Dr. Deepikesh Joshi & Anupam Kumar Azad
PhD Scholar (LPM), Dept. of Livestock Production Management
College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, GBPUAT
Pantnagar, Uttarakhand- 263145
Duck farming occupies an important position in India. As per livestock census 2019, the duck population of India is 27.43 million constituting 8.52 percent of the total poultry population and contributes about 7-8% of the total egg produced in the country. Ducks lay more eggs (about 300) per bird per year than chicken and the weight is also greater than hen egg by about 18-20 g. Duck has higher red muscle fibre in the breast compared to chicken and is considered as red meat. Ducks have a profitable life from commercial point of view as they lay economically in about second year, so this reduces the cost of production. Ducks supplement their feed by eating fallen grains, snail, earthworms, insects, and small fishes. Ducks are hardy, easily brooded, and resistant to common avian diseases. It is more economical to raise ducks either for egg or meat purpose. Among the egg laying breeds Khaki Campbell and Indian runner are the best in India. Khaki Campbell hens can produce an egg a day which is white in colour and more than 300 eggs per year. White Pekin is the most popular duck for meat purpose. It is fast growing and has low feed consumption with fine quality meat. Duck’s feed conversion ratio is 1:2.3 to 2.7. Drake (male) weighs about 4 kg and duck weighs about 3.5 kg at maturity. Other meat type ducks are Aylesbury, Muscovy, Rouen, Cayuga, Buff and Swedish breeds. Ducks breeds like Crested White, Carolina, Grey calls, White Calls, and Black East Indies are also used for Ornamental purpose.
Advantages of Duck rearing
- Ducks have longer egg-production life.
- Their eggs are heavier and fetch a better price.
- Their meat is also a delicacy and relished by the people.
- They kill snails, slugs and other crop pests.
- They are good foragers and are able to meet part of their feed requirements from the wild.
- Ducks have longer, economical laying period than chicken.
- They are hardy and more resistant to many avian diseases.
Common duck breeds: –
Egg type :
- Khaki Campbell 2. Nageswari, 3. Indian Runner, 4. Chara Chemballi
Meat type :
- Pekin, 2. Muscovy, 3. Ruel Kagua
(C) Housing of ducks: –
Ducks do not require elaborate houses. The house should be well ventilated, dry, and rodent-proof. Any type of brooder house may be used for brooding ducklings. The temperature under the brooder should be 30-35 °C for the first week and it should be reduced by 30 °C every 4-7 days till it reaches 24 °C during the fourth week. Duckling may be brooded in wire floor, litter or batteries. A continuous water channel is constructed inside the house. Duckling may be reared in intensive, semi-intensive, or range system. In range system, a flock of 1000 can be reared in one acre. According to season and weather conditions, artificial weather is necessary
Adult stock: –
Under intensive system, a floor apace of 4 to 5 sq. ft. is essential, where as in semi-intensive system, a floor space of 3 sq. ft. in shelter and 12-17 sq. ft. in outfield is sufficient. A feeding space of 6-7 cm. is sufficient.
Laying bird: –
For laying bird 30x30x45 cm. size box is sufficient for three birds. For layer light of 16 hours is sufficient. In layer mating ratio of 1:6 to 7 and for meat breeds a ratio of 1: 4 to 5 is sufficient
- Feeding of ducks: –
Baby ducklings should eat waterfowl starter crumbles, a blend specially formulated for their growth and development. Chick starter can be used as a substitute, with cautions. If a chick starter is used, we must provide a niacin supplement in the feed or water. Under intensive system, dry mash pellets or crumbs should be provided in water source. Ducks have no teeth – they need grit in the form of small rocks to grind their food.
- Breeding of ducks: –
Water is a must for breeding purpose. Usually, ducks don’t mate without water. One male duck is sufficient for breeding 10 female ducks. Usually, high quality and productive duck breeds start laying eggs at their five months of age. Each egg weights about 50 to 60 grams. Usually, duck eggs takes about 28 days to hatch.
Gender Determination: – It is not so difficult to determine the gender of newly born duckling. Raise up the tail of the duckling and press on its vent. If you notice there is a penis like thorn, then it will be male. And if not then it will definitely be a female duck. The easiest way to determine male ducks is that the tail feathers of male ducks are curled up.
- Brooding Management of ducks: –
Incubation period in duck is 28 days longer than chicken.
Brooding (0-4 Weeks): –
The brooding period (0-4 weeks) is very critical for duckling and highest mortality may be observed, if proper care is not taken. 1 sq. meter area for 100 ducklings or 100 sq. cms. per ducklings is sufficient for brooding. A temperature of 29 to 32 °C is maintained during the first week. It is reduced by about 30 °C per week till it reaches 24 °C at the end of fourth week. If temperature is higher than the recommended level, air circulation should be increased. In case of winter, a 60 watt bulb at 1-1.5 meter height from the ground level is enough to maintain the required temperature. Feed may be sprinkled or provided in the trays for encouraging the new born ducklings to pick up feed. From day two onwards, ad libitum feed is provided in trough type of feeders. As the duckling grows bigger, suitable feeders are used. Water in the drinkers should be offered frequently, 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3”) deep is sufficient to drink and not dip themselves. Try to keep ducklings dry.
Feeding (5-16 Weeks): –
Supplementary feeding is essential for better results. Birds allowed to field should also be supplemented with concentrate feed at least half dose of recommended feed. The concentrate feed may be purchased or formulated with local feed ingredients. The feed should contain 16% protein for layer bird and 20% protein for broiler finisher bird. Starter ration (0-8weeks) & grower ration should contain 22-24 & 20% protein respectively.
Feed ingredients for 10 kg feeds (Adult bird): –
Maize-4 kg, Rice Polish-3kg, Mustard Cake- 1kg, Min mix- 350g, Salt- 250g, Vita. mix-250, Antibiotics-75g, Coccidiostate-75g. All ingredients should be free from alfatoxins. Feed birds in the morning and late afternoon.
HATCHING OF EGGS:
Hatching of eggs refers to the production of baby chicks from fertile eggs. Ducks usually begin laying at about 6–7 months of age and should be laying at a rate of about 90% within 5 weeks of the onset of laying.
Selecting egg for incubation: Some eggs have little or no chance of hatching. Because of this, and to conserve incubator space, set only those eggs that are likely to produce ducklings. Do not select eggs that are obviously underweight, cracked or heavily mottled, or those that have poor shell texture.
Egg Storage: Eggs will probably need to be stored until there are enough to incubate. Most breeders prefer to have only one hatching day per week. The longer the eggs are kept, the less chance they have of hatching. The chance of hatching decreases greatly after 7 days.
Temperature: Set the incubator to run at 37.5°C. Maintain this temperature throughout incubation but reduce it by 0.2°C in the hatchers.
Humidity: – Set eggs at a relative humidity of 70% (a wet bulb reading of 33°C and a dry bulb reading of 37.5°C). Humidity may be allowed to fall to 65% but should be increased to 70% when hatching (chipping) begins.
Turning: -Eggs should be turned through an angle of 90°. Do not turn the egg after 25th day.
Candling: – Eggs are candled by shining an electric light through them so that their contents can be clearly seen, and embryonic development determined. Eggs may be tested for fertility on day 7.
- Disease management: –
Some of the common ailments among ducklings are coryza and the respiratory distress due to exposure to chill weather during heavy mist, besides duck plaque which causes high morbidity and mortality. During summer season, swelling of joints, gasping for breath, etc. are noticed. To treat the above diseases, the farmers use a decoction made of Poduthalai leaves (Lippianodiflora), roots of paragrass, Omum and Vasambu (Sweet flag; Acoruscalamus L). These materials are ground well, mixed in water and boiled. Vasambu, the underground stem of the aromatic marsh herb, is a medicine described in Ayurveda as having beneficial effect on the body as a stimulant tonic and antispasmodic. This keeps the living being always alert and active, provides resistance to diseases and gives more stamina. Other common ailments are Duck plague, Aspergillosis, Ornithosis and Duck cholera.
- Ducks for biological control of pests: –
When ducklings/ducks are used in between the paddy plants in the rice field, they feed upon the larvae and insects of all the pests of rice like brown hopper, case worm, etc. This kind of control maintains the ecosystem intact without any chemical or pesticide pollution. The duck could be used as a scavenging bird utilizing large amounts of insects, thus having a two-fold benefit of improving feed utilization efficiency and reducing insect problems in the field.