s bill is considered. Troughs, can’s or jar-type waterers can be used so long as the drinking area is wide enough for the duck to submerge its bill. The same requirement applies to automatic trough, cup or Plasson waterers. Nipple waterers, if properly adjusted for the duck’s height, are also satisfactory. If waterers are located indoors where the floor is bedded with litter, waterers should be located on a wire-mesh screen to reduce wetting of the litter.

Swimming facilities are not essential. However, pools can be made available where outside runs are provided. To limit wastage of eggs, it is advisable to prevent outside swimming until about 10.00 am, when most eggs will have been laid (most ducks lay their eggs in the evening and early morning). Although swimming water is not necessary, ducks do need plenty of clean drinking water. Birds should be able to immerse their heads completely and hence clean and prevent blockage of their nasal passages caused by food and dirt. Keep drinking containers shaded at all times. To prevent damp litter, place drinking vessels outside the shed or on a wire grid. Provide about 3 cm of drinking space for each adult bird.

The length of the laying period of ducks can be increased considerably if supplemental lighting is provided. If supplemental light is not provided, egg production will be seasonal and dependent on changes in natural day length. Adding artificial light to extend the daily light period to 14-17 hours, and preventing any decrease in day length, will provide adequate light stimulation for ducks to lay continuously for 7-12 months, depending upon their ability to lay, and other conditions.

If your ducks are confined to a building at night and allowed outdoors during the day (or if confined to non-lightproof housing), the usual practice is to turn artificial lights on at a set time before sunrise, off at a set time after sunrise, then on again before sunset and off after sunset, maintaining a constant light period (14 hours, for example) and a constant dark period (10 hours in this case) each day. Such a lighting regimen is usually implemented with the aid of electric time clocks that turn lights on and off at set times.

A light intensity of about 10 lux at the duck’s eye level is sufficient to stimulate adequate sexual response in both drakes and ducks. In practice, however, breeding and laying ducks are commonly lit to provide 20-30 lux at duck level. Artificial lighting is less important for growing ducks. Ducks are nocturnal, and can find feed and water in the dark. However artificial light is important the first few days to assist ducklings in getting started drinking and eating.

Encourage ducks to use nests because cleaner eggs result and fewer breakages occur. Furthermore, eggs laid in nests are not exposed to sun or damp. This may be difficult with breeds other than Muscovies.

Nests should be clean, dry, comfortable and only large enough to be used by one duck at a time. Build them from timber and place them in rows along the walls. A suitable size is 30 cm by 30 cm by about 40 cm deep. Nesting material should be placed in the nest to a depth of about 7 cm. Use shavings, sawdust, sand or shell grit. Broody ducks will further line their nests with their own body feathers.

The area selected for sheds should be gently sloping. If the site is too hilly, sheds will be difficult to build, if the site is too flat, drainage will be impeded. The shed should face north to north-east and should be at least 2 m high at the back, to give enough head room. Since ducks are very susceptible to excessive sun, provide adequate shade. Allow for housing growers and adults separately, and make sure there is no drainage from the adult housing area to growers. Whatever housing is chosen, a cheap and effective type of shed is one with a skillion roof.

The ideal method of housing breeding stock is in a building which has both litter and slatted or wire floor areas. This greatly reduces the amount of wet litter and improves overall production. Feeders and waterers are placed on the slats. The litter area is used by the ducks for mating and for laying eggs. A combination of litter and slats prevents possible leg damage to heavy breeding ducks, which may occur if they are housed on slats only.

Ducks are comical characters and are bound to make you smile as they go about their antics everyday.

ducklings1

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  1. [...] The Kebun’s Weblog put an intriguing blog post on ARE A SMALL FLOCK OF DUCKS FOR YOU?Here’s a quick excerpt A small flock of ducks can be kept in your garden for peanuts at a low cost. What you need for the first week are that the basic infrastructure and equipment needed to get started are a simple structure, like a partially enclosed shed, a home made brooder, inexpensive fencing, a feeder or home made trough made of wood and a simply constructed watering device. The Duck house shelter should be located on a well d [...]

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  2. [...] The Kebun’s Weblog placed an interesting blog post on ARE A SMALL FLOCK OF DUCKS FOR YOU?Here’s a brief overview A small flock of ducks can be kept in your garden for peanuts at a low cost. What you need for the first week are that the basic infrastructure and equipment needed to get started are a simple structure, like a partially enclosed shed, a home made brooder, inexpensive fencing, a feeder or home made trough made of wood and a simply constructed watering device. The Duck house shelter should be located on a well d [...]

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  3. Topics about Bass » ARE A SMALL FLOCK OF DUCKS FOR YOU?
    2075 days ago
    March 22, 2009 at 7:09 am

    [...] The Kebun’s Weblog placed an interesting blog post on ARE A SMALL FLOCK OF DUCKS FOR YOU?Here’s a brief overview A small flock of ducks can be kept in your garden for peanuts at a low cost. What you need for the first week are that the basic infrastructure and equipment needed to get started are a simple structure, like a partially enclosed shed, a home made brooder, inexpensive fencing, a feeder or home made trough made of wood and a simply constructed watering device. The Duck house shelter should be located on a well d [...]

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