How to Raise Ducks in your Backyard
Hearing the quack, quack
Aside from raising your own children, or just starting a family, why not indulge yourself into another interesting hobby: raising herds of ducks in your own home at your backyard?
This will be suitable for you while creating your niche in the countryside or if your work destined you to be in such place.
I live in the countryside of the Philippines. From time to time, I am commuting to the greater city of Manila from the Bicol region (the place of the majestic Mayon volcano) in order to report at the maritime agency where I work for as a seafarer.
While on vacation and taking a month-long vacation, I observed that after harvesting the ricefields, some of my neighbors will ask permission to the landowner if they can pasture their ducks in the newly-harvested fields. Immediately after the approval, you can now hear the happy quacking of the herds of ducks very eager to forage whatever was left in the fields by the harvesters.
Raising your own friendly ducks
I said friendly because, seldom you can see them to be stubborn animals. Just feed them abundantly and the herd will reward you with happy quacks, eggs and of course, their meats. It can also be a personal pet of your children and yours, too, aside from domesticated dogs and cats.
But don't let your dogs and cats eat the ducklings.
So, let's make it a try.
1) Buy your breeding stock from reliable duck raisers. The Pateros duck (mallard duck) is good for egg production and the Peking duck is good both for meat and egg purposes. You can also raise Muscovy duck or Pato. Muscovy has low egg production but is more self sustaining than the Pateros and Peking ducks.
2) Build your duck house in a quite, cool place and near as possible to a stream or pond. Local materials like bamboo, nipa and cogon are cool and cheap.
3)Provide each duck with at least 34 square feet of floor space. The floor should be covered with either rice hulls, corn cobs, peanut hulls or similar materials to make it dry and clean; and to help prevent the spread of pests and diseases.
4) You can provide a swimming pond for the ducks if you wish. One of 10 feet wide and 20 feet long is adequate for 50 birds. However, a pond is not really necessary in duck raising. The ducks can lay just as many eggs without it.
5) Pateros ducks start laying when they are about 4-6 months old. Peking and Muscovy ducks start laying at about 6-7 months old. In breeding, you need male for every five female ducks. Select breeders that are healthy, vigorous and without defects
6) Ducklings need to be brooded or warmed until they are a month old.
a. The temperature required for brooding is 95°F for the first week, 90°F for the second week, 85°F for the third week and 80°F for the last week.
b. The behavior of the ducklings is a good indicator whether brooding temperature is correct. The ducklings huddle close topether toward the source of heat when temperature is low; scattered or spread evenly when the temperature is correct; but planting and moving away from the source of heat when the temperature is too hot.
c. A good brooding area is at least 1/2 square foot per duckling during the first week. The area should be increased by about 1/2 square foot every week until the fourth week.
d. When your ducklings show signs of sickness, add three tablespoons of Nexal for every gallon of water for 2-3 days. Skip or withdraw after 3 days. Then continue for another 3 days. Terramycin poultry formula can also be used Follow the instructions on the package carefully.
e. In order to prevent Avian Pest Disease, immunize your ducks with Avian Pest Vaccine which can be obtained free from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).
f. Sex your ducklings. If you desire to fatten the extra males, then grow them separately from the females.
g. When ducklings are six weeks old, they can be transferred from the brooder to the growing house.
h. Transfer the layers to the laying house when they are four months old.
7) Feed your ducks the right kind of feed.
a. 1-day to 6-week-old ducklings should be fed with starter mash with 10-21 percent crude protein.
b. 6-week-old to 4 month old ducklings should be fed with growing mash with at least 16 percent crude protein.
c. 4-month-old ducks and above should be fed with laying ration with at least 16 percent crude protein.
d. Commercial feeds are good for your ducks. However, if you want to mix your own feed, here is a formula for a practical general purpose ration:
First class rice bran (darak)- 55 kilograms
Ground corn or binlid - 20 kilograms
Shrimps or snails - 25 kilograms
Wood ash or ground charcoal - 1.5 kilograms
Ordinary table salt -250 grams
Ground limestone or shells -250 grams
Afsillin or Aurofac - 250 grams
This general purpose ration may be fed to your ducks of any age.
e. Also, feed plenty of chopped green leaves of either kangkong, comfrey, camote, ipil-ipil and legumes as additional feed. Give at least 10 grams of chopped green leaves per duck per day.
f. You can grow and feed fresh water snails to your ducks. Giving one gallon of fresh snails a day to 24 duck layers will help increase egg production.
g. Provide your ducks plenty of clean fresh water all the time.
8) If you provide a swimming pond for your ducks, limit their playing in the water to 1-2 hours a day. Too much playing in the water will tire your ducks and make them eat more feeds.
9) Do not allow your ducks to get wet under the rain because they may get sick.
10) Pateros or mallard ducks should weigh about 21/2 kilograms at 6 months. They should lay about 250-280 eggs in one year. On the other hand, Peking should weigh about 3 1/24 kilograms at 6 months old and lay about 180-200 eggs in,a year.
11) You may start growing your replacement ducks when your layers are in their second year of laying. Dispose of your pool layers and retain the good ones.
12) Duck eggs and meat are as nutritious as chickens'. Eat plenty of duck eggs and meat, they are good for you and your family.
Sources: Harold Watson and Warlito Laquihon. Mindanao Baptist Mission.nternational Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) Silang 4118, Cavite, Philippines Tel. No. (0969) 94-51 Fax No. (632) 522-24-94 ; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Visayas Ave., Diliman Quezon City, Philippines ; Ford Foundation (FF) 6th Floor, Doarcisa Bldg. Paseo de Roxas, Makati Metro Manila, Philippines
One of the famous foods the Filipinos are known for is the “balut”. It’s a one-day old boiled duckling egg. The “balut” is known as an energizer to those who need strength or aphrodisiac to others. This is peddled every evening by “balut” vendors and they come together with “chicharon”, fried thin slices of pork fat or skin.
Mallard duck locally known as ‘Pateros itik’ (Anas platyrynchos) is commonly used by duck farmers in the Philippines. The eggs from this duck are processed to "balut" and salted eggs. "Balut" is an incubated egg with developed embryo of 17 to 19 days which is boiled and eaten with or without salt. It is a Filipino delicacy that commands a good price. Fresh duck eggs are also used to prepare a dessert called "leche flan" (egg custard).
According to Ti Sencia (a traditional balut-maker ), the best balut – also known as “balut sa puti” – is made by allowing the eggs to incubate from 16 to 17 days. Eighteen days is still okay, but go beyond that and the sisiw will be too large for leisurely consumption. Eggshell thickness is also a very important factor in the handling and processing of "balut" and salted eggs.
Balut-Making is considered the major tourist attraction in Pateros. The very famous industry has been handed down from generation and shares about 23.0% of the whole Pateros industry. Balut makers are mostly from Barangay Aguho.
Preserving duck eggs
There are no duck eggs onboard ship.
It is more expensive than the eggs of the commercial hens.What I did was to soak the ordinary chicken eggs in a plastic bucket full of salt and water (brine) solution. A tray of eggs is composed of twenty four eggs. Just try a tray of eggs and soak it for about ten days.
After ten days, you can try boiling an egg or two for three or five minutes and eat it for breakfast. You can garnish it with fresh ripe tomatoes to neutralize the saltiness of the eggs.
Salted duck egg is a Chinese preserved food product made by soaking duckeggs in brine, or packing each egg in damp salted charcoal. In Asian supermarkets, these eggs are sometimes sold covered in a thick layer of salted charcoal paste. The eggs may also be sold with the salted paste removed, wrapped in plastic, and vacuum packed. From the salt curing process, the salted duck eggs have a briny aroma, a very liquid egg white and a yolk that is bright orange-red in colour, round, and firm in texture.
Salted duck eggs are normally boiled or steamed before being peeled and eaten as a condiment to congee or cooked with other foods as a flavouring. The egg white has a sharp, salty taste. The orange red yolk is rich, fatty, and less salty. The yolk is prized and is used in Chinesemooncakes to symbolize the moon.
Despite its name, salted duck eggs can also be made from chicken eggs though the taste and texture will be somewhat different, and the egg yolk will be less rich.
Salted eggs sold in the Philippines undergo a similar curing process with some variation in ingredients used. They are dyed red to distinguish them from fresh duck eggs.
A popular method for processing salted eggs in the Philippines is the Pateros method. The salted egg is prepared Pateros style by mixing clay (from ant hills or termite mounds), table salt and water in the ratio of 1:1:2 until the texture of the admixture becomes smooth and forms a thick texture similar to cake batter. The fresh eggs are individually dipped in the admixture, and packed in 150-egg batches in newspaper-lined 10x12x18 inch wooden boxes (often residual boxes of dried fish packing). The whole batch is then lightly wrapped in newspapers to slow down the dehydration process.
The eggs are then stored indoors at room temperature over the next 12 to 14 days to cure. This way the salt works its way into the eggs uniformly in the batch. Curing can last up to 18 days, but that results in very long-lasting red eggs that can have a 40-day shelf life, which is largely unnecessary, as the eggs are stocked and replenished biweekly.
After the two-week curing period, the eggs are hand-cleaned with water and a brush and prepared to be boiled in low heat for 30 minutes. Time is measured from the first moment the water boils and the immersion of the eggs. The 50-egg batch is then wrapped in fish nets for ease of removal from the cookware. The cookware must be large enough to accommodate the batch with a two-inch covering of water.
Chicken eggs may be processed the same way, although up to 10% of the batch can break during the process.
According to the Health Promotion Board of Singapore, one salted duck egg yolk weighing about 70g contains 359mg of cholesterol. The recommended cholesterol intake for a healthy diet should be less than 300mg a day. A single salted egg yolk exceeds the recommended cholesterol intake and if taken regularly, there might be a greater risk of elevating blood cholesterol level. However, many health experts in the West and in the rest of Asia believe not all the cholesterol in an egg can be absorbed, thus the actual negative impact is much less, although not established at this time.
For many farmers in Southeast Asia, including Philippines, duck raising provides an additional income for them.
For instance, you have three hundred pairs of ducks (male and female). Female ducks are capable of laying eggs two or three times a day. Imagine your profit if you sell three hundred to nine hundred of eggs a day! If a duck egg costs sixty cents or less, for 300 to 900 eggs per day; it will be 180 dollars up to 540 dollars a day. Not bad for a hobby like this.
If you want to make it as a career in the countryside, then you can also incorporate other farm animals (geese, chicken, goats, cows, etc.) for more profit.
What do you think?