B. Meat-Type Breeds
The Muscovy breed is locally known as pato. It is easily identified by its red knobby nodules along the eyes and above the base of the bill.
Muscovy is a heavy breed. It has low egg production, hatching eggs at age 33 to 35 days. However, the Muscovy is more self-sustaining than the Pateros breed. Muscovy ducks prefer to stay on land. They are great foragers and can sustain on what they pick up in the field, supplemented only with corn and palay. This breed has a tendency to fly away and get lost. Thus, their flight feathers must be clipped regularly.
The Pekin breed is native to China. It is oftentimes mistaken as a goose mainly because of it carries its body upright. It is docile and is well-adapted to the climate in the Philippines. Pekin ducks are good layers. Pekin ducklings are ready for market at age two to three months.
Duck raising in the Philippines
Ducks are a relatively low-maintenance, self-sustaining livestock enterprise in the Philippines. However it is prudent to take necessary precautions and implementations to maximize profit.
A small flock of ducks may be raised in the backyard at a low cost. Apart from the brooder, which is needed for the first week or so, facilities and equipment for duck raising are fairly simple. Duck houses must be built in a quiet, cool place and should be at a nearest possible location to a stream or pond. Suitable local materials include bamboo, nipa and cogon. The duck house is ideally located on a well-drained area. Sandy soil is preferable for the duck yard as it drains easily after a rain. The earth floor of the duck house should be bedded with dry absorbent material such as straw or shavings. A low fencing of approximately 6icm is adequate for breeds that are not adept to becoming airborne like Pekins.
However, there two types of commercial duck housing, which are total confinement and semi-confinement. Modern total confinement housing is well insulated and mechanically ventilated. Ducks are isolated in age groups, whether in separate buildings or in separate pens with a solid partition between them. There are also two types of floor design, all wire mesh or a combination of litter and wire mesh with waterers located on the wire.
Water fowl drink excretes more water than land fowl. Thus there is extra demand on the ventilation and heating systems to remove extra moisture and maintain the ideal temperature. Ventilation systems in commercial duck houses may be the negative pressure type with adjustable or automatically controlled air inlets and exhaust fans located along the side walls.
Modern confined duck housing, when properly designed and managed, is capable of providing ducks with a high degree of protection from harmful effects of extreme weather and entry of avian diseases. It is ideal to have the advise of an agricultural engineer who is familiar with duck housing when designing the buildings, if it is available. The structure should be able to exclude wild birds from the buildings to prevent introduction and spread of diseases. Modern commercial duck housing helps to allow year-round production and marketing at an earlier age, and improves feed conversion and allows for a more predictable and usually better weight-gain.
Semi-confinement duck housing, on the other hand, allows ducks at age over two to three weeks to go outdoors during the day. Ducks at age over four weeks may spend their time outdoors with minimum usage of the shelter.
A swimming pond may be provided with measurements of 10.0 feet wide and 20.0 feet long for every 50 ducks.
Ducks may be grouped according to size or age. This facilitates management and minimize fights as these are common for ducks of different ages. Older ducks tend to push out younger ducks from the feeders.
Flooring and Floor Space
Overcrowding can be detrimental to the ducks’ health, growth, and egg production. Adequate floor space should be provided at each stage of the brood’s development. Under-crowding may not be a problem in duck raising, however, ducks should be stocked at recommended density when in cold weather so the body heat can warm up the room.
Each duck should be provided with at least three to four feet of floor space. A shelter housing 100 ducks should be ideally measured at 4 x 4 meters and 3 meters high or high enough to allow a man to stand inside. The floor may be covered with rice hulls, corn cobs, peanut hulls or the like. These materials kept the flooring dry and clean thus preventing the spread of pests and diseases.
Indoor floor space allotments for ducks should follow recommended space for each growth stage.
Age = Space (sqr. ft.)
1 week = 0.31
2 weeks = 0.62
3 weeks = 1.10
5 weeks = 1.90
6 weeks = 2.28
7 weeks = 2.48
4 weeks = 1.47
Developing breeders must be provided with 2.69 sq ft each or 2500 sq cm, while laying breeders require 3.02 sq ft or 2809 sq cm. Ducks allowed outdoors should have twice as much outdoor space as allowed indoors.
It is important to ensure that the shelter flooring is free from materials that can injure the skin covering the feet and hock joints of the animals. The smooth skin of ducks is not as tough as that of land fowl, and is more susceptible to injury when ducks are confined on surfaces that are too rough, or abrasive. Feet and leg injuries may be caused by slats, wire floors or cage bottoms unless these are smooth, non-abrasive and free of sharp edges.
Stones combined with the soil in the duck yard may also cause injury. Damaging effects of flooring on ducks increases with age and size of the animal as well as the time duration the ducks are exposed to the flooring. However, the probability of injury is significantly reduced if the wire floors are minimized to one-fourth to one-third of the floor area. Wire floors, when properly constructed, may be better than slats. Slats can cause leg deformities and skin injuries.
Wire floors for ducklings under age three weeks should be constructed of 1.90 cm or % inch mesh, 12-gauge welded wire, and should be attached to a frame designed to keep the wire flat and minimize litter accumulation. Recommended measurement for ducks aged more than three weeks is 2.5cm or 1.0 inch mesh. Vinyl coated wire is ideal, however smooth galvanized wire is also satisfactory.
author: Carmela Abaygar, Marid Digest