Commercial duck farming is a relatively new concept in India but the demand for duck eggs is increasing in India. Traditionally most of the duck farms in India belong to Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. In recent years there is an upward trend in commercial duck farming in India.
Commercial duck farming is not developed well in India. Ducks comprise only about 4-5% of the total poultry population and contribute 6-7% of total eggs produced in India. Duck farming is mainly carried out by marginal and small farmers, landless labourers and village women in a free range rearing system with night sheds. Majority of them rear low performing indigenous breeds with a flock size fewer than 10.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Duck Farming
- Ducks lay larger and more eggs than hens and have a much longer laying period (2-3 years).
- Duck egg is better than chicken egg for baked goods and egg products.
- Duck eggs fetch more price than chicken eggs.
- Duck meat is considered red-meat and superior in taste over chicken.
- Ducks need less attention and care and the bird is female friendly.
- Duck is a very hardy animal and resistant to common avian diseases.
- Ducks do not require elaborate housing arrangement, low-cost housing made with local materials as a night shelter is enough.
- Low competition in duck farming.
- Scope of rearing ducks in integrated farming with rice, fish or other crops is excellent. In the free range system ducks scavenge fallen grains, farm and kitchen waste, insects, pests, weeds, algae, fungie and aquatic animals like small fishes and snails etc. This brings down the input cost while adding another income source. Duck is also effectively used for pest control in some parts of the world.
- There are opportunities in large-scale organised duck layer farming.
- Health conscious middle class families with higher disposable income are slowly moving away from cheap commercial broiler chicken meat laced with antibiotics and growth hormone and leaning towards free range country chicken meat. High quality duck meat from broiler duck breeds like “Pekin” can also be a good alternative.
- Waste wetlands and swamps can be utilised well for duck farming where no other animals can be raised.
- Commercial duck farming is in its nascent stage in India therefore there is a lack of proper knowledge and standardised systems in duck farming.
- There is a shortage of high quality ducklings from reputed hatcheries.
- Layer and broiler poultry feed is accessible throughout India but specialised feed for ducks is rarely available.
- Although duck eggs have demand, domestic demand for duck meat is not considerable enough for large scale commercial broiler duck farming for meat.
- Poultry sector is very organised and well developed in India. Marketing of chicken meat and egg is very easy through a well established marketing channel. But the same for duck egg and meat is not true. There is no organised market linkage in the duck sector which poses a problem in marketing high volume products.
- Duck is a hardy animal that does not suffer much after the initial brooding period except 2 fatal diseases, duck plague and duck cholera. Fatality can be avoided by maintaining proper vaccine schedules for those diseases but vaccines for these two diseases are not available in the open market and supplied by the government which often do not reach needy small farmers resulting in fatalities.
- Demand for duck eggs in the summer slumps and the price moves downwards.
- Revenue starts after 6 months when ducks start to lay eggs. During this pre-revenue period there is a considerable amount of feeding cost in case of intensive or semi-intensive farming. Any disease outbreak during or just after this period can cause huge losses to the farmer.
- Importation of duck meat.
How to Start a Duck Farm in India
Duck farms do not require high-tech equipment and complex systems. The initial investment is low and in the case of free range systems the feeding cost is negligible.
1. Selection of Breed
Duck farming is done for its egg, meat and ornamental purposes. There are various breeds for different purposes. Most of the backyard small farms in India raise low producing indigenous breeds like Pati duck, Nageswari, Chara, Chembali, etc. Below are the most productive breeds for commercial duck farming.
|First egg at
|Body weight (at 6th week)
|Intensive, semi-intensive, free-range
While Khaki Campbell is best suited for commercial egg production, Indian Runner is good for free-range farming. White Pekin is a dual purpose breed with high egg production, rapid growth and superior meat quality. A fully grown White Pekin weighs 3.5-5 kg. In a commercial set-up this breed is mainly used as a broiler duck. Muscovy or Moti duck have characteristics from both a geese and a duck. It is reared in free-range for its meat.
Incubation period is longer for ducks (28 days) than chicken eggs (21 days). Day-old quality ducklings should be purchased from either govt. hatchery or a trusted private hatchery and placed immediately in a brooding area. The first 2-4 weeks are crucial for the duckling and most of the mortality is observed during this period. Temperature in the brooding area is controlled by a brooding lamp and gradually decreased from 29-32℃ to 24℃ at the end of the brooding period.
Brooding can be done on litter but a wire mesh floor or slatted floor works better to save ducklings from getting cold from their wet dropping. Specially designed drinkers should be installed and a particular level of water should be poured so that the ducklings can drink water but can not dive inside to take a bath.
3. Rearing System
Most of the duck farms in India are small and reared under free-range systems. Commercial duck farming can be done under any of the following systems.
In this system ducks are reared in enclosed housing and never let free in open space. Feeds and drinking water are provided in the shed itself. Required floor space in intensive farming is 4 sq. ft./bird in case of a single shed and 2 sq. ft./ bird in case of different sheds for day and night in each shed.
Intensive system is ideal for large scale commercial farming with more control and automation. Initial infrastructure cost and feeding cost is the highest in this system but gives more return per unit area. Bio security is also highest in this system.
In this system ducks are provided a night shelter with a flooring space of 2-3 sq. ft./bird and let free in the morning to an open field/run after the 4th week. 10-15 sq. ft./bird at the run is enough. The ducks do scavenge in the run but the majority of the feed comes from supplemental feeding provided 2-3 times a day.
Infrastructure and feeding costs are lower in this system. This system is ideal for small to medium farms with limited resources.
This is the most popular system for duck farming in India. In the free-range system ducks are reared on an open field, especially farm lands, river sides, canals, swamps, large ponds, etc. where ducks can get the majority of their daily food intake by scavenging. In this system ducks scavenge fallen grains, farm waste, insects, pests and aquatic animals like small fishes and snails, etc. which brings down the feeding cost. Supplemental feeding and nutrients can be provided for optimal results. A low cost shed made from local materials is used as a night shelter.
In this system 1000 ducks per acre of land can be accommodated. Free-range duck rearing in rice fields or fish ponds has multidimensional benefits. 100 Ducks are enough for an acre of fish pond to replace commercial feeds and manures and feed the fish completely by the droppings of the ducks.
The rearing system should be chosen by considering the breed, scale of operation and other farming activities.
4. Feeding and Drinking
Ducks struggle to eat dry foods. Crumbles and mash feed should be given with water. Starter, grower and finisher in case of meat-type ducks and starter, grower and layer feed in case of egg-laying ducks are provided at different life stages.
Ducks eat uncontrollably therefore the ration should be provided by measuring. Except for the initial few weeks, food should not be accessible to the ducks around the clock and should be provided in 2-3 parts. Generally 120-170 gms of feed is given after the ducks start laying eggs depending on the amount of foraging. A duck consumes around 50 kg of feed in a year and the FCR comes around 1:3. Feed cost can be reduced by foraging.
Wheat, deoiled rice bran, soybean meal, fish meal, mineral mixture, etc. are used in duck feed formulation. Maize and groundnut cake is usually avoided to prevent aflatoxin.
5. Biosecurity and Diseases Control/Prevention
Ducks suffer less than chickens in common avian diseases. Still there are some fatal diseases a duck farmer should know about. Duck suffers from two deadly diseases, duck cholera and duck plague. Vaccines available for these diseases. Other diseases that ducks do suffer from are duck pox, aflatoxicosis, botulism, colibacillosis, aspergillosis, etc.
Two main reasons ducks get infected are scavenging on decaying materials and feeding mouldy feeds. To prevent infection, the outdoor run must be scouted well before letting free the ducks, the feed must be quality checked before serving and the vaccine schedule must be maintained. Infected ducks should be separated during treatment.
Popularity of duck eggs is increasing day by day. The demand and price for duck eggs increases in winter and declines in summer. Small farmers can sell eggs directly to local shops and consumers. Marketing in bulk quantities is done via wholesalers and retail chains. Duck eggs can also be marketed to bakeries as duck eggs are superior over chicken eggs for bakery products.
A Sample Duck Farming Project Report for 1000 Ducks
Layer duck farming can be done for two purposes; table eggs and hatching eggs. This sample layer duck project is for table eggs with the Khaki Campbell breed. Ducks will be reared under a semi-intensive system.
Only female ducklings will be purchased at a premium price. Ducklings will be purchased in a manner so that the new batch will start laying eggs just after the previous batch is culled to get continuous egg production.
|Mortality in transport and brooding cum growing stage
|Mortality in laying stage
|Supply of free chicks to cover mortality in transportation
|Extra chicks purchased to cover mortality in brooding/ growing
|Ducks purchased including free chicks
|Ducks survived for brooding and growing
|Ducks survived for laying
|Ducks survived for culling
|Brooding cum growing period
|Floor space during brooding and growing
|Floor space during laying (deep litter system)
|Floor space in store room cum office
|No. of unskilled labours
|Construction cost of duck shed
|Construction cost of store room/ staff room/ office
|Cost of equipment*
|Cost of day old female ducklings
|Requirement of feed up to laying (first 18 weeks)
|Requirement of feed during laying (19-122 weeks)
|Cost of feed
|Vaccine, medicine & misc. cost**
|Wages of unskilled labour
* Brooder, waterer, feeder, etc. small tools
** Misc. cost includes various overhead costs like electricity, fuel, transportation, cost of litter, etc.
|Egg production (1st year)
|Egg production (2nd year)
|Selling price of eggs
|Selling price of culled birds
|Selling price of closing stock
|Empty gunny bags
|No./tonne of feed
|Selling price of empty gunny bags
|Store room cum staff room
|Water distribution system
|Project formulation, consultancy, training, contingency etc.
|Total Project Cost
The land is considered pre-owned, therefore no additional cost for land has been added.
* Poultry equipment includes waterers, feeders, weighing machines and various small tools etc.
Duck Farming Profit
|Day old chicks
|Feed up to laying
|Feed during laying
|Vaccine, medicine & misc. cost
(All figures are in Rs.)
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely yes! A large natural pond is not essential for duck farming but ducks do need a small waterbody to clean themselves. A cemented or polythene pond of a size of 2.5-3.0 ft of width, 6 inches of depth and appropriate length depending on the duck population is enough for duck farming. Large earthen ponds are good for foraging foods which reduces feed cost.
Duck farming is a very profitable business. One can expect 30-45% profit in duck farming if the feeding is managed well.