Free range Ducks production on a small scale can benefit from homestead farming. Raising ducks for meat is similar to raising chickens for meat, which can be a full-time specialized business that demands efficiency. The increasing population is linked to a growing commercial market for duck meat. Duck meat sells for a lot more than chicken meat. Fresh, frozen, and chilled meats, whole or in parts, are available for purchase. Because of low egg numbers, high feed intake, and the need to house ducks in small numbers, keeping Free-range ducks for egg production on a large scale is problematic.
Ducks can lay extra and larger eggs than hens, but they consume 75 percent more feed than hens. Most farmers concentrate on meat production for these reasons. Small-scale community farmers are being encouraged to raise free-range ducks as a source of long-term income. Ducks are also grown for a few smaller family farms on contract farms and operators who are engaged in all aspects of production, plucking, and direct sales.
Choosing a place to raise ducks
The initial step is to pick a location on your property that is suitable for free-range ducks. It’s best to keep your ducks where you can keep an eye on them. As a result, the location you choose should be as close to your home as possible. On hot days, look for a location that will provide shade for your ducks. There should also be a place where they can go for shelter from the wind or on cold or rainy days.
If possible, locate a location on your property that has a sufficient supply of the foods that ducks enjoy. A good location is close to the water and where your ducks can easily access the water and swim. Raising a flock of ducks is just one use for your land; don’t choose a location for them that could be better used for something else, like planting crops or growing a vegetable garden. Keep in mind that ducks can live just about anywhere outside if they can find enough food and water.
How to keep ducks safe and well
Ducks can live outside on their own, but they will live much better if they have access to a shelter. The primary reason for constructing a shelter for your ducks is to keep them safe from predators while they sleep. Ducks, particularly young ducks, have a slew of foes. You must be cautious to keep them safe from harm.
Other reasons for constructing a shelter include the following:
- Ducks that are allowed to roam freely sleep on the ground. They may become ill if the ground is cold, wet, or dirty.
- You can keep your ducks healthy by building them a shelter that is dry and clean.
- Ducks don’t like direct sunlight. In extremely hot weather, they require sun protection.
- When it’s hot outside, your ducks can go inside if you build a shelter for them.
- Ducks usually lay their eggs at night or early in the morning.
- You will collect the eggs more quickly if you build a shelter with nests and keep your ducks inside at night.
Caring for the Ducklings
Ducklings that have hatched naturally may require assistance at times. They will be cared for by the duck that hatched them until they are old enough to care for themselves. However, the duck isn’t able to keep all predators at bay. During the first few weeks, ducks and ducklings may need to be kept enclosed to avoid predators. Day-old ducklings (hatched in an incubator) require extra care. Warmth, water/feed, and ventilation are all things to consider. Because newly hatched ducklings are unable to regulate their body temperature, you must keep them warm. During the rainy season, it is the best time to raise ducklings.
Ducklings are kept in several baskets for the first 10 to 14 days, with about 5 cm of rice husks or straw at the bottom of each basket. To keep the ducklings dry and comfortable, this is changed frequently. To keep the ducklings warm at night, the basket is covered with a loosely woven jute bag. First 10 to 14 days, the ducklings are kept at around 28 °C.
Ducklings begin eating the day after they hatch and grow quickly. Boiled rice, broken rice, rice bran, oil cake, chopped earth worms, snails, fish, green vegetables or water plants, and crushed wheat are among the foods they consume. Feeding takes place in a different (single) basket. They are placed in a dry jute bag or a separate basket with a layer of husk or straw until they have dried off. After that, they’re placed back in their original baskets.
Caring for the Ducklings
A circular chicken wire floor covered with straw and an external heat source can be used instead of the basket. By bending a flexible board in a circle around the ducklings, you can keep them close to the heat source. To improve ventilation and remove manure, raise the wire floor off the ground. A stove with slow-burning sawdust, an electrical lamp shining in a clay pot, or an infrared lamp can be used as heat sources.
The behavior of the ducklings can indicate whether they are too hot or too cold. When the temperature rises too high, the ducklings will try to flee as quickly as possible. The temperature is appropriate for the ducklings if they can freely move around the cage. The ducklings are kept on rice husk or straw with plenty of fresh air and sunlight for about 2 to 4 weeks. They are kept confined during the day and fed a mixture of feed and clean drinking water. Feeding and watering are done with simple bamboo containers, while Ducklings are given 0.30 x 0.30 m floor space per bird between the ages of 4 and 8. They are given clean water and a feed mixture in the morning and are allowed to forage in safe (water) areas after a few minutes of feeding.
They are returned to the house before it gets dark. Before putting them inside the house, a small amount of feed is given to them. The ducklings are more likely to return home with their caretaker as a result of this.
For ducklings, the presence of drinking water is critical. Otherwise, the ducklings will become sick if there isn’t enough clean water. It would help if you prevented the ducklings from swimming in their drinking water. This not only pollutes the water but also puts the ducklings in danger of becoming ill. A layer of fat covers the feathers of adult ducks, preventing them from getting wet. A mom duck will also rub the fat into the ducklings’ feathers she has hatched herself in the wild.
Ducklings from an incubator have no fat on their feathers, to begin with. Ducklings cannot rub the fat into their feathers until they are around three weeks old. As long as they don’t try to get into the water, this isn’t a problem. Put stones in the bowl or cover it with chicken wire to prevent them from sitting in the drinking water.
Ducks require water to absorb nutrients from their feed and eliminate toxic substances from their bodies. Water is also necessary for maintaining a constant body temperature, which is especially important in hot weather. When it’s hot outside, ducks pant to lose heat and cool down. Panting causes the blood to lose carbon dioxide, resulting in respiratory alkalosis.
By adding 0.25 to 0.5 percent sodium bicarbonate to the drinking water, this painting can be avoided. The type of feed they receive, the frequency with which they lay eggs, and the duck’s size are all factors that influence the amount of water ducks required. Each day, an adult duck requires 2 liters of water.
Snails, water weeds, grass, small fish, shellfish, and insects are easy for free-range ducks to graze and digest. It will provide enough protein and vitamins for them. Furthermore, they require energy. Rice, cassava (byproducts), sago, sweet potato, and other energy-rich feeds can be used to supplement the ducks’ diet. This extra feed can be used to entice the ducks to come inside in the evening.
Poisonous plants or decomposing animal carcasses can also poison free-range ducks. This is known as botulism. Ensure that all water sources available to ducks are free of decomposing material. Weed killers and insecticides can poison ducks. Ducks will eat the poison if they eat insects or plants that have been treated. Many of these poisons do not pass through the duck’s system and build up in its body. If it is too much, the duck will become ill or even die. It is forbidden to eat their flesh.
Care of eggs
The eggs must be cared for from the moment they are laid. Ducks lay their eggs first thing in the morning. This means you only have to gather eggs once a day, in the morning. The eggs should be collected as soon as possible after they are laid. This makes cleaning them easier, and it also allows you to cool them if you need to keep them quickly. Dirt on eggs can penetrate the shell and be absorbed by the egg, causing disease. The eggs rot or become infertile as a result of this.
Two methods to clean eggs:
Using a dry cloth, brush, or knife, remove as much dirt as possible from the egg. This can be a good method to get rid of the most apparent dirt.
This method is only appropriate when selling (or eating) eggs: Dip the eggs for no more than 20 seconds in warm water. To clean the eggs thoroughly, the water should be slightly warmer than the eggs.
It is preferable not to wash the eggs in water if you want them to hatch. Tiny holes (pores) in eggshells open up when the egg is submerged in water. Diseases can get into the egg through these holes, resulting in the egg not hatching. After cleaning the eggs, you must quickly cool them.
You can collect and store eggs every other day or once a week to sell. You can also collect and store eggs to incubate a large number of them at once. Always store eggs that you intend to sell in an excellent location. The storage temperature is less important the shorter the time the eggs are kept.
Incubated eggs must be stored at a temperature between 13 and 16 degrees Celsius. The duckling will start to develop if the eggs are stored at a warmer temperature (16–38 °C), but the process is so slow that the duckling will die in the egg. Incubation eggs can be kept for a maximum of seven days. The number of stored eggs that will hatch rapidly decreases after seven days.
A duck’s natural behavior is to be alert with a level carriage. They frequently peck and shuffle around as they investigate their surroundings. When their territories are entered, ducks make distinctive quacking or honking noises. Ducks are immune to a variety of avian diseases as well as internal parasites.
Internal parasite infestations are only found in ducks that have access to stagnant water and an overcrowded pond. Flukes, tapeworms, and roundworms are among the parasites. External parasites are more of an affliction than a disease. Lice mites, fleas, and ticks are among them. These irritate and annoy the eggs, resulting in a decrease in egg production. Ducks should appear to be in good health and behave normally. The age, sex, and breed of a duck determine the signs of good health. The following are essential indicators of good health:
- Good posture
- Vigorous movements, if disturbed
- Clean and healthy skin o Good plumage
- Well-formed shanks and feet
- Effective walking
- Active feeding and drinking
- Clear, bright eyes
See also Free Range Chickens Farming