Ducks are poultry animals raised for egg and meat. Some species of these birds are raised for eggs, while others provide us with meat. However, regardless of the breed, a good quality diet in the essential amount is vital for keeping them healthy. Imbalanced diets can result in nutritional deficiency, low productive performance and other problems that affect flock health.
Ducks that lay eggs are fed with feed containing calcium and protein in higher amounts. Feeding them with a layer or breeder diet is good for their health. Ducks usually start laying eggs when they are six to seven months old. The production and quality of the eggs laid by the duck highly depend upon the nutrition they get. So it is essential to feed your ducks with a regular balanced meal that contains all the essential nutrients.
Laying duck generally consumes about six ounces of food every day. Typically, 17% protein and a higher amount of calcium is required to support their growth. They are fed with food that comes in mashed, crumbled or pellet form. Clean, natural food products like fresh fruits, vegetables, grasses, bugs and insects also provide a great meal for them. Allowing your ducks to graze in a pesticide-free farm helps them acquire such food items in small or required amounts.
Young ducklings raised for laying can be fed with food in pellets that are high in calories and contain about 19% protein. Adding food products with vitamin B in their feed promotes their growth and development. For promoting growth, it is also very important to provide plenty of water to the young ones.
The feed can be given 4 or 5 times a day in equally spaced intervals for young ducklings. If the feed is provided in the mashed form, it is recommended to moisten them with water to prevent choking slightly. For growing ducks, care must be taken in controlling their body weight before laying. And also, mixed feeds must be spread out so that the bird has a chance to eat all ingredients.
Layer ration is provided at the age when the birds start laying eggs. The adult laying ducks are usually fed twice a day, that is during morning and evening. Feed rations of these ducks generally include ingredients like maize, rice polish, mineral mixture, oyster shell, salt and soybean meal. Small treats like corn and carrot can also be given in small amounts, constituting about 10% of the diet.
Crushed oyster shell feeds are provided to laying ducks to improve the quality of eggs laid. Like the ducklings, plenty of clean water is also essential for the growth of laying ducks. During sunny days, water must be made available in the evening until the temperature drops.
Providing copper and zinc at the required level in the diet is an excellent way to improve their performance. Copper is a growth enhancer, and zinc is a constituent that helps in eggshell formation. It is better to purchase smaller quantities in processed feed than buying and storing huge bags, as vitamins might degrade with storage. It is advisable to protect the feed from light, heat, and moisture and avoid storing them in metal containers.
Some feed ingredients commonly used in making chicken feed also utilized in duck feed. Adult laying ducks can eat chicken feed such as peas and leafy greens. However, poultry feed like groundnut meal and rapeseed meal are toxic to these birds. So, for laying ducks, it is recommended not to offer processed feed manufactured for other species.