Where can I get information about sustainable duck production for eggs?

J.T.CaliforniaAnswer: Ducks are very well suited to a sustainable production system, as they are hardy and can maintain themselves with little supplemental feed. However, ducklings will grow faster and reach market weight more quickly if fed a supplemental ration. Ducks kept under free-range conditions where they have access to pasture are generally freer of disease and parasites than those kept in confinement. Dr. Michael Hellwig (see Resources, below) warns against using medicated feed for ducks, especially for ducklings. He also states that ducklings have a very high niacin requirement, so if you are unable to find a commercial feed formulated especially for ducklings, he recommends that you provide them with either niacin or a B-vitamin supplement. Dried nutritional yeast may be used.Dr. Sandhu and Dr. W. F. Dean of the Cornell University Duck Research Laboratory are good contacts for more information on ducks and have several publications available on areas of duck management.The Web sites linked below contain information about various breeds of ducks and geese, as well as basic management requirements of waterfowl.Very little information on marketing waterfowl is available. The most recent information is a market study done in British Columbia in 2002. There is a link below to the section on waterfowl.A good source of information on the various threatened duck breeds is The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy at Pittsboro, North Carolina.There are many books available from hatcheries, libraries, book stores, etc. on all aspects of raising ducks, including feeding, flock health, breeding, incubation procedures, and other management practices.Ducks should be penned at night to protect them from predators. The pen need not be elaborate, but must be predator proof, including the roof. It is easier to catch ducks if they are fed some grain in the pen every night; often they will be waiting before you get there. If you feed them in the pen, then they must have access to water to rinse their bills after eating. ResourcesMichael Hellwig Cob-Vantress, Inc.P.O. Box 249Siloam Springs, AR 72761501-524-3166Dr. Sandhu or Dr. W.F. Dean Cornell University Duck Research Laboratory P.O. Box 217 Eastport, Long Island, NY 11941 516-325-0600Holderread’s Waterfowl Farm and Preservation Center P.O. Box 492 Corvallis, OR 97339 503-929-5338The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy P.O. Box 477 Pittsboro, NC 27312 919-542-5704Anon. 2004. Humane husbandry criteria for ducks. Animal Welfare Institute. 7 p. www.animalwelfare.com/farm/standards/ducks.htmATTRA publication: Pastured Poultry Nutrition (available by calling 1-800-346-914)Nova Scotia Agriculture and Fisheries. 2001. Ducks; Feeding and watering program for growing ducks; Lighting for pullets and layers: Brooding ducks; Care and storage of duck hatching eggs: Incubation of duck eggs, and Processing ducks. 14 p. Nowland, Warren. 2001. Duck raising. New South Wales Agriculture. Agfact A5-0.1. November. 32 p. www.agric.nsw.gov.au/reader/149View West Marketing Inc. and Zbeetnoff Agro-Environmental Consulting. 2002. Market study on the British Columbia ratite, waterfowl and game bird industries-Final report. January. p. 1-2, 43-56.www.agsci.ubc.ca/ubcquail/Research/ratite_gamebird_waterfowl_final%20report.pdf (PDF 752 kb)