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A Quick Guide to Raising Ducks

Learn how to plan and care for farm ducks, including information on Muscovy, Indian Running and Perkin duck breeds.

| March/April 1970

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    The Muscovy is a good big duck, the mature drake weighing 10 pounds and the duck 7 pounds, and they are a very hardy, self-reliant breed. The Indian Runners weigh only 4 to 4-1/2 pounds at maturity. One important advantage of the Muscovy is that it is quackless and won't bother your neighbors. Muscovies are fliers, though, and if your fencing isn't pretty high, you may have to clip the outermost feathers from one wing.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    Muscovy ducks aren't noisy, have a better flavor, are very hardy and are free from disease. This trio of drake and two ducks produced 18 young ducks on their first hatchings. These ducklings are about six weeks old.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    Coop and wire run suitable for hatching and brooding of ducklings with a hen. The bars keep hen confined, but let ducklings get sunlight and fresh air safe from dogs, cats, rats, etc. Top lifts up to allow cleaning, feeding, watering.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Cement bathing and drinking trough which can be easily kept clean. Only while ducks are sitting on eggs is water for bathing really necessary.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Ducks are messy feeders and will waste less if pellets instead of mash are used. Here is cross section of pellet hopper used by commercial duck raisers. It can be made any size to hold from one to several hundred pounds of pellets, thus saving much labor. "Flaps" can be closed to cut down time pellets are available to the ducks, thus forcing them to forage.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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People are always giving us something. We got our trio of Muscovy ducks one day when a lady who lives near our Country Bookstore in Noroton, Conn., moved. They were breeders and she didn't want to have them killed. Knowing that we had a small farm, she thought we might like them.

There is a good deal to be said for making ducks your second poultry project, particularly if you have any kind of small stream or pond on your place, although neither is necessary. One of the unusual things about ducks is that they are well adapted to either a small place or to large-scale commercial production.

Don't start a duck project unless your family is fond of duck. If you're anywhere near as successful as we've been, you'll have a lot of duck. The trio that was given to us has produced over 25 ducklings in the first six months. Incidentally, Muscovy ducks are better eating, we think, than the ordinary Pekin variety that you get in the market.

Anyway, ducks do furnish delicious variety for the table. Many people like duck eggs, too, especially for cooking. Ducks require relatively little care and are practically free of disease problems. They are efficient and economical meat producers, gaining weight rapidly even when allowed to forage for much of their food.

You have three choices as to how to plan your duck raising program. You can keep a small flock of breeders the year around. You can buy day-old ducklings and brood them like baby chicks, but with less heat and care. Or you can buy duck eggs and hatch them out under hens.

Keeping A Small Flock Of Breeder Ducks

Reasons for owning ducks varies. Some just plain like ducks and like having them around and some would like having some duck eggs for eating or cooking in addition to having duck meat if you have some grass forage land. If you have a stream or pond, keep a small flock of breeders.

6/20/2016 10:02:50 AM

I want to raise thousands of ducks each month on my farm. I was wondering, are there buyers out there that will come buy your duck flocks? If so, who are these buyers and contact information? I just do not want to process/slaughter ducks and try to market them, if someone else will simply buy ducks from me. Thanks

Linda Welch
12/16/2008 1:33:23 PM

Not a comment but a question. I have 3 muscovy ducks (approx. 2 years old). Got them from a woman who had to move and couldn't take them with her. She said the 3 were all girls (sisters). Not raising them for food, just pets. They have been a source of entertainment since I aquired them; however, in the last week or so two of the ducks have been fighting (actually one is picking on the other). I'm now wondering if the dark teal colored duck is actually a male and the two white ones may be female??? One white duck is pecking at, jumping on, tormenting the other white duck. The dark colored duck is pretty much staying out of it. They are in a pen maybe 6'X12'; however, right after Christmas we are going to open a door in the pen and build a nice yard for them to have access to and use the pen as shelter. I feel bad for the poor duck that is being picked on. She hides in a corner all day. By the way, the 3 are also off their feed of mash and mid day meal of two hard boiled eggs, romaine lettuce and chopped tomato (which they love). They aren't eating much of that either. Never had them in the winter before (even though here in Mexico our winter is still warm). Any suggestions? Should I try to separate them? I'm close to doing that (dividing pen in half until we get the outdoor run finished for them). Thank you so much.

4/4/2007 2:08:31 PM

i like this information but i would like to know how to take a oekin duck a shower.

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