Feedback: Don’t be a quack, get all duck facts right

Friday August 19 2016

Ducks can be reared in intensive, semi-intensive or free range systems.

Ducks can be reared in intensive, semi-intensive or free range systems. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DUCKS REARING
I am interested in keeping ducks for both meat and eggs in kakamega area . Kindly advice me on accommodation, feeds, brooding, diseases and prevention and marketing. Thanks. 
Macrogena

Ducks can be reared in intensive, semi-intensive or free range systems. Under intensive system a floor space of 4 - 5 sq.ft./duck is essential, whereas in semi-intensive system, a floor space of 3 sq.ft./duck for the night shelter and 10 - 15 sq.ft. /duck as outside run would be adequate.

Under free range system, 1,000 ducks can be accommodated in 1 acre depending upon forage availability.

Water for swimming is not an essential feature however, continuous water flow channel with dimensions of about 20 inches wide by 6-8 inches deep should be constructed at one of the end of house.

This allows the birds to immerse their heads in the water to prevent scaly, crusty or in extreme cases blindness of eyes. Brooding period takes 3 to 4 weeks and requires a temperature of 29 degrees celsius to 32 degrees celsius maintained during the first week and thereafter reduced by about 3 degrees Celsius per week until it reaches 24 degrees celsius during the fourth week.

A hoover may be used to provide the supplemental heat, allow 0.10 sq.ft./duckling. Pellets or combination of dry and wet mash is used for feeding. Wet mash feeding is preferred due to difficulty is swallowing of dry mash.

Therefore, ducks should not have access to feed without water. During the brooding period (0 – 8 weeks) the birds should always have access to feed by providing 50g to 110 gradually increased throughout this period.

Afterwards, feed may be offered only twice in a day morning (8 am) and late afternoon (4-5 pm). From 9 weeks onwards feed consumption varies from 120-160g and above per bird per day, depending upon the rate of production, age and availability of greens.

Similar feeds as chicken may be used (layers feeds and broiler feeds), however, ducks have a higher protein requirement during the growing period while during the laying period its requirement is lesser than chicken.

Ducks are resistant to common poultry diseases however, vaccination should be carried out for the duck cholera at 3 – 4 weeks and duck plague at 8 – 12 weeks as these tend to largely affect them.

Sophie Miyumo, Department of Animal Science, Egerton University

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CHICKEN CAGES
I would like to know how and where I can get good quality chicken cages. I want to start chicken farming as soon as I can get this information.

I have also noted in your article that the Leghorn breed of chicken is good for egg laying over a period of a year. Is this the case? Where can I buy the chicks?  I leave in Kiambu town.  Please advise.

Reader

Check the following companies: Sigma Feeds Kenya ([email protected]/0721560521), Ecochick Poultry Ltd (072087285) or Renray Layers Battery Cages - Nairobi (0722477409).

Their cages are designed to accommodate 120 to 128 birds per unit (4 to 5 birds/cube) with each unit measuring 7 feet wide by 9 feet long by 6 feet high.

Depending on the number of birds you intend to keep these measurements should guide you in to knowing how many cages you will require.

The battery cages come fully equipped with an automated watering system (nipple watering). The Leghorn breed is prolific egg layers that rarely goes broody and reach maturity early.

As such it is commonly used in the development of hybrid birds/commercial strains. The hatcheries in Kenya obtain the parent stock of the commercial strains from international breeding companies for breeding to produce day old chicks to supply to farmers.

Hybrid strains such as the Hyline contain the Leghorn blood and can be obtained from the Kenbrid Ltd, Naivasha.

Sophie Miyumo, Department of Animal Science, Egerton University

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Concentrates such as dairy meal are mainly fed to dairy cows to supplement milk production.

Concentrates such as dairy meal are mainly fed to dairy cows to supplement milk production. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

FEEDS RATIO

At what ratio should I give the silage to other concentrate and mineral salt. 

Boniface

Concentrates such as dairy meal are mainly fed to dairy cows to supplement milk production and steaming up a heifer. For cows in lactation, producing above 10 litres of milk, give dairy meal at the rate of 1kg for every additional two litres she produces.

Mineral salts on the other hand, is very essential for dairy cows therefore should be availed ad libitum/ freely to animals. This means, silage is totally fed independently to animals as main energy source and other nutrient; the proportion however varies depending on any other fodder material you to feed together with silage.

Keep reading for an article on A-Z of feeding silage to your cows in relation to feeding together with other feed sources, in few weeks to come.

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Science, Egerton University