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Why Are My Ducks Not Laying Eggs?

Why Is My Duck Not Laying Eggs_

If you’re a duck keeper who is concerned about why your duck isn’t producing eggs, then you’ve come to the right place.

The lack of egg-laying could be due to a wide variety of reasons, and we’ll do our best to help you narrow down potential issues so that you can get your ducks back on track with their egg-laying.

From nutrition deficiencies to environmental problems, understanding the possible culprits behind a decrease in egg production can help give you better insights into how to attend to your productive quackers. Let’s talk about it!

She is Too Young

Ducks generally don’t lay eggs until they are six or seven months old. After laying for five weeks, they are laying at a 90% rate, meaning that ten ducks should produce about nine eggs a day.

Some breeds do take longer to fully mature than others. Rouen ducks take nearly ten months to start laying eggs, for example.

 

old duck in wooden cagex

She is Too Old

Ducks will continue laying eggs from six or seven months to six or seven years old. 

You should note that it’s not economical after about one year of production, though.

Forty weeks of production is the recommended cut-off rate for the highest cost efficiency.

After that, many producers sell or butcher their female ducks.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your girls long after they are productive, but if you want or need your ducks to financially support themselves, donate, sell, give away, or butcher the older ones to save on feed costs. 

Her Breed Doesn’t Lay Many Eggs

Some duck breeds produce more eggs than others. 

Here are some of the best duck egg layers you can add to your flock to ensure you have the maximum amount of eggs. 

  1. Indian Runner Ducks. Indian Runners will give you about three hundred jumbo eggs a year (that’s nearly one egg a day all year round). These eggs are a beautiful shade of green or blue too, which just adds to the appeal of keeping this breed. Oh, and these cuties only weigh about three pounds at full maturity and don’t eat much feed. This means they are super-efficient egg producers who will eat the least while giving you the most. 
  2. Welsh Harlequin Ducks. Welsh Harlequins also lay around three hundred eggs a year, but these eggs are large (not jumbo). These eggs are white or blue in color. If you want a heavier duck that can potentially give you lean meat that has a good flavor and little fat, this is the ideal duck breed for you. Though light class, they are still five pounds and considered a great dual-purpose duck. 
  3. Magpie Ducks. These underrated beauties produce close to 280 white or blue-green eggs that are size large. Like the Welsh Harlequins, they are three to five pounds and listed as a “light class’ of ducks. 

If you want to learn more about excellent egg layers, check out the 11 Best Duck Breeds for Eggs

If you raised Rouen ducks for eggs, we have some bad news for you– you can only expect around 35 to 50 eggs a year from each lady. Some may produce up to 125 a year, but the majority lay much fewer. 

You Have Shorter Days

Once the days begin to shorten up for winter, you’ll probably notice a drop in egg production.

This isn’t necessarily caused by the cold, but instead, due to the shorter days and longer nights. If you want to maintain egg production, consider adding artificial lighting to your duck coop. 

Ducks will pause their production to get through molting too.

Be sure you give them plenty of protein in addition to their added light so they have the nutrients they need to stay healthy (and give you those delicious eggs).

Should I Get a Chicken Coop Light for Winter?

Using Electric Artificial Lights to Increase Duck Egg Production

Add artificial lights to your coop about two weeks prior to your time of need for eggs. Remember that artificial lighting should never replace the natural light, it’s only a supplement.

If you can give your birds direct sunshine during the day, always do. The added coop lighting should be added in the mornings and evenings to help reach the number of necessary lit hours.

This comprehensive chart, provided by the NSW Government’s Department of Primary Industries shows you exactly when to supplement light for laying ducks to achieve fifteen hours of daily light. 

chart of supplement light you can give your poultry

Source.

Remember that you should not alter your light schedule to accommodate daylight savings time. Your ducks will not understand nor appreciate this change! 

Not Enough Protein 

Not enough protein is probably one of the top reasons why ducks slow down or stop laying eggs. 

Many duck feeds are surprisingly lower in protein content than what laying ducks require to maintain their health, feathers, AND continue laying a healthy supply of eggs.

Some people recommend feeding cat food to up the protein, but please don’t do that because it’s missing a lot of other key ingredients that ducks need. 

Mixing your “normal” duck feed with duckling starter crumbles is actually the best way to increase protein intake without sacrificing quality or the other essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Here are the ten main ingredients in farm animal feeds

Though it may be tempting, don’t switch to chicken feed, it doesn’t have all of the nutrients that ducks need.

Many chicken feed mixes are higher in calcium, which isn’t a good thing for ducks. 

She Is Accidentally Crushing Eggs

Your duck may actually be laying a lot of eggs; you just aren’t seeing them because she, or another duck in your flock, is crushing the eggs.

Heavyweight birds are more likely to crack eggs in the nest accidentally.

To pick on the Rouen duck again, this breed is notorious for clumsily stepping on and breaking duck eggs. 

Once an egg is broken, ducks and chickens are likely to eat the remains in an attempt to clean up the nesting box.

Unfortunately, this is likely to lead to chronic egg eaters who will intentionally break and consume eggs for the taste and nutrients inside them. 

To help heavier ducks avoid breaking their eggs, add a lot more straw or wood shavings to the nesting boxes.

This acts as a cushion.

If you were previously using artificial turf or a thin layer of materials, that probably won’t work anymore, unfortunately.

duck egg that has been eaten

Someone (or Something) is Stealing and Eating Duck Eggs 

You could have an egg eater hiding in your flock, or a predator who is collecting eggs before you are every day. Snakes, possums, and raccoons are notorious for this, as are sneaky farm dogs. 

If your dog makes several trips to the coop every day and has a much shinier coat than usual, he may be helping himself to your duck eggs. 

If you suspect that a chicken or duck is eating eggs from the nest box, make sure you check on how much protein and calcium you’re providing.

The inside of the egg is heavy in protein, while the shell is comprised almost entirely of calcium, an egg eater could be an indicator that a bird (or multiple birds) is feeling malnourished. 

Ducks need a minimum of 16 to 17% protein and about 3% calcium. Ducks need LESS calcium than chickens, and too much is detrimental to ducks’ health. Please be aware of this if you house these two together. 

To discourage egg-eaters, place porcelain, wooden, or hard plastic look-alike eggs in the nesting box.

This helps young juveniles figure out where to lay their eggs, and it discourages “egg suckers” from trying to eat anymore.

It’s unpleasant to hit a hard surface with their beak; usually, a few encounters with fake eggs are enough to stop them. 

Another good approach is to add curtains to the boxes so they are darker, and less “fun” for the ducks to hang out inside. 

Some ducks (and chickens) will break eggs out of boredom. Give them lots of enrichment toys and treats, and if needed, expand the chicken run, so they have plenty of space to move around and feel good. It’s relatively rare for a free-range hen to resort to egg-breaking. 

To catch a chronic egg-eater, poke two tiny holes in an egg, one on each side of the egg, and blow air into one side of the egg to push the liquid contents out the other side. You can either refill the egg with mustard or soap to discourage chickens from eating more eggs– or fill the egg with food coloring. 

The food coloring will “mark” the naughty bird, so you can easily remove her from the flock, rehome her, or put her in the freezer. You have to act fast here, once one of them starts, it won’t take long for her to teach her friends how to do the same.

If not stopped soon enough, they will all become problematic, and you may need to start over completely with a new flock if you want to harvest eggs. 

She is Stressed 

Stressed ducks will stop laying eggs out of self-preservation. 

Ducks are cautious critters, and it’s easy to make them feel uneasy, so keep that in mind when starting your flock. Some of the most common stressors for ducks are: 

  • Major temperature fluctuations 
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Food changes 
  • New items added to their environment (new flockmates, tools, waterers, feeders, toys, etc). 
  • New home (moving will leave her feeling stressed for two weeks at minimum)
  • Lurking predators
  • Parasites
  • Mean flockmates, other ducks, overbearing drakes
  • Illnesses or infection

She is Sitting on a Clutch of Eggs

A duck who is planning on hatching out new ducklings will stop laying more eggs once she is happy with her egg nest size. She will stop laying eggs during the incubation period to focus all of her time and energy into hatching the ones she is currently sitting on. 

After her new ducklings hatch, she probably won’t lay many (if any) more eggs for a while either. She will be way too preoccupied with her little ones to be concerned about creating any more.

If you allow your ducks to free-range, they may disappear at random to sit on a secret nest somewhere.

If you don’t want her to act broody, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to correct this. 

She Isn’t Using the Egg Box

If your duck is being bullied by the other ducks, or she wants to hatch a clutch of eggs on her own, she may choose to not use your nesting box. 

If you raised ducklings without a mature “mother” duck around to teach them, they may not know about the nesting box either. Set a few fake eggs in the nesting boxes, and then place your young girls in the boxes on occasion so they can figure it all out. 

They need someone to educate them about how the world works too! 

She is Actually a He!

If you aren’t completely confident in your ability to sex ducks, then your she may actually be a he!

Of course, males don’t lay eggs, which would certainly explain the lack of eggs!

Here is the complete guide on how to sex a duck.

FAQ

Do Ducks Lay Eggs In Winter?

Yes, they do. In fact, it isn’t entirely necessary to use artificial light to get your ducks to lay throughout winter.

Just make sure you pick the right breed!

Can you feel eggs inside a duck?

Yes, you can. She will give you signs as well like sitting frequently or tail bobbing. And no need to be messing around back there to feel for an egg.

If you suspect she is about to lay an egg you can check by resting your hand under her abdomen. You should be able to feel the hard outer shell.

Why Is My Duck Not Laying Eggs: Final Thoughts

Now you know! If your duck isn’t laying eggs, it’s usually due to her being: 

  • Too young
  • Too old
  • A low-egg laying breed
  • Too heavy or clumsy in the nest
  • An egg-eater
  • Too stressed out
  • Broody
  • Uneducated about nesting boxes
  • A boy

And these factors will contribute to lowered egg production as well: 

  • Not enough sunshine / daylight
  • Something is stealing your eggs
  • Bad weather, or stressful situations

We hope this helps. Be sure to share your best egg-boosting tips for fellow duck keepers, we would love to hear from you!

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