Duck Meat and Egg Production (Part 3)
Have you been wanting to start your own duck business? Here’s a no-nonsense guide to jumpstart your way to success.
Waterers used for other poultry like chicken may be used for ducks. However, the size of the duck’s bill should be considered. Waterers such as troughs, cans, or jar-type equipment may be used provided the drinking area is at least 4.0 cm wide. This also applies to automatic trough, cup or Plasson waterers. When using nipple waterers, they should be adjusted to the height of the ducks.
For ducks raised indoors where the floor is bedded with litter, waterers should be located on a wire-mesh screen to reduce wetting of the litter. Commercial duck houses are recommended to have a cement floor drain underneath the water screens.
Starting and growing ducks must be provided with minimum of 2.5 cm or 1 inch of linear watering space per animal. Developing and laying breeders should be provided with 5.0 CRl or 2 inches watering space. When using nipple waterers, 15 nipples should be provided for every 100 starting and growing dticks. Developing and laying breeders should be provided with 20 nipples for every too ducks. Starting ducklings should always have access to watering cans, troughs or jars until the v are able to drink from nipple waterers.
Breeders must be selected at age eight weeks and again at age 4 to 5 months before they are placed in breeding pens. Vigorous breeding stock should be selected. To ensure better fertility, hatchability, and livability of offspring, eggs for breeding purposes must come from ducks of at least age seven months. Drakes should have the same age as the ducks, or even a month older. Drake should be raised separately from ducks and should be placed with the ducks only when they are ready for mating.
The duck-drake ratio for mating may be 6 drakes to 10 ducks. Heavier breeds must have a closer ration of males to females when mating, than light breeds. Pateros ducks are ready for laying at age 4 to 6 months. Pekin and Muscovy ducks start laying at age 6 to 7 months.
Information and techniques used for incubating and hatching chicken eggs may also be used for ducks. It is however important to take the differences of the two species into account.
Trays must be designed to accommodate the duck egg’s larger size. Like Pekin eggs, the average duck egg usually takes 28 days to hatch. Muscovy duck eggs hatch in about 35 days after setting. Large commercial incubators or setters may be used for hatching a large number of duck eggs. Pekin duck eggs are kept in a setter for 25 days. After which, they are then transferred on the 25th day to a hatcher where they remain until they hatch on the 28th day. Eggs must be turned hourly while in the setter, but not in the hatcher. Eggs must be stored at a temperature and humidity level that will minimize deterioration of the egg if they are stored for a while before being set. Eggs must be stored at approximately 13°C and 75% relative humidity.
Duck eggs can be hatched naturally by placing them under a broody duck or a broody chicken hen. The Muscow breed has natural motherly instincts. The Muscovy duck hatches and breeds her own duckling with minimal or no help from caretakers. Muscovy ducks are capable of hatching twelve to fifteen eggs. The nest box must be located in a clean dry shelter and bedded with suitable litter. Feed and water should be available for the broody (luck as well as for the ducklings when they hatch.
However, the Native or Pateros duck is a non-sitter, therefore her eggs are incubated using the native method of incubation known as the balutan.
The balutan or native hatchery is a simple one-room house ustialiv,built with bamboo, wood or hollow blocks with nipa or galvanized iron roofing. Other backyard farmers use the first floor of their house as the balutan or hatchery. This is called the kamalig or barn. It only has one door to prevent drafts, and some have windows that are opened only during the high temperature months. Its flooring is of hard earth or concrete and is covered with three inches of rice hull. Egg containers used are wooden boxes of 3x4x4 ft measurement.
For commercial hatcheries however, basic procedures and conditions for hatching are as follows.
1. For new incubators not yet in operation, the incubator should be started one to two days before setting the eggs to stabilize temperature and humidity. Temperature should be set at 37.5°C and relative humidity at 55%. Ventilation should be set as recommended by the incubator manufacturer. Eggs must be turned automatically or by hand at least four times per day. Most automatic turning equipment are set to turn eggs hourly;
2. Eggs to be set should be selected carefully by inspecting and candling them at the time they are put in trays. Eggs that are cracked, double-yolked, misshapen, oversized, undersized or dirty must not be set. Eggs must be set within one to three days after they are laid, to obtain best results. There is an average loss of about 3% hatchability for eggs stored 7 days before setting, and about 10% loss for those stored 14 days. Eggs must beset small end down, except when using small incubators that have no trays;
3. On the day of the setting, eggs must be placed in the incubator, and left to allow the incubator to reach operating temperature. On the first day, regularly check to see if the incubator is working properly. After which, continue checking at least four times every day;
4. Eggs must be checked and candled seven days after setting. Infertile eggs (clear) and eggs that have dead germ (cloudy) should be removed;
5. Eggs (Pekin and breeds other than Muscovy) must be transferred to hatching trays twenty-five days after setting. If eggs are hatched in a separate machine, they should be moved to the hatcher. Eggs must be candled, and eggs with dead embryos removed. The temperature of the hatcher at the time of transfer must be 37.2°C and the humidity set at 65%. As the hatch progresses, and eggs begin to pip, increase the humidity to 8o%. Ventilation openings must be increased by 50%. As the hatch nears completion gradually lower the temperature and humidity so that by the end of the hatch the temperature is at 36.1′C, and the humidity is at 70%. Vents must be opened to their maximum setting by the end of the hatch. Ducklings must be removed from the hatcher when 90-95% of them are dry.
Care of ducklings
Most information and technology for brooding chicks may be applied to ducklings. Ducklings hatched artificially must be provided with a warm and dry brooding area that is free of drafts. The brooding area must also be maintained to be rat proof. Ducklings should be provided with a source of heat at least until they -are age one week. Feed and drinking water must be situated near the heat source so that ducklings will learn to eat and drink after they are placed in the brooder. Ducklings that have not learned to drink within a few hours may need assistance, thus the caretaker must dip their bills in the drinking water to coax them to start drinking. Earth or cement floors must be bedded with clean dry litter such as wood shavings, rice hulls and similar materials. Woven bamboo mats and sawali may also be used as floor mats. Newspapers may be put down on wire floors for the first few days if there is a draft problem.
During the months of January and February when nights are cooler, artificial heat should be provided for at least 10 days. Kerosene lamps and electric bulbs are sufficient heat sources.
Ducklings require 30 °C temperature at the time of hatching as they are not yet able to regulate their body temperature. They develop the ability to produce and conserve heat and regulate their body temperature as they grow older. They will be able to better regulate their body temperature after the duckling is fully covered with feathers and down. At age seven days, ducklings should be provided with optimum temperature of 27°C; at age 14 days, 23°C, at age 21 days, 19°C; at age 28 days, 15°C; and 13°C at age 35 days until about 49 days. Developing and laying breeders also have the optimum temperature of 13 °C.
A good indication if ducklings receive ideal brooding temperature is their behavior toward the heat source. Ducklings huddle close to the heat source when temperature is too low and pant away from the heat source if it is too high. Ideal temperature is reached when ducklings are spread evenly in the brooder.
Ducklings should be sexed before placing in the brooder. Males intended for meat purposes must be raised separately from the females. Ducklings are transferred from the brooder to the growing house when they are age six weeks. Layers on the other hand, must be transferred from the brooder to the laying house at age four months.
Nutrition and health
Ducks should be provided with all their needed nutrients regardless of how they obtain their food. Backyard ducks that are able to forage may be able to survive, grow, and lay eggs by consuming available food by consuming green plants, insects, table scraps, crop residues and spillage. However, ducks feeding as suck will grow very slowly and produce a small number of eggs.
Backyard farmers must provide supplemental feed to increase growth rate and egg production. Ducklings should be provided with a wet starter mash for eight weeks.
Native ducks raised in the native method are fed four to five times a day with moistened boiled rice for the first 33 weeks. Feed must be given at night for the first few days. Drinking water must be provided in troughs or fountains on the second day. At age one month, ducks may be fed with small fresh water snails and boiled palay (unhulled rice). Wet mash easily spoils when left in the troughs for long periods thus only feed to be consumed within ten to fifteen minutes must be placed in troughs.
Corn, soybean meal, fish meal, dried whey, rice bran with oyster shell and bone meal with vitamin-mineral supplements may consist the mash feed for duckling. At age one day to six weeks, ducklings must be fed with a starter mash with 10% -21% crude protein. At age six weeks to four months, ducks may be fed with a grower mash with sixteen percent protein. At age four months and above, a layer mash with sixteen percent crude protein may be provided. Ducklings learn to eat more readily if feed is given at intervals. Their appetites are developed to fill up in between drinks, digest food quickly and be ready to eat for the next feeding time. At age five weeks, ducks may be given green feed such as chopped leaves of kangkong, camote, ipil-ipil and legumes at a minimum of three times a day. Ten grams of green leaves per duck per day is sufficient.
Pellets may also be introduced as feeds to the animals. The pellet system is a feed-saving device. Pellets of each kind of feed are ideal, however, pellet size must be suitable to the duck’s age.
to be continued…
By Carmela Abaygar