Raising ducks is a hobby that fulfills a lifetime passion. Our family breeds, loves and cares for a small flock of Pekins.
Breeding Ducks: Getting Started
When it comes to breeding ducks, some people consider the mating process to be violent and aggressive. It can definitely be gruesome if there are too many male ducks (drakes) and not enough female ones (ducks). It is natural for a drake to act more aggressively when there is more competition.
Typically, one male can mate with up to six females, but this number will depend on the breed. If you are breeding Khaki Campbells, for instance, you can have 10 females per drake! Having more females will keep your male busy and render him less likely to force himself upon the females.
Requirements for Breeding
How do you make ducks breed? Well, you can’t “make” them breed, but you can encourage it. Before you start, you'll have to do your own research regarding the specific breed you are keeping. Questions you should ask include:
- What time of year do they typically mate?
- Are they of mature age?
- What is the ideal male-to-female ratio?
All breeds have different breeding requirements, but here are a few general things you should always do to promote healthy breeding.
- Make sure the birds are comfortable.
- They should have enough indoor and outdoor space to move around and spread their wings. The typical space requirements are 8 sq. ft. of indoor space per duck and 15 sq. ft. of outdoor space per duck.
- If they are confined inside, keep the space clean!
- The females should be fed a calcium-rich diet.
- The drake should eat a lot of protein.
- The occasional treat usually helps promote general wellbeing. A happy duck is a lucky duck!
Ideal Conditions for Duck Mating
- They don't necessarily need a body of water to mate, but it does make it easier for them.
- The body of water should be big enough for the birds to fit inside.
- If nothing is readily available, you can try a kiddie pool or a watering trough.
- Keep the water clean. The water should be changed at least once per day, if not more. This is important for the ducks' health and the health of their babies.
Let the ducks mate for about two weeks before collecting their eggs. This gives them the opportunity to sit on their eggs, which increases the fertility rate and also allows them to get used to the process. It helps them learn to do "their thing" correctly.
Don't rush things. When ducks are relaxed and comfortable, it increases egg fertility tremendously. Let them do what is natural to them. If they don't sit on the eggs, it may be time to collect. Be ready to move the eggs to a brooder and then a hatcher.
- Before storing the eggs, visually inspect them for damage and cracks. Don't use ones that are damaged or have abnormalities.
- Always use a clean, sterile container for storage.
- Eggs can be stored for up to 14 days, if not longer.
- They must be stored properly with the pointy side down. This ensures that the air sac located on the blunt end will remain on top so that the baby can breathe. This is very important. If you store them the wrong way for even a short period of time, the hatch rate may decrease drastically.
- Storing eggs with the blunt side down could also increase the risks of bacterial contamination and salmonella.
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What to Do With Bad Eggs
- Hard boil or scramble them.
- I know this is going to sound awful, but you can also feed them back to your ducks. Eggs are full of essential vitamins and proteins that aid both the male and the female reproductive systems.
- You can even grind up the shells and feed them to the females. The calcium will make their subsequent eggs stronger and more fertile.
Mating in the Wild
In the wild, drakes outnumber ducks because ducks nest and are more likely to be vulnerable to predators while nesting. The females can also be victims of drowning due to an overabundance of drakes.
In ideal conditions, the drake chooses which females to court, and the duck chooses which drake to mate with. This is why males usually have prettier feathers and plumage; they use their flamboyant appearance to court the better mate.
If a female is unwilling, the drake will force himself upon her. Forced mating is not a pretty sight. When the mating is forced, the female resists, and this usually does not result in fertilization due to the complex nature of their reproductive organs. Sadly, a duck's resistance to a drake's mating attempts usually results in the death of the female.
If a female is willing, the mating begins. Some people think duck mating behavior is violent, and they have a point. When ducks mate, the female lies as flat as she can in the water. The drake bites down on the back of her neck and does his thing. It will appear as though the drake is trying to drown the female because he is holding her head down in the water. Can you imagine why having too many drakes for breeding ducks can be a horrible sight?
Breeding Ducks Can Be Rewarding
Breeding ducks can be quite rewarding if you are prepared; the process of raising ducks is not as difficult as it sounds.
Duck Breeding Takeaway Tips
- Have a good male-to-female ratio.
- Keep their habitats clean. I cannot stress this enough. Cleanliness keeps the birds happy and the fertility rates high.
- Making the ducks comfortable helps with the natural mating process and dramatically increases fertility.
- If you're lucky enough to find a broody duck or you have a broody hen, make sure the two birds don't sit in the same box. When they share a box, the eggs in the middle usually don't hatch properly.
If you find a mistake or have anything useful to add, please use the comment section below to help me improve this article. And, of course, a simple thank you is always appreciated!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2017 Drake Runner
Duck lover on June 23, 2020:
Can ducks inbreed with one another?. should you allow mating amongst siblings ?
Kings Gondwe orchards. on October 26, 2018:
Well articulate., have learn more information about ducks thanks, only one thing to add is ducks egg kept better in a shaded place not at open. Thanks