DUCK FARMING, unnoticed profitable poultry venture in Kenya
With most farmers in Kenya concentrating on chicken, duck farming has gone unnoticed despite the high profitability potential. With an array of many beautiful and hardy duck breeds all over Africa, duck farming is slowly gaining root. Ducks are reared for their eggs and meat.
As the average income continues to grow in Kenya, most people are turning to ornamental poultry farming. Apart from meat and eggs, ducks are now being purchased for ornamental purposes. Brightly colored breeds like Rouen ducks are fetching as high as 5000Kshs in Kenya.
Now if you are a beginner and want to start duck farming from scratch, read through this a to z guide. I will be discussing everything you need to know about the duck farm, raising them for meat and eggs to making money.
Ducks are more prolific compared to chicken and are more adapted to free range system of rearing. Duck rearing in Kenya is concentrated in the hands of small and marginalized sections of society and has not seen the light of industrialization as in case of poultry. Considering the hardiness, active foraging ability, adaptability of the ducks to grow in free range system and the less cost input in rearing them, these act as a reliable source of livelihood for many poor rural farmers.
Breeds of ducks in Kenya
Domestic Duck breeds are grouped into Heavy, Medium and Light weight classes in the standards. Commercially, ducks have been bred for their meat, foie gras (delicacy in French cuisine) and eggs and have therefore contributed to the domestic breeds of duck we still have today.
There are different breeds in the world, some are reared for meat and some are good for eggs, some breeds can also be kept as ornamental birds.
Brooding and Care of ducklings
Duck Farming in Kenya – Muscovy female duck with ducklings
Most of our breeds do not go broody, only the Muscovy ducks get broody and cares for its ducklings. The rest of our breeds just lay the eggs and abandon them, most of them to not even look for a nesting place to lay their eggs. Therefore, if you decide to buy them you wold need to place the eggs under a broody hen, a Muscovy duck or an incubator.
If you deice to use an incubator, you are their mum, therefore you would need to provide a heat source to ducklings of around 38ºC and reduce the heat as they grow. Remove heat source completely after 2-3 weeks. At this stage, the ducklings are regulating well their temperatures and feathers are well developed.
Feed the ducklings with starter crumbles with protein content about 20-21% for at least a week or two. The amount of starter crumbles offered is 30-50g/duckling/day. Water should be available 24/7. Provide grit (sand) to ducklings mixed with feeds.
Feeding and water
Ducks generally eat almost all types of food they find edible. You can feed your ducks like chickens, using commercial feeds, but you need to add water on mash feeds because they choke on fry mash feeds. If you can find pellet feeds, that would be perfect for ducks. For homemade feeds you have to add some extra additives into duck feed. As some ducks lay more eggs than hens, so you have to be very careful about feeding your ducks. Add necessary nutrient elements in their diet.
Always provide your ducks nutritious feed according to the various types of duck breeds and their growth rate. For small scale or domestic duck farming, you can feed your ducks rich bran, kitchen waste and let them free range to where they can get access to plenty of snails and bugs. Always keep in mind that, ducks eat a lot of food daily. So you have to feed them well-balanced food if you want proper egg and meat production.
Young ducklings require more protein and calcium. While laying ducks require more calcium which is available in the layers pellets and mash since they need the calcium for egg shell production.
Water is very important for all animals but mostly so to ducks. Ducks spend 10% of their days’ time in water and so provide a pool or water tab (a plastic bucket or ‘karae’ would do) which should be cleaned and refilled with clean water daily.
Swimming facilities are not essential. However, pools can be made available where outside runs are provided. Concrete ponds 1m wide by 0.3m deep are satisfactory. To limit wastage of eggs, it is advisable to prevent outside swimming until about 9.00 am, when most eggs will have been laid (most ducks lay their eggs in the early hours of the morning).
Although swimming water is not necessary, ducks do need plenty of clean drinking water. Birds should be able to immerse their heads completely and hence clean and prevent blockage of their nasal passages caused by wet feed and dirt. Keep drinking containers shaded at all times. To prevent damp litter, place drinking vessels outside the shed or on a wire grid.
The main advantages of duck farming is their simple accommodation; ducks need less expensive, simple and non-elaborate housing facilities. As a result housing costs are very less for setting up commercial duck farming business.
Ducks do not need elaborate housing system; the minimum requirement would be to have a shelter and guarded free run area that is secure from predators or thieves. Each duck will require 2 to 3 square feet flooring space. Duck housing/shelter should be well ventilated and dry flooring with wood shavings or grass. Provide nest boxes to ducks at about 5 months of age for the birds to get used to it early enough.
Duck meat and eggs are becoming popular in Kenya and East Africa as a whole. Demand is high as the number of Asia and Chinese nationals increasing in Africa, duck meat and eggs consumption is increasing. We also have more and more Africans willing to try duck meat and eggs, therefore you find local restaurants and hotels willing to have duck on their menu.
Before you start duck farming, you will need to visit restaurants and butcheries, especially Chinese, to find out if they do buy duck meat and eggs and at how much. In Nairobi 1Kg of duck meat goes for Ksh450 ($4.5) and above, while a duck egg goes for Ksh30 ($0.3) and above.
Most restaurant want you to supply the ducks already slaughtered. While slaughtering, cut the neck leaving some of the meat and skin still attached, so that the head is attached to the rest of the body.
Before marketing duck eggs, clean the dirt of egg shell perfectly. Add chlorine into water to wash and kill all the bacteria on the egg shells, 25 grams into 20 litters of water. You can also clean the eggs with knife, soiled paper or towel. Place them on egg trays and place the trays into a basket or carton for caring eggs from one place to the market or shop. Do not stack more than 5 trays on top of each other. You can also use a cardboard box, bamboo/sisal basket, wooden/plastic crate and other things for transporting eggs to the market or another destination.
However, for making maximum profits from duck farming business, you have to be more careful on taking care of ducks, feed management, accommodation, brooding and marketing. If all the process are done well, then you can make a handsome income from this business.
You can also think of value addition; selling fertile eggs for incubation, selling ducks and ducklings for breeding to other farmers, baking cakes using duck eggs, selling boiled duck eggs, selling cooking duck meat instead of raw meat.
Advantage or duck farming
- They require less care, attention and lay eggs which are heavier that poultry eggs by about 15-20 gram.
- Ducks have more economic egg laying life than chicken
- They are hardy, more resistant to diseases compared to poultry and can grow in marshy and wet lands which are not adaptable for rearing other domestic animals.
- They lay eggs at early hours of day, do not require extensive housing system and are free from cannibalism and other vices.
- Ducks feed on insects, bugs, snails and for this reason integrated farming of duck with fish and duck with paddy cultivation is suggested to be economical.
- Integrated duck farming and fish the droppings of ducks serve as feed for fishes, whereas its integration with rice cultivation they loosen up the soil while searching for food, thus helpful in weeding, insect control and also provide manure through its droppings. Also integrated in duck and rice farming.
- They act as exterminators of grasshoppers, fleas, snails. They also feed upon larvae, pupae of mosquitoes and can be used in water bodies to check their growth.
- Ducks are quite intelligent, they can be trained to go to pond/water bodies and come back to sheds on their own.
- Ducks need less expensive, simple and non-elaborate housing facilities. As a result housing costs are very less for setting up commercial duck farming business.
- Ducks are very hardy bird and they need less care or management. They can adopt themselves with almost all types of environmental conditions.
- You need comparatively less space for raising ducks. Ducks have comparatively shorter brooding period and ducklings grow faster. Ducklings grow so fast that, you can dispense artificial heat within their 5 to 7 days. Although they will require a little longer heating period during cold months.
- Ducks are highly resistant to the common avian diseases.
- You can feed your ducks with a wide variety of foods. A duck’s regular food includes cassava, copra, corn, rice, fruits and any other low cost and easily available foods. They also have the natural tendency of foraging on aquatic weeds, algae, green legumes, fungi, earthworms, maggots, snails, various types of insects etc. which directly reduce feeding cost.
- You can also use your ducks for controlling apple snails or some other harmful insects from your garden.
- Ducks have less mortality rate and usually they live longer than chickens. In case of egg production, ducks lay eggs for a long time period.
- Duck products such as eggs and meat have a great demand in the local and international market. therefore, commercial duck farming in Kenya can be a great source of earning. There are already many successful farmers who are making a high profit from their duck farming business.
- Duck farming in Kenya business can also be a stable employment source. Young unemployed educated people can join this business and make their own employment source.
Credit: Ziwani Poultry