You’re probably wondering how to breed ducks if you’re pondering adding them to your farm.
Ducks can be an excellent addition to any farm, as they are resilient and easy to care for. Plus, they’re great providers of protein!
Not only will having a few ducks on your property bring life and diversity to the land but raising them from their infancy can also provide unique educational opportunities for both the adults and children in your household.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about breeding, hatching, and raising ducks, so let’s dive into the details.
How to Breed Ducks: Purebreds, Hybrids, and Barnyard Mixes
Before you decide to start incubating duck eggs, it’s wise to take a moment and think about your goals as a breeder.
Do you want a specific breed of ducks? A cool hybrid? Or just some new friendly members for your flock?
Something that I think many people overlook is temperament too.
If you have aggressive birds, and you don’t like that trait, don’t let them breed.
Personalities are partially heritable, and backgrounds matter. Remember that when choosing which birds you want to breed and the eggs you’re incubating.
If you want purebred ducks, you must ensure that the drake and hen are of the same breed.
I know, that’s totally groundbreaking information.
To do this, you need a uniform flock or pen up the drake and hen(s) of the same breed.
Female ducks can hold onto sperm for anywhere from two to fifteen weeks!
So if you had other drakes from different breeds in your flock, you’d need to keep her separated from them for about four months before attempting to incubate any of her eggs.
The same basic principles apply when breeding for specific hybrid ducks, except now you need to know what type of hybrid you’re breeding for.
You can try something new and experimental or stick with one of these tried and true duck hybrids.
Barnyard mixed ducks are probably the most common type of breeding in backyards across America.
For these, you may not know the mother and father of each egg. That’s okay, though, because your goal is to increase your flock size or replace the older members with the newly hatched ducklings.
If you have a specific purpose for the offspring, such as meat or eggs, you may want only to keep drakes that fit that purpose.
The drake, in a way, is half the flock, so even if your female ducks are of mixed purpose, you can ensure the next generation is another step in the right direction.
Of course, if you want meat and egg producers, go with a good dual-purpose drake breed and call it a day.
How to Prepare Ducks for Breeding
Offer Ample Water
Ducks always need access to clean and fresh water for drinking and swimming, especially when breeding, because this is sometimes a stressful process.
A small kiddie pool or plastic tub can easily be used for this purpose.
Plastic tubs are sometimes better as they can be easily replaced and moved around, so the grass does not turn into mud.
If your ducks are penned while breeding, it will help keep the straw or shavings dry.
Keeping water in confined spaces is messy, but it is necessary for keeping ducks.
Increase Feed Quality and Protein Content
Ducks that are properly nourished will be able to reach their full growth potential.
Not only does this affect your adult breeding stock, but it can also affect the new ducklings you plan to hatch out to.
While some breeds can find food independently, they must get additional feed, like duck pellets.
But if you’re considering giving chick crumbs as a treat, know these should never have been treated with medication – doing so could unintentionally harm your ducks!
Producing eggs and meat requires greater protein content, as does successful breeding– offer your ducks around 16% protein but never exceed 25%.
Remember to set up a source of drinking water conveniently close to their feeding areas. Ducks must have water to eat; it’s part of their natural digestion process.
Give your ducks free choice feed with constant access, or be on top of feeding your breeding ducks at consistent times.
Their health and overall fertility will suffer if they’re stressed about their next meal.
Choose Your Breeders
When choosing a duck breed, it’s important to do your research.
Different breeds require different levels of care and come with varying traits– from their size and shape to how many eggs they lay each year (or during their lifespan).
Careful consideration will ensure you make the right selection for all your needs and agricultural goals.
You should also pay close attention to individual traits and personalities.
Vaccinating, testing, and closely monitoring behavior is always a good idea to ensure the next generation is as strong, healthy, and ideal as possible.
You should develop a system for identifying your ducks too.
If you only have a few, you can distinctively know one from the next on looks alone.
But you should consider wing or leg bands to be completely certain for larger flocks or similar ducks.
Make sure these identifiers are recorded somewhere secure yet easily accessible; it’s easy to forget who is who!
Set Up The Breeding Pen
A male and female pair should be set up in at least eight to twelve square feet breeding pen.
For every additional female duck added, you should increase the space by four to six square feet.
Of course, this pen needs a water source, consistent feed, and nesting boxes.
To track which girls are laying eggs, consider adding trap nesting boxes.
Trap nests let ducks enter to lay eggs but then holds them in until you release them.
These boxes make it easy for you to identify the mother of the fertilized egg.
Create a Healthy Ratio
Larger duck breeds require a ratio of four or five ducks per drake, while smaller breeds need a ratio closer to ten ducks per drake at maximum.
Too many drakes in pen will be stressful, damaging, and sometimes deadly for your female ducks; this is why the ratio is so important.
And because the ratio is technically correct, you may need to alter it to fit your flocks’ specific needs.
You may need to intervene and remove ducks if things get too aggressive.
How Long Do Ducks Retain Drake Sperm
Ducks can retain drake sperm for two to fifteen weeks–almost four months.
If your duck has been exposed to another drake in the last four months, there is a chance that her ducklings will belong to him rather than your selected breeding drake.
For optimal results, keep her away from other drakes in the fifteen weeks leading up to her breeding with the drake of your choice.
You can pen up, cull, or give away the unwanted drakes or pen her away from the other undesirable males.
What To Do With Fertilized Duck Eggs
Allow the ducks to breed for about two weeks before you start collecting the eggs for hatching; this will result in higher fertility for the females and reduced overall stress, resulting in better offspring.
Store the Eggs Before Incubating Them
You probably don’t want staggered hatchings of ducklings!
Store the first eggs until you’re ready to incubate the entire clutch to make sure your ducklings all emerge from their eggs simultaneously.
The eggs should be kept in a cool dark spot and turned once a day to ensure the membrane of the egg isn’t sticking to the shell.
It’s best to incubate the eggs within ten days of collection, but you can still succeed even if you wait longer (up to a month or so).
This isn’t as delicate of a process as you may assume; some people have even successfully incubated eggs they bought at the grocery store!
Be sure to read our guide on how to incubate duck eggs; it’s really helpful, especially for beginners.
Most duck breeds take 28 days to hatch, but Muscovies need 35 days.
It’s best practice to allow most eggs, so long as they aren’t rotted, to incubate for 38 days before tossing them out.
Hatching Duck Eggs
I won’t get into too much detail here because we already have an in-depth piece on The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Hatching Eggs.
It’s really comprehensive and tells you all that you need to know.
Here are some other helpful reading materials:
- How to raise ducklings
- How to care for ducklings in the winter
- Raising ducks for beginners
- 21 ways to keep your ducks healthy
How to Breed Ducks: Final Thoughts
Breeding ducks can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to do your research before getting started.
By following the tips in this blog post, you’ll be well on your way to successfully hatching and raising healthy ducklings.
Thanks for reading! We would love to hear from you if you have any tips or advice!