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Keeping Ducks

March 5th, 2013

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Duck Facts

Male ducks are known as drakes and the females as ducks, and the infants as ducklings.  There are more than 40 breeds of domestic duck, all of which are descended from either the Mallard or Muscovy duck.  Domestic ducks typically live for between 10-15 years, although the world record is held by a Mallard Drake who lived to the ripe old age of 27 years!


Duck Houses

An appropriate duck house is important not only for the comfort and raising of your ducks, but also to protect from predators.  One of the first things to bear in mind is that your ducks need access to water, which can be either a natural source or for instance a pool you install.  A good approach is to provide a secure house with an enclosed run.  If you allow them to forage outside of the enclosure during the day your ducks should be brought into the enclosure each night.  Unless trained to come back to the enclosure at night they will continue to forage into the night and will leave the enclosure any time it is not locked down.  This will put them at greater risk than during daylight.


Duck Food

In the wild ducks are opportunistic eaters and will eat grass, aquatic plants, insects, seeds, fruit, fish, crustaceans and other types of food.  In practice when keeping ducks domestically the staple food generally used is a duck feed, although this can be supplemented with other items.  The duck feed will vary dependant on breed and age, although feeds will normally consist of wheat and maize, with soya bean meal and soya oil added in order to provide extra protein and energy. Minerals and vitamins are also added to protect against deficiencies.


Duck Health

Feather loss in ducks is often a sign of illness, although a duck that just loses feathers from the back of its head during the mating season is most likely just getting too much attention from the Drakes!  Dull feathers are a sign a duck may not have access to water deep enough to submerge in and throw water over themselves.  This will mean they are not able to spread the lubricating oil from their preening gland over their feathers.  This should be attended to as this can have a bad effect on their health.  Any awkwardness in their walk should be checked and dirty eyes or nostrils can be a sign they do not have access to deep enough water to dip their whole head and neck into.  It is important ducks have this in order to be able to wash their eyes as they do not have tear ducts.


Duck Breeds

There are numerous breeds to choose from and your choice will be influenced by how many you want to keep, your experience and your preferences for meat or eggs.  The Peking is a good choice for meat production, and has been used for developing other breeds intended for this use.  The Muscovy is also good for meat production, and lay’s about 100 eggs a year.  They are also good insect harvesters for your garden.  If your preference is eggs over meat, breeds to be considered are the three varieties of the Orpington, or the Campbell, which also has three breeds.  In the event you are primarily interested in keeping ducks as pets, the smaller Call breeds which were bred to lure wild ducks into traps are probably most suitable.  Their small size and nature makes them appealing and they are easy for children to handle.  They can, however, be relatively noisy.

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  1. October 20th, 2012 at 04:15 | #1

    I love ducks and have had them for years, they really are manifincegt pets. I guess most people don’t realize that ducks can be pets.The best thing to do is try to keep him comfortable. Look at his back and see if he has dry skin, may be the reason he scratches himself by rolling onto his back. If he doesn’t then it could be a different problem. I know ducks need lots of exercise or they become weak in the legs.

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