Rearing ducks is a well-paying venture, especially because there is a high demand for their eggs and meat. There are also several advantages that accrue to farmers rearing ducks.
For starters, ducks are rarely attacked by infections like other poultry breeds as long as they are kept in the right environment.
Ducks are great rummagers and are quite happy to eat the snails, flies and bugs in your garden and compound. Unlike raising chickens, ducks will not destroy your flowers or your vegetables if you let them loose in your garden.
Ducks are a vital player in the farm’s ecology by eating snails, slugs and other bugs in your vegetable garden. They also provide rich manure to enrich your soil.
However, foraging for food is not enough for a duck if you want it to be a good layer and a fat bird for your table. You will need to supplement their diet with chopped tomatoes, maize bran, duck marsh or remains of foods from a meal.
A farmer should also make sure he provides his ducks with lots of fresh drinking water, which is an absolute requirement.
A clean bucket of water each day allows the ducks to drink and wash, if you can get a suitable automatic drinker, big enough for the ducks to immerse their heads, then that is even better.
A farmer should note that a duck that does not have access to water to clean its eyes on a regular basis will go blind. Where possible, create a pond for the ducks to swim and play in.
If ducks do not have access to water, they start showing abnormal behaviour and may fly off in search of water and never come back.
Clean the ponds regularly. If the pond is costly to sink, then one can sink an old plastic or metalling drum.
However, make sure that you construct it in such a way that all ducks and ducklings can get access it easily. When it comes to housing, the other thing to note with ducks is that they cannot climb.
Therefore, it is important that the door of the house is low enough for the ducks to go through easily.
Ducks are also good at laying eggs and if one has a good breed one can get up to 200 eggs per year per bird if it is fed well. Ducks start laying eggs at around six months of age.
If you are going to let your ducks hatch their eggs naturally be carefully and do not touch the eggs of change the nest when it starts laying eggs.
In cases where it leaves the eggs you can still hatch them by putting them under a brooding chicken.
However, due to the large size of the duck eggs a chicken can only comfortably sit on seven to 10 duck eggs. You will need to make sure that the eggs are sprinkled with water regularly, especially towards the last few days.
Ducks fatten fast and can be ready for eating after three months. If well-fed, ducks can weigh up to 5kg in six months.
One thing that you need to know is that the ducks reach a time when they stop adding on weight, however much you feed them. This stage is called the moulting stage.