In the Philippines, ducks rank next to chickens for egg and meat production. The duck population in 1998 was about 9.05 million (preliminary estimate), of which 7 million or 79% were in the backyard farms while the rest were in commercial establishments. Central Luzon which supply eggs in Metro Manila, has almost 2 million ducks. This is followed by Western Visayas with 1.1 million, and Cagayan Valley with 0.98 million ducks.
Some advantages of duck raising are:
- Ducks need simple, less expensive, and non-elaborate housing facilities.
- Ducks require little attention and they thrive well on almost all kinds of environmental conditions. Most eggs are laid at night and early in the morning. Eggs can be collected only every morning, thus the caretaker can do other farm works during the rest of the day.
- Ducks needs less rearing place and shorter brooding period. Ducklings grow rapidly such that artificial heat can be dispensed within five to seven days, or a little longer during the cold months of the year.
- Ducks are hardly and highly resistant to common avian diseases, with very low mortality in most duck farms. They are rarely afflicted with diseases which commonly affect chickens and other fowls, such as malaria, coccidiosis, avian pest, baccilary white diarrhea, chronic respiratory disease, and infectious bronchitis.
- Ducks can be feed on a variety of foods, such as rice, cassava, copra, corn, and fruits. They have the natural tendency of foraging on green legumes, algae, aquatic weeds, fungi, snails, earthworms, maggots, and insects which reduce feed cost. Ducks can also be used to control garden apple snails which serve as pest to rice plants in some regions, and other snails (Lymnaea sp) which serve as intermediate host to liverflukes.
- Ducks live longer than chickens. Farmers make profit even in the second year of laying and, therefore, need longer interval for replacement of stock.
- Duck raising offers a wide variety of opportunities. There is high demand for fresh table eggs, boiled incubated eggs (balut” and “penoy), century eggs, and salted eggs (`maalat’ or `itlog na pula’).
Ducks for Low-cost Weed Management in Ricefield
In rice paddies, where straight row planting is used, ducks can be used to control weeds. Approximately 25 days after planting, the crop reaches 20 centimeters in height. At this stage, ducks can be allowed into the rice paddy without damaging the crop.
Results of the study by researchers of the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) in Silang, Cavite, showed that 40-50 adult ducks feeding for three hours a day for three consecutive days can weed a 1000 square meter area.
Although any species can be used, the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) or Pateros duck are recommended because they are more active and have light and narrow bodies.
To manage weeds using ducks, irrigate the field to a depth of three centimeters (ducks will not enter the rice paddy field without water). To encourage them to enter, broadcast a handful of rough rice into the paddy. The constant dabbling or feeding and trampling by the web-foot ducks make the soil soft and muddy, inhibiting the growth of weeds. At the same time, the weed growing in between the rows of rice are incorporated into the mud. Broadleaf weeds and sedges are eaten by the ducks. Insects (e.g. moths or stemborers, hoppers, mole crickets, etc.) and golden snails which are found at the base of the rice crop are also eaten, thereby, reducing pest population. (E.F.Palapala, S&T Media Service)