Ducks are either wild or domesticated swimming birds, with short legs. The male ones are called drake and female duck. The young ones are ducklings or flapper
They are divided into local and high breeds
LOCAL NAMES LUGANDA embata
Ducks contain high nutrients that include: Proteins, fats, food energy, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, iron,potassium,sodium,copper,vitamin B12,A,E,and C, folic acid.
Ducks need a clean, dry sheltered area not very far from home to prevent predators that may attach them. Although ducks can spend most of their time outdoors, on ponds or in wet areas, they require a clean dry sheltered area where they can, rest, clean and clean their feathers. This allows their plumage to be water proof, which protects their skin from injury and helps keep their body warm.
Ducks adapt well to a wide range of systems of care provided they receive necessary basic care. During the early brooding stage, ducklings require a slightly higher temperature and special attention. The medium breeds to large breeds need about one and half foot square area per duck and two foot high. Smaller ducks such as Call ducks require one foot square per bird.
Avoid inbreeding as it leads to poor quality birds. Get big sized birds to fertilize the female Choose birds free from any form of deformity The bird should have a high egg production
Don’t allow young birds before 5 months to mate because it may result to poor quality products
Avoid mating sick birds
SIGNS OF MATURITY
Maturity of male ducks is at 6 months and female ones at 5 months depending on the care given to them. If well looked after, ducks may grow even faster.
SIGNS OF HEAT
• Female ones fly around the compound especially if there is no male readily available.
• Male ones begin chasing the ducks
• Grow red nodules on their heads Hatching
• Place the layer boxes (1 box for every 5 ducks) If eggs are stored for a while before they are set, they should be stored at a temperature and humidity level that will minimize deterioration of the egg. Whenever possible, store eggs at about 55°F (13°C) and 75% of relative humidity. Store eggs small end down.
• Duck eggs may be hatched naturally by placing them under a broody duck or even a broody chicken hen.
Muscovy ducks are very good setters, capable of hatching 12-15 duck eggs. The nest box should be located in a clean dry shelter, bedded with suitable litter. Feed and water should be available for the broody duck and for the ducklings when they hatch. The incubation period of a duck is 32 days Ducks are capable of incubating 20 eggs or even more. • Select eggs to be set by carefully inspecting and candling them at the time they are put in setting trays. Do not set eggs that are cracked, double yolked, misshapen, oversized, undersized or dirty. For best results, set eggs within 1-3 days after laying.
There is an average loss of about 3% hatchability for eggs stored 7 days before setting, and about 10% loss for those stored 14 days.
• While hatching artificially, set eggs with the small end down, except in the case of small incubators that have no trays.
If eggs have been stored in a cooler, take them out of the cooler the night before setting and allow them to warm to room temperature. Ducks’ eggs may be given to a hen to hatch them as it can look after the eggs and the ducklings properly
• Candling is done seven days after incubation by facing the egg in the sun during day and look through. If it’s dark inside, then there is a duckling and if light, there is no ducklings hence remove it.
• A Candle or touch can also be used in the same way at night. • At about seven days after setting, candle the eggs and remove any eggs that are infertile (clear) or have dead germ (cloudy).
The ducklings do not need to feed immediately after hatching since they have the york sack as a food reserve which is drawn inside the body during hatching time. This can be used by the duckling over the first 48 hours. However, Ducklings peck each other’s eyes as they try to explore so it is advisable to give them some food, after 24 hours, to keep them busy. And then get proper food after 48 hours.
Add some water to the food to soften it and keep alongside water until the birds are ready to feed properly. When birds begin to feed well, separate the water and food. Be careful with the type of drinkers so as the birds do not drown in the water. Water should always be available for the ducklings.
Avoid giving dry food to the ducks without water. This may cause the crumb swell up inside the body and cause problems and at times death. Give green grass to ducks. These will help the ducklings grow strong bones. Ensure that you have a constant supply of water as the ducks need the water in order to swallow their food. Chop up, into small pieces, greens and vegetables and add that to their diet.
Introduce hard grains at 3 weeks when they have grown enough to stand them. When hard grain is introduced, ducklings should have access to sand and grit. They will dig into the earth of their run to find their own particles from the soil for the gizzard as well. Whole grain alone is not a suitable diet for ducklings, neither is bread.
Provide clean water for drinking i.e. water that is free of germs and toxins which may be harmful to ducks. Water for swimming is not essential, but can be helpful during the times of high temperatures.
When food is abundant, birds are more likely to lay more eggs. The environment also affects the number of eggs.
It is advisable to remove the water out of the brooder during the night so that they do not go to bed wet. If the areas under the light get wet for bed time, cover some additional material over the top so they can be dry.
The ducklings inside need enough oxygen through the shell hence it is important to provide ventilation during this period.
Select bigger eggs for hatching because those that are very small result into poor products
Ensure a clean environment so as the duck doesn’t get contamination while hatching
It is important to maintain a quiet and dry environment
The nest should be soft enough
Farmers are advised to keep checking on the progress of the eggs.
In case some eggs break, remove them
Provide enough food to the duck when ever it comes out. This is because hunger can force it to opt to eating the eggs and running too far looking for food.
You must not touch the eggs with dirty fingers because the duck may reject them. Avoid oily hands as they may block air spaces and prevent the duckling from breathing well. Provide the birds from extreme weather conditions, diseases and predators.
CARE FOR DUCKLINGS
Give them enough drinks
Ducklings should be given soft food
Provide them with enough light and warmth
They must be kept in a clean environment
keep their brooder clean. The cover of the base should be changed every couple of days. The base material should be changed out weekly. How often, will depend upon how many ducklings you have for the area
Avoid direct contact with water and keep them out of rain
To provide warmth to the ducklings; Light about two or more charcoals stove and put them in corners of the ducks’ house especially if they are many and away from the mother duck. The ducklings MUST be in position to get near to the heating bulb and away from the bulb as they need. A wet duckling will die within minutes if it can't regulate its body temperature.
COMMON DISEASES: PREVENTION & MANAGEMENT
1:WET FEATHER This usually attacks the ducks during very wet conditions and it affects mainly the young ones. In extreme cases it may lead to death. CAUSES It is caused by very cold conditions, wetness and mud.
The feathers get water logged and take too long to dry up. This is worsened where there is mud which may also get stuck on the feathers.
The ducks should only be exposed to swimming when there is hope for them to dry.
Don’t expose ducklings to mud
Keeping them indoors or providing a shelter may partly solve this problem.
DISEASE 2: COCCIDIOSIS The disease usually occurs among young birds. Birds on free range management system rarely get this disease. The disease usually occurs where birds are kept inside a house all the time.
CAUSES Caused by a protozoan organism and transmitted from bird to bird through contamination of water, feed, droppings or litter.
SYMPTOMS Poor growth, low weight gain, loss of appetite; bloody diarrhea, dropping wings and general weakness
PREVENTION Keep the environment, water and food clean all the time.
TREATMENT • Provide the birds with amarathus (dodo) and spinach • Consult an agricultural extension worker
DISEASE 3: DUCK CHOLERA CAUSES Affected birds how signs of thirst, become weak, and be highly nervous.
Death usually occurs a few hours after symptoms are noticed
• The ducks should be vaccinated against duck cholera
• Provide fresh, clean drinking water •
Rice fed to the ducks must be free of insecticides, since these can have an adverse effect on the health and production of the ducks
• Ducks dead of cholera should be burnt or buried deep, because the cholera organism can survive for long periods in carcasses.
• Control consists of rearing ducks in a screened area or discontinuing production during the blackfly season.
• New stock should not be added to an existing flock. Newly arrived ducks should be quarantined for at least two weeks.
Outbreaks of disease may otherwise occur if sick or carrier ducks are allowed to mix with the flock.
Do not give rotten food such as maize bran, snail, fish and meat which may contain dangerous microorganisms or their toxins.
Vaccinate ducklings against duck cholera and give antibiotic-vitamin-mineral supplement to restrain them from build-up of bacterial infection and improve their resistance.
Separate ducks of different ages and in case of an out break, provide them with similar medication. Keep ducks of the same age in the same pen and provide them with the same medication. Even if using a free range system, it is important to feed ducks with balanced food. Ducks fed with unbalanced food are likely to be less resistant to disease attacks.
Provide them with cool, fresh and clean drinking water at all the time. Clean feeders and drinkers at least once a day and dry them before adding food.
COMMON PESTS: PREVENTION & MANAGEMENT PEST
1: MITES SYMPOMS
• Reduction in egg production
PREVENTION & CONTROL
Sprinkle wood ash in the houses at least once a month. Crush a handful of dry tephrosia, mix with 2 liters of water and deep in the bird. Make sure you don’t deep the mouth since the solution can be poisonous when taken in large amounts. The ducks should be sprayed with insecticide at least once a year to control external parasites like lice, mites, beetles and other arthropods that may infest and irritate them.
TREATMENT Get 1kg of tephrosia leaves and squeeze in 5 litres of water then spray in the house to kill mites at least once a week till they reduce
PEST 2: WORMS
Slow growth, general weakness, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
PREVENTION & CONTROL
Keep animal shelter and feeding containers clean all the time. Don’t provide birds with dirty food.
• Observe strict sanitation
• Avoid mixing sick birds with normal ones
• Give flowers and leaf extracts of aloe Vera to the sick birds either by cutting them into small pieces or boiling them and give water at least once a week
Ducks mature at five months if well looked after and at that age they can be sold or eaten. Feathers are used for for pillows or padding and can also be used for ornaments.
The meat and eggs are eaten for extra nutrition.