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postheadericon The selection of vigorous breeding duck stock is essential

The selection of vigorous breeding duck stock is essential. Breeder ducks are selected from the earliest hatches of the year, with the initial selection being made when the birds are about 8 weeks old. A final selection is made before they are placed in the breeder pens. Breeders should be uniform in size and at the approximate weight range for the breed used, having a full breast, deep keel, long back with good width between the legs. In making the selection, it is a good idea to walk the birds for several hundred yards. Eliminate those that have difficulty walking at a reasonable speed.

Breeder ducks are most profitable during their first laying year. However, they can be used successfully for 4 or 5 years. In backyard flocks it would be more desirable to keep ducks for several years.

Five to eight ducks can be matted to each drake. In colder weather, limit the number of ducks per drake to five. In warmer weather increase it to eight.

Drakes may be determined by their larger size, higher-pitched voices and more erect carriage than ducks. Ducks have a distinct ‘quack’, drakes do not ‘quack’.

In handling ducks, pick them up by the next rather than by the legs, which are easily broken.

Breeder ducks require very little equipment for their care. For farm flocks, a shed or colony brooder house is satisfactory. Provide 5 sq ft of floor space per bird in the house.

Dirt floors may be used in building if the soil is light and sandy, but concrete floors are recommended as they are easily cleaned and more sanitary.

Since ducks lay most of their eggs in the morning, confine them in the breeder house until noon, so that all eggs will be laid in the house. Provide nest boxes and place them on the floor where the ducks have easy access to them. Provide one nest box for every five ducks.

Any feed or water equipment that is satisfactory for chickens can be used for ducks. Water troughs should be designed to keep birds out. Otherwise, the water will become filthy and a potential health hazard.

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