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Breeding Ducks Like the Pros

Updated on November 3, 2017
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I am a duck breeder who relocated from urban life in Tampa, FL, to a rural mountainous area outside of Radford, VA.

www.geograph.org.uk
www.geograph.org.uk

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 aggressive when there is more competition.

Typically, one male can be paired 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 keeps the male busy, and he is also less likely to force himself upon the female.

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 have to do your own research regarding the specific breed. 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 few general things you should do.

Living Space

  • 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!

Diet

  • The female should be fed a calcium diet.
  • The drake should eat a lot of protein.
  • The occasional treat usually helps. A happy duck is a lucky duck!

Conditions for 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.

Saving eggs to hatch
Saving eggs to hatch

Collecting Eggs

  • 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.
  • It 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.

Storing Eggs

  • Before storing the eggs, visually inspect them for damages 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. Even if you store them the wrong way for a short period of time, the hatch rate decreases drastically.
  • Storing them with the blunt side down could also increase the risks of bacterial contamination and salmonella.

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 help 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 her eggs stronger and more fertile.

The circle of life!
The circle of life!

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.

Courting
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.

Forced Mating

If the 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.

Natural Mating

But if a female is willing, the mating begins. Some people think the 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?

Conclusion

If you are prepared, the process of breeding ducks is not as difficult as it sounds.

Things I Want to Stress:

  • 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!

© 2017 Drake Runner

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