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Egg-laying flock of ducks = Breeding Runner Ducks? Anconas? or Golden 300 Hybrid?  RSS feed

 
Emil Spoerri
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I want to start a commercial egg duck flock. I want to breed my own, so layer 300's are kind of out of the question.. I think...

I feel that runner ducks are probable the most efficient. If not because of their small carcase size, because they are the best foragers.

But the same problem lies with them that lies with any other egg duck, where can one acquire production quality stock? What are the hatcheries breeding for? One might suspect that the cheaper lines of ducks at the hatchery could mean the ducks lay more eggs, though it might also mean they hatch better.

I am a bit confused as to where the best place to order might be. Also never heard of any duck breeders who aren't hatcheries specializing in this sort of thing either. Anyone got any ideas?
 
                        
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On different forums I have seen a lot of respect for this outfit  (people going out of their way to say that's where they got their stock from)
http://holderreadfarm.com/selection_tips_page/selection_tips.htm   They keep records and have some suggestions re the different breeds..you might give them a call...
 
Tim Canton
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I am reading Storeys guide to raising ducks written by David Holderread.....He apparently is a duck genius and he and his wife breed ducks  and that link is their farm.


In the book he says the Campbells and Welsh Harlequins are best layers and great foragers...The Anaconas are good too and also excellent foragers but a little bigger bird........
 
Marissa Little
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We have Campbells and Runners.  They both forage a lot and I think the Campbells are a bit better layers.  We got ours from Mcmurray and Ideal (a mix from both).  Look for small holders in your area that are raising ducks.  You may be able to get breeding stock from them.
 
Ben Martin Horst
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Location: Occupied Anhalpam Territory, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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We have a small flock (~35 birds) of Ancona ducks, which are really great birds. They forage well, lay well, and the surplus drakes are a decent size for eating. The eggs are large and either white or light blue-green. The birds are medium-sized and colored in variable patterns, kind of like a pinto pony, in black, brown, tan, or "lavender," which makes individual birds highly recognizable. All Anconas (at least in the US) apparently go back to Holderread stock (two birds, actually, though their progeny is so generally healthy that you'd never guess they come from such a genetic bottleneck) and are a critically endangered breed. The Holderread birds have now all been passed on to Boondockers Farm ( http://boondockersnaturals.com/ ), so they are now the main source. We got our initial day-old ducklings from Carol Deppe (http://www.caroldeppe.com/), whose recent book The Resilient Gardener has some excellent permaculturish suggestions for raising ducks, and Anconas in particular. I'm not sure if she's still selling ducklings, but she's an excellent and congenial source for information.

My one quibble with Anconas is that they haven't tended to care for eggs and ducklings well, in my experience. We're not sure if this is a breed characteristic or whether it has to do with the fact that at least the past three generations have been incubator-hatched, and they're missing some critical early learning about what mothering entails. Our plan for the next hatching season is to sneak some Ancona eggs under our new Muscovies (reputedly great brooders), so we'll see if they pick up any mothering skills that way.

Different birds will perform differently in different locales, of course, but for western (maritime) Oregon, where I live, I can't recommend Anconas highly enough. They're awesome ducks, and deserve to have more people raising and breeding them.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Tina Paxton
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I'm wanting to get ducks for egg-laying ability (productive) but I also want calm, friendly, dispositions. I know that Campbells are popular but they tend toward flighty. Ditto for Indian Runners. So, the two breeds I'm looking at are Anconas and Golden 300 Hybrid.

Benefits of the Anconas: helping to preserve a rare breed; able to incubate fertile eggs under one of my Muscovy hens when I need replacements. Disadvantage: the closest breeder I have to me only sells fertile eggs and I don't have an incubator nor are any of my Muscovies broody at the moment. I think I'd rather start off with ducklings rather than fertile eggs, anyway.

Benefits of the Golden 300 Hybrid: hybrid vigor, lots and lots of eggs. Disadvantage: replacement flock would require purchased stock.

Thoughts? Experiences?
 
Earl Aarsrood
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Welsh Harlequins are reported to be calm and almost as good layers as the Campbell.
 
Kelly Custer
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I love my Golden 300s. It is a rare day that an egg doesn't come out every one of their rear ends. I only have 3, but I'm going to get another 3 next spring. (Which I won't regret, if I can get a little pond filtering successfully.) They have fine temperaments, though they would be more cuddley if I'd smushed them up more when they were babies. They went through a period of acting like they were in some bizarre duck horror movie every time anyone showed up, but they got over that and waddle about me for food, and eat worms from my hand (awww, don't get cuter than that!). If I snatch one up and force some petting, they take it okay. But most importantly, boy are they productive! 365 days a year!

The white ones (aka White Layers/Golden 300's) were noisier. Especially Lucy Quacker, but her Caucasion girlfriends as well. Found a new home for them, cuz I'm in town, and kept the brown ones, which are pretty, woodsey looking creatures IMO.

So what are the permutations of possibilities of offspring from them? Wouldn't they be likely to produce good layers, even if less so?
 
Tina Paxton
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Kelly Custer wrote:I love my Golden 300s. It is a rare day that an egg doesn't come out every one of their rear ends. I only have 3, but I'm going to get another 3 next spring. (Which I won't regret, if I can get a little pond filtering successfully.) They have fine temperaments, though they would be more cuddley if I'd smushed them up more when they were babies. They went through a period of acting like they were in some bizarre duck horror movie every time anyone showed up, but they got over that and waddle about me for food, and eat worms from my hand (awww, don't get cuter than that!). If I snatch one up and force some petting, they take it okay. But most importantly, boy are they productive! 365 days a year!

The white ones (aka White Layers/Golden 300's) were noisier. Especially Lucy Quacker, but her Caucasion girlfriends as well. Found a new home for them, cuz I'm in town, and kept the brown ones, which are pretty, woodsey looking creatures IMO.

So what are the permutations of possibilities of offspring from them? Wouldn't they be likely to produce good layers, even if less so?


Sounds perfect! So, the brown 300's are the ticket. What color eggs do they lay? I ask because another income stream I'm looking at is selling the shells to crafters/artists and different color eggs would be good for that market.

Are they good foragers?

I'm not sure what the result of their offspring would be...I was wondering that myself.
 
Kelly Custer
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They lay white eggs. Larger than chicken eggs. They eat more, too. But they are good foragers. They slurp up snake-sized worms while the chickens watch, puzzled. And slugs, which horrify my chickens, and stick to their little duckie-mouths like a gluey wad of peanut butter! (A little animal sadism is okay, as long as they like it, too.) They eat weeds with the best of 'em, as well. I like Paul's simple ratio of grains, plants, bugs: 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. If I could forage/diversify enough in my back yard operation, that would reduce my feed costs nicely (huge worm bin, effort #2; zombie/superworms; effort #2, soldier flies, maybe I'll try again next year; massive production of weeds, easy).

I have a ready, instant market of $4 for chicken eggs, and $3 1/2 dozen for duck. I weighed them to compare, and convinced my buyer's market what a good deal they were getting per ounce, for an alkalizing, mineral rich egg, thereby creating a market for my buyer that she can't meet. My buyer found other sources but still wants more duck eggs, but I'm eating them myself when I'm in town.

I soak and ferment my feed, thereby increasing nutrition and digestability and reducing feed costs. Interesting data on soaking, as well as fermenting. The birds WAY prefer it.

My Easter Egger chickens are not as productive as my RI Reds, Austrolorps, Red Star/Golden Buffs.

Hoping someone will weigh in on what these girls would likely produce, though I won't be breeding for a long time. I tried a man-duck for a little, being as they don't duck-a-doodle-doo or anything, but he killed one of my chickens. Got my girl ducks riled up and going gangsta on the chickens, too. They are in a pen, now (large, comfortable one); might not happen in a free range scenario.
 
Tina Paxton
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Kelly Custer wrote:They lay white eggs. Larger than chicken eggs. They eat more, too. But they are good foragers. They slurp up snake-sized worms while the chickens watch, puzzled. And slugs, which horrify my chickens, and stick to their little duckie-mouths like a gluey wad of peanut butter! (A little animal sadism is okay, as long as they like it, too.) They eat weeds with the best of 'em, as well. I like Paul's simple ratio of grains, plants, bugs: 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. If I could forage/diversify enough in my back yard operation, that would reduce my feed costs nicely (huge worm bin, effort #2; zombie/superworms; effort #2, soldier flies, maybe I'll try again next year; massive production of weeds, easy).

I have a ready, instant market of $4 for chicken eggs, and $3 1/2 dozen for duck. I weighed them to compare, and convinced my buyer's market what a good deal they were getting per ounce, for an alkalizing, mineral rich egg, thereby creating a market for my buyer that she can't meet. My buyer found other sources but still wants more duck eggs, but I'm eating them myself when I'm in town.

I soak and ferment my feed, thereby increasing nutrition and digestability and reducing feed costs. Interesting data on soaking, as well as fermenting. The birds WAY prefer it.

My Easter Egger chickens are not as productive as my RI Reds, Austrolorps, Red Star/Golden Buffs.

Hoping someone will weigh in on what these girls would likely produce, though I won't be breeding for a long time. I tried a man-duck for a little, being as they don't duck-a-doodle-doo or anything, but he killed one of my chickens. Got my girl ducks riled up and going gangsta on the chickens, too. They are in a pen, now (large, comfortable one); might not happen in a free range scenario.


oh, yeah, that would be the ticket to freezer camp here! No attacking anyone else! Everyone must get along with everyone else, my place is too small for aggressiveness.

I'm experimenting with fermenting now. I tried including the feed crumbles but neither the chickens or ducks cared for that much. Now, I trying just fermenting a mix of grains (oats, BOSS, and scratch grains) which seems to be going over much better. What do you ferment and what is your procedure?

I've been scouting the local markets -- the nearest Whole Foods store is an hour away and they don't sell duck eggs there. Their chicken eggs range from $4-8 a dozen. I've not checked with a little health food store 20 minutes away--they may prove to be a good place to sell (they sell local raw cow and goat milk). Ethnic markets are also about an hour away. The other income stream is selling the shells. I've seen online markets where duck eggs sell between $1.50 to $3 each. I'm thinking colored duck eggs might fetch some good prices to egg carvers so I'm leaning toward a mixed flock perhaps....only as long as I can get calm ducks that get along with the existing flock of muscovies an laying hens.
 
Kelly Custer
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Other than the with the drake, the chickens and ducks do fine together. If I were starting over, I would get the chicks first, let them get a few weeks on the ducklings, who grow SO quickly, then put them together in the same brooding box, so they would be more bonded into one flock. But they eat together and cohabit fine, without an evil man around.

I soak and ferment organic layer crumbles. It swells up twice as big, and I intentionally add extra water for them to slurp up. Especially the ducks. They all love any fermented food like whey or sour milk. All I do to ferment it is let it soak in a gallon jar (less than 1/2 feed to water) until it bubbles and smells pleasantly sour. Depends on temperature how quickly. I just start a few jars and start using them, the older ones are more fermented, and I try to remember to get more started. I read a great blog about it, that gave me the light bulb and the courage. Funny I needed it, since I cook my own grains and make flatbread after soaking and fermenting.

Sometimes I soak various grains, peas, seeds from the feed store, soak them, blend them, and ferment them. But of course it's more trouble than just buying the crumbles.

I also sprout and grow forage in the kitchen. Oats don't sprout, and might make a muckier ferment. I want to get a hydroponic forage system going in my basement, but haven't yet. In winter, I grew a lot of grain grass and sunflower sprouts in the window, on baking trays under saran wrap (better props wouldn't be hard to come up with). Everybody loves green sunflower sprouts. The ducks eat those from my hand, if they haven't gotten them in a while. Turning grain to forage is another great way to reduce feed costs. I want an automated system.

It would be great if the health food store would take them from you. I'm so glad I can sell them all to one source. Makes it simple. If you look up why duck eggs are so good and make a little brochure or flyer for the store, might boost business. Worked for me.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I don't know if this post is too late, or if you've already got your ducks. But, one thing to consider between the two breeds is how much/if any area they will have to free-range. I can't find anything about the Golden 300 being good foragers, but anconas are well known for being able to get most of their food from nature. This should lower the feed-cost per egg. So, if you have a lot of area for them to free-range, anconas might be the better choice. But, if you will be paying for most/all of the feed, the Golden 300 would likle be a better choice. We have a lot of area for the ducks to forage, so we went with anconas. Ours haven't started laying yet, though!
 
Tina Paxton
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I don't know if this post is too late, or if you've already got your ducks. But, one thing to consider between the two breeds is how much/if any area they will have to free-range. I can't find anything about the Golden 300 being good foragers, but anconas are well known for being able to get most of their food from nature. This should lower the feed-cost per egg. So, if you have a lot of area for them to free-range, anconas might be the better choice. But, if you will be paying for most/all of the feed, the Golden 300 would likle be a better choice. We have a lot of area for the ducks to forage, so we went with anconas. Ours haven't started laying yet, though!


No, not too late. I own a .6 acre homestead so they will free-range but not over acres of property.
 
Nicole Alderman
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How many ducks will you bw getting, and how many do you already have? My nine anconas (plus one large mixed breed), *seem* to do quite well with just 2,500 sqft (1/20th acre) of pasture/bramble. They have about 800sqft more that they haven't even ventured onto. But, we've only had them for less than a month and they were all ducklings (9 and 5 weeks) when we got them, so we're still figuring out how much feed they require--we're new to ducks!

As for finding ducks versus eggs, check craigslist! That's how we got our 10 ducks for $70. Here's some adds I just found for anconas that may be in your area: http://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/4656466403.html
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/4576593181.html
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/4589576063.html

If you keep checking everyday, a great deal might just pop up!

I hope that helps!
 
Tina Paxton
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Nicole Alderman wrote:How many ducks will you bw getting, and how many do you already have? My nine anconas (plus one large mixed breed), *seem* to do quite well with just 2,500 sqft (1/20th acre) of pasture/bramble. They have about 800sqft more that they haven't even ventured onto. But, we've only had them for less than a month and they were all ducklings (9 and 5 weeks) when we got them, so we're still figuring out how much feed they require--we're new to ducks!

As for finding ducks versus eggs, check craigslist! That's how we got our 10 ducks for $70. Here's some adds I just found for anconas that may be in your area: http://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/4656466403.html
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/4576593181.html
http://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/4589576063.html

If you keep checking everyday, a great deal might just pop up!

I hope that helps!


After dispatching 3 extra drakes, my duck flock will consist of 1 Muscovy drake and 6 Muscovy hens and a clutch of 14 ducklings that will all either be sold or go to freezer.

I would *like* to have about 140 eggs per week which would require 20 hens if they each lay 1 egg a day. I'm not sure if my little property can handle that many ducks but that is what I'm hoping for -- 10 dozen eggs per week to sell to restaurants and individual customers. Or, if I don't sell that many, to sell the extra shells to artists.

Oh, and Raleigh is 4 hours away but for $10 per ancona duckling, I could make a day excursion out of it!
 
Kelly Custer
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I don't know this, but I would think my Golden 300s are as good foragers as any other duck. They are motivated and industrious with bugs and greens; hard to picture how other ducks do it better? They eat things the chickens stare at, like pill bugs (and aforementioned slugs). (On the other hand, they appeared at a loss for what to do with the dead mouse before the chickens began a heated dead-mouse baton-race.) I would be curious how their foraging skills compare.

On a side note, I read that ducks require more B vitamins than chickens. I free choice brewer's yeast, and the ducks do eat it. They look very cute with little yeastie-mustaches (of sorts).
 
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