Watch the Ducks Grow - Weekly Photos of our Breeders
Every summer we hatch a large flock of duck breeders for the next year's egg production. It is typically in July or early August. We try to peak in production for the Easter hatch, it takes about nine weeks from the first egg to maximum egg production and we want them about 22-23 weeks of age at first egg. For this year our hatch was July 18. We decided to take a picture of the birds every week as they grew and share those with you. With this, you can always look back and see how big a duck should be at different ages.
We hatched 580 Rouen (95 male and 485 females), 560 Khaki Campbell, 400 Black and Silver Swedish (to produce Black and Blue Swedish), 260 Buff, 330 Cayuga, 200 Welsh Harlequin, 150 White Crested, 525 White Layer, 400 Fawn and White Runner, 200 Black Runner, 360 Black and Silver Runner (to produce Black and Blue Runner) and 185 Chocolate Runner. We will be hatching 600 Mallards in several more weeks. Our Pekin breeders are hatched twice a year (late June and late December) so we have Pekin ducklings available year round. Goose breeders are hatched in April and May.
Click on the small photos to see larger versions of each.
One Day Old This is our brooder barn. It has a slotted plastic flooring that works great for ducklings. But the goslings we tried to grow on it got their hocks caught in the slots so we had to cover it with 1/2" hardware cloth. This is not ideal as the manure does not fall through due to the wire and we have to wash the floor daily. By this time next year we hope to have a new 40' x 160' brooder building.
One Week Old They have already been moved to another of our buildings and they are doing very well with only three heaters. Our typical summer highs are in the upper 70's and night lows in the mid 50's. In addition, the roof is fibreglass which allows heating from the sun. Notice they have both nipple waterers and open, bell type waterers.
Two Weeks Old Notice how quickly they grow? When the Runners hatch, it is difficult to distinguish them from non-Runners. But by now they are much more upright and are easy to differentiate. You can see our larger feeders are garbage cans set in a wooden box. Four holes are cut into the bottom of the garbage can side to allow the feed to flow out as it is eaten.
Three Weeks Old This is the first day we will let them out during the day. Those in the front are ready to move out! We will add bedding before we bring them back in for the night.
Four Weeks Old This is the week they are vaccinated against several types of salmonella.
It is done in the water.
We have never vaccinated before but felt it would be worthwhile considering the protection
it gives and it's low cost.
Five Weeks Old At this age they are quite mobile.
When we open the door, they come running inside after their day in the sun.
They have water all the time but feed is only available to them inside their building. As they are breeders,
they don't have to have feed in front of them all the time. A little slower growth is actually good for them.
Six Weeks Old
We had to split the birds into three groups as we don't have enough space in any one area:
1) White Layer,
2) Runners and
3) All Others.
We like to separate the Runners as they are smaller and don't compete quite as well for feed, etc.
As you can see, all groups are all feathering out well.
Seven Weeks Old
No curly feathers on the tails of the males yet. Should be soon!
Eight Weeks Old
We saw the first curly feathers in the White Layer ducklings. You can see the male on the left with the curly feather on its tail.
Nine Weeks Old Our Runners spend the day on pasture.
At the end of the day, they know exactly where they are supposed to go - to feed and shelter!
Week 13 They love their days out in the pasture finding bugs and playing in the stream overflow.
Fourteen Weeks Old
You can see the male Rouen have their complete male coloring at this age.
Sixteen Weeks Old Enjoying a sunny afternoon in California on a green pasture. What is better than that?