When do ducks start laying eggs?
I challenge you to find something sweeter than a fuzzy, freshly hatched duckling.
They are tiny, wobbly, and a joy to watch as they take their first swim.
But, as an adaptation to the ever-posed question, “What came first, the duckling or the egg?”
Your duck hens must begin to lay eggs to obtain this barnyard favorite and add nutrient-dense baking must-have to your kitchen.
So, When Do Ducks Start Laying Eggs?
The answer to this question isn’t simply a set date on the calendar but a combined multitude of factors that each play an essential role in collecting your first of many duck eggs.
Most ducks begin to lay around the 6-7 month mark.
Though you may see the drake (male duck) begin mating a little sooner, this does not necessarily affect when the hen lays her first egg. Nor is he necessary for egg production.
A hen will lay the same number of eggs with or without a drake present.
The only difference is that with the drake, the eggs have a high chance of being fertilized and, therefore, can hatch.
Suppose you’re purchasing ducklings in a colder climate. In that case, folks will often buy ducklings in mid-Spring as mature ducks begin to lay in the early Spring season and therefore hatch approximately 30 days after sitting.
This will have your fuzzy ducklings fully feathered and maturing by the Fall, which could mean your duck hens will hold off laying until the following Spring.
This isn’t because they’re not keen on laying in the snowy months (though hatching success dramatically improves with the warmer weather). It’s tied more closely to fewer daylight hours.
Ducks need at least 15 hours of light, signaling their body that it is time to lay eggs. This most often happens in the Spring or “breeding season”).
Depending on the setup and intended use of the eggs, this light cycle can be mimicked with artificial lighting.
The young, recently matured ducks may lay into the Fall by placing a heat/light lamp in the duck coop on a timer to ensure the required hours.
At the same time, you can extend your grown hens into the winter or kickstart laying in late winter after a break.
If you’ve also kept chickens, they seem easier to trick into this artificial season than ducks.
Ducks spend far more time outside the coop than inside, even in inclement weather. That is if they can access outdoors and are not locked in an enclosure.
Certain duck breeds take the limited light in stride, much like the Indian Runner Duck.
As with any livestock animal, their purpose on the homestead must match the breed type. Ducks are no different.
For example, the Indian Runner Duck wins the title “best egg-laying duck.”
She is the choice for many homesteads or commercial egg-laying operations as they lay year-round, regardless of daylight hours.
However, they are unsuitable for meat as they are erect and lightweight with minimal breasts.
They also make the common, sometimes disruptive “quack-quack” sound.
In comparison, the Muscovy Duck is a heavy, meaty bird that only makes a quiet hissing sound when communicating.
The Muscovy lay from early Spring to late Fall. If allowed to mate, they often go broody (sit to hatch) on upwards of 15 eggs at a time.
So, if you’re most interested in the aforementioned fluffy balls of sweetness that is a duckling, this breed could be best suited for you.
Nutrition And Care
Ducks are excellent foragers when the season permits grubby bugs, snails, insect larvae, worms, grasshoppers, and many flies to be a part of the regular menu in the summer months.
Additionally, a high-quality layer feed should be supplied and offered as they require slightly higher protein and niacin, not found in regular chicken feed.
Ducks not only enjoy but need water.
At the very least, they must be able to dunk their beaks in, as that is how they clear their nostrils.
Clean, fresh, cool water is a must in creating the ideal egg-laying environment.
A kiddie pool or large trough can masquerade as a duck pond so long as regular water changing is possible.
As a personal preference, some people clip the wings of their ducks to prevent flying off (sometimes to the neighbors). However, the ability to take flight provides enrichment and doubles as a predator avoidance tactic.
A pro tip, with the ability to take flight or free range, a duck can and will find some of the most precarious and disguised nesting areas.
When Do Ducks Start Laying Eggs – Conclusion
If you’re checking the coop you’ve worked over in the Spring with no signs of eggs, watch where your ducks go when they leave the pen. A growing stash could be forming under a nearby bush or drainage pipe.
A balanced, natural environment will only enhance egg laying for years.
Of all the egg-bearing birds a farm can host, I find ducks easy keepers, very hardy, intelligent, and many have sweet personalities.
If you provide all the necessities, ducks will happily provide you with either large yokes and fluffy egg whites, or fuzzy big-eyed ducklings.