Q's & A's On How To Raise
Ducks, Geese, & Swans
In the upcoming edition of the Game Bird Gazette magazine you'll find great information and pictures on raising ducks, including selecting birds for breeding, setting up pens and ponds, feeding, housing, incubation, hatching eggs, brooding ducklings, etc. In the magazine classified ad section, there are thousands of captive bred ducks, geese, and swans for sale from reputable and reliable waterfowl breeders. You can subscribe to the Game Bird Gazette now and receive the very next issue coming out soon. Subscribe using our quick and secure subscription order page.
Q. "I have been marvelling at the fantastic pictures of the Mandarin Duck and Wood Duck on the covers of the Game Bird Gazette magazine. This are such beautiful ducks! Are these ducks expensive and are they good for someone just getting started raising ducks? Also, where do I get feed for ducks?"
A. The Wood Duck and Mandarin are considered easy to keep and breed and are often recommended for beginners and those who are limited in space. Many people raise the ducks in their backyards. A small enclosure in your backyard with a small pool of water will usually do nicely. You can feed them a game bird maintenance feed, mixed grains from a feed store, and most ducks love lettuce trimmings or other greens that you can often get free from your friendly grocery store produce department! You can obtain them from breeders listing ducks for sale in the Game Bird Gazette magazine. Most ducks produced during the year are sold beginning about now through the fall months because shipping temperatures are most favorable during this time. The upcoming issue of the Gazette has an article by an experienced breeder on how to keep and breed Wood Ducks and Mandarins.
A high quality diet specially made for waterfowl can help ensure good health and breeding success with your ducks.
There is an article on raising Mandarins in a small aviary in the upcoming edition of the Game Bird Gazette that will be published soon.--by D.H.
Q. As a wildlife biologist who may become involved in a research project where ducks would need to be caught and handled, can you tell me what the safest way is to hold a duck? I thought that people like you who are raising ducks would know best how to handle them.
A. This is an excellent question and one that is seldom covered in books. You will find information in the Game Bird Gazette magazine. You want to catch your ducks, geese, and swans with great care and, if a net is necessary, use a soft fish net that is sufficiently large to catch the bird or use help herd a bird or group of birds from one pen to another.
A safe and effective way to hold a duck is shown in the photo at right. This is a young golden-eye duck and the picture on the left is a researcher holding a hottentot teal and two of its eggs. If the duck to be caught is in a pen or enclosure, catch it with a soft fish net or other means and then move the "v" between your thumb and index finger up under the wings and hold firmly at the base of the wings. Because wings are used for flight, they are generally quite strong and can easily support the weight of the bird. Never grab a duck by its legs as this can cause serious injury.
Q. A teacher in Seattle, Washington writes: "During a recent classroom discussion, it was brought up by one of the students that there is a special name for baby swans. Can you tell us what this is? Also, we are exploring the possibility of raising baby ducks as a classroom project next spring. What are baby ducks called?
A. Young swans are called cygnets in all countries, a name that is derived from the Latin cygnus (3 day old Blacknecked-swan cygnet shown in picture at the top right of this page). We were also recently asked by a reader in England what what to call a group of white Swans in his country.
A wild flock of swans is called a "herd," while a flock that is resident in an area is referred to as a "fleet." Mutes in a colony are a "swannery." And, incidentally, a person in England (particularly with Royal affiliation) who watches over swans is called a "swan herd." I doubt most private swan breeders consider themselves "Swan herds"! ha, ha.
There is some great information on breeding and raising swans in the next issue of the Game Bird Gazette magazine. As to your question on baby ducks, they are called ducklings in the early days after hatching.--by BL
Q. "I have just recently subscribed to your magazine and I am fascinated by all the different ducks and gamebirds that are available to keep and breed. The information and pictures are extremely informative. I plan to start raising ducks this year. Can you tell me how most breeders ship ducks to their customers?
A. Most people who are raising ducks, geese and swans ship them out using the United States Postal Service express mail service. This is a very convenient and reliable thransport service. Adult ducks, geese and swans are all accepted by the post office and are specifically listed as mailable under the rules of the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM 3.3 Adult Fowl). Other types of birds that the post office specifically names as mailable include pheasants, quail, partridges, guineas, pigeons and doves. You can talk with your local post office about how it works. Be sure to ask them to look it up in the DMM.
A. Many waterfowl breeders let the mother hen set on their own eggs or transfer the eggs to an incubator towards the end of incubation. Some duck breeders remove the first clutch of eggs from the hen (setting them under a bantam, duck, or other foster hen) in which case a duck, goose or swan hen will often lay a second clutch of eggs, thus doubling or tripling production. There is information on hatching waterfowl in the upcoming issue of the Gazette.
Q. Can you provide some information on permanently clipping ducks?
A. Please see our page on pinioning ducks.