Breeder males and females are selected when they are around 6-8 weeks of age. For maximum fertility drakes should be older by 4-5 weeks than females. In flock mating a male female ratio of 1:6 to 1:8 is satisfactory with layer types of ducks while ratio should be narrower for meat type of ducks.


The incubation period of ducks is 28 days. Eggs for hatching should be collected only from those flocks that are in lay for about 6-8 weeks. Collection of eggs should be started 10 days after introduction of male. Washing of dirty eggs improves hatchability. Dirty eggs can be washed using warm water at 27oC to which a detergent sanitizer and disinfectant are added. The dip water has to be changed frequently. Washed eggs should be dried and fumigated immediately to prevent rotting. Hatching eggs should be stored in an atmosphere having a temperature of 14oC to 16oC with a relative humidity of 80%. Eggs can be incubated in forced draft incubator with the same temperature for chicken. However, the humidity requirement is higher. This can be achieved by sprinkling lukewarm water from the second day to 23rd day of incubation. Eggs should be turned at least 4 times daily up to the 24th day of incubation. On 24th day of incubation the eggs should be transferred to hatchery. In forced draft incubators satisfactory results are attained at a temperature of 37.5 to 37.2oC (99.5 to 99oF). The wet-bulb reading on the thermometer should be 30 to 31oC (86 to 88oF) during incubation for the first 25 days and 32.7 to 33.8oC (90 to 92oF) for the last three days of hatching. Eggs are sprinkled with lukewarm water having sanitizer once a day from 2nd day to 25th day and cooled for a maximum period of half an hour. Candling is done on 7th day. The eggs are turned hourly. Eggs are transferred to hatchery on 25th day.

BROODING (0-4 Weeks)

The brooding period of Khaki Campbell ducklings is 3 to 4 weeks. For meat type ducklings such as Pekin, brooding for 2 to 3 weeks is sufficient. Provide hover space of 90 to 100 sq.cms. per ducklings under the brooder. A temperature of 29 to 32oC (85 to 90oC) is maintained during the first week. It is reduced by about 3oC per week till it reaches 24oC (75oF) during the fourth week. Ducklings may be brooded in wire floor, litter or batteries. A wire floor space of 0.046m2 per bird or solid floor space of 0.093 m2 per bird would be sufficient up to 3 weeks of age. Water in the drinkers should be 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3”) deep just sufficient to drink and not dip themselves.


When ducklings are about 4 weeks of age they can be let out if to be reared on semi-intensive system. In semi-intensive system the stocking rate suggested is about 5000 ducks per hectare. It is preferable to rear them in smaller units of 200 ducks. Under intensive system, growing ducks can be reared on litter or slat floor or a combination. Plenty of water should be available for drinking. The design of waters should be such that it is sufficiently deep enough to enable the ducks to immerse their bills. A depth of about 13-15 cm will suffice for this purpose. Under intensive system, a floor space of 4 to 5 sq.ft. per duck is essential, whereas in semi-intensive system, a floor space of 3 sq.ft. in the night shelter and 10 to 15 sq.ft. as outside run bird would be adequate. For wet mash feeding in a ‘V’ shaped feeder, allow 10 to 12.5 cm. feeding space per duck but for dry mash or pellet feeding adlib in hoppers, a feeding space of 5 to 7.5 cm. per duck would be sufficient. High egg laying strains of ducks come into production at 16 to 18 weeks of age. About 95 to 98% of eggs are laid by 9.00 AM. One nest box of size 30x 30 x 45 cms (12 x12 x18”) to every three ducks be provided. In case of laying breeds a mating ratio of 1 drake to 6-7 ducks and in table breeds 1 drake to 4-5 ducks is allowed. Photo period of 14 to 16 hours per day is essential for optimum production. In free range, 1000 ducks are kept per 0.405 hectare (1 acre) depending upon greens.


Ducks lay their eggs in the early morning. An average duck egg weighs about 65-70 g. Ducks normally lay when they are about 5-6 months of age. Peak production is obtained 5-6 weeks after commencement of lay. A photoperiod of 14 hours is considered optimum for inducing high egg production. Ducks are fed only twice in a day – one in the morning and the other in the evening. The quantity to be fed is that which can be cleared in about 10-15 minutes time. Layer ducks can be fed with mash or pellets. It is preferable to feed wet mash. The feed should have 18% protein and 2650 K cal/kg of ME. The feeder space suggested is 10 cm/duck. Under intensive system a floor space of 3710 to 4650 cm2 per duck is essential, but in cages it can be reduced to 1350 cm2. In semi-intensive system, a floor space of 2790 cm2 in the night shelter and 929 to 1395 cm2 as outside run per bird would be adequate. Layer ducks must be provided with nest boxes. A nest box measuring 30 cm wide, 45 cm deep and 30 cm high would be sufficient. One nest box for every three layers has to be provided.


Ingredients = Percent (1) Yellow maize = 42.00 (2) Rice Polish = 20.00 (3) Gingelly Oil cake = 7.00 (4) Soyabean meal = 14.00 (5) Dried fish = 10.00 (6) Oyster shell = 5.00 (7) Mineral Mixture = 1.75 (8) Salt = 0.25 Total 100.0 For every 100 kg, add vitamin mixture (VitaminA 600mg VitaminB2 600mg) and nicotinic acid 5 g.


Ducklings may be reared in intensive, semi-intensive or range system. Under intensive system, allow a floor space of 91.5 feet in deep litter and 29.5 feet in cages, up to 16 weeks of age. Under semi-intensive system, a floor space 45.7 feet per bird is allowed in night shelter and 30 to 45.7 feet as outside run area per bird up to the age of 16 weeks. The temperature under the hover should be 30oC for the first few days. The temperature can be reduced by about 3oC for every 2-3 days. During summer, provision of heat for brooding can be stopped when the ducklings are 8-10 days of age whereas during rainy and cold season it may have to be continued for a longer period (2-3 weeks). Ducklings can be brooded using battery brooders as well. Though multi-tier battery brooders can be used single tier battery brooders are easier to manage. Ducklings can be fed with a mash containing 20% protein and 2750 kcal/kg ME up to 3 weeks of age and a mash containing 18% protein and 2750 kcal/kg of ME from 4 th to 8 th week of age. The feed or feed ingredients should be free of mould/fungal growth and aflatoxin.



Duck is the common name for a number of species in the Anatidae family of birds. The ducks are divided between several subfamilies listed in full in the Anatidae article. Ducks are mostly aquatic birds, mostly smaller than their relatives the swans and geese, and may be found in both fresh water and sea water. Most ducks have a wide flat beak adapted for dredging. They exploit a variety of food sources such as grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, small amphibians, worms, and small molluses. Ducks occupy an important position next to chicken farming in India. They form about 10% of the total poultry population and contribute about 6-7% of total eggs produced in the country. Ducks are mostly concentrated in the Eastern and Southern States of the country mainly coastal region with non-descriptive indigenous stocks, which however are poor layers. Ducks are comparatively harder than chicken and are easily manageable. They give economic production even during their second year of lay.


Khaki campbell for egg production and White pekin for meat are the other popular breeds.



Egg type parent stocks imported from U.K. These are prolific layers which can give up to 300 eggs per laying cycle. These birds are very much suitable for rural development programmes for sustainable economical development in rural areas. Among the egg laying breeds, Khaki Campbell is the best producer. Individual egg production of almost an egg a day in this breed for well over twelve months has been recorded and flock averages in excess of 300 eggs per duck per year are not uncommon. Khaki Campbell ducks weigh about 2 to 2.2 Kg and drakes 2.2 to 2.4 Kg. Egg weight varies from 65 to 75 gm.


Meat type imported from Vietnam, suitably adopted for Indian conditions. Pekins are known worldwide for their fast growth rate and good meat convertibility. White Pekin is the most popular duck in the world known for table purpose. It is fast growing and has low feed consumption with fine quality of meat. It attains about 2.2 to 2.5 Kg of body weight in 42 days of age, with a feed conversion ratio of 1:2.3 to 2.7 Kg.



Ducks are generally hardier than other poultry. In practical duck rearing the diseases of importance are duck plague, pasteurellosis and aflatoxicosis. The only method of prevention of aflatoxicosis is to eliminate the use of feed or feed ingredient having fungal or mould growth. Effective vaccine against duck plague is now available. Duck virus hepatitis is another disease and that could cause heavy mortality of ducklings, when they occur. Some of the diseases that may affect ducks are given below.


Adult birds are mostly affected by virus disease. It is characterized by vascular damage with tissue hemorrhages and free blood in body cavities. The Lumina of intestine and gizzard are filled with blood. There is no treatment for the disease. The birds can be protected by Duck Plague Vaccine, available in the country, which is given at the age of 8-12 weeks. Duck plague can be prevented by vaccination however, no treatment for these viral diseases is present and secondary infection should be prevented.


It mainly affects ducklings of 2 to 3 weeks of age. It is characterized by an acute course and primarily hepatitis. There is no treatment for the disease. The breeding stock can be immunized by attenuated strain of virus before the commencement of egg production. The day old ducklings can be protected with attenuated virus vaccine. The disease is not stated to be prevalent in India.


It is an infectious disease, caused by bacterial organism Pasteurella Multocoda in ducks over four weeks of age. There is loss of appetite, high body temperature, thirst, diarrhea and sudden death. Most common lesions are pericarditis, arthritis, petechial and echymotic haemorrhages under the skin (Pink skin), in visceral organs, over the serous surface and intestine (Haemorrhagic enteritis). Liver and spleen are enlarged. Sulpha drugs and vaccination can control the diseases. Vaccinate the birds with duck cholera vaccine, first at the age of 4 weeks and again at 18 weeks. Treatment through Enrocin or 30 ml Sulpha Mezathine (33.1%) in 5liter of drinking water or 30-60 ml of Sulpha Quinoxaline in 5 Ltrs of drinking water for 7 days or Erythromycin or Rabatran Granules or Neodox-forte or Mortin Vet or Workrin or Kayasol. These drugs can be administered under the Veterinarian’s guidelines.


Food poison is a serious problem in both young and adult ducks. It is caused by ingestion of bacterium that grows on decaying plants. Avoid ducks scavenging on decaying plant material. Treatment through Epsom salt in drinking water which acts as purgative.


Ducks are resistant to internal parasites. The infestation is prevalent only among those ducks which have access to stagnant water, over-crowded ponds and small streams. The parasites include flukes, tape worms and round worms. These causes decrease of nutrient assimilation by the bird and anaemia due to toxic material excreted by them, destroying the red cells. The external parasites are an infliction rather than an ailment. These include lice mites, fleas and ticks. These cause irritation and annoyance leading to loss in egg production. They also transmit many disease producing organisms. However, these are not commonly found on water-fowls as in chicken.


It is a condition caused by aflatoxin produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus in the feedstuffs such as groundnut, maize, rice polish and other tropical feeds on storage. Improper drying of grains, rain and humid weather favour the mould growth. Ducks are very susceptible to aflatoxin content in the feed. Out of the four types of aflatoxins commonly found viz, B1, B2, G1 and G2. B1 is the most potent toxin. The minimum toxic dose for ducks is 0.03 ppm or 0.03 mg per kg in feed. Aflatoxin produces liver lesions and results in death when present in high concentration. Lower doses produce chronic effects such as lethargy, unthriftiness, hepatitis and delayed death. There is no specific treatment for aflatoxicosis. When the source of aflatoxin is removed from the feed, birds make rapid recovery.


Name of the vaccine= Route = Dose = Age of ducks (1) Duck Cholera (Pasteurellosis) = Subcutaneous Ducklings, Adults= 1 ml= 3-4 weeks (2) Duck Plague = Subcutaneous Adults = 1 ml = 8-12 weeks

Housing and Feeding


Ducks do not require elaborate houses. The house should be well ventilated, dry and rat proof. The roof may be of shed type, gable or half round. It may have solid or wire floors. The wire floors are not popular with breeders. Under semi-intensive system the house should have easy access to outside run as the ducks prefer to be outdoors during the day time and even during winter or rains. Generally the proportion of night shelter to outside run is 1/4:3/4. The run should gently slope away from the houses to provide drainage. Normally a continuous water channel of size 50 cm wide and 15-20 cm. deep is constructed at the far end, on both sides, parallel to the night shelter, in the rearing or layer house.


Though duck is a water fowl and very fond of water, water for swimming is not essential at any stage of duck farming. However, water in drinkers should be sufficiently deep to allow the immersion of their heads and not themselves. If they cannot do this, their eyes seem to get scaly and crusty and in extreme cases, blindness may follow. In addition, they also like to clean their bills periodically and wash them to clear off the feed. While in meat strains a slight increase in body weight of ducks at seven weeks of age has been noticed (weight advantage of swimming ducks to non-swimming ducks is 0.3%), but for egg laying strains, swimming is a disadvantage.


Ducks may be grown on dry mash, a combination of dry and wet mash or pellets. Ducks prefer wet mash due to difficulties in swallowing dry mash. The pellet feeding, though slightly costly, has distinct advantages such as saving in amount of feed, minimum wastages, saving in labour, convenience and improvement in sanitary conditions. Ducks are good foragers. The use of range, pond or supplementary green feed, reduces the feed cost. Ducks should never have access to feed without water. During the first eight weeks, birds should always have access to feed, but later on they may be fed twice a day i.e. first in the morning and then late afternoon. Khaki Campbell duck consumes about 12.5 Kg. of feed upto 20 weeks of age. Afterwards the consumption varies from 120 gm and above per bird per day and depending upon the rate of production and availability of greens.