Duck (Waterfowl) farming is one of the most underrated poultry farming in Africa. Ducks have higher level of productivity and require lower investment capital when compared to hen farming. Ducks produce more flavourful meat; lay bigger (50-60 grams) and more eggs (175 – 330) per year than hen. They lay well even in the second year than hen. Duck are hardy, good converter and grazer; they feed well on insects, potato beetles, mosquito larvae, snails, slugs, earthworms, small fishes and other aquatic lives.
Duck farming could be integrated with fish or rice farming. Rice-duck farming is a common practice in Nepal, Japan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam, China and India. The integrated practice has reduced cost incurred on conventional fertilizers. The ducks’ droppings fertilize the rice field while the ducks feed on aquatic weeds and insect pests in the rice field. This symbiotic relationship has helped to increase rice grain yield by 30% and decreased greenhouse gas emission in paddy rice field.
Presently, value added products such as sausage, smoked breast, confit, potpie, wings, pepperoni, Peking duck (Chinese dish), rendered fat (for cooking) and many ready-to-serve products are being produced from duck meat.
Despite these potentials, commercial duck farming especially in Africa is yet untapped.
Major Duck Breeds
Pekin Ducks, Anas domesticus are the best for both meat and egg production. They produce more than 200 eggs per year, grow faster, adapt well to confinement and attain marketable size of 3 kilograms at 7 weeks hence ideal for commercial production. They are characterized by large body, yellow bill and creamy white feathers, with orange shanks and toes. When young it is difficult to determine the gender of the duck; when older the male ducks acquire a curled tail feather. Ducklings have bright yellow plumage.
Khaki Campbell Ducks:Anas platyrhynchos domesticus, are excellent breed for both egg and meat production. They start laying at 17-19 weeks and lay more than 300 eggs per year. They are adaptable to cold, hot, humid, or arid climates. They are characterized by khaki feather colour.
Muscovy ducks, Cairina moschata are good breed for meat production. They are good grazer, medium egg producer, fly and perch on trees hence suitable for backyard operation or small scale breeding and production. It is marketable at 12 weeks. It is a common local breed in Nigeria characterized by glossy blackish/brown and white feathers. The adult male weighs up to 4.5 to 6.8 kilogram. Most of the females are 2.3 to 3.1 kg.
Mule Ducks (Mulard) are hybrids of Muscovy male (Drake) and Pekin female (Duck). Mule Ducks are sterile, lay unfertilized eggs, produce lean meat and fast growing. They are essentially bred for lean meat and fat liver. It is marketable at 8 weeks.
Other important duck breeds are Khaki Campbell, Indian Runner, Aylesbury, Swedish Duck, etc.
Backyard duck farming system in Africa keeps drake (1) and ducks (5-10) together. Ducks hatch their eggs. At times, hen is used to hatch duck’s eggs. Outside swimming facility is provided only for fully feathered ducklings and ducks. They are allowed to swim from 10.00 AM when most eggs would have been laid. Majority of Nigeria’s farmers feed ducks with one to two type of feed to supplement their grazing activity. Fermented grain residues (eeri in Yoruba and dusa in Hausa languages) and grains (broken rice/rice bran, broken maize, sorghum and millet) are given.
Commercial duck farming system found in Asia, America and Europe, hatch eggs using incubator, receives day old ducklings and brood for 28-30 days. The feeding system uses compounded layers and broiler feeds (crumbled or pelleted). The use of pelleted or crumbled feed for ducks has been found to reduce feed wastage. Allowing ducks to graze and/or the use of green feed or hydroponic fodder have also reduced feed costs.
Water for swimming is not necessary for commercial duck farming; however water in drinkers should allow ducks to immerse their heads. Majority of eggs produced commercially are unfertilized, only breeding farms and hatcheries produce fertilized eggs and ducklings respectively.
Duck for meat production attained marketable size of 2.8 – 3 kilograms in 7 – 8 weeks. They are given broiler starter from day old to third week at the rate of 35 -75 grams per duckling per day. Afterwards, the birds are given broiler finisher from third week to seventh/eighth week at the rate of 80 – 160 grams per bird per day.
Duck for egg production is given starter feed from day old to eighth week at the rate 50 – 90g per duckling per day. Grower feed is given from ninth week to twenty-fourth week at the rate of 90 – 120 grams per bird per day while layer feed is given from twenty-fifth week onward at the rate of 120 – 160 gram per bird.
Globally, duck meat market is valued at over $8.98 billion with China taking the lead in the production and supply of Pekin Ducks. Other large producers are France, United State and Australia respectively. China duck production is 60% of the world production. Africa duck production is 2% of the world production with Egypt and Madagascar as the major producers.
Some large scale duck production have also been spotted in Russia, Canada, Thailand, Taiwan, New Zealand, England, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland. However, major export markets for duck products are US, Mexico, China, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Hong Kong, Belgium, UK, Spain and Denmark.
In Nigeria, ducks are sold in the local markets and organized target markets like Chinese/Japanese restaurants, hotels, food processors, retail stores or supermarkets. Live ducks are sold between 2500 Naira and 4500 Naira depending on the breed, sex and stage of growth. Live ducks are sold by weight to processors. Dressed, packed and frozen duck meats are sold by weight while duck eggs are sold in crate.
Day old duckling is 500 Naira while brooded duckling is 1500 Naira