All About Ducks & Wild Duck Facts

Wild Ducks

There are a large number of duck species throughout the world and they belong to the Anatidae family which also includes geese and swans.

This website groups them into Dabbling Ducks, Diving Ducks, Perching Ducks, Stiff-tail Ducks, Sea Ducks, Shelducks, and Whistling Ducks.

Dabbling Ducks generally feed on the surface of the water whereas Diving Ducks will dive underwater for food. Perching Ducks like to perch on a tree branch and nest in tree cavities, Stiff-tail Ducks are a small species of duck which often hold their tail erect, Sea Ducks winter along the coasts and are able to tolerate salt water, Shelducks are large and seem to be a cross between a goose and a duck, and Whistling Ducks have a long neck and long legs, and have a noisy whistling call.

What do wild Ducks Eat?
They will feed on a variety of different food sources such as aquatic vegetation including the leaves, roots, and seeds of plants, also aquatic insects and their larvae. Sea Ducks such as Mergansers have serrated beaks called a sawbill which helps them to grip fish, and they also feed on molluscs, crustaceans, and small amphibians. Shelducks and Whistling Ducks are also comfortable on land as well as water and will feed on grasses.

Breeding:
Many species of duck are monogamous and stay together for just a year. They will generally breed once a year in the Spring or Summer or during the wet season. Flocks of Shelduck tend to migrate and leave all their young behind with a few adult birds who care for them.

Habitat and Migration:
They are aquatic birds and can be found all around the world on every continent except Antarctica and are seen in wetlands, lakes, rivers, swamps, reservoirs, and along the coast. Many of the Northern Hemisphere ducks are migratory and will fly south during the winter to warmer regions. Tropical Ducks tend to be non-migratory and some ducks (particularly in Australia) are nomadic as they continually seek out temporary lakes after local flooding.

Plumage and Moulting:
The male duck (Drake) usually has a colorful plumage during the breeding season which helps them to attract a mate. The female duck is usually a dull brown color. During the non-breeding season the male will moult and gain a much duller plumage similar to the female. This moult which results in the eclipse plumage includes the wing feathers so that it cannot fly for a time and the duller plumage helps the duck to be inconspicuous to predators. The male later has another less severe moult to regain its colorful plumage again so it can once again attract a mate. Moulting is necessary to keep the feathers in good condition. Some duck species have the same color plumage between the male and female and they do not have an eclipse plumage.

Domestic Ducks

Most domesticated ducks are descended from the Mallard. They are farmed for their meat and eggs. They have become much larger than the original Mallard. A Call Duck is a domesticated duck that is raised for decoration or as a pet and resembles a small mallard.

Duck farming is very popular and absolutely a lucrative business. There are numerous meat and egg productive duck breeds available. All the present domestic ducks come from the wild birds. The wild birds have been domesticated to be used as a good source of food, both from meat and eggs. Almost all domesticated birds are from the mallard  species. They can be raised without water by keeping them inside houses or in outside pens in the same way you raise chickens or other types of poultry birds. When breeding ducks they need water or they will lay unfertilized eggs. They can only breed in water because it is to difficult for them to copulate on land. If you want fertile eggs, male ducks and water are essential. They can easily be raised without water, they only need water for reproduction or mating purposes. When we say they can be raised without water, this is water they can wade in, drinking water is still essential, the same as other poultry breeds.

Pekin Duck

Pekin Duck

Advantages of Raising Ducks
They rank next to chicken for meat and egg production. You can raise them in both commercial and small scale meat or egg production farms. You can also raise these birds in your own backyard with other birds or animals. Some notable advantages of duck farming are:

  • They need less expensive, simple housing facilities. Housing costs are less for setting up commercial duck farming than other poultry.
  • They are very hardy bird and need less care or management. They can adopt themselves to almost any type of environmental conditions.
  • They lay eggs either at night or in the morning. So you can collect their fresh eggs every morning.
  • You need comparatively less space for raising ducks. They have comparatively shorter brooding period and ducklings grow faster. Ducklings grow so fast that, you can dispense artificial heat within their 5 to 7 days. Although they will require a little longer heating period during cold months.
  • They are highly resistant to the common avian diseases.
  • You can feed your ducks with a wide variety of 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 reduces feeding cost.
  • You can also use your ducks for controlling apple snails or some other harmful insects from your garden.
  • They have less mortality rate and usually live longer than chickens.
  • Duck products such as eggs and meat are in demand in the local and international market.
  • Duck farming business can also be a stable employment source. Young unemployed educated people can join this business and make their own employment source.

Peculiarity of Ducks
Their bodies are fully covered with oily feathers, so water cannot directly enter inside their body. They have a layer of fat under their skin, which helps keep them warm. For this reason, they can spend a couple of hours in water and their body will remain dry and warm. Another peculiarity of duck is their legs. They have three fingers on their legs and these fingers are covered with thin skin (which is called a ‘web’). It works like a paddle of a boat. The finger ends in nail. Some species of ducks use their nails for defending themselves. Generally the lip of ducks are red or orange colored and become very strong. With this lip they can eat moss, insects, fish egg, hard snail etc. If you observe ducks very closely, you will find that they are very clever and intelligent.

Duck Feed
They generally eat all types of food they find edible. You can feed your ducks like chickens. But you have to add some extra additives into duck feed. Add necessary nutrient elements in their diet. Always provide your ducks nutritious feed according to the various types of duck breeds and their growth rate. For small scale or domestic duck farming, you can feed them rich bran, kitchen waste and a plenty of snails. Always keep in mind that, ducks eat a lot of food daily. So you have to feed them a well-balanced food for proper egg and meat production.

Duck Eggs and Meat Market
Marketing duck products (eggs and meat) is very easy. People all over the world like duck eggs and meat. In some areas, people like duck eggs and meat more than chicken meat or eggs. Duck eggs are usually larger in size than chicken eggs. You can determine the demand of duck products in your local market.

Duck Breeds
There are numerous duck breeds available throughout the world. Not all of these breeds are suitable for a commercial duck farming business. Some breeds are suitable for egg production and some are ideal for commercial meat production. Usually ducks are classified as one of  three types according to their production type.

Blue Swedish Duck

Blue Swedish Duck

Meat productive duck breeds
Egg productive duck breeds
Both meat and egg production.

Meat Duck Breeds
There are numerous duck breeds available which are used for meat production. Pekin, Aylesbury, Muscovy, Rouen and the Swedish ducks are the most popular for meat production. Usually meat productive male ducks weight up to 8-10 pounds and female weight about 6-8 pounds.

Layer Duck Breeds
The Indian Runner is a popular layer duck breed and is known for their egg production capabilities. Khaki Campbell ducks are also a very popular duck breed for high egg production.

Meat & Layer Duck Breeds
Khaki Campbell ducks are suitable for both meat and egg production.

Housing
The main advantages of duck farming is their simple housing needs. Making a duck house is very easy. They like watery and wet places to live. The house must be well ventilated with sufficient flow of fresh air. Each duck will require up to 2 to 3 square feet of floor space. Ensure the safety of your ducks and keep them free from all types of harmful animals or predators, especially from foxes and dogs. If you want to keep your ducks like chickens in a house with a concrete floor, then the liter inside the house must be deeper. Duck hens will lay eggs on the floor.

Breeding
Water is a must for ducks to breed properly. They do not mate without water usually. One male duck is sufficient for breeding up to 10 females. Usually high quality and productive duck breeds start laying eggs at five months of age. You can use chicken hens for hatching the eggs, instead of the ducks. Do not keep the newly born ducklings in water during their first week, after birth because they can get cold if you allow them to water. Usually duck eggs take about 28 days to hatch. Use an electronic incubator or chicken hens for hatching the eggs.

Storing Eggs
Eggs must be stored properly. Use a refrigerator for storing the eggs.

Sex Determination
It is not difficult to determine the sex of newly born duckling. Raise up the tail of the duckling and press on its rectum. If you notice there is a penis like thorn, then it will be male. If the penis like thorn is not seen, the duckling will be a female duck. The easiest way to determine male ducks is the tail feathers of male ducks are curled up when mature.

Marketing
Before marketing duck eggs, clean the dirt of egg shell perfectly.

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