DUCKS!!!

CAYUGA2 CAYUGA3 Cayugas 2004

CAYUGA ducks are a larger version of the Black East Indian. They should weigh over 3kg, and lay a black egg which becomes lighter as the duck grows older.

 

DUCKS CAN BE A LOT OF FUN AND UNLIKE THEIR CHICKEN COUSINS NEED A LOT LESS IN THE WAY OF CARE.

KCampbell drake champ2007 khaki campbell ducklings hatching Khaki ducklings 2012 khaki male ad Khakis for Derekwhite runners and babies

Above Khaki Campbell ducks and white and black  runner ducks.

The keeping of ducks is different from the keeping of chickens.

For one, you don’t need to immunise the ducks and a simple deworming programme is all that is required. They look after themselves virtually but you must provide the optimum conditions for them to exist or there may be serious consequences such as pneumonia, leg problems, lameness, ulcers and abscesses on the feet and around the mouth, thrush on the feet and the mouth, impacted crops and more.

SO HOW DOES ONE LOOK AFTER DUCKS? AND WHAT DUCKS ARE BEST?

This depends on what ducks you want to raise: Ducks for the table are entirely different from ornamental ducks or from show ducks.

Firstly, you must decide what room you have available for these ducks, and what ducks you intend to keep.

They need the following:

1. If they are large ducks, 3kg plus, they will need a deep pond in which to mate and breed. If there is insufficient depth, there will not be successful mating. Small ducks such as call ducks, ornamentals like Mandarins and Carolinas, will require a small pond only. Runners will breed on land but require a deep pond simply to dive as they love it. Broiler ducks such as Pekins will breed on land and require enough water to splash and clean themselves. Muscovy ducks are the same. I prefer to give them clean fresh water and a deep pond, so that they may keep themselves clean, as this already prevents a lot of potential illnesses. With small ducks, make sure you have a pond that can grow algae, as this makes up a large portion of their diet. Whatever pond you provide please ensure that the sides are easily accessible, and that the ducks have a way in and a way out that does not require them to slip and slide as this strains the legs and will cause lameness. If the pond has a lot of algae, this is wonderful for food but you must have an access area that is non slip, a ramp with ridged concrete or a wooden ramp with notched steps to allow for wet feet and webbed feet!

If they cannot get out easily they will either drown or they will chill themselves and become ill.

A duck’s feathers are waterproof up to a point, but if they cannot preen and oil their feathers, these become waterlogged and the bird will drown or become cold especially at night. There must be a GRADUAL gradient or slope to your duck pond, so that the ducks can easily slip in and out. My ponds are concrete, and the access is ridged  with deep gouges in the cement to allow for traction on the feet. Some people prefer to lay chicken wire along the side of their ponds so the ducks can  grip with their feet. This is fine as long as you have a way of preventing rust! And you need to make sure the wire is secured so as not to cause poking wires and injuries to the feet or eyes. A little thought and a little research is all that is needed. Make sure you have a drain in place, so that you can empty and clean the ponds. If you are very clever, you will have a pump system which recycles water and a filter to clean it on the way. You can provide a gravity feed as well. All this is available on the internet for those who wish to research it.

2. You need to have a run for your ducks if they are not to free range. They will require a stretch of grass perhaps with a few trees and bushes. Khaki Campbells do well as free range for a garden as they do not damage the plants but love the insects that plague them. They eat snakes as well. Runners are ideal for a garden. Many people are now into the Khaki as a productive egg breed and as a really good garden service. Snakes in South Africa are prolific and these ducks will deal with anything smallish and harmless and chase anything else out of the yard. It is difficult if you are a green or black mamba trying to sun yourself on a rock and are plagued by 15 VERY noisy females all shouting at once and aggressive males that will hiss at you. I think you will decide to go elsewhere!

Khakis are extremely intelligent and will make excellent pets. On the South Coast where I live in South Africa we had a spell where the municipality through some really bad planning and misappropriation of funds, cut off our water supply for the whole Uvongo area for 12 days. This of course meant that ducks had to have a drinker, and were not enabled to swim or bathe. My ducks are so spoiled and so used to clean fresh ponds and clean fresh water to bathe, they were picketing all day outside my house, chasing me from window to window and making the most dreadful noise. When water supply was restored the noise disappeared..thank goodness! They know who is responsible for their well being! I have a flock of 15 females and one drake running free. Khakis are a lot of fun and really make my day every day.

3. You will need a predator proof cage for them at night, and make sure they are locked away at night as well. It is a nuisance to have to do this but with predators active at night and ducks vulnerable at night this is essential. In this cage area have  a nesting area for eggs. Large ducks like a nest off the ground like a tyre with fresh hay inside. Make sure the cage area is dry and clean, as they will appreciate a dry area in which to preen, lay and become warm.

4. Make sure you have feed for them that is dry and free of moulds. A regular laying mash or pellet, and some whole maize is quite sufficient. They enjoy any greens as well.

5. You do not need drinkers, as they drink in the ponds. Ducks are so messy that drinkers will always be filthy!

6. You need to deworm your ducks with a good dewormer . It is easier to inject as ducks will not have a drinker. Ivermectin  1% at a rate of 0,5ml for a large duck and 0,2ml for a miniature. Do this every three months. black east indian 3

Above are Black East Indian ducks, stunning with their emerald green feathering. These breed very well, are easy to keep, and do sit well. The male has the emerald coat and the two curly drake feathers. They are bantam ducks. A female will lay up to 12 eggs before she sits. They raise their own and make good mothers.

 

 

buff call6 call ducks 2007 call ducks2 call ducks4 call ducks5 call ducks6 call ducks7 call ducks8 call ducks9

 

These above are call ducks which used to give me so much pleasure. The females are very noisy but it is not an annoying sound. Above from left to right:

Apricot calls, buff and grey calls, male and female. Call ducks are European, where they were bred to help hunters attract other and bigger ducks for the hunters. The females would “call” hence the name to attract other species.

My white calls were superb and were on the way to winning many prizes, one had a reserve championship some years back at national level. Unfortunately, genets helped themselves to my stock and as it was heart breaking to find them dismembered in the pens, I gave most of them away. My runners too were too numerous to lock away at night, and they succumbed to nightly predators. Only the Khaki Campbells were able to fight off genets and cats. They are not aggressive to people but the Khaki Campbell drake is extremely protective of his harem, and will fight to the death to protect his family.

Khaki Campbells, the colour being Khaki and the breed Campbell, is a British breed, evolved by a Mrs Campbell in the 1920s. She crossed an Indian white runner with a Rouen and crossed again with an English wild duck. The result was a large duck weighing in at 3kg, with amazing egg laying capabilities. Khakis are sitters but I have discouraged them from sitting due to predators. They are the only duck in the book to not have the Mallard white ring around the neck. They come in white, and there is a dark Campbell as well.

When keeping small breed ducks, bantam ducks such as calls and Black East Indian ducks, one should remember to give them a smallish pond with easy access. They have short legs and cannot manage steep sides. Also remember to deworm all your ducks frequently as a duck with parasites will die. You may see them limping, which may be an indication of parasites.

Ducks do have some health problems but if they are kept in clean cages or pens with clean water to bathe and drink and good quality dry food they look after themselves:

COMMON AILMENTS:

Eye infections:

wash out with warm water and a few drops of 3CP in the water. If the infection is severe, inject 0,5ml  KYROTRIM into the breast muscle. One dose is usually enough.

Sinus infections

Wash out with warm water and a few drops of 3CP. Clean out all white matter and clean sinuses by injecting warm water and salt solution , one tablespoon per litre boiled water, into the sinus. This is done with a small 1ml syringe with no needle. Do this several times to clear the sinus. Inject with 0,5ml  KYROTRIM into the breast muscle.

Parasites/ internal/external

Deworm with injectable IVOMEC every 3 months, adults only. Inject 0,5ml under the skin. If you see stick fleas on the eyes, drop one drop of Drastic Deadline onto the top of the head.

Fungal infections of the bill:

This is more difficult to cure as the bill becomes soft and will peel. I wash the bill until very clean and rub on a small amount of TEATREE OIL. You may have to do this several times. Make sure the water in the pond is clean.

Pneumonia

This when they get cold. Use BAYTRIL injectable. 0,5 ml into the breast muscle every day for three days.

Spirochetosis:

This is a bacterial infection which is caused by Brachyspira bacteria.

Ducks may not show signs of illness but may be pale, listless, underweight, or lame. Deworm first then treat with either Terramycin LA injectable, 0,5 ml in the breast muscle, or TYLO 200  injectable, 0,5 ml in the breast muscle.

You can also always use BAYTRIL oral or injectable for ducks.

If you are unsure of the dosage, you can contact your vet for information. These dosages are the ones I have used successfully with my ducks over the years, and I do not use Baytril if I can avoid it as it is a very strong antibiotic and should be used as a last, not a first resort. If you find the infection is not responding you can use ONE ML injectable Baytril in the breast muscle or alternatively make an oral solution according to instruction on the bottle, of Baytril with water and syringe it into the back of the mouth three times a day. Again try other solutions FIRST. Sometimes with ducks, cage rest does more than drugs. Disprin, half a tablet also works well with a duck that is feverish, coughing or sneezing. Try this first.

Usually one injection is sufficient but separate the duck from the others and cage separately until it has recovered. Injectable drugs work better  than the oral ones.

Lameness:

Sometimes caused by worms but often a swelling on the joint will be caused by accidents. remove the affected duck and pen in a small cage as often cage rest does more than drugs. If you insert a needle into the joint, and find pus, you have an infection. If the liquid removed is clear or bloody the joint has been damaged by accident. Either way, BAYTRIL works best, either oral, down the throat, or  0,5ml injected into the breast muscle. You can ask your vet to decant 20ml of oral BAYTRIL for you and use this at a rate of ONE ML per litre of water, to syringe into the back of the mouth. Oral Baytril and injectable are not interchangeable and must be used according to instruction. Keep the duck away from the others and do not allow it to run. If there is to be healing of leg problems, and this is not always successful, absolute cage rest for at least 3 weeks is essential. If you allow the bird back with the others too soon the healing will not be complete and it will relapse. It is cruel to keep them confined but they do get used to it if you keep them in a quiet dark place or cover the cage with a towel. Ducks do stress more than chickens but they are fairly resilient and will adapt if treated gently and kept in a quiet dark place.

Check the soles of the feet as sometimes there is an abscess there. Clean out with warm water and Dettol, and lance the abscess.

Pack with antibiotic powder such as terramycin eye powder, and keep the duck confined until healed.

FEEDING OF DUCKS:

This depends on what ducks they are but there are a few general rules.

Ducks need more calcium than chickens so give them layer mash right from day one. You cannot give layer mash to day old chicks.

Ducks do better on less protein and more calcium as there is a theory that “angel wing” in small ducks is due to too much protein in the diet.  Angel wing is when the feathers on the wings stand straight out at right angles to the body. It is easily cured by taping the wings closed and leaving them like that until the wings are straight. However, I have had call ducks and exotic bantam ducks and have had only one case of Angel Wing in many years. I believe it to be rather genetic than feed related. Just my opinion! My calls always had pullet grower mash for a few weeks and then I mixed in some layer mash. The big ducks went onto layer straight away. If you can find specialist duck feed you can use that but be careful not to feed rations meant for broiler ducks to exotics.

Maize is good for them but only whole maize as crush does tend to stick in their gullets.

Ducks love greens of any sort and do well on cooked rice too as a treat. Stay away from bread, which will sour their gut. As a treat stale bread that is wet is ok, but in small quantities and not too often.

As a rule they are not fussy and do well on general wholesome feed. Cod liver oil can be sprinkled on their feed during breeding season. if you have access to meal worms they do well on this and it cuts down on compound feed which is expensive.

Algae in the ponds are wonderful feed for small ducks, and they love snails and frogs as well. This is why deworming regularly is essential! You can grow water plants in the ponds, sedges and water lilies which they also love.

 

 

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