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August 27, 2011

"Domestic Duck Production, Science and Practice" - The Book

I didn't know about this book until a customer told me about it. I am happy he did as we are
changing some of our management practices because of it.  Domestic Duck Production, Science and Practice is a book written for commercial producers. Much of the information concerns raising ducks for meat but the section on breeder management applies whether you have Pekin breeders to produce meat ducklings or Golden 300 Hybrids, White Layers or Khaki Campbells for egg production. Even if you are only a serious hobbyist, there will be information in this book that will make you say “Really?” and you will realize there might be a better way to care for your ducks.

The main change we are making because of this book is our use of light. Historically we have grown our ducks on natural day length and then increased the day length to 17 hours between 20 to 25 weeks of age to bring them into egg production. The authors' recommendation is to maintain the ducks on 17 hours of light their entire life and bring them into production with an increase in quality and quantity of feed when they are sexually mature. “Excellent results have been obtained by maintaining meat strain ducks and drakes on a constant photoperiod of 17 hours from day-old until the end of the breeding cycle. Since this programme is simple and applicable at all latitudes it deserves to be adopted as the standard method for rearing Pekin breeding stock.”
Research supports all the information in this book with some of that research being done by the authors.  There is a list of references at the end of each chapter if you want to do further research on a specific topic. There are many graphs showing the results of the research and quite a few formulas showing the effects of different variables on weight, age of maturity, etc.

This graph shows the increased egg production from Pekin breeders that were fed 80% of full feed (Controlled growth) up to 18 weeks versus those that were fed all they wanted (Ad libitum feed) their entire life.

The chapters in Domestic Duck Production, Science and Practice are:
History and Biology of the Domestic Duck
Systems of Production
Housing and Environment
Husbandry of Table Duckling
Nutrition and Factors Affecting Body Composition
Rearing of Parent Stock
Management of Breeding Ducks
Fertility and Hatchability
Genetic Improvement

This drawing shows the ideal duck feeder to prevent waste.  Divide these numbers by
25.4 to get inches.

A few other "Did you know?" items in this book:
  1. Prior to egg production, female mallards eat a diet predominantely composed of animal foods to satisfy their demand for protein for egg production. Males, in contrast, subsist mainly on a vegetable diet.
  2. Average weight of a 7 week Pekin in 1928 was 3.6 lbs. In 2011 it was 8.1 lbs.
  3. In Asia, ducks are grown in buildings above lakes stocked with fish. The slotted floors allow the droppings to feed the algae which feed the fish. Up to 2000 ducks can be grown on each 2.5 acres of pond using this method.
  4. There is true value in keeping the bedding thick in cold climates as the composting generates heat which reduces the heating bill and/or feed consumption.
The problem with a specialized book such as this is that there are few potential buyers and they have to charge more for the book. Yes, the price is $109.95 but for those of you earning money from your ducks, this can be paid back quickly with the valuable information in it. If you are a commercial producer, the other book we recommend is Nutrition and Management of Ducks by Dr. William Dean and Dr. Milton Scott, which emphasizes the nutrition of ducks. Both books can be ordered in the book section on our website.

Do you have any waterfowl books that you have found valuable but we do not sell?


  1. John, would any of this information pertain to geese as well? There is not much out there on waterfowl as it is, but if this book contains information that might be applicable to both ducks and geese, I would be interested in a copy. I have found almost nothing that addresses geese.

  2. I don't think the information in this new book would pertain to geese. If you want to use artificial light to change the natural rythmes of production, the program for geese is much different than the program for ducks - and this books only discusses ducks. I am sure geese will produce more eggs with a lighter body weight than what ad lib (unlimited) feeding produces, but I don't know what those ideal weights are. I have a great book on geese - but it is in Hungarian. No, I don't read Hungarian but I know the author and he is a wealth of information.

  3. We do sell two books exclusively on geese but they are mainly for the hobbyist, "The Book of Geese" by Dave Holderread and "Domestic Geese" by Chris Ashton.

  4. Thank you for sharing such valuable information with us John.I'm a new hobbyist hoping to supplement my pension and your advice/help is so appreciated.
    Phillip Mieszala--Inyokern,CA

  5. Hello John, I enjoyed your latest blog about the book " Domestic duck production , Science and practise" I'll probably try and get myself a copy.

    I thought you might be interested to know that I put your lighting recommendation of 17 hours in place this past spring and the egg production of my Welsh Harlequin flock improved. Previously I was giving a minimum day length of 15 Hours and out of laziness would simply leave the light on 24/ 7 . This was my practice for several years when I had Indian Runners and they produced reasonably well all year round , but my Harlies would typically moult and go completely out of lay in July- August coinciding with hot, dry weather and not return to laying until November and then lay sporadically through the winter until March then resume full production again until July . I blamed it on the heat and thought that the Harlies mustn't be as well adapted to heat as Indian runners etc. etc.

    Now with a 17 hour day length and 7 hour night the Welsh Harlequin flock laid well ( 80%-100%) until June , production did begin to drop through July down to about 50% , it continued to drop to about 30% for a very brief period in mid August but never dropped to zero like other years. This last week , production has started to increase again in spite of the heat we are having this month and I am up to 75% . So it looks like in my case giving too much light was detrimental and the 17 hr day-length has been a success . I hope to see 100% production eventually through the fall and winter.

    Thanks again for your blog it's a wonderful resource.

    Mark Gross, B.C. Canada,

  6. Available in paperback for $55 here:

  7. That is interesting. They never offered paperback when we ordered - but it does say "pending" so you never know when it might be available. We paid $93/book plus shipping from England to California so we are not making much on these books. We just wanted to make a good duck book available to those interested.

  8. The hardcover book is $145 on the CABI site -- so your offer of the book is very reasonable. Thank you for making the book available. I wouldn't have known about it if I had not read about it here.

  9. John,

    I purchased 6 white embden goslings from you this spring and as they matured the hens all feathered out with black and gray feathers in their primaries on their backs and tails. Why is this? I have purchased embdens from otehr breeders and have never had this happen before. I think they might be cross bred? Is that a possiblity? I recommended you to other people and they too purchased embdens and had the same experience.

  10. By the time they get their final feathers, they should be 100% white. It is not uncommon for Embden to have gray or black feathers initially. But each time they molt as they are growing, they should have fewer non-white feathers until the birds are 100% white feathered. If this does not happen, however, let me know.

  11. Hi John , do u have any book information about khaki Campbell layer duck . I want to make a business farm. Actually I want to know everything about this duck. If u help me I'll be obliged to you.Thank you.

  12. There is no book exclusively on the Khaki Campbell duck. Many books describe the Khaki Campbell as it is a very popular breed. We sell several: Raising Ducks, The Domestic Duck, Choosing and Keeping Ducks and Geese and The New Duck Handbook. These can be found on our website at

    You can also find our description of Khaki Campbell ducks at Campbell&BirdType=Duck&ID=KC

    Good luck!

  13. Her is a sample of part of the book.

    1. For those of us living in or visiting the Washington, Dc/ Baltimore area, a copy of this book is available to read at the National Agricultural Library.
      The library is located in Beltsville, MD on the grounds of the USDA's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. Its on Route 1/Baltimore Ave. Just north of the Capital Beltway, about 12 miles from downtown DC.

  14. hi johan
    i am from Pakistan, in my countory duck farming is very small only few farms has Khaki Campbell and indian runner can you send some information aboutGolden 300 Hybrid Layer Duck. like how much egg in 365days like Khaki Campbell is about 300egg in 365 days. can you please send