Ducks

Photo © Terry Danish

For information on raising ducklings, go to Raising Ducklings and Goslings. Duck eggs take 28-30 days to hatch, except for Muscovy eggs, which take 35 days.

If you find a wild duck's nest on your property and don't see the mother on the eggs, don't necessarily worry. Ducks lay an egg every day or two until they have a full clutch (usually 8 to 15); only then will the mother start to sit on them. It takes the eggs 28 days to hatch from when she starts sitting all the time. When they hatch, she will soon lead them to a nearby body of water. The father takes no part in caring for the eggs or young.

Another question I'm commonly asked is about sexing them. This is pretty easy for all the Mallard-derived ducks (all the domestics except Muscovies); there are two main clues. First is that, by about 10 weeks of age, the voice of the female is a loud quack, while that of the male is soft and whispery. Second, later on the males develop a curled feather (the drake feather) on top of the tail. In Muscovies, by three months or so, the males are nearly twice as large as the females. I've found that in younger Muscovies, the feet of the males are often relatively larger, but I don't know if you can count on this. Very young ducklings have to be vent sexed. For info and pictures see the waterfowl books described on my Book Page. Metzer Farms now has a video up on vent sexing ducklings and goslings

Although domestic ducks (except for Muscovies) are all descended from Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), most of them have been bred so that their bodies are too heavy and wings too small to support flying. Of the mallard-derived breeds, only Calls and some of the other bantam ducks can fly. Muscovies also can fly well, especially the females. Male Muscovies can lumber up in the air and flap about a bit, but they sure don't remind me of birds!

Note that most Mallard-colored drakes, and some of other colors, undergo an Eclipse molt in late summer, after which they are colored like females. They will molt again into male colors later in the year.

A Runner drake in normal plumage (left) and eclipse plumage (right)
Photos courtesy of Jacob McConnell

Waterfowl Breeds at Risk, by Chris Ashton, is a downloadable pdf file. This article first appeared in Country Smallholding magazine in Britain: www.countrysmallholding.com

Colour Breeding in Domestic Ducks by Mike and Chris Ashton, 2007, 48 pp., Welshpool Printing Group, available from www.ashtonwaterfowl.net, ISBN: 978-0-9555642-0-8.
If you want to know about breeding and the genetics of the Mallard-derived domestic ducks, this book is a must for your library!

If you are a waterfowl breeder, please complete the SPPA's Domestic Waterfowl Survey.

Water off a . . .
Photo courtesy of Kelli Riley

A closer view (different duck)
Photo courtesy of Casey Barry

  • Saxony Ducks

  • Silky Ducks

  • Silver Appleyards

  • Streichers

  • Swedish Blue Ducks

  • Swedish Yellow Ducks

  • Welsh Harlequins

  • For wild species such as Mandarins, see my Non-domestic page.


    A Japanese lesson from Hatsu
    Courtesy of Hatsuyo Igarashi


    Duck Keeping in China

    My friend Stefan was in China, near the town of Dazu in Szechuan Province. He saw these ducks at a tiny farm by the side of the road and photographed them for me.
    Photos courtesy of Stefan


    The two large yellow ducklings are Pekins, the small yellow one is a white Muscovy, On the right is a Blue Swedish and directly in front of it a Mallard. The two dark ducklings in the front are Khaki Campbells. Many of the others are mixed breeds.
    Photo courtesy of Stonegate Waterfowl


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