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From Ducklings to Profit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Duck Production

Duck production is a lucrative business that offers opportunities for both small-scale and large-scale farmers. Whether you are interested in raising ducks for meat, eggs, or feathers, this guide will provide you with the essential knowledge and skills to help you succeed in the industry.

In terms of providing income from egg and meat production in our country, ducks rank second to chickens. In the Philippines, ducks are primarily raised for local consumption products such as balut and salted eggs.

There are two methods of duck farming currently employed. The first is the native method where the ducks are herded in paddy fields and allowed to forage for food such as fallen rice, fruit, newly sprouted grass, fish, and insects. A temporary shelter is constructed with a fishnet fence, and the ducks are confined there in the late afternoon. This method saves caregivers on food and housing for the ducks.

The second method is the confined method, where ducks are kept in barns and given enough food (such as formulated feeds) and housing to maintain good health and high egg production.

Despite the challenges facing duck farming in the country, such as high production costs, lack of good sex and youth, varying amounts of eggs, shrinking funding, and limited research, there is still hope due to the size of the demand for balut and salted eggs. Furthermore, the locals who take care of ducks have extensive knowledge of the proper care and production techniques. There are also formulated feeds available in the market for ducks from hatching to laying, and experts conduct research on choosing good breeds of laying ducks. Additionally, the Philippines is currently free of bird flu.

To address the challenges faced by those raising ducks, the Department of Farming, through the Bureau of Livestock, is developing a strategy to increase the income from duck farming and continue to develop the industry in the Philippines.

Duck Breeding

The Paitlugin or the "egg type duck," is a small-bodied duck that weighs between 1.3 to 1.4 kilos. It starts laying eggs at five months old, with an egg-laying percentage of approximately 55-70% per year, and the weight of each egg is around 65-70 grams.

To increase the availability of egg sperm for the production of balut and Newly-Hatched Ducklings or seho, ten female ducks should be paired with one male duck.

Duck farmers would greatly benefit from knowledge about choosing the current breeds of ducks that possess good characteristics for egg production to ensure these traits are passed down to their offspring in the next generation.

The characteristics of Itik Pinas that are ideal for egg production include:
  • a small body of 1.3 to 1.5 kilos at five months old, 
  • an efficient egg converter that produces 120 to 140 grams per day per head, 
  • high laying capability of over 200 eggs per year per head, 
  • big egg size of 65 to 75 grams, 
  • long spawning period of over 10 months, 
  • adaptability to local conditions without being sickly.

The Philippines imported the Khaki Campbell breed of ducks in 1950, followed by Pekin ducks for meat and Tsaiya ducks from Taiwan. However, the breeding process was not successful, resulting in ducks with different characteristics such as color, body size, egg size and quantity, and other traits.

There were several occasions when the decline in the quality of our ducks was given attention, but it was not continued until the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (PCAARRD-DOST) and the Bureau of Animal Industry – Department of Agriculture (BAI-DA) funded research through the National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center (NSPRDC) in Lagalag, Tiaong, Quezon. The NSPRDC conducted research on proper selection and appropriate breeding methods until a pure native breed of ducks was produced with uniform black and khaki colors, weighing 1.1-1.3 kilos at 18 weeks of age and with high egg production. The research resulted in the existence of a good breed of native duck called "Itik Pinas," which has pure black and pure khaki colors. The two pure colors of "Itik Pinas" can be bred according to their same color or different color. If bred with different colors, they will have offspring or seho with brown color. Due to the correct breeding of different colors (black and khaki), it was discovered that the male and female can be distinguished by the color of their feathers even at the hatchling stage.

The develop breed of native ducks is called ITIK PINAS-ITIM, ITIK PINAS-KHAKI, AND ITIK PINAS-KAYUMANGGI.

They have the same weight based on their age, adapted to local conditions, and capable of producing an additional 50 eggs per hen per year of laying with a weight heavier than usual at 65 grams per egg, which is needed by makers of balut and salted eggs.

Currently, ltik Pinas can be purchased from partner duck raisers in Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Laguna, and Quezon who were involved in the project and are now breeding and multiplying this type of duck. You can also contact the BAI-NSPRDC in Brgy. Lagalag, Tiaong Quezon.

The BAI-NSPRDC continues to breed and multiply ltik Pinas to further improve its capabilities in order to distribute it to duck raisers and help develop the duck industry in the country.

Choosing good characteristics can provide a long-term solution to improving the production of native ducks.

This is one way to continue caring for ducks, as the cost of caring for them continues to rise. Proper data recording in production is an important task for duck raisers to use as a basis for selection and breeding. The necessary data includes the number of ducks raised, the weight of the ducks, the age at first laying, the number of eggs laid per day, the amount of feed per day, the number of ducks that died or were sold, and more. The data obtained will serve as the basis for the production of the raised egg-laying ducks.

The record of a duck farm will contain the following information:
  • Number of ducks - this provides the total number of ducks in a certain period.
  • Weight of ducks - this gives information on the total weight of ducks at a particular time. This may vary depending on the age and condition of the ducks.
  • Age of ducks - this provides information on the number of months or weeks of the ducks from when they were born.
  • Number of eggs laid per day - this provides information on the number of eggs laid by the ducks in a day.
  • Amount of feed per day - this provides information on the amount of feed consumed by the ducks in a day.
  • Number of ducks that died or were sold - this provides information on the number of ducks that died or were sold within a certain period.

These are just some examples of information that need to be recorded in the duck farm record. They are important to monitor the production and condition of the ducks over time.

Things to consider in choosing a location for a duck farm:
  • It should be located in an agricultural zone
  • It should be far from residential areas because of the noise and odor from the ducks' waste
  • There should be a reliable source of water
  • There should be a road or path that can be used during rainy or dry seasons
  • The land should be big enough for possible expansion of the duck population to be raised.

Types of Equipment 
  • Heaters or warming devices for chicks
  • Feeding and drinking equipment
  • Water pump, water tank, water sprayer
  • Basin, bucket
  • Catching and carrying equipment for ducks (poultry crates)
  • Egg container
  • Egg incubator

Housing for Ducks
  • The duck house should be oriented lengthwise from east to west.
  • Width of house: Not more than 8-12 meters
  • Type of house: Elevated (slatted), ground level (kamalig), or combination
  • Materials for the house: Depends on the needed durability
  • Roof slope: Angle of 10° - 30°
    • Proper roofing can help protect against rain and sunlight.
    • Height should be enough to allow for proper ventilation and lighting.
    • A roof vent should be installed for ventilation.
  • Spacing between cages: The height of the cage should be four times the distance between each cage.
  • Bathing area: This is necessary during hot weather and for cleaning the duck feathers.

Number of Ducks per Square Meter of Floor Space in the Duck Housing Area


Floor Space Measurement

0-1 week old

30 ducks per square meter

1-2 weeks old

20 ducks per square meter

2-8 weeks old

8 ducks per square meter

8-18 weeks old

5 ducks per square meter

Above 18 weeks old

4 ducks per square meter

Things to Consider When Building Housing for Ducks
  • Easy to clean and water-efficient
  • The house should be suitable for the age and class of ducks.
  • Designed for comfortable, easy, and efficient operation
  • Well-ventilated and dry, especially in the egg-laying area
  • Partition the house with a capacity of 300 to 500 ducks per group; if the floor space is elevated, it can accommodate up to 100 ducks per group
  • The house should have three parts: the egg-laying area, the feeding area, and the activity area.

Feeding and Nutrition of Ducks

In free-range farming, ducks can find their own natural food. However, if food is scarce or the area is limited, ducks need to be supplemented with feed such as rice bran, snails, commercial feeds, and other local food to maintain growth, health, and egg production. If there is a new rice field available, ducks can be transferred there to have enough food.

In confined rearing, ducklings need to be given duck starter mash with rice on their first week of age; duck starter mash until 1 month old; duck grower mash from 1 to 4 months old; duck layer developer from 4 to 5 months old; and duck layer pellet from 4.5 to 5 months old and above. From ducklings to 4.5 months old, they will consume 10 to 12 kilograms of feeds. Use low-grade nutrition: 14% protein from 2 to 4 months old and not less than 18% protein for egg-laying ducks.

Guide to Raising Ducklings

A. Seho or Newly-Hatched Ducklings

For newly-hatched ducklings, prepare a brooder with proper heating (incandescent bulb with 1 watt per duckling or a bucket with charcoal) for up to 2 weeks old. Make a circular brooder using a cloth (GI Shee, with a mat or straw). Use a sack as their feeder and a plastic container for their water. Add more mat or straw every day to keep the brooder dry.

Ducklings cannot regulate their own body temperature and need artificial heat to survive the first 2 weeks. Brooding is the process of providing artificial heat for newly-hatched ducklings to promote proper growth and avoid stunted growth and death.

Preparation of Brooder Cage

Before the expected hatch date, make sure to have a proper brooder set up for them.
Use a cloth (GI Shee with a height of 2 feet) and connect both ends to create a circular brooder. Make a square brooder guard to prevent the ducklings from crowding in one corner.
  • Use rice straw or dried leaves/grass for bedding in the brooder house at a rate of 20-30 chicks per square meter for chicks aged 1-14 days.
  • Apply a 5-10 centimeter layer of straw or leaves/grass throughout the brooder house.
  • Prepare the necessary equipment such as feeders and waterers.
  • Ensure a source of heat for newly hatched chicks, using an incandescent bulb. The recommended wattage is 1 watt per chick. Place steel covers on each bulb to trap the heat. Hang the bulbs 6 inches above the bedding material.
  • The recommended stocking density per square meter is as follows: 30 chicks per square meter for 1-7 days old chicks and 20 chicks per square meter for 8-14 days old chicks. The number of chicks per square meter may vary depending on weather, ventilation, and bedding material used.
  • Add bedding material daily and pay attention to the waterer area to keep it dry.
  • Separate male ducks from female ducks from day one.
  • Proper ventilation helps to remove ammonia from the brooder house.
  •  A 1-gallon plastic drinker can be used for 50 chicks. Place clean gravel in the drinker to prevent chicks from getting wet. The use of nipple drinkers can save water and keep the bedding material dry.

Equipment and Facilities
  • Feeder
  • Waterer
  • Artificial heating (charcoal or wood in a bucket, incandescent bulb)
  • Brooder Guard (partition made of mesh wire, 2 feet in height)
  • If the temperature inside the brooder house is already high, the mentioned equipment may not be necessary. A clean and well-maintained feeding and watering system is also needed.

Required Temperature
  • During the first 2 weeks, maintain a temperature of 32°C in the brooder house for 24 hours a day. The temperature may be reduced or turned off if the weather is hot.
  • From the third week onwards, artificial heating is no longer necessary for the ducks to survive.
  • If the ducks are observed to move away from the source of heat, this indicates that the temperature is too high or it's hot inside the brooder house.
  • On the other hand, if the ducks huddle close to the heat source, this means that the temperature is too low or it's cold weather.

Daily Tasks:
  • Feed/give clean water 2-3 times a day.
  • Clean the feeding and drinking areas.
  • Clean the surroundings of the brooder house.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient warmth in the brooder house for the chicks.
  • Remove weak, sick, and dead chicks.
  • Record important data such as number of sold, dead, and fed chicks, etc.

Feeding and Feeding Methods for Ducklings
  • During the first 2 weeks, duck (or chicken) starter mash may be fed to the ducklings (ad libitum); rice may be added to the mash.
  • From the third to fourth week, a mixture of duck starter mash and duck grower mash is fed (ad libitum).
  • Ensure that the ducklings have enough clean drinking water.

Things to Remember:
  • Provide one male duck for every five female ducks as they grow.
  • Keep the ducklings dry and avoid letting them lose their warmth.
  • Ensure that the brooder house is of the appropriate size to prevent overcrowding.
  • Keep the ducklings safe from predators (cats, rats, dogs, snakes, etc.).
  • Maintain good ventilation in the brooder house.
  • Observe the ducklings daily for any signs of illness and provide the necessary treatment.
  • Bury or burn any dead ducklings.
  • Ensure that there is enough food, clean water, feeding and housing for the ducklings.

Things to DO to Keep the Drinker and Feeder Clean
  • Remove and do not let the ducks eat spoiled food (with unusual odor or mold).
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help from knowledgeable people (technician or veterinarian) to solve any health problems with the ducks.
  • Write down all information or data in a record.

Raising Ducks

Itik Pinas Itim

Ducks that are 1 to 4.5 months old can be released or allowed to roam in a pasture. Make sure there is enough food in the grazing area and if there is a shortage, add other feed. Keep the growing ducks confined in the afternoon and at night to prevent other animals from attacking them. Continue to let them roam until they reach 4.5 months of age.

Ducks are transferred to a grower house at the age of 1 month and are taken care of for 4.5 months. Build a shelter and bathing area. The bathing area can be made of concrete with a width of 1 meter, a depth of 6-8 inches, and length depending on the number of ducks. Use rice straw as bedding in each duck house. The ducks are moved to a laying house at 4.5 months of age.

In Free Range

Raising ducks in a free-range system on rice paddies lasts for 20-24 weeks before they are confined in a laying house. In this method, local housing materials such as Iona, bamboo, fishnet, rice straw, and rice husk are used as shelters for the ducks to sleep in. With this system, the housing can easily be moved to a new location where the ducks can find food.

Duck Housing

If the ducks have a duck house starting from hatching, they can be transferred to a permanent housing at the age of 18 weeks. In confinement, a long-term shelter such as a pen or duck house is used. Nipa or metal sheets may be used for roofing; rice straw, wood shavings, or sand as flooring; and bamboo or fishnet for walls.

The Importance of Housing (Confinement) in Duck Farming
  • Prevents loss, death, and mixing of ducks
  • Easy to care for and saves time in monitoring
  • Easy to provide necessary requirements such as medicine, water, and feed
  • Produces more uniform-sized and weight ducks
  • Higher percentage of egg production
  • Easy to protect from flood or calamities

Preparation of the Housing
  • The bedding such as straw or leaves is clean and newly replaced.
  • Defective equipment such as walls, roofs, baths, and water sources are fixed.
  • There are sufficient lighting, feeding, and drinking equipment.
  • The rearing period lasts from 5-12 weeks old for ducks.
  • The growth period for ducks is from 13-16 weeks old.
  • Ducks mature at the age of 16 weeks.

Daily Task
  • Feeding and giving clean water to the ducks.
  • Keeping the feeder and drinker clean.
  • Repairing broken equipment or parts of the pen.
  • Cleaning the pen.
  • Recording data or information about the activities such as the amount of food given, number of deaths, medication given, changing of food, etc.

Feeding and Feeding Methods
  • Feed the ducks with duck grower mash. Commercial feeds can be used to ensure uniform growth of the ducks.
  • Other types of feeds, such as rice bran, can also be mixed.
  • Make sure to provide adequate and clean drinking water and water for bathing.

Important Things to Remember
  • Prepare the new coop 2 weeks before the scheduled transfer.
  • Ensure sufficient food and clean drinking water.
  • Make sure the ducks are not overcrowded, cramped, or stacked on top of each other.
  • Ensure the correct number of ducks in the coop.
  • Weigh 5% of the ducks once a week; do it in the morning before feeding to determine the correct amount of feed.
At 16 weeks of age, introduce male ducks to female ducks (1 male to 10 females).
  • Allocate 5% reserve males for sick and dying males.
  • Provide a bathing area for ducks to avoid heat stress and aid in cleaning their bodies and feathers.
  • Maintain cleanliness of the coop and ensure dry bedding.
  • Separate sick, weak, or injured ducks. Bury or burn dead ducks.
  • Do not mix ducks of different ages in one coop.

Managing the Health of Ducks and Preventing Diseases

Only healthy and well-grown ducks should be selected. A healthy duck is active, has dry feathers, and is lively. A well-grown duck should be almost the same size, have similar appearance, and feathers should be of the same length and appearance (not ruffled). Different age groups of ducks should not be housed together. Sick and lame ducks should be separated. The duck house should be kept clean. Avoid mixing newly purchased ducks with the existing flock (sound quarantine/biosecurity procedure).

Native ducks have natural resistance to common diseases compared to foreign ducks, but they can still get sick if not properly taken care of, such as having a dirty environment, improper feeding and watering, inadequate food, and improper housing. A good health program and disease prevention practices for ducks can be very helpful.

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