Friday, November 25, 2011

Can You Move Laying Ducks During Egg Production?

If you move ducks that are laying eggs into a different pen, will it adversely affect their egg production?  If you had asked me this question three weeks ago, I would have said "Absolutely! Yes, egg production will drop dramatically!".  Well, I would have been wrong.

In late fall we have to clean a lot of our buildings in preparation for next year's duck breeders.  Normally we move all the breeders from a building to our sell pen and start cleaning out one years worth of manure and bedding.  Our Khaki Campbells were still laying fairly well in a building that was scheduled to be cleaned.  My breeder manager, Guillermo, decided to move them into an empty pen in another building so we could get another two to three weeks worth of eggs from them before that building had to be cleaned, too. 







If he had asked me prior to the move, I would have said "It won't work, but go ahead and try if you want.  They will stop laying within a couple days of their move."  I encourage employees to try new things but I knew how this was going to work out.
          

The ducks were walked into a trailer and driven to their new pen, about 80 yards away.  The construction of the buildings is exactly the same, though their new pen was a mirror copy of their first pen (for the new pen the water was on the west side and nest boxes on the east side instead of east and west in the older pen).  In addition, they have new neighbors on both sides of their new pen.  Now, look at the egg production of that Khaki Campbell flock.
                  Eggs
Nov.  15       86
          16       90
          17       97
          18      103
          19       92
          20       99
          21       98  The ducks were moved this day after their eggs were collected.
          22     102
          23     107
          24     100
          25     110

You can see they have not gone down in egg production!  The move was a stress but there were many things in common between the old pen and new pen: same feed, same feeders, same nipple waterers, same bedding, same lights, and same light schedule.  They are a bit more nervous but otherwise have taken well to their new pen.

I still do not recommend moving breeders while they are in production - especially if they are early in production and you are getting more eggs each day - but I have learned you can move older flocks if you have a real reason to do so and the new pen is very similar to the old pen.

See - you can teach an old duck farmer new tricks!

18 comments:

  1. When I bought my Pekin ducks I had them in my chook pen (where they were laying eggs) until I had finished there pen that was fenced into our dam, once I moved them to the pen at the dam they stopped laying. I have tried putting fake eggs in their pen and they still wont lay. Please help. Will they start laying again? I haven't seen them mating anymore either..

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    1. My guess is that their new pen was significantly different from their old pen which was a stress. In addition, Pekins are not the egg laying machines that Khaki Campbells are. So it is easier for Pekins to stop laying due to a stress. I can't tell you when they will start laying again. It might not be until next spring when the days are starting to get longer. Now the days are getting shorter - which discourages egg production.

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  2. I had been given two 7 month old Pekin Ducks and we set them in our pond and they swam to the other end and are now gone..Is there a way to keep them interested in their new home if I can find them

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    1. I would pen them up in the area you want them to consider home for a couple of weeks. Then when you release them, they know where their food is and will less likely leave. It could also have been that predators got them. You should probably close them in each night for protection. If you feed them at the end of each day, when you close them in each night, they will be standing at the gate waiting to be let in their home.

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  3. i have made several changes to the base flock of ducks i have. i partitioned the pen and put in the new hatched birds (30). i was giving them a grain but they were not eating all of it and leaving the hi protein alfalfa and vitamins in the dishes so i ground it. coarse ground. they finish it up. they are on a special feed that i have made so that they will produce eggs that people who are allergic to everything can eat. so now i am getting 2 eggs a day. (versus 16 i was getting in spring)

    where do i go from here. i need to fix this but of course everything i do is a new thing. i am planning on adding on to the pen so there is more space. probably should half them into 2 pens but they go as a group, up at night and out during the day.

    the pen is 30x20 and they are only in the pen from 1AM - 12pm. 50 ducks. think they are too crowded and just shut down?

    they get fed 2x per day, when i let them out and put them up. they are used to the cats around and dogs barking. we come and go and they love it when i come home. almost greet me at the car with the dogs and cats when i open the door.

    the only thing i can figure is the living quarters and maybe the competiton for food now that there is more birds. during the day they separate into groups, males and female groups, and birds of a feather as they say, like and like together. they are food bound though. like a cow, they are driven by what i feed them, and compete to get it. i feed in 4 separate areas at night and around 6 in the morning. i plan to cut a 4" pipe in half and hang it for a feeder. have not done that but thought it might cut down on the competion. any thoughts on what else i can do or should not do?

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    1. It sounds like they are not getting all they want to eat if you are talking about competition. If you want maximum egg production, I would not limit feed - I would give them all they want to eat. It is nice if they clean it up each day but not be starving at the next feeding. Our breeders can eat 24/7.
      At this point, however, it might be hard to get them to lay again as the days are getting shorter. You can overcome this by giving them 17 hours of light a day with artificial lights.

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  4. My daughter's Orpington Buff duck just layed her first egg! We are not sure when she did this today...but can someone tell me if this egg is safe to eat...since it has not been refrigerated till maybe hours later...What is the best way to determine when they are laying the eggs...so many questions...so little time...She has her duck at a farm and we travel there after school, so timing is hard to tell. Let us know if anyone can. Thank you for your help!

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    1. Yes, it is safe to eat. Most eggs, commercially produced and home produced, are not chilled for quite a few hours. We only hold our hatching eggs at 60 degrees which is not that cool - cooler than that is fine for fresh eggs but not for eggs you ultimately want to hatch. Ducks normally lay their eggs within three hours of the sun coming up.

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  5. My Mallard ducks have been laying now for the past 8 days. They are laying their eggs all over the back yard instead of in a nest. Should I move them to a nest for the incubation period or just leave them as is? It is their first lay

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  6. Do you have several nests from which they can choose? If not, put some boxes on their side in different "private" spots in the pen and put in some hay, straw or shavings. They will probably start laying there. You can also put the eggs they have already laid in the nests. That might entice them to start laying there. You might want to number the eggs in each nest starting with "1". Once you get to "11", remove "1" so the maximum number of eggs in the nest is 10 and they are always the freshest eggs - if they decide to start sitting on them.

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  7. i would think it is most likele just fine to eat a ten day old egg.as they are sometimes that old in the market and eggs...

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    1. You are correct. Chicken eggs in the store are often two weeks old and that is typically fine.

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  8. My year and half old Welsh Harlequin is sitting on a nest in our burn pile in our yard. Our yard is completely fenced in and our LGDs have cleared the area of racoons and such over the last 3 years (the dogs are in at night). However, it makes me very nervous to leave her each night. She is very well hidden but I know that will not matter if an animal catches her scent. We have a duck house where our drake and 2 other ducks sleep at night (if they don't decide to sleep in the chicken coop). I would love to move her nest into the duck house but am afraid she will stop sitting. She's been sitting for the last 8 days on about 17 or so eggs.

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    1. My guess is she would stop setting - but that is only a guess. It is late in the season but if you move the nest and she refuses to sit, she might start another nest. You may need to fence off the burn pile to ensure she doesn't go there again. They like privacy so she may not voluntarily make a nest in a smaller, cramped night shelter. If you do decide to leave her, can you securely fence the burn pile to protect her while she is sitting?

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  9. My duck started laying and I removed the 191st 2. I left 1 hoping she would continue to lay. I was gonna leave about 4 bc I don't have room for a ton of ducks. Now she hasn't laid anymore eggs! Did I remove the eggs too soon? Will she start laying and hatch the eggs or did I mess up? Thanks so much!

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    1. I don't understand "191st 2". I assume you want her to sit on the eggs to hatch them? I do not understand "...too soon." Why did you remove them if you wanted her to sit on the eggs? I am a bit confused.

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  10. my Muscovy hen is sitting on 11 eggs - I moved her nest and eggs to a safe pen where she has food and water. after the hatch, what do I do? should I make a ramp so that the ducklings can get out? will Mom bring them back inside or keep them out in a place of her chosing?

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    1. Muscovy ducklings can crawl very well but I would not make it hard for them to follow Mommy. She will probably initially use the nest area but eventually abandon it until it is time to lay more eggs.

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