موضوعات للمهتمين بصناعة الدواجن Topics for poultrymen( Breedrs, Smallholders, Resarchers, Students ) in poultry industry

الطيور المائية (Ducks and Geese) Waterfowl




Rearing Ducks

Raising ducks is virtually foolproof provided they are kept warm, dry and well fed, ducklings almost rear themselves.

Brooding For a few weeks after hatching, all young birds require to be kept warm. Normally this is done by the mother but, when rearing artificially, we need a source of warmth. Fortunately young waterfowl can walk and feed themselves within a few hours of breaking out of the egg, so their care is very simple. Once your ducklings have hatched, leave them in the incubator for a couple of hours to dry off and then transfer them to a brooding pen or hutch. The simplest arrangement is a small rectangle with wooden walls laid over newspaper on the floor of a garage or shed. The walls need only be twelve inches high and a wire mesh top will prevent the little birds jumping out (very necessary for Muscovy or wildfowl...they climb !) .As mentioned previously, a source of heat must be provided. For most ducklings, an ordinary 60 or 100-watt light bulb will be perfectly adequate for up to 40 ducklings. Use additional bulbs for extra units of 20 birds. Begin with the bulb positioned about seven inches from the floor and adjust the height by observing the behavior of the ducklings. If they huddle together beneath the bulb, it requires to be lowered while, on the other hand, if they stay at the perimeter of their pen, the bulb needs to be raised. Keep the bulb on constantly for the first two weeks, raising it an inch every three days. During week three, turn it off for an hour on day one, two hours on day two and so on and then, at the start of the fourth week, provide heat only during the hours of darkness. If weather conditions are normal for the time of year, you should be able to dispense with artificial heat by the end of that week. After a week indoors without heat, the young birds can be transferred to an outdoor pen which is best constructed with wire mesh in a suitable corner of the garden. Do, however, provide a hutch or covered area so that the birds can obtain shelter from heavy rain.


Food and Drink

Feeding ducklings presents no problems at all. For the first four weeks, feed them on ordinary chick crumbs which you can buy in small quantities from any good pet shop. Ducklings will eat those crumbs immediately upon hatching. From four weeks of age until feathering, the young birds should be fed grower's pellets which, once again, can be obtained from a pet shop or agricultural supplier. At all stages, simply feed ad-lib, leaving a constant supply of food with the birds and allowing them to eat as much and as often as they want. Sometimes they appreciate a few greens to augment their diet and the easy way of providing these is to hang a lettuce in their pen for them to peck at. Clean water must be available constantly but it must be provided in a manner which prevents the little birds taking a bath in it. Although day old ducklings will swim in the wild, they are able to do this because they are waterproofed by a film of oil which they get from their mother's plumage. Your hand-reared ducklings will not have this protection and will chill if they become wet. The best type of drinker is the inverted jam jar model which suppliers like Eltex can provide very cheaply. A larger model will be useful after the first week or so but be sure to put some small stones around the exposed area so that the birds cannot clamber in for a swim!

Eventually, at the age of seven or eight weeks, the day will come when you can release your birds into the garden. Ducklings can go straight out to a suitable pond and see how much truth they give to the phrase "taking like a duck to water". Provided there is sufficient plant life in the pond (to harbour insects), you need only scatter a few scoops of food around the margins to supplement the natural feeding which will be available. It is wise to avoid hand-feeding duck any more than is absolutely necessary as they tend to become over-tame and fall east prey to predators.. Looking after those birds over the spring and summer takes very little time and effort. Memo for the lazy a Childs fishing net collects fast running ducklings easier than crawling through the shrubs.



Rearing Geese

There are many reasons for keeping geese. They will eat slugs and snails, and the geese will control your overgrown grass.

Small group can be brooded by broody hens and most breeds of ducks other than Pekin and Runner. If they aren't hatched by the broody, place them under her at night so that she will accept them. Goslings can be brooded artificially in about the same way as chicks. Due to their rapid growth, they will need heat a shorter period of time, and floor space requirements will increase rapidly.

Starting the goslings is not difficult.  Start with clean quarters. The environment should rodent free. For smaller numbers all you need is a large cardboard box, some shavings or hay, a heat lamp, a feeder and water. Any small building; garage or corner can be used as a brooding area for small numbers of birds. The brooding area should be dry, reasonably well lit and ventilated, and free from draughts. Cover the floor with a few inches of absorbent litter material, such as wood shavings, chopped straw, or peat moss. With a layer of paper sacks or newspaper underneath (helps on removal). Litter dampness and smell is more of a problem with waterfowl. Good management will require removal of wet spots and frequent addition of clean, dry litter.

When raising Muscovy ducklings and some ornamental geese, keep in mind that they are very good climbers. Make sure that they will not burn themselves in the heat source should they climb the sides. Or, escape over the top if using an open brooder.** old fridge shelves are excellent brooder lids**


Infrared heat lamps are a convenient source of heat for brooding small numbers of birds.  The most commonly used brooder is the 4 bulb, 250 watt (heat bulb) brooder lamp. These lamps are adequate for 300 chicks. Use one 250-watt lamp for 30 goslings or alternatively a 60 watt ordinary light bulb for a few. Heat lamps provide radiant heat to the birds under them. Since the air isn't heated, room temperature measurement isn't as important.  When using hover-type brooders, brood only a quarter as many goslings as chick capacity. Because goslings are larger than chicks in size, it may be necessary to raise 3 to 4 inches, higher yet for goslings. Have the temperature at the edge 85 to 90 degrees F when they arrive. Reduce it 5 to 10 degrees per week.

You will be able to tell on sight if the gosling are warm enough. If they are too hot, they will move away from the heat. If too cold they may pile up and be noisy. The birds will be moving around, eating and drinking if they are comfortable. High temperatures may result in slower feathering and growth. When decreasing the temperature consider the behavior of your goslings at all times. 

As they grow, they will need more space and less heat. Observe the birds - if they stay away from the heat, turn it off - if they get their pen messy rapidly, they need more bedding and more space. Supplementary heat may be needed for 5 to 6 weeks in cold weather; in summer, only 2 to 3 weeks. By five or six weeks they can probably be outside all the time, except in extremely cold, wet weather. Make sure it's good weather before you put them outsid

This requires a dry duckling preferably before breakfast/good light or a lamp/short fingernails and patience to learn. Try once mark the duckling and when the males voice drops then check your success rate. Contrary to opinion ducks and geese can be sexed at any age . Chickens must be vent sexed at under 24 hours old with no food or water or their sex organs are hidden as they grow which is why feather sexing is now more common.





Incubating Eggs

Whichever model of incubator you have available, it is vital to refer to the manufacturers instructions supplied with it. (replacements are available for almost all but the Hannaford Paraffin models! ) These have been written to give the best results with that particular model and some aspects may not be applicable when using other incubators. For this reason, it is not easy to provide detailed guidance which will be appropriate for working with all types of incubator. These notes, therefore, are a general guide only

Using an Incubator

Place the incubator on a level surface in a position which is not prone to vast fluctuations in temperature and humidity, i.e., out of draughts, direct sunlight and away from central-heating radiators ( Sheds and barns good ....bedrooms bad unless you like the perfume of an exploded rotten egg !). Be warned that in winter, rooms become very cold at night once the heating is off. If the temperature drop is too great, it is quite likely that the incubator will be unable to maintain a steady temperature. It is therefore best to avoid incubating eggs during the coldest months if temperature regulation is likely to be a problem. Mechanical damage to the developing embryos caused by bumping the incubator may cause severe damage to delicate membranes and organs, and so the movement of an incubator is not recommended. NEVER put the incubator on carpet as the fibrous surface prevents air passage. If in doubt about airways put on two 2 x 2 wooden bars to allow a good air change

 The first task is to clean and disinfect the incubator, as appropriate. The incubator should be set up at least 48 hours before eggs are introduced to enable the correct temperature and humidity to be established and to check on the normal functioning of the thermostat

 The correct temperature for the incubation of a duckling's egg is 37.5 °C at the centre of the egg. Follow the manufacturer's instructions about setting the temperature. In some still-air incubators, there is quite a large temperature gradient inside

With some models in which the thermometer is situated at the top where the air is warmer, the recommended temperature setting may appear to be too high. However, such a setting allows for the cooler, correct, incubation temperature lower down

In most incubators, the thermometer should be positioned where the top of the eggs will be. Manufacturers' recommended temperature settings could therefore lie anywhere between 38 °C and 39.5 °C (100.5-103 °F). In normal incubator operation, temperatures may fluctuate slightly but they should not be allowed to pass outside this range. As the eggs develop, the embryos will give off some heat and this may require you to alter the thermostat setting slightly to decrease the temperature

 Once the correct temperature setting for the type of eggs to be incubated has been achieved, it is wise to tape over the temperature control to dissuade 'tweaking' the knob ! ( Yoghurt pots for small children work well ..tape over all the adjusting knobs). If possible, position the incubator so that the temperature control is hidden against a wall. Consider plugging the incubator into an audible alarm unit; this will indicate if there is a power failure for any reason. Even with such a device, it is a good idea to affix a 'PLEASE LEAVE ON' sign to the mains plug and so avoid accidental switching off by others. These may be available locally as freezer alarm plugs or can be purchased from egg incubator suppliers including Brinsea Products;& Curfew Incubators, It is also sensible to keep a temperature record card, logging readings every morning and evening. This is an easy way of checking that the incubator is functioning correctly and the card could also be used for a record of egg turning, if this is being done by hand

 A suitable humidity must be maintained to prevent the eggs drying out too quickly or losing sufficient water. All incubators have one or more water containers, trays or troughs which should be kept topped up with water to maintain an appropriate humidity, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use hand-hot (39 °C) water to prevent the temperature in the incubator dropping too dramatically when refilled. In hard water areas boiled or distilled water means that wicks etc. last longer . Do not move the incubator while containing water. In some incubators, a piece of cloth may be needed to act as a 'wick'

 Too much humidity at the wrong time is just as bad for a developing egg as too dry an atmosphere: an egg must lose a certain amount of water during incubation if the duckling is to emerge satisfactorily

 Some incubators are supplied with a wet- and dry-bulb thermometer. The wet bulb is for obtaining readings of humidity. It is very difficult to obtain accurate readings with such a device and not recommended that they are used by beginners. It is often better to check humidity by assessing the effects on the egg,, rather than to obtain actual measurements

 Relatively accurate electronic instruments for measuring humidity (called hygrometers) are now available but the most useful of these are quite expensive. Manufacturers supply units which will control the humidity in certain of their incubators

 The eggs must have a suitable flow of air to supply enough oxygen for the embryos to develop and to remove the carbon dioxide produced. The ventilation will, however, also affect both the humidity and the temperature; a high ventilation rate will carry more moist, warm air out of the incubator

 Care should be taken to set the ventilation control according to the manufacturer's instructions. These may advise particular settings for different room temperatures. For example, in a cool room (below 16 °C), a minimum level of ventilation should be sufficient; with room temperatures >16 °C, more ventilation should normally be provided. On some incubators, a flap covering ventilation holes may need to be moved; in others, the number of holes that are left open may need to be altered

 Frequent checks should be made to ensure that nothing is preventing adequate ventilation. If using an older Curfew incubator with an insulated quilt cover that fits over the observation dome, ensure that the quilt does not block the top ventilation hole. A rolled up tube of paper inserted through the holes in the cover and quilt is a good idea

Incubating Eggs

 First, allow the fertile eggs to warm up to room temperature for at least l0 hours before placing them into the incubator. Cool eggs may lower the temperature of the incubator or be stressed if they are warmed up too quickly. If transported a long way stand blunt end up overnight to settle

In Curfew incubators, whenever eggs are to be placed into an egg tray, it is important to line the tray first with a piece of loose-weave material such as / or a dishcloth. (Hessian should be provided with new incubators; spares are available from Curfew Incubators.) Since the tray has a metal mesh, this can become very hot, so it is essential that all the eggs are on the cloth inside the tray (and also are not touching the vertical sides of the tray, if these are also made of metal). The material must not be moistened with water

 If all goes to plan, the ducklings should hatch after 28 (35 Muscovy ) days, so do not set the eggs on a Monday or they will hatch out at the weekend

 Turning helps to prevent the developing membranes from sticking to the inside of the shell. Eggs may be turned by hand, because the incubator has no automatic turn facility . Manual turning of eggs needs to be carried out at least twice, preferably three times and, ideally, five times a day for miniature breeds as the mums are naturally fidgety, including at weekends

 For incubators other than the Brinsea 'Octagon' types, as the eggs are added to the incubator, mark each one lightly with an 'X' in pencil on one side and 'O' on the opposite side. Also write the date if different batches of eggs will be added to the incubator later..... not around the waist of the egg as the duckling normally hatches here

 With most incubators, the eggs are turned through l80o around their long axis, not end to end. At each turn, move the eggs so that the 'X' and 'O' marks are alternately visible. Turning is best achieved by rolling each egg, using the finger tips, into an adjacent space. If the incubator is very crowded, it may be necessary to remove some eggs at one end so the other eggs can be rolled into the space made available. The removed eggs are then placed in the space created after rolling. Hands should be warm to prevent chilling the eggs (especially for those spring hatching

With 'Octagon' incubators, eggs can be turned without opening the incubator by tipping the entire unit from 45° on one side to 45° on the other side. However, do not worry about opening the incubator for a short time to turn eggs. Although the temperature will temporarily drop, the developing ducklings will not be harmed; after all, a broody hen does not sit on the eggs all the time

Some authorities claim that eggs should sometimes be turned clockwise and then counter-clock wise. If eggs in a manual-turn incubator are turned an odd number of times each day, they will not repeatedly spend each long, nighttime period in the same orientation

 By the 24 th day, the eggs no longer need to be turned

 Follow the guidance offered by the incubator manufacturer. Various authorities quote a wide range of suitable humidities but it is difficult to produce an exact humidity in the incubator and to measure it accurately. Ensure,,that the water tray never dries out completely and do not have a very humid atmosphere together with poor ventilation. If the eggs are in an egg tray on a dish cloth or piece of Hessian, do not add water to the material to make it damp. Also do not spray the eggs daily with a mist of water, although this has been recommended by some authorities. Ducks and Geese swim eggs don't

 Humidity levels should be varied during incubation but it is difficult to give precise advice. As a rule, during the first half of the incubation period, the humidity should be at a low to medium level; the second half requires a medium level of humidity. Some authorities recommend a dryer atmosphere around day 27 to help the duckling break into the air space. As soon as the eggs become 'pipped', with the duckling starting to break out of the shell, the humidity should be raised to a higher level for hatching. It is essential that the eggs lose 12-15% of their weight over the incubation period. Humidity that is too high or too low will cause too little or too much weight to be lost. Water loss can be monitored by measuring loss (by weighing the eggs) or by observing the size of the air space - using a technique called 'candling' . Measuring the loss of weight is probably the better technique to use but is more troublesome to carry out and requires a reasonably accurate balance. Candling requires some skill but is more easily learnt

By removing a batch of eggs and weighing them at regular intervals, the loss in weight can be monitored and adjustments to humidity made. (It is better to measure the weight of several eggs and calculate the average loss per egg because the balance probably available is unlikely to be sufficiently accurate for small weights.) Ensure that the eggs are not excessively chilled when they are being weighed; measurements should be carried out quickly. A cloth in he scales helps prevent damage



Candling involves holding the egg in front of a bright light in a darkened room so that the light shines through the shell. A simple way to do this is to cut a 4 cm hole in a piece of card and hold this over the bright light with the egg in front of the hole. The small cheap halogen table lamps are brilliant for the denser goose eggs.. to make even more deluxe put a piece of plywood with a hole over the lamp to view through ... careful they get hot !


At early stages, the embryo will be seen as a dark spot, perhaps also showing the blood vessels radiating outwards(looks like a red spider!). A completely clear egg is infertile. As the egg develops, the air space at the broad end becomes larger as moisture evaporates from the egg. As the embryo becomes larger, little light will pass through the egg except to show the air space.

If it becomes apparent that the air space is too small or too large for the stage of development reached, there will have been, respectively, too little or too much evaporation of water from the egg. If the air space is too small, ventilation should be increased (and/or humidity decreased). If the air space is too large, the ventilation is too high and should be reduced (and/or humidity increased).

*Candling should be performed as quickly as possible to avoid excessive chilling of the eggs. If candling reveals that eggs are infertile or the ducklings have died, the eggs should be removed from the incubator.


Towards the end of the incubation period, after day 24, the eggs no longer need to be turned as the ducklings have largely completed their external development and the animal is manoeuvring itself into the correct position to make the break in the egg shell (the process called 'pipping' ...when they draw oxygen in to their lungs for the first time). Ensure that ventilation is adequate, as there is a real risk that the ducklings can be suffocated by a build up of carbon dioxide at this time.

1. Ideally, the air in the incubator should be drier on day 24, to help the ducklings break through the egg membranes into the air space. As soon as eggs are pipped, however, a high humidity is needed to stop exposed membranes from drying out, becoming tough and leathery and preventing normal hatching. In many situations, however, all eggs will not pip at the same time and so it will be impossible to provide the best conditions for both pipping and hatching. This is when a second incubator, used as a hatcher, is ideal; eggs are transferred in batches as they become pipped. Without a separate hatcher, wait until about a third of the eggs have pipped and then increase humidity. At this stage, do not keep opening the incubator to check on progress as this will allow the moist air to escape which takes some time to build up again.

2. The ducklings hatch. On day 28, though there is often some variation in development rate, the ducklings should begin to hatch. There can be a period of many hours between the first hole being made in the shell and final emergence. Only intervene if it appears that a duckling has become stuck for a period of 24 hours or more. Then it may be helpful to enlarge very carefully the hole with forceps or scissors. Keep the points of the instruments parallel to the shell and not inserted inwards or the duckling may be skewered.

Hatching can take a long time in some species; duck and turkey eggs for example can take between 36 hours and 3 days. If these species are being kept, it is important not to become impatient and help the birds along !

3. When the duckling emerges it will be wet, often blood stained and very weak. It will need at least 12 hours to dry out and it will be some time before it can stand without falling over. It should be left in the incubator or hatcher for this period and then removed to a brooder. There may be insufficient oxygen in an incubator for many ducklings to breathe and an incubator is an unsuitable enclosure in which to feed and water the young animals( and to clean up after them).

4. The yolk sac attached to the developing embryo inside the egg and is normally absorbed during the final days of incubation. Occasionally a duckling may hatch with its yolk sac hanging out. Its survival is endangered and the bird should be isolated. The yolk sac may naturally be reabsorbed but this takes time and the duckling must be kept in clean conditions to prevent infection. If, given time, reabsorption does not happen or the duckling is obviously in distress, it should be humanely destroyed as should any ducklings with other deformities or evident illness; . Any animal which is isolated and later returned to the brooder may be attacked by other birds. It works best if the animal is reintroduced at a time when food is given to all the ducklings so that attention is diverted away from the newcomer.

5. A feature of the development of the duckling is the formation of an external pouch and membranes called the allantois. Waste materials are deposited in this structure. The remains of the allantois and its wastes are sometimes seen still attached to the rear end of the hatched duckling. The remains will dry up and drop off.

6. Even with eggs set on the same day, there can be a lot of variation in the time they take to hatch and so it is important to wait at least 72 hours before discarding unhatched eggs. The remains from hatched eggs should be removed from the incubator as soon as possible and these, together with unhatched eggs, should be disposed off hygienically . The incubator should then be cleaned out and disinfected

Using a Brooder

An incubator should not be used to house ducklings, once they have hatched, rested and their feathers dried out. A brooder needs to be bought or constructed to house the ducklings and keep them warm; because of their small size, ducklings have a relatively large surface area from which to lose heat. A brooder is simply a form of enclosure with an overhead heat source.

The brooder must be sited away from draughts and placed on a large sheet of paper, preferably not newspaper.( food sacks are good) Some authorities suggest that the floor of the brooder should then be covered with a layer of good-quality wood shavings (not sawdust), available from pet shops or, more economically, in large bales from specialist suppliers (see Yellow Pages under "Sawdust and Shavings"). This, however, is not essential and does add to the mess that must routinely be cleared up.

Ducklings suffer from cramp if kept on a cold surface. Ideally they should be reared off the floor, on a wooden surface. Wherever the brooder is placed, it is wise to protect the surface by covering it with polythene or newspaper. as all waterfowl are incontinent..... and smelly

It may be necessary to cover the brooder with wire netting at some stage to prevent the birds climbing out (Muscovies appear to be relatives of apes when small). Many brooders use ordinary lamp bulbs, operating at reduced voltage, to provide a source of heat.


1. Some means will be needed to suspend the lamp over the brooder. If using the Torne Valley lamp kit, the reflector should be suspended using the chain provided and not dangled by the flex.

An alternative, possibly cheaper, source of heat is to use an 'anglepoise' lamp. This is not designed to be used with higher wattage bulbs, so it is necessary to remove the lampshade or cover and insert at least a 60 W bulb. Check that this produces a sufficiently high temperature in the brooder, and if necessary use more than one lamp.

2. A thermometer to check the temperature in the brooder will be required; a simple room thermometer can be used for this. In the early days after hatching the ducklings must be kept very warm at about 35 °C (95 °F). As they increase in size, the temperature can be reduced by about 3 °C (5 °F) each week. ducklings will need to be given some warmth in a brooder for about 6 weeks until they have acquired their adult plumage on their chests and their wings begin to edge with feather quills .

3. Experiment with the height of the lamp above the brooder to obtain the correct temperature before adding the ducklings. The lamp should not normally be lowered so that it is within the walls of the brooder as cooking may occur. When the ducklings are installed, watch their behaviour and adjust the height of the lamp if necessary. It is normal for the ducklings to avoid the central spot immediately below the lamp but, if they move to the periphery of the enclosure and possibly also show some distress with open beaks and panting, it is evidently too hot. Huddling together tightly is a sign that ducklings are too cold

***These Tables enable you to calculate the relative humidity of your incubator at given temperatures . The wet bulb if you haven't one is a thermometer with wick or other cloth strapped around it with one end in a water supply to keep the end damp

Most Waterfowl hatch at around 48 to 555 relative humidity but this also takes into account where the incubator is kept and your area i.e.. if in a cool shed with a reasonable background humidity try the bottom end of the scale to see how the eggs progress. If indoors in a dry room the top etc.




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Although chickens and turkeys comprise the majority of poultry species seen by the veterinary practitioner, occasionally waterfowl such as ducks and geese are encountered. One feature that is unique to waterfowl is that their environment usually involves the presence of man-made or natural bodies of water, and this may enhance the co-mingling of free-living waterfowl species with the domestic flock and ultimately, promote disease transmission. Additionally, environmental conditions may also influence disease manifestation in domestic waterfowl.

There are many diseases that can affect waterfowl species. The infectious diseases described here are the most common viral diseases seen in domestic waterfowl species. It seems likely that viral diseases will assume greater future importance as causes of disease in waterfowl. Greater attention needs to be given to the study of this source of disease

Duck Virus Hepatitis

Duck hepatitis (DH) is a highly fatal, contagious and rapidly spreading disease of young ducklings from one to 28 days of age. So far, three different viruses, duck hepatitis virus (DHV) type 1, 2 and 3, have been associated with these disease conditions. DHV-1 has, since the first outbreak in 1949 in Long Island, been reported to infect ducklings worldwide and is of most economic importance to all duck-growing farms because of high potential mortality when infection is not controlled. Molecular characterisation of the DHV-1 genome recently showed that the genome organization classifies this virus as unassigned species in the family Picornaviridae. DHV types 2 and 3 are recognised as separate entities because they induce hepatitis in DHV type 1-immune ducklings, they are now classified as member of the Astroviridae family. Recently, in Taiwan and Korea, new serotypes of duck hepatitis virus, belonging to the same virus family as DHV-1 have been described, which showed no antigenic relationship with DHV-1 in cross-neutralization test






Figure 1. Dead duckling in a typical ‘arched-backward’ position typical of infection with DHV type 1







Figure 2. Enlarged liver with punctuate haemorrhages caused by DHV type 1

Ducklings are most susceptible to DHV at younger ages and gradually become more resistance as they grow older. The disease is rarely seen in ducklings over four weeks of age. The onset of the disease is very rapid, it spreads quickly through the flock and may cause up to 90 per cent mortality. Sick ducklings develop spasmodic contractions of their legs and die within an hour in a typical “arched-backward” position (Figure 1). The liver is enlarged and shows haemorrhagic spots (Figure 2).

Diagnosis aiming to distinguish between infections caused by DHV-1, DHV-2 and DHV-3 has been regarded difficult by gross and microscopic examination. Recently developed one-step or multi-plex reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) methods are capable to detect and distinguish between the different DHV types including the new variant DHV-1 type as well. Typing of duck hepatitis viruses is important to identify emerging serotypes because immunisation is serotype-specific and does not confer protection against infection with heterologous serotypes.

To prevent the disease, keep age groups isolated particularly during the first five weeks of life. Contact with wild waterfowl should be avoided. Rats have been reported as a reservoir of the virus, therefore pest control is important. Vaccination of breeder ducks with an attenuated live duck virus hepatitis vaccine, using type 1 virus, provides maternal immunity that effectively prevents high losses in young ducklings. The vaccine is administered by the subcutaneous route in the neck to breeder ducks two or three times before the birds come into lay and thereafter, every 12 weeks during the laying period. At least three immunisations are advisable for adequate passive protection of ducklings. Inactivated DHV-1 vaccine for use in breeder ducks that have been previously primed with live vaccine has also been described.

Modified live DHV-1 vaccine also can be used for early vaccination of progeny of non-immune breeders. The vaccine is administered by the subcutaneous route or by foot web stab in a single dose to day-old ducklings. The birds rapidly develop an active immunity within three to four days. Hyperimmune serum to DHV-1, prepared from the egg yolk of hyperimmunised chickens, applied by SC in the neck, at the time of the onset of the disease, is an effective treatment of affected flock

Duck Plague (Duck Virus Enteritis

Duck virus enteritis (DVE) is an acute, sometimes chronic, contagious virus infection that occurs naturally only in ducks, geese and swans, all members of the family Anatidae of the order Anseriformes. In duck-producing areas of the world where the disease has been reported, DEV has produced significant economic losses in domestic and wild waterfowl due to mortality and decreased egg production. The aetiological agent, a herpesvirus, is a member of the alpha-herpesvirinae subfamily of the Herpesviridae family.

This disease is most likely to affect mature ducks but DVE has been reported in birds ranging from seven days of age to mature breeders. In susceptible flocks, the first signs are often sudden, high and persistent mortality with a significant drop in egg production. In chronically infected partially immune flocks, only occasional deaths occur. Recovered birds may be carriers and may shed the virus in the faeces over a period of years. Clinical signs and gross pathology associated with a DVE outbreak vary with the species, age and sex of the affected birds, and the virulence of the virus. The range of signs in affected birds includes sudden loss of appetite, ataxia, watery diarrhoea and nasal discharge. In ducklings two to seven weeks of age, losses may be lower than in older birds and the signs associated with DVE infection include dehydration, loss of weight and blood-stained vents. The gross lesions are characterised by vascular damage, with tissue haemorrhages and diphtheroid lesions of the mucosal surfaces of the digestive tract. Eruptive lesions of the mucous lining of the oesophagus and intestine are characteristic signs of DVE. Necrotic plaques may be observed in the cloaca. Microscopic lesions are characterised by vascular damage and its consequences in visceral organs. Eosinophilic intranuclear inclusions and cytoplasmic inclusions in epithelial cells of the digestive tract are typically present.

A live attenuated virus vaccine can be used to control DVE in birds more than two weeks of age. Fattening or breeding ducks may be vaccinated subcutaneously or intramuscularly to produce an active immunity. The vaccine virus is not thought to spread by contact from vaccinated to unvaccinated ducks, as the unvaccinated birds remain susceptible to infection. An inactivated vaccine has been reported to be as efficacious as modified live vaccine. This vaccine has been tested only under laboratory conditions; it has not been tested on a large scale and is not licensed

Reovirus Infection of Muscovy Duck and Goose

Although avian orthoreoviruses have been isolated from different pathological entities of poultry, their pathological role has been confirmed only in a limited number of diseases, such as arthritis-tenosynovitis of chickens and stunting runting syndrome. A disease of Muscovy ducks caused by reovirus was first described in South Africa in 1950, then in France in 1972, where the virus was isolated. Reoviruses have been repeatedly isolated from geese and detection of antibodies to reoviruses has also been reported. However, diseases caused by a reovirus in this species was reported only in 2003





Figure 3. Markedly swollen metatarsal joints: reovirusinfection of goose

Figure 4. Disseminated, greyish-white pin-head foci in an enlarged liver from a reovirus-infected goose









Figure 5

.Granuloma-like foci with necrotic centres and proliferating macrophages in the liver from a reovirus-infected goose




The earliest onset of the disease, both in duck and goose flocks, is between seven and 10 days of age and may persist in an affected flock until seven to 10 weeks of age. The outbreaks last for two to four weeks or even longer. Morbidity ranges from 10 to 60 per cent, and mortality from two to 20 per cent. Mortality is always higher in young flocks (two to three weeks of age) than if infection occurs in older birds. The clinical signs in the acute phase include a general malaise, accompanied by diarrhoea of sick birds. The affected birds are reluctant to move when disturbed. Muscovy ducks and goslings that survives the acute phase of the disease are markedly stunted in growth and especially geese develop lameness. The hock and metatarsal or digital joints, as well as the gastrocnemius and digital flexor tendons, and sometimes the synovial bursae are markedly swollen (Figure 3).

By post mortem examination, during the acute phase of the disease, characteristic lesions can be seen in the liver and spleen: in both organs, multiple disseminated, greyish-white pin-head necrotic foci are present and they are larger than normal (Figure 4). Sero-fibrinous epi- and pericarditis, arthritis and tenosynovitis are frequently seen during the acute and chronic phase of the disease. As a consequence of the rupture of the tendon and surrounding tissues, large haemorrhages in the region of gastrocnemius flexor tendon are observed in the chronic phase of the disease. By histology, miliary foci of necrotic hepatocytes or granuloma-like foci with necrotic centres and proliferating macrophages can be found in the liver and the spleen (Figure 5).

Diagnosis of the disease can be based on the characteristic liver and spleen lesions during the acute phase and on the development of arthritis/tenosynovitis during the subacute-chronic phase. Classical detection methods of the causative virus involves the isolation of the virus in reovirus antibody negative duck/goose embryo or embryo liver cell cultures and detection by electron microscopy, all which are laborious and time-consuming.

Recently, however, a rapid, sensitive and brod-spectrum RT-PCR has become available for the detection and identification of avian reoviruses from cell cultures and clinical samples. It is important to confirm the identity of reovirus isolates upon an outbreak since despite the common properties shared between duck/geese and chicken reoviruses, the two viruses are antigenically different and their core protein coding genes show only 21 to 25 per cent homology at nucleotide and amino acid levels.

Although reovirus disease of Muscovy duck and goose continues to cause heavy losses to the Muscovy duck and goose industry, specific prevention of the disease has not been developed. Field attempts to protect with an inactivated duck reovirus vaccine were unsuccessful, despite the promising experimental results. A live vaccine prepared from non-pathogenic or attenuated reovirus did not induce immunity or protection. A subunit vaccine consisting of baculovirus-expressed major capsid protein was found non-immunogenic

Parvovirus Infection of Waterfowl

Figure 6. Sero-fibrineous perihepatitis and ascites in subacute form of Derzsy’s disease

Figure 7. Catarrhal/fibrinous/necrotic/haemorrhagic enteritis in acute form of Derzsy’s disease

Figure 8. Growth retardation and loss of feathers in chronic form of Derzsy’s disease

Waterfowl parvoviruses – goose parvovirus (GPV) and Muscovy duck parvovirus (MDPV) – cause serious disease in goslings and Muscovy ducklings. Occasionally, the disease accounts for mortality of 70 to 100 per cent in susceptible flocks when the infection occurs at early age of life. GPV and MDPV differ in host range and antigenicity, while geese are fully resistant to MDPV infection, in Muscovy ducks both viruses can cause severe disease.

It has been shown that, even if a certain level of antigenic relation exists, there is a clear distinction between GPV and MDPV. Cross-protection studies carried out in maternal antibody-free, susceptible Muscovy ducklings indicated that only bivalent vaccine containing both goose and Muscovy duck parvovirus antigens provide adequate clinical protection against the two waterfowl parvoviruses that can cause disease in Muscovy ducks. In addition, in mule duck (cross-breed of Pekin duck and Muscovy duck) the so-called ‘short beak and dwarfism syndrome’ has been reported where animals had strong growth retardation with smaller beak and shorter tarsus.

The diseases caused by waterfowl parvoviruses are strictly age-dependent. In susceptible goslings and Muscovy ducklings under one week of age, 100 per cent mortality may occur, while the losses above this age are decreasing with the age. In birds with impaired immune system, the infection may cause significant economic losses up to six to eight weeks of age. Depending on the age when infection occurs, the disease may be present in either acute, sub-acute or chronic forms in goose and Muscovy duck, while SBDC of mule duck always takes the chronic form.

During the acute phase of the disease, infected animals excrete huge quantity of virus into the environment with their faeces, which disseminates the infection rapidly in the flock. Recovered animals or those infected at a later age can become healthy carriers. Due to its resistance in the environment, parvovirus can persist in the buildings and on poorly cleaned and disinfected surfaces, which results in transmission to subsequent flocks. Vertical transmission and egg shell contamination also plays an important role in introducing the infection into disease-free flocks.

Parvovirus infects rapidly dividing cells; this is why clinical form of the disease occurs only in young birds, up to approximately six weeks of age. Nevertheless, infection with other immunosuppressive viruses (reovirus, cicrovirus) and mycoplasmas tends to aggravate the clinical disease by their synergistic effect and prolongs the sensitivity period to the clinical manifestation of the disease up to nine weeks of age. After this susceptible period, the birds can still be infected which causes serological response without clinical symptoms. The disease may be complicated with secondary bacterial pathogens: E. coli, Streptococcus spp, Pasteurellas etc.

Clinical signs: Pathological lesions:
Common clinical signs and pathological lesions in parvovirus infection
Acute form:
  • High mortality in young birds (before 10-14 days of age)
  • Anorexia, prostration
  • Paralysis in Muscovy ducks
  • Polydipsia (thirstiness)
  • Enteritis (profuse white diarrhea)
  • Ocular and nasal discharge
  • Diphteroid plaques on the mucosal surface of the oral cavity
Acute form:
  • Dessication
  • Pale/dilated heart, myocardium degeneration/necrosis, myocarditis
  • Hydropericardium and pericarditis
  • hepatitis-nephritis-ascites complex
  • sero-fibrineous perihepatitis (Fig. 6)
  • catarrhal or fibrinous/haemorrhagic enteritis (Fig. 7)
Chronic form:
  • uneven flock, severe growth retardation by 5-7 weeks of age
  • loss of feathers (Fig. 8)
  • ascites (‘penguin-like’ appearance)
Chronic form:
  • myodegeneration
  • sero-fibrinous pericarditis and perihepatotis
  • non-purulent myocarditis
  • pancreatitis
  • neuritis and encephalomyelitis (only in Muscovy ducks)

Clinical diagnosis is insufficient, especially during the chronic phase of the disease, and laboratory confirmation is necessary. PCR and serology are the most commonly used laboratory tests for the confirmation of the clinical diagnosis


The specificities of parvovirus infection of waterfowl require the elaboration of a coherent and efficacious vaccination strategy. The optimal vaccination strategy must take into account the presence or absence of maternal antibodies, their levels and heterogeneity within a flock and the susceptible period of goslings and ducklings to the disease.

Breeder geese and Muscovy ducks that have been naturally infected or vaccinated transfer maternal antibodies via the egg yolk to their progeny. This passively acquired antibody may persist until two to four weeks of age depending on the day-old antibody levels of individual birds. Since the disease is confined to young geese and Muscovy ducks, control measures have been aiming at providing adequate immunity during the first six to eight weeks of life. To achieve this, different methods have been applied during the last three decades. These include: (i) passive immunisation of newly hatched birds with convalescence or hyperimmune serum, (ii) active immunisation of adult breeding geese and Muscovy ducks with virulent virus and inactivated vaccine, and (iii) the use of attenuated vaccine alone or in combination with inactivated one for the active immunisation of both adult and young animals. The attenuated vaccines can confer good protection in young animals but only when it is given to birds with no or very low level of maternally derived antibodies to parvoviruses.

Historically, hyperimmune or convalescence serum injected subcutaneously in day-old goslings was used to avoid heavy losses in flock exposed to a parvovirus-contaminated environment. This technique was effective but presented the risk of carrying over undetected infectious agents by the contaminated serum. Therefore, serum for controlling the diseases is hardly available any more and the prophylaxis is based on vaccination.

Two main categories of vaccines can be distinguished: live and inactivated vaccines. Live vaccines contain attenuated goose parvovirus, which can stimulate rapid immune response and protection in maternal antibody-free animals. MDA, even at a very low level, is able to neutralise the live vaccine thus preventing it to stimulate immune-response. Inactivated vaccines (also called ‘killed’) contain the whole parvovirus antigens either in the monovalent (goose parvovirus) or bivalent (both goose and Muscovy duck parvovirus) form.

Most of the parvovirus vaccines available on the market are attenuated live vaccine and contain only goose parvovirus. The advantage of live attenuated vaccines is the fast onset of immunity in susceptible birds, however, the induction of immunity by live vaccines is dependent on the presence of circulating maternal antibodies to parvoviruses at the time of vaccination. When using live vaccine at an early age, it is a regular observation that the presence of passively acquired antibodies interferes with the development of an active immune response. On the other hand, inactivated vaccines with high antigen content are able to induce active immunity and protection in face of maternal antibodies. The disadvantage of the inactivated vaccine is the relatively slow immune response.

The immunisation of breeders against parvovirus has two objectives

  • to protect the breeders from infection, and by this way prevent virus transmission to the progeny, and
  • to supply the progeny with passive immunity

Breeders transmit protective maternally derived antibodies (MDA) to the offspring through the egg yolk. The level of MDA determines the level of protection (morbidity and mortality) of goslings and ducklings in case of field virus infection. Knowing the level of maternal antibodies in the day-old birds is fundamental to establish adequate vaccination strategy. A positive correlation has been demonstrated between the number of immunisations of breeders with inactivated vaccine and the amount of transmitted maternal antibodies, including level of MDA, persistence of MDA in the young birds and protection offered by the passive immunity. MDA may persist in goslings and ducklings at a relatively high level which protects them from clinical disease for approximately two to three weeks. Moreover, MDA levels after vaccination of breeders with traditional live vaccines show an inevitable heterogeneity (low/high MDA).

Optimal vaccination strategy must protect goslings and ducklings in all their life against both the early and the late forms of the disease. In order to extend the protection after the maternal antibodies decline to un-protective level, the vaccination of goslings and ducklings before they reach seven to 10 days of age is essential to stimulate active immunity in face of still persisting maternal antibodies. To achieve a stronger and more durable immune response, a booster vaccination (around two to three weeks of age) is also recommended. These can be done only by the use of inactivated, high antigen content vaccine.

Hemorrhagic Nephritis Enteritis Virus Infection of Geese (HNEG

Figure 9. Hemorrhagic enteritis in goose died from polyomavirus infection

Figure 10. Visceral gout in chronic form of HNEG

HNEG is characterised by high morbidity and mortality rates in geese from three to 10 weeks of age. Since its first report in 1969, several outbreaks with an epizootic pattern have been reported in almost all major goose-breeding countries. Although HNEG has been well characterised at the clinical level and recognised as a viral disease many years ago, its causative agent remained unknown until 2000, when evidence was presented that the disease is caused by a polyomavirus. Based on phylogenetic analysis, it was concluded that the causative agent of HNEG is closely related to but clearly distinct from other polyomaviruses, likely representing a distinct virus species named 'goose hemorrhagic polyomavirus'.

The majority of the outbreaks occur between three and six weeks age but sometimes much younger (four days old) or older birds (17 to 20 weeks old) can be affected. The mortality can vary within a huge range (four to 67 per cent) and can continue for extended periods (one to two months), or with an interruption of several weeks, i.e. two separate mortality peaks could be observed.

Animals in infected flocks generally develop normally and then suddenly die with no premonitory signs. Other animals develop clinical signs that include ataxia, tremors of the head and neck, subcutaneous haemorrhages and the excretion of blood-stained faeces. However, once the clinical signs develop, the animals die rapidly. Geese, which recover from HNEG are supposed to be persistently infected.

The most frequent and characteristic gross and histopathological lesions are summarized in Table 2 and Figures 9 and 10.

  acute cases Subacute cases
Table 2. Frequency of characteristic gross and histopathological lesions in HNEG
Oedema in the subcutaneous tissues and ascites +++a ++
Hydropericardium ++ ++
Hemorrhages in the subcutaneous tissues +++ -/+
Hemorrhages in the brain ++ -
Anaemia + ++
Catarrhal enteritis ++ ++
Hemorrhagic enteritis +++ -/+
Liver degeneration ++ ++
Zonal hemorrhagic tubulonecrosis +++ +++
Visceral gout - -/++
a: + = slight, ++ = moderate, +++ = marked, - = negative

Since the isolation of GHPV in many cases is very difficult or not possible, the PCR test for the detection of polyomavirus nucleic acid is the only practically available method to confirm diagnosis on an aetiological basis. The GHPV-specific DNA could be detected in various organ samples including kidney, liver, spleen, lung, bursa of Fabricius and intestinal contents from natural cases of the disease.

Commercial vaccine against GHPV is not yet available, partially due to the difficulties in the propagation of the GHPV in embryonated eggs and cell cultures. Therefore, the focus of GHPV vaccine development turned to sub-unit vaccines. The immunogenic antigen VP1 of GHPV was recently successfully expressed in both insect cells and yeast. It was also demonstrated that in both expression systems, VP1 alone or in combination with VP2, forms virus-like particles (VLP), and this as an antigen could be used in the development of vaccines and serological tests

Circovirus Infection of Geese and Ducks

Relatively little is known about the diseases with which avian member of the genus Circovirus are associated. Avian circovirus infections show certain common features. They are seen in birds during the first months of life. Developmental and/or feathering disorders predominate the clinical signs. Damage to the lymphoreticular tissue is expected to impair both humoral and cellular immune functions. Circovirus-induced immunosuppression enhances the pathogenicity of co-infecting agents. The course and outcome of the infection depend on the concurrent infections present and other predisposing factors. Sub-clinical infections seem to occur that may cause considerable economic loss. One common future of circovirus infection is that these viruses invade lymphoid tissue that may lead to immunosuppression

Figure 11. Lymhocytes depletion and cystic atrophy in the bursa of Fabricius of circovirus infected goose

Figure 12. Globular or botryoid, basophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions within macrophages in the bursa of circovirus infected goose

Circovirus infection of geese and ducks was first described in Germany by Soike et al. (1999) and Hattermann et al. (2003), respectively. The commercial goose and duck farms, in which circovirus was diagnosed, exhibited growth retardation, feathering disorders and increased mortality due to secondary infections with Riemerella anatipestifer and Aspergillus fumigatus.

The main histological changes associated with circovirus infection in waterfowl species are those of the primary and secondary lymphoid tissues. They are commonly observed in the bursa of Fabricius (BF) and may range from lymphofollicular hyperplasia to lymphoid necrosis, lymhocytes depletion and cystic atrophy (Figure 11). The frequent detection of globular or botryoid, basophilic intracytoplasmic inclusions within macrophages appears to be a characteristic feature (Figure 12).

Circovirus infections are diagnosed on the basis of feathering abnormalities, histology of BF, and demonstration of virus antigen or nucleic acid. Knowledge of the genome sequences of goose and duck circoviruses allowed the development of diagnostic tests such as PCR. Molecular epidemiological results to date indicate that different avian species are infected by different circoviruses, suggesting that circoviruses are host-specific.

Attempts to prevent and control diseases caused by Circovirus are very limited. Given that infections with circoviruses are likely to be prevalent and these viruses are highly resistant to inactivation, eradication is unlikely to be regarded as an option for disease control. On the grounds that for vaccine manufacturing purposes, an efficient antigen production system is required and that circoviruses cannot be grown by conventional culturing method and are difficult to inactivate, it is reasonable to expect that a sub-unit vaccine based on the expression of virus protein by recombinant DNA-technology would be the target for vaccine development




Avian Flu

Illnesses Worming etc includes



Illnesses, Worming  etc 2 includes

Angel wing




Avian Flu or Avian Influenza

History of the Disease

When avian influenza outbreaks occur in poultry, quarantine and depopulation (or culling) and surveillance around affected flocks is the preferred control and eradication option in most areas .However, it is virtually impossible to fully eliminate the virus from the environment because it can stay hidden in ducks. Recent research findings give further cause for concern. New research suggests that H5 viruses are becoming more capable of causing disease (pathogenic) for mammals than earlier H5 viruses and are becoming more widespread in birds in the region. One study found that ducks infected with H5N1 are now shedding more virus for longer periods of time without showing any symptoms of illness. This has implications for the role of ducks in transmitting disease to other birds and possibly, to humans as well. Additionally, other findings have documented H5 infection among pigs in China and H5 infection in felines (experimental infection in housecats in the Netherlands and isolation of H5N1 viruses from infected tigers and leopards in Thailand), suggesting that cats could host or transmit the infection. These finding are particularly worrying due to the fact that reassortment of avian influenza genomes is most likely to occur when these viruses demonstrate a capacity to infect multiple species, as is now the case in Asia

Domesticated birds may become infected with avian influenza virus through direct contact with infected waterfowl or other infected poultry, or through contact with surfaces (such as dirt or cages) or materials (such as water or feed) that have been contaminated with the virus. People, vehicles, and other inanimate objects such as cages can be resposible for the spread of influenza virus from one farm to another. When this happens, avian influenza outbreaks can occur among poultry, these outbreaks occur worldwide from time to time. Since 1997, for example, more than 16 outbreaks of H5 and H7 influenza have occurred among poultry in the United States. The H5N1 virus is easily spread from farm to farm among domestic poultry through the feces of wild birds. The virus can survive for up to four days at 71 F (22 C) and more than 30 days at 32 F (0 C). If frozen, it can survive indefinitely so here in the UK it can transmit if imported

The current outbreak of bird flu is different from earlier ones in that officials have been unable to contain its spread. An outbreak in 1997 in Hong Kong was the first time the virus had spread to people, but it was much more quickly contained. A total of 18 people were hospitalized with six reported deaths. About 1.5 million chickens were killed in an effort to remove the source of the virus. Low pathogenic forms of avian influenza viruses are responsible for most avian influenza outbreaks in poultry. Such outbreaks usually result in either no illness or mild illness (e.g., chickens producing fewer or no eggs), or low levels of mortality. When highly pathogenic influenza H5 or H7 viruses cause outbreaks, between 90% and 100% of poultry can die from infection. Animal health officials carefully monitor avian influenza outbreaks in domestic birds for several reasons:Bird flu is not the same as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Although their symptoms are similar, SARS is caused by completely different viruses. Influenza viruses also are more contagious and cannot be as readily contained as SARS by isolating people who have the infection

Avian influenza viruses circulate among birds worldwide. Certain birds, particularly waterfowl, act as hosts for influenza viruses by carrying the virus in their intestines and shedding it. Infected birds shed virus in saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds can become infected with avian influenza virus when they have contact with contaminated nasal, respiratory, or fecal material from infected birds. Fecal-to-oral transmission is the most common mode of spread between birds.Most often, the wild birds that are host to the virus do not get sick, but they can spread influenza to other birds. Infection with certain avian influenza A viruses (for example, some H5 and H7 strains) can cause widespread disease and death among some species of domesticated birds

Complicating the issue are traditional methods of farming in Asia that allow free-range ducks who roam from paddy to paddy to mix with chickens and other livestock.In Vietnam, for example, there are an estimated 59 million ducks, geese and other waterfowl, most raised in open-air backyard farms, according to agriculture figures.Vietnam has banned the breeding of ducks until June 30 2005. Ho Chi Minh City has ordered a cull of all ducks this month (March 2005

Evidence suggests that trade in live poultry, mixing of bird species in farms and markets, and poor biosecurity in poultry production play a much bigger role than wild bird movements, Agencies "advises against the destruction of wild birds and their habitats" since it is unlikely to have a major impact on controlling the bird flu

Experts have warned that the H5N1 virus, which has ravaged the region's poultry industry and killed 45 people across Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, could well become even deadlier if the virus mutates into a form that is easily transmitted between humans. So far there is no evidence of that, but health and animal experts say the longer it remains in the environment, the greater the chances of the virus changing and triggering a global pandemic that could kill millions


* Background

Influenza A (H5N1) is a subtype of the type A influenza virus. Wild birds are the natural hosts of the virus -- hence, the name avian influenza or bird flu. The virus was first isolated from birds (terns) in South Africa in 1961. The virus circulates among birds worldwide. It is very contagious among birds and can be deadly to them, particularly domesticated birds like chickens

* Infection

The virus does not typically infect humans. In 1997, however, the first instance of direct bird-to-human transmission of influenza A (H5N1) virus was documented during an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry in Hong Kong; the virus caused severe respiratory illness in 18 people, of whom 6 died. Since that time, there have been other instances of H5N1 infection among humans However, H5N1 viruses thus far have not been capable of efficient human-to-human transmission; health officials continue to monitor the situation closely for evidence of H5N1 transmission between people

* Spread

Infected birds shed virus in saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Avian influenza viruses spread among susceptible birds when they have contact with contaminated excretions. It is believed that most cases of H5N1 infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces


Many of you particularly if you keep a number of geese will run them with other livestock such as sheep or horses . If a combined worming programme is not used there can often occur a case of worm resistance in one of the breeds . As an example , if geese or ducks are kept with sheep , goats or cattle the larger species can be wormed and the wormer will cause them to shed parasite eggs . Many of these will be killed , the others are then picked up by the goose or duck and will pass through their system and later reinfect the host, this being a frequent cause of "worm resistance" . The smaller species may also suffer as they may be reinfected via the larger re distributing their own worm eggs

The simplest way to treat this is to use the same wormer on both species and if the makers labels and dose ratings are followed ( often with a calculator to reduce the dose from many kilo to one and a half!) . The option of adding a syringe to the mouth of individual geese is both time consuming and stressful to both owner and animals , a better method is to dilute the dose for the pen or pens and make up a wet mash or to soak the grain. Egg withdrawal for most makes is twenty four hours remembering that this is the day after worming as the eggs laid on the day of worming were produced during the previous day . (They can be added to food for growers but will not incubate)

Another option is to run species together which cancel out the worms of each other such as geese and horses . Many of the Victorian horse books talk of this being "efficacious" and is probably the reason for so many geese being painted in stable yards. For those without an "estate" the muscovy is a smaller version , although it is technically neither goose nor duck it is closer to the goose genetically and I personally sell a number of muscovies for general farmyard hoovering . Perhaps the only drawback to this is it enables a broody goose or muscovy to hide their clutch even more effectively making the young susceptible to small rodents and the resulting rugby scrum to collect the babies whilst being 'assisted by mum' is another story



The virus may be isolated from the liver and spleen of birds dying from this infection. Virus can be recovered by infecting susceptible ducklings, in which the disease can be reproduced; by inoculating embryonated Muscovy duck eggs on the chorioallantoic membrane; or by inoculating cell cultures of duck embryo or Muscovy duck embryo origin. The identity of the virus can be confirmed by neutralisation tests using specific antiserum to inhibit pathological changes in the duck embryos or the cytopathological effects in the cell cultures, or by direct or indirect fluorescent antibody tests on infected cell cultures


Duck virus enteritis (DVE) is an acute, sometimes chronic, contagious virus infection that occurs naturally only in ducks, geese and swans. The agent is a herpesvirus and similar to Newcastle Disease in chickens. The infection has not been reported in other avian species, mammals or humans. In domestic ducks and ducklings, DVE has been reported in birds ranging from 7 days of age to mature breeders. In susceptible flocks, the first signs are often sudden, high and persistent mortality with a significant drop in egg production. In chronically infected partially immune flocks, only occasional deaths occur. (In mine they did not stop laying and even laid eggs the morning they died

Clinical signs

associated with a DVE outbreak vary with the species, age and sex of the affected birds, and the virulence of the virus. In breeder ducks, the range of signs include photophobia (fear of light or apparent blindness), polydipsia, loss of appetite, ataxia, watery diarrhoea and nasal discharge. Birds often have ruffled feathers and soiled vents. Sick birds may maintain an upright stance by using their wings for support, but their overall appearance is one of weakness and depression. In ducklings 2-7 weeks of age, losses may be lower than in older birds, and the signs associated with DVE infection include dehydration, loss of weight, a blue colouration of the beaks, and bloodstained vents


A live attenuated virus vaccine can be used to control DVE in birds over 2 weeks of age. Fattening or breeding ducks may be vaccinated subcutane-ously or intramuscularly to produce an active immunity. The vaccine virus is not thought to spread by contact from vaccinated to unvaccinated ducks, as the unvaccinated birds remain susceptible to infection

Waterfowl diseases & illnesses 2

Angel Wing In Ducks And Geese

Angel wing, also known as slipped wing, crooked wing or drooped wing, is a condition of ducks and geese where the last joint of the wing is twisted and the wing feathers point out, and do not lay smooth against the body

It is more common in geese and typically in either the left wing or both wings, only rarely in the right wing only. Males develop it more than females. The birds that develop the problem are perfectly healthy, they are just not as nice looking

The cause of angel wing is thought to be a nutritional problem due to excess feed. You see, waterfowl that normally mature in the Arctic environment do not show any angel wing because of their naturally fast growth. It does appear, however, in those species that come from a more temperate environment where they grow slower under natural feeding conditions. But by feeding them unlimited, high protein, high energy feed, they grow unnaturally fast and their wing weight seems to outgrow the strength of the wing to support it. Further proof that this may be the cause can be found in an article that said "If their wings start drooping they are put on a diet of alfalfa; grass or layers pellets (instead of Chick Growers) until the condition clears up

The only wild waterfowl populations known to be affected are those fed by man. In Sweden, ten different park populations of Canada geese produced angel wing. The following year one flock was not fed any artificial feed and there were no angel wing goslings produced

We suggest not to feed high protein, high energy feed (such as turkey feed), provide plenty of room for exercise, keep in small groups, provide plenty of grass or green feed and keep the pen dark at night if possible so less eating occurs. If you do notice a twisted wing, however, you can form a sling to hold the wing in place to allow proper development



Intracellular parasites coccidia; that live in the intestines

Ages affected. All ages, although ducklings are affected more severely

Source of infection. Coccidia are found wherever birds are kept. The life cycle of these protozoans consists of two phases

* A dormant form (oocyst) outside the host. This form is passed in the droppings. Under moist and warm conditions it reaches its infective stage (sporocyst) within 1&endash;2 days

* The multiplication stage within the host. Once the sporocyst is eaten by the bird, it hatches, penetrates, develops and multiplies within the intestinal cells. The organism reaches its final developmental stage (the oocyst) within 10 days and is passed in the droppings. As the sporocyst is resistant to most common disinfectants, low temperature and dry environments, ducks can be at risk of infection all year round. This is particularly true where young ducks are kept in large numbers on the ground. Under this type of husbandry outbreaks can occur, causing sudden and serious losses. With low stocking densities, low levels of infection probably occur in most ducks due to the occasional ingestion of a sporocyst dropoped by wild birds. Under normal circumstances this low level of infection is self-limiting, clinically non-apparent and eventually leads to immunity


Signs of infection vary and depend on the number of sporocysts ingested, the species of coccidia, age of the ducks and previous exposure to infection. In young ducklings (8 weeks) sudden death may be the only manifestation of the disease. Mortalities may drag on for weeks with a few ducklings being found dead each day. More commonly, however, outbreaks are acute and last between 12 weeks if untreated. Early signs may be present and include a tucked-up appearance, blood-stained vent, blood-tinged diarrhoea, and the inability to stand. In older flocks sub-optimal weight gain may be the only expression of the disease


Of the 13 species of coccidia reported from domestic and wild ducks only a few have been properly described and identified. Not all 13 species are pathogenic (disease-causing), and a 30 definitive diagnosis of coccidiosis as a cause of mortality or morbidity requires the finding of lesions in the intestines (these are greyish white circular spots and/or haemorrhages) and the microscopic examination of both the intestinal contents and wall scrapings for the various developmental stages of coccidia


To achieve satisfactory results ducks must be treated quickly. The drugs can be given in the feed or drinking water. It is better to put the medication in the drinking water, as ducks with coccidiosis tend to eat less. Various sulphonamides can be used. These drugs should be used in conjunction with vitamins K, A and B complex. The vitamins help in the control of intestinal bleeding and the regeneration of the damaged lining of the intestines. The sulphonamides should not be given over prolonged periods. The best results can be achieved by a 3-2-3 schedule (3 days medication, 2 days fresh unmedicated water and 3 days of repeat treatment). Of the sulphonamides, sulphadimidine given at 3 to 6 g per 10 ducks per day on the 3-2-3 basis is very successful. Control and prevention. Use good hygiene and a low stocking density. If you have had coccidiosis on your property, give low levels of sulphaquinoxaline (125 g/t feed) plus a multivitamin supplement for the first 8 weeks of life to keep the problem at bay. Alternatively, raising young ducklings off the ground can effectively prevent infection, especially if you have a high stocking rate and you do not wish to use medication continuously



Plant poisons

Numerous poisonous plants, chemicals and metals can cause nervous signs in free-range ducks when eaten in sufficient quantity. The presence of a poisonous plant does not necessarily mean that poisoning by that particular plant has occurred. Normally ducks discriminate against most poisonous plants, provided they are fed a well-balanced ration or have access to other greenfeed. Accidental ingestion of the odd poisonous seed and leaf ordinarily does not produce any adverse reactions. Only when the poisonous plant becomes a substantial part of the diet, or when minute quantities are consumed regularly over a long time, may signs be evident. The amount of plant material that will produce signs of poisoning depends to a large degree on the nature of the toxic principle, the part of the plant ingested and its stage of growth, soil and weather conditions and the general health of the flock

Chemical poisons


Some commercial preparations of lead that were used in paints and garden sprays, as well as metallic lead in the form of spent shot, can cause leg paralysis and a green-stained vent


The yellow phosphorus used in bait for rodents and also in matches and fireworks can be poisonous to ducks if enough is consumed. Signs include depression, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, muscular weakness, paralysis, coma and death

Antifreeze solutions (ethylene glycol

Ducks gaining access to this chemical may consume large amounts it is sweet and sugary tasting thus irresistable, resulting in depression, muscle weakness and death.It is also poisonous to cats/rats/foxes and other mammals


This is an insecticide normally used on sheep, pigs and chicken runs. It is highly toxic to ducks. Signs of poisoning include inability to stand, tremors of the head and neck, and eventually death within 24 hours of exposure


Four to six grams of salt can be fatal to growing ducks. Signs include great thirst, diarrhoea, weakness, partial paralysis and intermittent muscular spasms


Any medication can cause losses and side effects when applied wrongly. Ducklings are particularly susceptible to nitrofurazone and furazolidone, and levels above 0.01 per cent can produce paralysis and other nervous signs. A characteristic of furazolidone poisoning is that birds have convulsions when forced to move. If sulphonamide compounds are given in excessive amounts or over periods longer than prescribed they will cause a stiff gait as well as other signs



Ducks can be affected by any of the four types of worms that infest other domestic poultry roundworms (Ascaridia spp.); tapeworms; caecal worms (Heterakis spp.), and hairworms (Capillaria spp

Ages affected

All ages are affected, but older ducks have better resistance to worms than ducklings and generally show milder effects, if any. Young ducklings are particularly susceptible, and heavy worm infestations may kill them or stunt their growth

Source of infection

The duck can become infested with worms by eating various insects, slugs or earthworms that may harbour stages of each parasite, or by eating worm eggs passed in the droppings of other birds. Worm eggs hatch in various sections of the gut

Clinical signs

These vary enormously and will depend on the type of worms, degree of infestation and the age of the birds. Birds heavily infested with roundworms or hairworms may die suddenly. This often happens when large numbers of immature roundworms migrate through essential body organs .However birds more often do not die suddenly but develop poorly, become weak and eventually die. With heavy roundworm or hairworm infestation ducks almost always have a diarrhoea that can range from frothy yellow to blood-tinged. Occasionally they develop an unsteady gait and paralysis. With heavy tapeworm and caecal worm infestation ducks sometimes have diarrhoea, but often just show poor weight gain and a drop in egg production


The diagnosis can be made instantly if there are a large number of worms in the intestines at post-mortem. Alternatively, intestinal scrapings or samples from fresh droppings can be examined under a microscope.**A home test is to put fresh droppings in a jam jar add water...worms swim out


There are two approaches to worm treatment: * the use of broad-spectrum chemicals that are effective against the major groups of worms * the use of narrow-spectrum chemicals that are effective against a particular type of worm A good broad-spectrum treatment can be achieved by the use of levamisole(sheep wormer). This chemical is effective against both mature and immature stages of roundworms, caecal worms and hairworms. For the treatment of roundworms exclusively, the various piperazine-based compounds are highly effective, provided the dose rate is adequate. If you need to treat caecal worms and tapeworms you can use phenothiazine and mansonil respectively. The drug dibutyltin-dilaurate is also effective against tapeworms, but it can cause a 10% drop in egg production

Control and prevention

None of the chemicals mentioned earlier is effective against the egg stage of worms. Ducks run on deep litter or in open range will be reinfested unless husbandry and management procedures are directed towards prevention of reinfestation. You can achieve short-term prevention by repeating treatment of the whole flock after 2 weeks, 6 weeks and 3 months. Long-term solutions include various husbandry practices aimed at lowering the chance and degree of reinfestation. To minimise or prevent reinfestation with caecal worms, roundworms and hairworms, you should

* rotate runs

worm strategically at danger periods;* separate ducks of different age groups;* use reasonable stocking rates;* provide clean pens








Toulouse Geese



 The Toulouse Goose is one of the larger goose breeds. In its exhibition or "dewlap" form, the Toulouse Goose may weight 25 pounds and have its body skimming the ground. The "utility" Toulouse Goose is smaller and lacks the dewlap being basically a cross bred grey Heinz with no value other than for the table

Country of Origin: France . The Toulouse Goose was bred in southern France (near the city of Toulouse) originally for pate de Fois Gras now considered a superior meat bird in Europe. The breeding work to finalize the points and breed true was done in England with a great number being exported to America and Canada prior to the 1950's . At the moment the Club has been importing a number back from the USA as the gene pool in Britain has become too narrow making a number of males virtually infertile.

Breed Background: A heavy breed which does well in confinement since their size restricts foraging and although their goslings tend to grow slower than other geese


    The progeny of a Toulouse goose crossed with an Emden gander grow rapidly.

Names Also known as L'oie Grise des Landes and L'oie du Toulouse in France/Belgium the name alteration appears to be area ?
Country Of Origin;........France

Carriage like a galleon in full sail or Margaret Rutherford in feathers for the older reader

Egg Colour.....................white
Egg Numbers..............Average about 35 per season Best known 60+ per Goose.First layers about 10
Broodiness: Incubation:. . . . 28 - 34 days/ good mother but clumsy due to size need a large hay covereed tray for the eggs to prevent cruching as they pip. Otherwise hatch very well under Muscovies

Breed Hints....Kept as trio or pair .. will go broody and hatch
Weights; Gander, 12 kg / 26 pounds Goose, 9 kg / 20 pounds

Breed Tip**As a breed succeptible to flystrike (maggots) on open cuts or scratches which are disguised by the open feathering.

Tip due to their size in comparison to their leg length they prefer real ponds or shallow edged trays/ childrens sandpits (ELC or IKEA) as many others can produce a snug fit. Wickes builders merchants do a 'cement mixing tray' in black composite. . . cheap!

  Appearance: Grey feathers laced with white, brown eyes with a long deep body with a prominent breast bone. Better show birds have a pronounced front as in the picture and double muscled folds when seen from the front. Better breeding birds often have less front or their 'equipment' does not reach to mate successfully

    Meat Production: The supreme meat cross which tends to pass on the placid (dumb) temperamernt to the off spring. As a pure breed it often resembles a large tub of lard with feet .....so unless a very poor specimen not worth the plucking...... better for the breeding pen for X breds



 Buff Toulouse

 Grey  Toulouse


Embden Geese sometimes  Emden




Of great age and history

Appearance: This is the tallest goose with a massive and long body, long swan neck, with the double lobes not touching the ground. The colour of the plumage is completely white (some grey feathers are admitted in young ones / first year often under the wing); Bright orange bill with flesh coloured bean ; and legs; clear blue eyes, ( if crossed for the Toulouse/Embden meat birds eye colour will alter so check).The normally reach over a metre in height

Meat Production: The true Embden Goose suffers like the Aylesbury in that most of the public think all white geese are Embden's whereas few of them are actually pure bred stock. The height of this breed will normally be the giveaway as they are considerably taller than their cross bred cousins


The Embden Goose breed is also known as the Bremen and although a German name most historical sources place this as a northern Dutch breed that also migrated throughout Europe to Italy where it was imported from to cross with our native white breeds. Also known as L'oie d'Emden in France/Belgium


Country Of Origin;........ Although a German name most historical sources place this as a northern Dutch breed that also migrated throughout Europe to Italy from where it was imported from to cross with our native white breeds


Egg Colour ..................... eggs white / egg weight 170g
Egg Numbers............10 / 20

Breed Defects. . . . .plumage other than white; Uneven lobes; Keel;
Incubation: . . . . . .28 -34 days.

Breed Hints....****.The tallest breed if the bird is short and dumpy it is NOT an Embden
Weights;Gander, 26 pound mature Goose, 20 pounds mature
gander 11 to 12 kg / goose of 10 to 11 kg;

Breed Tip  Kept as pair or flock.... can be over protective of their 'wives & young' in spring so not a beginners breed. Can also be short fused with small dogs ie not advisable for dog keepers unless you have a problem. . .  .

Info**Used historically as a meat cross either with the utility Toulouse ( darker drier meat) or another large framed breed..... can run to fat so used to be killed off at Michlemas





American Buff  Geese 



.Appearance: A heavy smooth breasted and double lobed breed with a stance similar to the Embden Goose

~Upright and alert with deep hazel eye ; orange bill and legs preferably with a lighter orange rather than pink bean

In the US noted as an American descendant of the wild Greylag goose, which is found in Europe and Northern Asia

As a dual-purpose goose, it produces both eggs and meat. The meat is a rich, dark meat. The buffgoose is an apricot-fawn color with a whitish abdomen, brown eyes and orange feet and bill. The breed is the largest of the medium weight class of geese( in the USA) with mature ganders (male) weighing about 18 pounds and mature geese weighing about 16 pounds

The American Buff is calm and docile, a good choice for a home flock. They are good, attentive parents. In 2003, there were fewer than 500 breeding birds and five or fewer breeding flocks. in the USA so there categorised as rare breed


Names. . . .As in the Brecon not all large Buff geese are American Buffs ... if in doubt ask to see the parent birds.
Country Of Origin;........ America

Carriage; . . Upright and alert

Egg Colour .....................white
Egg Numbers............10 / 20 each female per year

Breed Defects. .   . . . White feathers in coloured plumage; EXCEPT white around the bill/ a sign of age as in a Brecon Goose; Uneven Lobes
Incubation:. . . . . . . 28 - 34 days

Breed Hints....   . . .Kept as trio or pair .. will go broody and hatch

Weights;   Gander, 6 kg ( 18 pounds) Goose, 5.5 kg (16 pounds )

Breed Tip  . . . .Needs: Grazing; Deeper water. as a swimmer and splasher !
Flying .  . . .rarely flies a good all rounder




African Geese


The African should be of about the same size as the Embden, except in the case of the young goose, which may be a couple pounds lighter in weight. The African is the outcome of a cross between the Toulouse, and the Brown Chinese, taking some of the size and dewlap of the Toulouse, and somewhat of the upright carriage and 'knob' which is the ornamental head appendage of the Chinese. The African is said by some breeders to be a distinct breed imported from Africa, but the evidence of the cross is apparent

Tips for improving your flock......based on Dave Holderread's and Oscar Grow's books (taken from the Australian rare Breed Site)

Select the fastest growing goslings for future breeding.

Always look for massive features (even in their first year they should have large, coarse heads and thick necks) and carriage 30 to 40 degrees.

Head should be large and broad between the eyes

Knob should be as wide as the head

Older females especially when laying will often have low-hung paunches and show some indication of a keel. But all males and young females should be keel-less and only a moderately full abdomen. Selecting for this should maintain the breed's fame as a lean meat bird.

Africans with tails held in line with the back or lower often indicate physical weakness and infertility.

Avoid young geese of too refined type, otherwise the flock will eventually revert to the Chinese breed type (small and slender rather than massive and meaty).

Avoid young geese that have already developed a pronounced dewlap. Africans do not grow the dewlap as fast as Toulouse and it will not fully develop until aged about three years.

  Some individuals don't get the dewlap until over 18 months old, whilst  Names Also Known as L'oie de Guinee or L'oie Africaine in France ie Guinea Goose
Country Of Origin;. . . China

Carriage;Reasonably upright 35 to 40 degrees above the horizontal rather than the Chinese geese which stand much more upright. Height 90 cm av
Purpose;... ...Eggs.....Meat...Broody..

 Egg Colour......................white ....
 Egg Numbers  .............10 / 20. In America, they appear to be more productive with 20 - 40 eggs in a season

Breed Defects. . . . . .Lack of dewlap;lack of knob; white patches amongst coloured plumage
Info  A very gentle breed that is much quieter than its skinny cousin. Available in white; brown (grey) and buff.

 Breed Hints.... Kept as trio or pair .. will go broody and hatch
 Weights; 11 to 28 pounds

Breed Tipothers might develop one at 6 months. The dewlap runs down from the bill into the neck. The knob should be oriented slightly forward. Paunch should not touch the ground.'
Flying . . .normally too heavy but has been known . . very rarely



    From my importation of day old goslings in 1999 a problem arose because only female Buff Africans hatched at the opportune moment and Dave Holderread forwarded these with the rest of the order so as to avoid disappointment

Upon a visit to his wonderful establishment in 2000 he gave me the following explanation for the way forward

I believe this would also work for Buff Toulouse so I felt this may be of interest to any of you experimenting out there.

I suppose I ought to mention that I have already completed step one successfully with my Buff Africans

First mating
Brown African gander X Buff African goose = ALL Brown offspring

Brown ganders carry buff genetically [call this B/B1]

Brown geese DO NOT carry buff genetically speaking
Second mating
B/B1 gander X Buff African goose = 1/2 males AND 1/2 females Brown

and 1/2 males AND 1/2 females Buff


B/B1 gander X pure Brown female = All males Brown

1/2 females Brown AND 1/2 females Buff


Buff gander X pure Brown female = All ganders Brown [this is B/B1]

=All geese Buff




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The Runner ducks are the Leghorns of the duck family. They are prolific layers. Three hundred egg Indian Runner ducks were described and illustrated in the poultry press of 1912 to 14, and preceded the future for 300 egg hens which came later. In England, duck egg laying contests are carried on

Runner white drake

A Blue Runner drake from the UK

There are three varieties of Indian Runners, the Fawn and White, the White, and the Penciled. The breed has a distinctive type, the long, flat, straight head and long, slender neck forming, in shape, and umbrella handle and stem; the back should be long, straight and carried upright, and with the body should take on almost horizontal bearing. The type should be clean cut, there being little indication of a keel. The entire bearing should be upright and racey

Pencilled Runner hen

Grey Runners


As would be expected in an active, profile breed of this kind, the specimens should not have too much size. The desired weights are: Adult drake, 4 1/2 lbs.; adult duck, 4 lbs.; young drake, 4 lbs.; young duck, 3 1/2 lbs. This breed originated in India, was introduces into England as early perhaps as 1830, but was little known in the United States prior to 1900. The Indian Runner produces a small to medium size carcass, but one of good quality. The ducks are practically non-sitters and are popular because of their prolific egg production which rivals the 200 egg stains of chickens



These were introduced from Malaya by various ships Captains and were found in the Cumberland and the Dumfries area.Though references point to Malaysia and the East Indies, the Indian Runner was originally brought to England from India by a seacaptain to Whitehaven and presented to some friends in West Cumberland some time around the 1840s. The same gentleman imported a few more some years later. Henry Digby imported a few more birds in 1898. In Races of Domestic Poultry published originally around 1906, Edward Brown theorises that 'it is probable that the present-day Runner ducks are either directly or indirectly descended. Some early books also refer to them as Penguin ducks but the engravings are of somewhat chunkier birds . They were such good layers that by 1896 there was a special Indian Runner class in the Dumfries Show and the standard was recognized in 1907 when the Fawn and White was noted. By 1913 the Fawn followed and in 1926 the Black and the Chocolate. Cumberland Blue were also mentioned in various literature. Many early Asian travel books mention upright stanced ducks often kept on latticed bamboo over the Carp ponds as their cylindrical posture lent itself to an early form of Factory farming / Food Cycle; this is also shown in Chinese artwork .

Indian Runner ducks, at present the Colour range is still expanding with the Black Chocolate and Blue often losing colour especially in females with age and the males succeptible to throwing odd white feathers after injuries /fights with other drakes. In solid colours such as blue/chocolate and black all young males should have NO white feathers they may appear from fighting but never from age



Names:-Corritrice Indiana (Italy)Also known as Le Coureur Indien in France/Belgium. In Latin Anas platyrhynchos   

Country Of Origin;......... Bali; Indochina /Malaysia

Carriage;. . compact and docile; often upset by dogs   

Purpose;...........Eggs../ exhibition, soup or mini meals

Egg Colour ....................normally .blue ..large 70 g  

Egg Numbers............. 100 /200

Breed Defects. .. . . White feathers in coloured plumage; EXCEPT white around the bill/ a sign of age in females; Dished bill; shoulders like Mike Tyson 

Incubation:.. . . . . . . 28 days best incubated but will sit need a padded nest

Breed Hints..... . .Kept as trio or pair best as pairs

Weights;. . drake 2,3 kg- duck 2,1 kg

Approximate weight (metric


1.6 - 2.3 Kg


1.4 - 2.0 Kg

 Origins of the Breed

The Indian Runner Ducks are domesticated waterfowl that live in the archipelago of the 'East Indies'. There is no evidence that they came originally from India itself. Attempts by British breeders at the beginning of the twentieth century to find examples in the subcontinent had very limited success. Like many other breeds of waterfowl imported into Europe and America, the term 'Indian' may well be fanciful, denoting a loading port or the transport by 'India-men' sailing ships of the East India Company. Other misnamed geese and ducks include the 'African Goose', the 'Black East Indian Duck' and the 'Muscovy Duck

The Runner became popular in Europe and America as an egg-laying variety towards the end of the nineteenth century largely as a result of an undated pamphlet called The India Runner: its History and Description published by John Donald of Wigton between 1885 and 1890. Donald describes the pied variety and gives the popular story of the importation into Cumbria (Northwest England) by a sea captain some fifty years earlier

The breed is unusual not only for its high egg production but also for its upright stance and variety of color genes, some of which are seen in seventeenth century Dutch paintings. Other references to such domestic ducks use the names 'Penguin Ducks' and 'Baly Soldiers'. Harrison Weir's Our Poultry (1902) describes the Penguin Ducks belonging to Mr Edward Cross in the Surrey Zoological Gardens between 1837-38. These may well have been imported by the 13th Earl of Derby

The Cumbrian importations, according to Matthew Smith in 1923, included completely Fawn Runners and completely White Runners as well as the pied varieties. The most successful attempt to import fresh blood lines was by Joseph Walton between 1908 and 1909. A detailed account of these ventures can be found in Coutts (1927) and Ashton (2002). Walton shipped in birds from Lombok and Java, revolutionizing the breeding stock which, according to Donald, had become badly mixed with local birds. Further importations by Miss Chisholm and Miss Davidson in 1924 and 1926 continued to revive the breed


Pure breed enthusiasts, exhibitors and show judges wanted to establish standard descriptions. Standards were drawn up in America (1898) and England (1901) for the pied color varieties. These were largely the same until 1915 when the two countries diverged. The American Poultry Association chose a variety with blue in the genotype whilst the English Poultry Club Standard kept to the pure form described by Donald in his original pamphlet. Other colors followed making use of black genes brought in by some of Walton's birds. These were to produce Black, Chocolate and Cumberland Blue. Later were developed the Mallard, Trout, Blue Trout, and Apricot Trout versions. Slightly different names and descriptions can be found in American and German Standards. A full account of the influence of the Indian Runner Duck Club (founded in 1906), particularly the input by John Donald, Joseph Walton, Dr J.A. Coutts and Matthew Smith, can be found in Ashton (2002)

The most profound impact of the Indian Runners was on the development of the modern 'light duck' breeds. Before 1900, most ducks were bred for the table. Aylesbury and Rouen Ducks were famous throughout the nineteenth century, and these were supplemented or replaced, after 1873-4, by importation from China of the Pekin Duck. As soon as the Indian Runners became fashionable, a demand for egg-layers and general purpose breeds developed. Using Runners crossed to Rouens, Ayesburys and Cayugas (the large black American breed), William Cook produced his famous Orpington ducks. Mrs Campbell crossed her Fawn-and-white Runner Duck to a Rouen drake to create the Campbell ducks. Later, she introduced wild mallard blood and managed to create the most prolific egg-layer, the Khaki Campbell (announced in 1901). Other breeds followed, some of which emerged as direct mutations of the Khaki Campbell, along with crosses back to Indian Runners, the most famous being the Abacot Ranger (known in Germany as the Streicher) and the Welsh Harlequin

Color Breeding

Indian Runner Ducks and Pekins brought in unusual plumage color mutations. These included the dusky and restricted mallard genes, light phase, harlequin phase, blue and brown dilutions, as well as the famous pied varieties named by the geneticist F.M. Lancaster as the 'Runner pattern'. Much of the proliferation of new color varieties in breeds of domestic duck begins with the importation of these oriental ducks. Original research by R.G. Jaap (1930s) and F.M. Lancaster has allowed breeders to understand the effect of genotypes in managing and creating color varieties. Simplified information can be found in writings by Dave Holderread, and Mike and Chris Ashton

Runner likes to fly
Runner Ducklings





Old Khaki Campbell  drake

Khacampbell females

The Khaki Campbell was developed in England during the early 1900's by Mrs/ Adele Campbell of Uley , Gloucestershire who wanted a breed for laying white table eggs that was not broody , reluctant to fly off and reacted nearer to a fowl . It was admitted to the American Standard in 1941. Though originally a cross of Indian Runner, Mallard, and Rouen, Campbells exceed all of these and most chicken breeds in egg production, with some strains averaging 300 eggs per year. They do not require special care or artificial lighting to produce a large number of eggs, which are white and weight about 2.5 ounces (not much larger than a Leghorn egg). Thought not usually raised for meat, Khakis make high quality, lean roasters of 3-4 pounds; they average 4-5 pounds as adults. Campbells are extremely hardy, are excellent foragers, and are at home on land as well as in water. They eat large quantities of slugs, snails, insects, algae, and mosquitos from ponds, but do not require swimming water to stay healthy. The ducks are mainly khaki colored and the drakes have greenish-bronze heads with brown-bronze tails, backs, and necks. They have green bills

 Status: Minor. Though still not common, the Khaki Campbell is thought to be growing in popularity as an egg-layer and backyard duck. Exhibition Khakis do not have the same characteristics as production types


Campbell's have a well known history Campbell It was bred from Mallard ;Fawn and White Runners and Rouen with a very vague standard in order to keep the utility properties of the breed. From these a white sport was standardized as the White Campbell and a Dark Campbell was created by a Mr H R S Humphreys in Devon to enable a classic gold / silver cross mating for sex linkeage. This colouration did not find favour after the second world war and declined to almost critical levels and although the white and the khaki are often seen very few breeders keep the dark Campbell and due to the small gene pool a number throw eye stripes which are incorrect for the breed and a throwback as are any of the colours that lay blue or green eggs ... these birds should not really be bred from as not up to the breed standard

Broodiness: pretty useless most will sit long enough for you to put fertile eggs under her then walk away. Bred to be a non sitter but as many are crossed unless bought from a good breeder some will sit but are rare

Needs: Do not require water for swimming to stay health, but they enjoy it. Prefer shallow trays or even a washing up bowl with a brick in it . . no brick produces a tortoise with webbed feet hybrid very funny but also Very messy

Notes:Excellent foragers, keeping gardens and ponds free of, slugs, snails and worms; bred as a back garden duck two females are very happy with chickens or on their own and will give a dozen eggs per week if fed well.


 A first-year Khaki Campbell duck

A Khaki Campbell duckling

Dark Campbell Ducks

Dark Campbell females

Appearance: Drakes, Beetle green head & neck, Shoulder breast light brown each feather finely pencilled with dark grey brown shading to silver grey nearer the vent - Bill blue/grey/green with a black bean. Legs and feet orange
Ducks, Dark brown version of the khaki with similar lacing. Feet and webs dark brown colour with slate bill Size: Drakes, 2.5 to 3 kg Ducks, 2 to 2.5 kg
Dark Campbell Defects; Yellow Bill; Any white in neck or bib; Same feather colour under wing (caused if crossed with Khaki); Lack of feather lacing in ducks ie uniform smooth khaki feathers like the drake (caused if crossed with Orpingtons !) Lack of fine lacing in males. Blue eggs
******genetically a dusky format of the khaki . Blue so far partially unstable format is produced bt Dark males to khaki females******

White Campbell Ducks

Appearance: Drakes, Orange/Yellow bill, and webs; white neck, back and tails -
Ducks, White with Orange/ yellow bill and webs Size: Drakes, 2.5 to 3 kg Ducks, 2 to 2.5 kg
White Campbell Defects; Flesh coloured Bill; Eye stripes in young birds as they feather... covered once they get their adult plumage. Brown eyes. Blue eggs


Appearance: Drakes, Green bill, greenish bronze head, brown-bronze neck, back and tails -
Ducks, Khaki colour with green bill Size: Drakes, 2.5 to 3 kg Ducks, 2 to 2.5 kg
Khaki Campbell Defects; Yellow Bill; Pinkish Bill. Any white in neck or bib; White or light under wing (caused if crossed with Darks); Lack of feather lacing in ducks ie uniform smooth khaki feathers like the drake (caused if crossed with Orpingtons !). Blue eggs
Names:-Le canard Kaki Campbell, .original ?
Country Of Origin;......... Great Britain. An early 20th Century Breed
Carriage;    Angled carriage laced feathering 
Purpose;...   .......Eggs..meat(males)
Egg Colour .....300-350 white eggs/year weighing approx., 71-75 gms each
Breed Defects. .. . . .Blue eggs or as below 
Breed info . . . . designed to be with chickens a splasher rather than a swimmer
Breed Hints....Kept as trio or more. will go not broody and hatch as a rule ** unsuitable as a pair in Khaki due to the energy of the drakes **
Weights; 4 to 6 pounds . . .Meat Production: High quality very lean meat approx. 1.25 to 2.25 kg drakes at 16/18 weeks
Breed Tip  Incubation: 28 days Maturity: ie rubbish broodies and mothers, normally sit for 65% of time needed or lose any resulting babies 
Flying .  rarely flies a good back garden all rounder

Genetic profile Khaki  

Gene :Dusky / symbol md   / Recessive

Allelic to mallard and restricted and recessive to both. The dusky pattern is darker and plainer than the mallard both in the day-old and adult. Breed examples are Khaki Campbell and Buff Orpington

Genetic profile White

Gene :Recessive white/ symbol c/ Recessive

This gene is responsible for the white in common white breeds. In the homozygous state, recessive white masks all other color genes . as in the White Campbell

Genetic profile Dark

    Gene Dark Dusky Phase/ symbol Li+  /Dominant.. 

This gene is the wild-type gene present in the mallard and the Rouen breed. It allows full expression of the three alleles of the M+ locus.They do not have a brown gene but are a darker version of the Khaki as in :-Allelic to mallard and restricted and recessive to both. The dusky pattern is darker and plainer than the mallard both in the day-old and adult






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Large Breed Ducks















Rouen Clair



Silver Appleyard

Aylesbury Ducks






According to Lewis Wright in the 188o's the AYLESBURY ducks should be of the purest white with a bill set well up on the skull and the beak almost in a line from the top of the head to the tip (similar to the Runner) and of a delicate flesh colour . Although pure ducks exist and are thriving as a breed most of those that the general public perceives as an Aylesbury are commercial meat crosses which are frequently pictured in children's story books.

Historically they were walked from the Vale of Aylesbury to London (40 miles max). Each of the inns they stopped the night at allowed the birds to be kept in large enclosed yards and in the morning the birds were driven through a cold sticky tarry solution in a shallow ditch and then through a layer of sawdust. This made somewhat crude shoes to protect their feet for the day and the next night this was repeated with a charge of a few birds at each stop. The alternative was to try to camp on the common or 'waste' and stop the local poachers from removing a few for the pot.

The breed is thought to have evolved during the early years of the eighteenth century by selective breeding of the common duck, usually brown or grey in colour but occasionally white. Breeders were aware that the London dealers had a preference for white plumage, the feathers being popular on the continent as quilt-filling and the pale pink skin of a plucked white bird is somewhat more attractive than the yellow of coloured ducks.

Prior to 1839, the ducklings if not "walked" were transported to London by packhorse or carrier's wagon, the opening of the branch railway line from Cheddington to Aylesbury in that year providing a boost to the industry. J. K. Fowler, writing in 1850, tells us 'oftentimes in the spring, in one night, a ton weight of ducklings from six to eight weeks old are taken by rail from Aylesbury and the villages round to the metropolis'. Throughout the nineteenth century the main market for duck meat was provided by the wealthy people of London, very little of it being sold locally. Aylesbury ducks start laying eggs in early November, the two month old ducklings coming to market from February whereas the Rouen, its main competitor, began laying in February, coming to market as a six-month old bird in the last three months of the year. Peak season for Aylesburys was therefore late March and early April, the Rouen being geared for autumn and Christmas.

The number of establishments in Aylesbury began to decline after 1850 due to a number of factors, including the introduction of sanitary regulations which made duck rearing in cottages difficult. The deterioration in the quality of soil in Aylesbury following many years of duck raising has also been given as a contributory factor
The white Aylesbury duck is, and deservedly, a universal favourite. Its snowy plumage and comfortable comportment make it a credit to the poultry-yard, while its broad and deep breast, and its ample back, convey the assurance that your satisfaction will not cease at its death' So wrote Mrs Beeton in her 'Book of Household Management', published in 1861


young birds not to full size note bill colour and pronounced keel

Names Also known as Les carnard du Nord in France/ Les canards du Mertchem in Belgium

Country Of Origin;......... England

Carriage; deep keel which makes it difficult for this type to successfully mate naturally without a deep pond. Accidents have happened to males so please consider this before an eye watering scene awaits and a vet trip.
Purpose;..........Eggs..Meat...Broody...a good utility duck

Egg Colour...................white ..large ( often blue in the USA)
Egg Numbers.............35-125

Breed Defects. .  Plumage other than white. Bill other than white (flesh pink).Heavy droopy behind.
Flying . seldom flies would be similar to an albatross long take off needed

Breed Hints....Kept as trio or pair .. will go broody and hatch
Weights; 9 to 12 pounds

Breed Tip  ****They should be of horizontal carriage with a keel that is parallel to the ground.The bill is pinkish white or flesh coloured NOT ORANGE THAT IS A COMMERCIAL X breed. ie Plumage white.Legs orange.

*****There are two types of Aylesbury- exhibition and utility. The  pure or exhibition bird has a very deep keel which makes it difficult for this type to successfully mate naturally. The commercial type is often called an Aylesbury is able to mate naturally, especially if the birds are protected against obesity by being allowed to be active. and is in effect an Aylesbury /Pekin crossbreed with occasional nasty temperaments as found in 'meat' breeds destined for a short life.. can be nasty to other ducks

Breeding Tip   Kept as pairs or alternatively trios ..depending upon the drakes energy levels.They are one of the larger duck breeds and as such must have good access to water for mating on as they are too heavy and ungainly to mate successfully on land. For good fertility they need a rich and varied diet with plenty of greens as they are not as hardy as the other large breed possibly through a narrower gene pool due to their popularity as an exhibition bird.****  Young birds drop in depth with age so watch from the middle aged sag in very elderly birds as they spend considerable time swimming . . ie they need water deep , clean and little mud

Genetic profile/ Gene :White bill and skin/ symbol Y   
Characteristic of the Aylesbury. Causes skin and bill to and skin be pink or white.. ie this is what defines the correct pure Ayleabury from the hybrid commonly known as an Aylesbury duck

Rouen Ducks


The Mallard duck is the ancestor of almost all domestic breeds of ducks and clearly that of the Rouen. Though marked with the same color pattern as Mallards, with drakes having green heads, white collars, claret breast and a blue patch on the wing, Rouens are even brighter in color and larger in size than Mallards. The Rouen was developed in France and was admitted to the American Standard in 1874. It is still considered the superior meat bird in Europe, where much more duck is consumed than in America. In the U.S., Rouens are raised primarily for the restaurant market. These ducks are excellent foragers, calm in disposition and unlikely to fly. Drakes mature at about 8 pounds and ducks at about 7 pounds. Laying rate varies; some strains average 100 eggs per year and other over 150



Rouen Clair  Ducks


The Rouen Clair is referred to in early poultry books as the Duclair Duck (Lewis Wright 1880's and others). Again appearing in a variant of the common Mallard colouring bu a useful breed with reasonable laying and brooding abilities.Also known as Le carnard de Rouen clair' in France/Belgium




Cayuga Ducks

eggs showing distinctive colouration


Prior History Removed due to complainant. By the 1890's the cayugas were measured at 19 pound per pair and resembling the Aylesbury in carriage**see engraving below**They carry the blood of the original wild black duck, the Black East Indies and probably some Rouen blood introduced for the purpose of larger size. The Cayuga should be bred to the meat type. Desired weights are: Adult drake, 8 lbs.; adult duck, 7 lbs.; young duck, 6 lbs. Some Cayugas fail to attain these weights, and specimens of decidedly deficient size should not be bred


Kept as groups or alternatively trios ..depending upon the drakes energy levels. They lay through the year normally starting in the spring and will brood their eggs if left to sit. The eggs are meant to be covered in a black/dark grey film which will wash off though many now lay white eggs


Appearance: Bill, slate/black Legs, orange/black Plumage, black with beetle green gloss. A broad deep long bodied duck. plumage in both sexes is a deep green black with a pronounced sheen. Bill is black legs and webs as dark as possible black for preference.
Needs: Do require water for swimming to stay health, also need it changing regularly as the oil that produces the sheen and gloss will scum the water


Older ducks showing the lack of colour from age...Males NEVER have any white .Females will be white by 8 years old


Names    . . Canard de Cayuga.
Country Of Origin;......... USA

Carriage; A broad deep long bodied duck.
Purpose;..........Meat Production: Egg Production:....Seasonal layer,

Egg Colour .......................black outer ..white shell under sooty pigment large
Egg Numbers............80 /100 . . Seasonal layer,

Breed Defects. . . . .Orange legs; white in male feathers
Broodiness:... . accepatble often a private mother hiding the eggs well . . Incubation: 28 days Maturity:

Breed Hints....  Kept as trio or pair .. will go broody and hatch
Weights; 6 to 9 pounds / drake 3,0 - 3,5 kg duck 2,7 - 3,1 kg

Breed Tip****Females have white feathering as they age .. starting with a few white flecks until by 6yrs the female is often white.NEVER any white on the male.
Flying .  females occasionally fly when young a good back garden all rounder;

Genetic profile;-Gene : Extended black/ symbol E/ Dominant.
 Causes solid black pigment to be laid down in all areas except those influenced by genes for white spotting. Typical of the Black Orpington(USA) Black Cayuga and Black East Indian. Evidence exists suggesting that extended black influences eggshell colour giving it a grey tint when crossed or 'improved' this is lost first

The following article appeared in our Yearbook and is from one of the leading Breeders


The Cayuga duck is making a terrific comeback, both in terms of the numbers being shown, and in the high quality one sees at the shows. During the 1987 Show season, Cayugas were judged Champion or Reserve Champion Duck or Champion Waterfowl, on several occasions, and in at lone case Grand Champion over all (chickens included) This is not a localized phenomenon by one breeder or one judge, but occurred on both East and West coasts, the Midwest and the South, and was accomplished by several breeders. Whether this trend continues or whether the Cayuga is just going through a cycle of popularity remains to be seen. At any rate more good Cayugas are being bred and exhibited now than in quite some time.Much has been written regarding the Cayugas' early history and development which will not be dwelled upon here. Suffice it to say, when the first Pekins were imported into this country, the Cayugas' fate as a commercial duck was doomed as were a number of other breeds as well. Given credit for keeping the breed alive over the last Eighty or so years belongs to the 'stringman', who carried the Cayuga along with their other  breeds to show at the fairs. Research has not turned up one Breeder who bred and exhibited Cayugas exclusively as breeders of Rouen's, Runners, Calls, etc. have done.So why the recent increase in popularity? The first attraction has to be one Cayugas beauty One has to look very hard to find another domesticated fowl with a more brilliant green sheen on black plumage. Seeing a freshly bathed Cayugas preening itself in full sunlight is a sight any waterfowl fancier will not soon forget. Also as Cayugas seem to mature rather slowly,keep feeding them well into their second year to obtain maximum size. Breeding for and holding the brilliant green sheen probably causes more problems for breeders than any other trait. A fairly common problem exists in that Cayuga females and especially the most brilliant green ones, tend to moult in white feathers in their body plumage with age. This is not to be confused with white under the Jaw (which should be culled out in young birds). These white body feathers usually appear in females after their first adult moult, and becomes more prevalent in each successive moult until some females appear almost pure white after 5 or 6 years of age. While some females don't get white body feathers until their 3rd or 4th year, these are usually the self same individuals that lacked the maximum sheen to begin with. So the breeder is faced with a problem. In order to show old females he largely must be content with birds with a little less lustre effect on the sheen of his young birds. One may breed these females to brilliant green drakes with good results although if this practice is continued year after year, I believe the breeder will notice an overall dulling effect on the sheen of young birds . On the other hand if extremely brilliant green birds are bred together year in and year out the white ageing in females will continue until the young females in their first fall may start to show white body feathers. So while we have a situation that requires the breeders constant attention and judgment it is really no worse that other color breeding problems in other breeds. By the way Cayuga males rarely if ever turn - white with age. Some may develop white bibs or white under jaw when they first feather in and these males should be culled. From then on Cayuga drakes stay black their entire life. Bill coloring is rather easily bred for; the standard calling for pure black in both sexes. A small amount of slate or green at the tip of the bill of an otherwise good bird is nothing to worry about. Yellow in the bill however should not be tolerated in the show or breed pen The standard calls for black legs and feet and this also is not a problem once fixed in a blood line. Males may show some reddish orange cast to their legs as they age and this more or less is normal but should be guarded against in young birds. Conditioning Cayugas for exhibition is not a problem if kept in fairly clean pens or runs, with clean bathing water, they really condition themselves. All that remains to wipe any mud off bills or feet before the show. Some exhibitors wipe or spray their Cayugas with various mixtures designed to enhance the Sheen or lustre on to the plumage; This must be done carefully and with restraint as dust from the showroom may adhere to an oily coating and these dust particles actually might dull an otherwise naturally bright Cayuga Also a word regarding proper cooping and lighting in the show room is in order here. To show at its best advantage the Cayuga should not be cooped on the bottom deck or in a dark corner of the room with poor light. In years past, when Cayugas were shown in smaller numbers, they were often relegated to the back corner of the show along side the AOV ducks and I'm sure many excellent birds were overlooked by judges due to this practice Even with today's larger classes of Cayuga some shows need to be made aware of this problem and steps taken to correct it. If given a fair opportunity, today's well bred and conditioned Cayugas can hold their own with any breed. Cayugas are also extremely hardy, taking the most severe Northern Winters in their stride. Thelr black plumage being an advantage when wintered outside with minimum shelter. Warmth from the sun being drawn to their bodies making them more comfortable and therefore requiring less feed than white or light plumaged breeds which tend to reflect solar heat.

Remember this breed was developed in upstate N.B. where severe winters are encountered and on early 1800's style farms which more or less let the ducks fend for themselves around the barnyard. In summer their plumage is a disadvantage without shade as they do seem to suffer more on the hottest days then other breeds without it. Fertility is rarely a problem in Cayugas, and a breeder may safely mate 5-6 females with one male. What is more, Cayugas males remain fertile for many years, if, well cared for with little noticeable drop in fertility. We have used 6 and 7 year old drake with good results. one breeder reports using one male with up to a dozen females and getting nearly 100% fertility and while I wouldn't recommend such a mating I don't doubt its possibilities. Cayuga females are excellent layers, some years being the first duck to lay in the spring, and many times laying in the fall of their 'pullet' year if on good feed. What's more if left to set on their own eggs, I rate them right behind Muscovies and Mallards as Mothers.For the last several years, when we have been crowded for incubator room we here set goose eggs under our Cayuga hens that go broody and they always have hatched goslings for us. Cayugas also make good eating. If one waits until late fall or early winter to dress them they will pick just as clean as a white bird, their skin being a nice rich yellow. Their flavor is wonderful! In breeding Cayugas' type is not usually much of a problem as they breed quite true when bred to the standard with few culls for type. Size and Color will prove to be the breeders greatest challenges.    This breed was once Plagued On undersize, probably the results of some Cayugas being compared with Black East Indies. However in recent years this has largely been corrected I feel all one has to do is keep an eye on the size of his birds and breed from a larger than average bird when one occurs in his flock provided this bird has good type and reasonably good colour opportunity, today's well bred and conditioned Cayugas can hold their own with any breed

Saxony  Ducks


Also known as Le carnard de Saxe in France/Belgium originally made from crossing Pekin; Rouen and Pomeranians first exhibited 1934; standards agreed by 1958

The Saxony duck is almost a designer duck with a muted colouration, weighing about 3-4kg (7-9lb). The drake's head, back, and wing markings are blue-gray. The breast feathers are a rich chestnut-burgundy, the underbody and flanks are cream, and the neck ring white. Legs and feet are orange or reddish-brown and the bill is yellow or orange, often with pale green shading. The females are buff with creamy white facial stripes, neck ring, and underbody. The bill is orange, often with brown shading. The legs and feet are orange to reddish-orange.

"In eastern Germany, Albert Franz of Chemitz began developing a new multipurpose duck in 1930. He used Rouen, German Pekin, and Blue Pomeranian ducks in his breeding program and introduced this new creation at the Saxony Show of 1934." (Holderread 2001, 85) Most Saxony ducks did not survive World War II, so Franz renewed his breeding program after the war. During 1957 Germany recognized this duck as a distinct breed. Saxony ducks made their way to the United States when the Holderread Waterfowl Farm imported them in 1984. They were admitted into the American Poultry Association's American Standard of Perfection in the Fall of 2000. (Holderread 2001, 85-6)








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****All Miniature breeds fly well and are recommended that new stock is either clipped/pinioned/ or in a covered pen until they settle.They are also best as pairs as single pet females often fly in spring to find a mate prefering rough Mallard to being single. ..  .it is illegal to release domestic ducks into the wild they do not get a free life normally it is starvation or gang rape by Mallard males please send to sanctuaries etc instead

Noisy ; males can be aggressive but still cute

Call Ducks



Originally refered to in the early books such as Lewis Wright and others as the Decoy changing about the 1870's to the name Call.. Colours known then were the dark (Mallard) and the White.His comments upon them was that "The flesh is good:but there is too little to repay breeding them for the table, and their only proper place is on the lake


A short compact and cobby bird with a round face and short bill...as a rule it should be shorter than the last digit of an adult thumb...maximum length 1 1/4 inches / 3.1 cm. Due to the large number of colours for further information about colours see the page for the Call duck club at http://www.thebritishcallduckclub.co.uk.



Also known as Le canard Mignon in France and Belgium. Mignon in Italy

        Country Of Origin

Great Britain. known since early Victorian times mentioned in Tegetemeir


short compact and cobby bird


Eggs..Meat(soup or spatchock!)...Broody...a good utility duck

Egg Colour.....................white
Egg Numbers .............They lay one clutch per year normally.......thus will not sit and brood if the eggs are removed 10+ per yearr

Breed Defects. .  . . . .bill length then according to colour
Breed Hints....  Kept as trio or pair .. will go broody and hatch
Breed Tip   ***Kept as pairs or alternatively trios . Need water swims for pleaseure** check good fox proofing as the female can be heard for quite a distance


Excellent fliers can thus be pinioned...the ducklings have to be done as babies..consult the vet for further information about this. If not clip the wings or net new birds to curtail their homing instincts if not  be prepared with a landing net and set of expletives


Colours and Calls

These are the six factors that cover the colours of Calls:-

1.Mallard Factor

 Wild Pattern/Dusky Mallard./Restricted Mallard. The Mallard Factor allows full expression of the "Wild Type" pattern.It is dominant to the dusky factor and recessive to the restricted factor. Each factor produces its own pattern in ducklings and in adult birds.
 Mallard: Ducklings: Olive-black with four yellow spots on the back,the head is yellow with two ocular(eye) stripes from the base of the bill to the dorsal area.
Adults: The male bears full expression of the wild type.The female is rich buff brown with a dark line running from the base of the bill through the eye and a dark patch on the crown that runs down the neck.Each feather is distinctly pencilled with black or very dark brown

 Dusky Mallard: Ducklings:The back is olive -black shading off to olive - grey on the under side, with an absence of ocular stripes and dorsal spots.
 Adults:Male - There is usually an absence of the neck ring and the claret breast is either missing or very small,
 Female- She is very dark and lacks eye stripes and cap.

2.Restricted Mallard

Ducklings;- Dark Pigment on the back is confined to patches on the head and tail.The remainder is dull yellow with dark under colour.
Adults:In both sexes the difference is on the wing front and bow. The restricted bird always shows areas of white on the dorsal surface.This is due to the white lacing or tipping rather than completely white feathers.The feathers may have a silvery cast o them.The females wing bow appears paler than in the wild type Mallard or Dusky.
Dark Phase Light Phase Harlequin Phase
Each of these genes affect the mallard colour.The dominant factor is dark phase; it allows full expression of any one of the three mallard factors which happen to be present.
Light Phase: It lightens the colour of the adult plumage in the female and intensifies the colour of the male.
Ducklings: At 19 to 20 days will have a white spot under the chin.The light phase ducklings never have more than one unbroken stripe running through the eye. Dark phase usually have two.When theses two phases are with dusky mallard it is impossible to tell at day old.
Adults: The light phase is brought about by the reduction of the size of the dark portion of each feather . It increases the area of claret on the breast and extends it along the sides over the shoulders.A minor modification in the males causes the black on the back to reduce to dark grey.
Light Phase/Dusky Mallard: will produce some claret in the breast region of the males.A lighter tone occurs in the light phase dusky female.
Harlequin Phase; Ducklings; Hunter in 1939 described a variation from the wild pattern. The mutation appeared in a flock of wild mallards that had been domesticated and inbred for about twenty four years. The ducklings were yellow with smoky coloured down on their heads and tails.
Adults; The ducks were almost entirely white on the breast. They had greyish heads and light coloured wings and tails. The black markings of the male and the wing specular of both sexes were quite normal

3.Mallard Dilution to Blue

Blue Fawn;Male; Dark seal blue head ,neck and speculum, with claret breast. Female : Grey blue and rich fawn, blue speculum, fawn laced feathers.

Pastel; Dilution of the Blue Fawn; Male; Silver blue head, neck and specular, claret breast with a shaded silver blue body

Female; Shading from golden fawn to silver blue.Rich Fawn eye streak and cap Golden fawn chest and blue speculum.

Aztec Blue; Wild pattern on lavender or silver;Male; Dark silver head and neck and speculum.Claret Breast shaded silver body . Female; Soft silver blue (No Fawn) darker speculum, shaded silver body.

4.Wild Mallard ...Dilution to Browns

Nutmeg; This is the Brighter form of the Khaki in the Wild pattern. Male; Dark Brown Head, neck and Iridescent brown specular.Claret breast, soft brown vermiculation on the flank.Female; The colour is similar to the khaki but will be lighter, brighter with each feather distinctly pencilled with a brilliant specular.
Ginger ; When you dilute nutmeg it becomes the buff colour in the wild pattern.Male; Soft brown head with matching speculum, white wing bras,rich claret breast on soft buff body. Female ; Golden buff, slight eye stripe, very light wing bows and primaries, speculum white bars with soft tan

5.Mallard Dusty Factor; Self Colours; Even Tones

Black ; flat even tone of black Blue ; dark without rust tones
Silver ; Soft blue silver
Chocolate ; Rich even tones of chocolate
Khaki ; Soft subtle pencilling without much speculum
Buff ;Tan head no speculum
Cocoa or Dunn ; Light form of chocolate may come from blue cross
Bibbed ; This is controlled by a completely dominant gene. It could appear on any of the self colours.
Runner Pattern ; The cap is separated from the cheek markings by an extension of the neck white which covers the entire neck . The breast white starts in front of the thigh and passes between the legs to beyond the vent. A third area of white is present on the wings covering the primaries, secondaries and lower part of the wing bow. This pattern can be bred on self colours and wild mallard colours.
For example;- Fawn & White ............. self colour
Pencilled ........... Dusky Mallard
Pied Drake/Duck Call & other Bantam ducks
Blue Silver Pied drake....Dark silver Pied duck Call
Hooded or Magpie Pattern ; This is most likely a modified Runner Pattern and could be bred on any solid or wild colour

6. Light Phase on Restricted Mallard or Wild Mallard

(eg Trout Runner Colouration)

Aleutian ; Grey Patterns with a reduction of the size of the dark portion of each feather.

Cinnamon ; Grey Pattern with a reduction of the size of the dark portion of each feather **This group could come in any of the colours**

Harlequin Phase ; Spot ; These look like the mallards Hunter described in the mutation from wild mallards (Hunter 1939). The female is almost entirely white, greyish head, light coloured wing and tail, normal speculum. Males are the lightest in the harlequin group with normal markings.

Snowy ; Red - buff head, some red on the chest and shoulders, black and red spotting on the back with a violet speculum.Males darker and more red than the spot male.

Blue Snowy ; Blue replaces the black in the male and female.

Chocolate Snowy; Chocolate replaces red on the male and female. Minor modifications in the harlequin restricts the colour under the chin around the neck down the breast and ventral areas of the female. The male will have white eye streaks in the eclipse plumage.

Appleyard ; The wild mallard pattern

Butterscotch ; Female ; Rich golden red with eye streaks over white.Male ; Rich blue with claret extending over the shoulders, down the flank and low on the breast region.

Yellow Bellies ; This is the same pattern as the butterscotch female, wild colour on the back and head,The eye streaks and the entire underside is yellow. Male ; wild pattern with yellow belly

photo's rupert-the-fish



Black East Indies Ducks



The breed has been written about since the first standards in 1865 but has been known by a variety of names such as "Buenos Aries Duck'" Labrador' and "Black Brazilian".Tegetmeir in the 1860's talks of the (London) Zoological Society recieving a pair from Beunos Ayres  but qualifies it saying thta the ship came from that port but stopped at many others. They were then not known as having been in Labrador ( p 355 Tegetmeir) .They are mentioned in Lewis Wright in the 1890's as a beautiful bird selected for no white or brown feathering and being around the 4 to 5 pound weight....now they have been bred down to 11/2 to 2 pounds


Kept as pairs or alternatively trios ..depending upon the drakes energy levels. They lay one possibly two clutches per year.......thus will not sit and brood if the eggs are removed. Excellent fliers can thus be wing clipped or pinioned ..consult the vet for further information about pinnioning as not used unless needed


Black Bill, Eyes, legs as black as possible.Plumage glossy with a beetle green sheen. Also available in Blue which can be 'mucky' with brownish tinges

Black East Indian Ducks

 Names Le carnard Labrador in France/Belgium

 Country Of Origin;......... Probably the Americas Mentioned in all the 1870's books

 Carriage;  . .Similar to the Campbell ducks angled front
 Purpose;..........Eggs../ exhibition / cuteness,slug hoovers

Egg Colour.............. any colour from white to gey/white

 Egg Numbers  .............10 /20

 Breed Defects. . . . . .white in males feathers.White feathers in the male can appear on the chest with age if a number of males fight, if this is not the cause DO NOT breed from them.
Breed Defects. .. . . odd coloured bill, pale legs , orange legs

 Breed Hints..... . Kept as trio or pair .. will go broody and hatch
 Weights;4 to 5 pounds

Breed Tip  ***As in the Cayuga and solid colour Runners the females will often fade and get white feathers with age...they will still breed true.

 Flying .  . . .can fly well if startled. If collecting new birds ask for them wing clipped first

Genetic profile/  Gene : Extended black/   symbol E/    Dominant.

 Causes solid black pigment to be laid down in all areas except those influenced by genes for white spotting. Typical of the Black Orpington, Black Cayuga and Black East Indian. Evidence exists suggesting that extended black influences eggshell color giving it a grey tint


 showing aged feathers in the female

Miniature Appleyard Ducks



The Silver Appleyard was developed in Britain during the 1930s and '40s by Reginald Appleyard, a well known writer and breeder of domestic waterfowl. He was trying to produce "The Ideal Duck" for both egg; meat and exhibition purposes

The drakes are quick to mature and make fine table fowl. The 7-8 pound duck is an good layer of about 100/180 0large white eggs. The duck is silvery-white with a heavy flecking of fawn on her back. The 8-9 pound drake has a beetle green head and neck and his throat is white with fawn markings. Add to this his silver-white neck ring, breast, wing coverts, and tail tip and you have a very handsome bird. Beak should be yellow, legs and feet orange, and eyes dark hazel.

This breed also appears in miniature, as the Bantam Appleyard. as the Silver Call and as the Miniature


Male:Head /neck black with a green sheen .Breast/shoulders red brown with white lacing.Bill yellow /green. Speculum(shiny feathers on wings) violet green

Female:Cream and pale fawn with brown streaks.Speculum(shiny feathers on wings) violet green. Bill yellow to grey green usually marked as in photograph


Kept as pairs or alternatively trios ..depending upon the drakes energy levels. They lay one possibly two clutches per year.......thus will not sit and brood if the eggs are removed. Excellent fliers as are all bantam ducks clip or net new stock until familiar with the territory

  SILVER APPLEYARD;MINIATURE Ducks;;...........breeders

Miniature Crested Ducks



Crested ducks are basically an aberration appearing in any colour and as such hava mixed history. The crest is essentially a mutation associated with skull deformities and known for hundreds of years. There are those who claim that crested ducks first appeared in Britain, which is unlikely but they were certainly first Shown here and appear in many early poultry books . Genetic mutations appear occasionally all over the world. Selective breeding would then have increased the numbers of birds with the same characteristic. 17th century Dutch paintings show crested ducks on wildfowl such as Melchior d'Hondecoeter (1636 -1695) and Marmaduke Craddock (1660 - 1717) from Somerset in the Uk showed them

The crest is formed from a mass of fatty tissue that emerges through a gap in the cranium.( skull) From this, feathers grow. Crests vary from centrally placed, full crests, rather like powder puffs, to knobbly protuberances with just a few feathers; or the occasional earring when it has 'slipped'. The crested gene can be bred into any breed except Muscovy as one parent crested will breed a percentage of crested offspring .All crested seldom breed successfully but if they do produce better stock. If using a crested female with a large crest watch as the drake uses this as to ' assist ' mating and she can get injured easily. The tuft of feathers on the head, which occasionally appears, having been recognized as a point of attraction, selected and bred for of the off spring many will be plain headed but carry the crested gene so a crested drake will turn any breed crested . . they also have the energy for this so watch out

The crest gene is an incompletely dominant one. ie, if an chick receives a double dose of the gene &endash; one from each parent (homozygous) it will die in the shell. If only one of the parents passes it on (heterozygous) the resulting hatches will be :- 25% will not hatch, 25% will not have crests and 50% will have crests. If a crested heterozygous bird is crossed with an un-crested one, the resulting hatch should be 50% crested and 50% plain. So, as you can see, breeding Crested ducks is challenging and not recommended for beginners; also if the crest is so large as to intefere with normal eating and mating etc it would need to be 'trimmed' to allow the duck a normal life

 The Lethal Crested Gene

This gene is a dominant gene with a lethal variant. If C=crested and p=plain non-crested, it works like this:

Crested Drake =C p (this means that a crested drake in a pen can turn any breed crested)

Crested Duck = C CC Cp

their offspring will be:- pp is a non-crested duckling,....Cp is a crested duckling,..CC (theoretically crested) dies in the shell due to skull deformities

Miniature Crested 

Names Also known as Le canard Huppe' in France/Belgium. Ciuffate in Italy


Country Of Origin;......... Great Britain


Purpose;..........Eggs../ Exhibition

Egg Colour................... eggs white


Egg Numbers.............100

Breed Defects. .. . . .Any colour is permitted. Defects are thus split crests or deformity rather than colour breed points . As with many 'orange billed' birds they discolour with age particularly females


Incubation:. . . . . . .28 days

Breed Hints....****.Not a beginners breed

  Weights; 4 to 6 pounds/ drake is 3.2kg duck is 2.7kg.


Breed Tip Kept as pair or trio


Silver Bantam Ducks

needs pics

The Large Silver Appleyard Duck was developed in Britain during the 1930s and '40s by Reginald Appleyard, a well known writer and breeder of domestic waterfowl. He was trying to produce "The Ideal Duck" for both egg; meat and exhibition purposes

The large drakes are quick to mature and make fine table fowl. The 7-8 pound duck is an good layer of about 100/180  large white eggs. The duck is silvery-white with a heavy flecking of fawn on her back. The 8-9 pound drake has a beetle green head and neck and his throat is white with fawn markings. Add to this his silver-white neck ring, breast, wing coverts, and tail tip and you have a very handsome bird. Beak should be yellow, legs and feet orange, and eyes dark hazel.

This breed also appears as a Miniature, also as the Bantam Appleyard./Silver bantam






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Pekin duck, or Long Island duck (Anas platyrhynchos domestica), is a breed of domesticated duck used primarily for egg and meat production. It was bred from the Mallard in China


Nice Pekin Drake

Pekins, female



    This breed was imported from Pekin into both England and the United States, in the year 1873, and has most marked characteristics. One of these is the strong yellow blood. Both legs and bill are deep orange colour, and the plumage a kind of ferret-white, with a strong canary tinge, which becomes stronger still in the underfeather. The legs are set on rather far behind, which gives an upright or Penguin carriage. Another feature is the boat-shape of the long and deep keel, which, with a fulness of rump and peculiar turn-up at the tail, irresistibly suggests the shape of an Indian birch canoe. Yet another peculiarity lies in the fact that the duck is, as a rule (though there are exceptions), a non-sitter and prolific layer. At one time birds were shown with white plumage and pale bills, but which, no doubt, were crossed with Aylesbury; and the canary tinge is now fully recognized

    This is a most useful duck, but does not seem to be bred to nearly as high a standard in England as in America, where it is the breed universally used now by the duck-farmers. In England a large-looking bird often weighs no more than 8 lb., though large specimens are exhibited of greater weight, and some breeders average the eggs at 8o per annum, others less. On the American duck-farms birds of l 1 lb. and more are quite common, in adults, and the average in eggs from many hundred ducks is reported from three of the largest farms as 135, 140 and 145 per duck. But these are the results of breeding and selecting the bird, on a large scale, as the Aylesbury is bred with us

    The Pekin grows fast and early, and in America is expected to weigh 5 lb. at eight weeks. It is a little wild or free in habit, and does not fatten well in small pens; hence the larger American yards or pens mentioned in the above remarks. The flesh is particularly free from grossness. We are inclined to believe that the greater weight and growth in America as compared with England, is partly owing to the recognition of its freer habits; but still more largely to the use of green food and bran along with Indian meal, which probably keeps the digestive organs in more active exercise


     Pekin ducks to have a character all of their own. For a heavy duck they are quite active and very gregarious. That's not to say they are as busy as a Runner or a Magpie but mine are continually on the move searching in long grass and dabbling in the mud.....oh! how they like mud ; just like any other duck.

    Unfortunately the feather type on Pekins is different from most other ducks as it is so soft and fluffy and not so tight. This often results in them losing feather quality quickly in bad / muddy weather and clean fresh bedding is a must. Feather quality can be improved by good feeding during the moult.....I like to feed extra vitamins ( not extra protein) and plenty of grass meal.

    Breeding and Fertility .......One drake can take up to five ducks and breeders worry about fertility if it drops below 75%. Ducklings grow on well without too many problems except from the occasional sticky eye and lameness; normally both due to too hot and dry summers.......both are easily rectified.

    Selection of Stock, ......like any other self coloured bird is not easy for the inexperienced eye. Until 8 /10 weeks I don't even try. First , discard any bird with black spots on their bill . Next too long a bill.... a definite fault to avoid as is little rise from the base of the bill to the top of the head. Select a bird with a domed head and short stout head... much like a call duck. The next round of selection is not very easy and takes time. Next to go are the tall slim types, any with keels, rear end too high off the ground and those with too low a carriage. Also, prefer a duck with a strong tick in their tail and no prominent shoulder.Birds which meet these criteria, keep over winter, and don't breed from or select breeding stock until after they have finished moulting at about 18 months.

    Despite being very demanding in selection  normally keep between 15 / 40 adult birds just because of their appeal. White ducks are eye caching especially Pekins with their upright penguin stance and wobbly walk . Their jaunty tail, high set sparkling eyes, and chatty nature and almost regal appearance.




Pékin Américain in France. Pechino Tedesca in Italy. The similar Pechino Americana is our Commercial X Aylesbury. Also known as "Long Island duckling" in reference to the first 9 ducks imported to Long Island in 1873

Country Of Origin

China as in other vertically designed waterfowl



Eggs..Meat....a good utility duck. These ducks are ready for butchering at 6 to 8 weeks of age and produce more meat that is desirable for eating than other breeds of duck. Its meat is very tender and mild and well-suited for many menu options. 174 grams (about 6 ounces) of Pekin duck leg meat :-* Calories: 310g * Total fat: 10g * Cholesterol: 183mg * Carbohydrates: 0 * Protein: 51mg

Egg Colour 

The eggs weigh 70g and are white


Egg Numbers   .............80 /100 .. .the American Commercial Pekin will lay an average of 200 eggs per year


Weights; 9 to 12 pounds

Breed Tip

  ****Open feathered so more likely to get mites/ticks/fly strike...watch in extreme humid heat for signs of distress. If found treat with sheep product such as Spot-on/frontline applied with a cotton wool bud to the base of the skull on the shoulders as all OP's are dodgy. Weight can produce foot problems from bumble foot to frostbite


  .like a brick . . Rarely flies a good back garden all rounder; A waddler rather than a walker




Julie Christopher, Wales   07790 065 553

Tom Davis, Essex             07969 246 455

Ryan Liggett, Co. Armagh 02838 840 978

German style

Colin Murton, Hampshire   01428 751 408

Guy Richardson, Armagh  02838 841 134

Howard Walmsley, Lancashire   01235 790 425


Pekin duck embryos take around 28 days to develop in the egg at 99.5°F (37.5°C) and 55-75% humidity. A heartbeat can usually be seen by the third day of incubation when candling the egg


The eggs must be regularly turned during incubation. This occurs in nature when the female duck shifts her position while sitting on the eggs. For artificial incubation, machines are available which will constantly turn the eggs.

When being artificially incubated, the eggs are moved to a "hatcher" three days before they are due to hatch. This has a slightly lower temperature and higher humidity which increases the survivability of the hatchlings while their protective down develops.

Compared with other birds, duck eggs are relatively easy to hatch as they are very forgiving of variations in temperature and humidity.

 Hatchlings and young ducklings

A newly hatched Pekin duck

Pekin ducklings from Europe

Pekin hatchlings have bright yellow plumage with an orange bill, shanks, and feet.

Hatchlings should not be given free access to swimming water unless they have been hatched naturally by other ducks. The feathers of a young duckling are not sufficiently developed to properly protect them for extended periods in the water and they do not produce enough preen oil to waterproof this plumage. In the wild, a mother duck will monitor the time her ducklings spend in the water as well as supplying additional preen oil to supplement what is produced by the hatchlings.


It can be difficult to determine the sex of the young ducklings due to the lack of external genitalia or other differences. Venting is one common method. This entails gently squeezing the duckling to cause feces to be expelled, which forces the cloaca to open slightly, permitting the sexer to view the sexual organs. However, these are almost undifferentiated in hatchlings.

As a male duck matures it acquires a curled tail feather called a drake feather, and their vocalisations become much weaker. Conversely, the female develops a loud quack. Venting is also easier when the ducks' genitals are fully mature but is not necessary because of the readily apparent external differences between males and females.

A female may be missing feathers on the back of her neck. This is due to the male grabbing and holding the back of the female's neck during mating.


Fully mature adult Pekin ducks weigh between 8 and 11 pounds (3.6 and 5 kilograms) in captivity. Their average lifespan (if not eaten at an early age) is about 9 to 12 years. Their external feathers are white sometimes with a yellowish tinge. This is more obvious with ducks that have been reared indoors and not exposed to sunlight. The ducks have a more upright stance than dabbling ducks, and possess an upturned rump. The eyes of this duck appear to be black when seen far away, but up-close is grayish-blue colored iris.

An adult Pekin will lay an average of 200 eggs per year if it does not try to, or is prevented from, hatching them. They will normally only lay one egg on any given day. They will lay their eggs in what they consider to be a safe place and will often lay where another duck has already laid (egg dumping). Ducks can be tricked into laying eggs where desired by placing a golf ball or similar object in a place where they might normally lay.

Pekin ducks are less "broody" than other ducks which means they will incubate eggs less frequently and they are more likely to abandon their nest before their eggs hatch. Hens can be used to sit on the duck eggs, or they can be incubated artificially.

Pekin ducks, for the most part, are too heavy to get airborne. While some individual ducks may be lighter and capable of short bursts of vertical flight, clipping their flight feathers (pinioning) is generally unnecessary. They are gregarious and will usually group together with other ducks.

As with most waterfowl, the Pekin duck has feet perfectly adapted for paddling through water but is also capable of walking while foraging and exploring as well. If keeping ducks, be sure to remove items from their environment which may cause tripping or stumbling, and house them on natural surfaces, such as grass, hardpack, straw, or sand which is gentler on the bones and ligaments, will not abraid the sensitive surface of the webbed feet, and is easy to keep clean. Ducks are happiest when they have free access to clean, safe water in which to swim and mate.



As precocial birds, Pekin ducks make ideal companion animals for a variety of reasons. As a duck imprints on a human, the bond of trust that develops rivals that of humans and dogs, for example, and can provide enduring companionship if they are not surrounded by other ducks. Pekin ducks are very intelligent, and are capable of life-long strong and loyal bonds with humans, and often then prefer human company over the company of other ducks

Ducks can be both outdoor and indoor companion animals, with numerous pet accessories available to help keep them comfortable and your home clean. They are successful "indoor" pets because they are adaptable to house life (be sure to provide them with toys and stimulation). When taken on supervised outings in nature, if properly imprinted, the duck will stay with the human "flock" member(s) and not wander away. If a predator or danger approaches, the duck will seek safety and remain with their human flock member rather than flee and become lost and separated away from the human flock member. They are excellent sentinels, like geese, and will warn the household or other animals in the yard of approaching strangers or danger.


Force-feeding is also practiced in China, where Pekin Duck is force-fed for 15–20 days to gain weight as part of the process to create the traditional Beijing dish Peking Duck.




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A Black Muscovy drake

The Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck which is native to Mexico and Central and South America. A small wild population reaches into the United States in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. There also are feral breeding populations in North America in and around public parks in nearly every state of the USA and in the Canadian provinces; feral populations also exist in Europe. Although the Muscovy Duck is a tropical bird, it adapts to icy and snowy conditions down to –12°C (10°F) and below without ill effects


The Muscovies original name was "Musco Duck", because it is known as the "Mosquito Duck", for eating Mosquitoes. The Russain Muscovites was one of the first to import them. One of the main reasons they were brought here several hundred years ago, is to help keep down the mosquito and bug population, and that they do, and do it well. There are billions of insects on a acre of land, and the muscovy ducks are worth their weight in gold at eating Mosquitoes and insects. They eat the mosquito larva right in the water, and they nip in the air and eat the ones flying around. They love roaches and eat them like they are candy, they eat flies, and maggots and do a lot to keep down the fly population. They even eat those rolly pollies that you find under rocks and all around the outside of your house. They have a bad taste, and most birds won't even eat them, the Muscovies are one of the few things that will eat them.  But what even makes them more valuable is they love spiders, and they eat even the poisonous ones, the Black Widow, and the deadly brown spider that is worse than the Black Widow. It is quite common in Florida. They are in our garages, around our house,(some are right in our homes) under our picnic tables, all around us, and the Muscovy Ducks have saved many peoples lives from spider bites and people don't even know it. They should have these ducks in all parks for these reasons. They go under the bridges and picnic tables where kids play, and reach up in the corners and crevices and eat the spiders, along with other insects, making them more valuable than people will ever know.

Muscovies are the only domestic ducks that are not derived from Mallard stock. They are a South American species. The original (wild type) coloration is black and white, but domestication has produced many more colors, including white, black, chocolate, and blue. The males are large, weighing up to twelve pounds, with the smaller females reaching only seven. Their feet have strong sharp claws and are built to grasp, so that they can perch on branches. Some people consider them ugly because of the large red warty caruncles above the beak and around the eyes. They are, however, very personable and interesting birds, and quite intelligent. Unlike most domestic waterfowl, Muscovies will often fly up and roost. They fly fairly well, especially the smaller females, but are known more for flying around than flying away!

The meat of the Muscovy is unlike that of the other domestic ducks. It is not greasy and is much more like veal than like poultry. In Taiwan and Europe they often use the Mule Duck, a hybrid of the Muscovy with Mallard-derivatives, as a meat bird

By the age of three months or so, the males are nearly twice as large as the females

white Muscovy drake from Belgium

Scientific classification

 Kingdom: Animalia

 Phylum: Chordata

 Class: Aves

Subclass: Neornithes

Infraclass: Neognathae

 Superorder: Galloanserae

 Order: Anseriformes

 Family: Anatidae

 Genus: Cairina

Species: C. moschata

Binomial name Cairina moschata

Many farms use the muscovies to help control the bugs, flies, mosquitos, and weeds on their farm. Muscovy Ducks also come in handy on farms because they go around and eat all the excess food laying around that can draw rats. They also come in handy so the farmer can give them the left over food of the chickens or other fowl.  The Muscovies even help keep down the rats because of eating the left over food, then there is none to draw the rats in the night to eat it. The Muscovies have it all gone by the time night falls. They also come in handy because they eat the roaches and other bugs all over the place.
Many people do not know it, but, Florida is crawling with rats. Rats are all over Florida, even in the rich areas. There are many different types here also, hugh ones, burrowing ones, regular ones, etc. The Muscovies help very much to keep them down


 Muscovy ducks are unique because of their bright red crest around their eyes and above the beak. They do not swim much because their oil glands are under developed compared to most ducks. Muscovy hens can set three times a year, and the egg clutches can vary from 8 to 21 eggs. The egg are incubated for 35 days

All Muscovy Ducks have long claws on their feet and a wide flat tail. The drake (male) is about 86 cm long and weighs 4.6-6.8 kg (10-15 lb), while the hen (female) is much smaller, at 64 cm in length and 2.7-3.6 kg (6-8 lb) in weight; domesticated males often weigh up to 8 kg (17 lb), and domesticated females up to 5 kg (10 lb). One male of an Australian breed weighed about 10 kg (20 pounds

The wild Muscovy Duck is blackish, with large white wing patches. Domesticated birds may look similar; most are dark brown or black mixed with white, particularly on the head. Other colors such as lavender or all-white are also seen. Both sexes have a nude black-and-red or all-red face; the drake also has pronounced caruncles at the base of the bill and a low erectile crest of feathers

C. moschata ducklings are mostly yellow with buff-brown markings on the tail and wings. Some domesticated ducklings have a dark head and blue eyes, others a light brown crown and dark markings on their nape. They are agile and speedy precocial birds

The drake has a low breathy call, and the hen a quiet trilling coo

The karyotype of the Muscovy Duck is 2n=80, consisting of three pairs of macrochromosomes, 36 pairs of microchromosomes, and a pair of sex chromosomes. The two largest macrochromosome pairs are submetacentric, while all other chromosomes are acrocentric or (for the smallest microchromosomes) probably telocentric. The submetacentric chromosomes and the Z (female) chromosome show rather little constitutive heterochromatin (C bands), while the W chromosomes are at least two-thirds heterochromatin

Male Muscovy Ducks have spiralled penises which can become erect to 20 cm in one third of a second. Females have cloacas that spiral in the opposite direction to try and limit forced copulation by males

Domestic varieties

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Chocolate
  • Pied (white with any color)
  • White
  • Lavender
  • Bronze
  • Barred
  • Ripple
  • and many more pastel colors but these are very rare.


Head shot of a Muscovy Duck

Head shot of a Muscovy Duck



This species, like the Mallard, does not form stable pairs. They will mate on land or in water (note the submerged female in the image below). Domesticated Muscovy Ducks can breed up to three times each year

The hen lays a clutch of 8-16 white eggs, usually in a tree hole or hollow, which are incubated for 35 days. The sitting hen will leave the nest once a day from 20 minutes to one and a half hours, and will then defecate, drink water, eat and sometimes bathe. Once the eggs begin to hatch it may take 24 hours for all the chicks to break through their shells. When feral chicks are born they usually stay with their mother for about 10–12 weeks. Their bodies cannot produce all the heat they need, especially in temperate regions, so they will stay close to the mother especially at night

Often, the drake will stay in close contact with the brood for several weeks. The male will walk with the young during their normal travels in search for food, providing protection. Anecdotal evidence from East Anglia, UK suggests that, in response to different environmental conditions, other adults assist in protecting chicks and providing warmth at night. It has been suggested that this is in response to local efforts to cull the eggs, which has led to an atypical distribution of males and females as well as young and mature birds

For the first few weeks of their lives, Muscovy duckling feed on grains, corn, grass, insects, and almost anything that moves. Their mother instructs them at an early age how to feed


Mule Duck









Mule Duck

Lean Mule Ducks

The recent introduction of mule ducks by the French breeder Grimaud Freres brings to mind the long history of mule production in Taiwan. Admittedly the familiar White Pekin is the most popular meat duck in the world but interest in leaner ducks should not come as a surprise. Until now the preference of the French for leaner duck meat has been met by the Muscovy which they call Canard de Barbarie. The Taiwanese have preferred to produce lean mule ducks to avoid the problems involved in breeding Muscovies

The mule ducks are the sterile progeny from a cross of two species in which common duck females (Anas platyrynchos) are inseminated by semen from Muscovy drakes (Cairina moschata). In Taiwan the female parent of the mule is the Kaiya, a cross of Pekin drake with the Tsiaya, the Taiwanese egg-laying breed. This produces a market duck with extremely lean meat; a fat content of less than 18% as compared to 30% of more fat content of purebred Pekin ducks

One must admit that the meat of a purebred Muscovy is just as lean as the meat of a Taiwan mule and the Muscovy is actually more meaty. But the mules have two important advantages: first, because there is a disparity in size between the sexes of Muscovies (female Muscovy ducklings are only 60% as large as males at market age). This presents a problem because when the females are heavy enough to market, the males are too large. And second, that duck mother of the mule lays many more eggs than the Muscovy females. (After laying a clutch of eggs muscovies become broody, unless kept in a windowless house with a carefully controlled environment. This technique was developed in France and is, unfortunately, not feasible for warmer countries)

Because of the low egg production of Muscovy females and the slow rate of growth of the female ducklings meat produced by purebred Muscovies is expensive to produce. By contrast, meat produced by the Taiwan mule duck is very competitive in cost because it exploits the best features of each parent. The mother is an egg laying machine which will produce 250 eggs per year under ordinary management and she is never broody. She is particularly well adapted to artificial insemination. Male and female mules inherit the good breast fleshing of their Muscovy father but, more to the point, female mule ducks grow as fast and as large as their brothers. Why? Because they are genetic castrates; the mule female has no functional ovary and thus growth is not inhibited ovarian secretions

Moreover, mule ducklings are easy to raise. They are calm and exceptionally tame. In contrast to the nervous, noisy Pekin, mules are completely silent. Mules swim, an important trait for cooling in hot weather, but do not fly. Mules can be confined by a fence less than half a meter in height.

Mule ducks take about two weeks longer to attain market weight than the Pekin but the extra cost can be partially offset by the use of lower energy feedstuffs. Actually, their slower growth may be an advantage; many Chinese believe that the flesh of older birds is firmer and therefor more tasty. If the shrink in weight in cooking due to the high fat content of Pekins is considered, there is no difference in efficiency between them and mules

Mule ducks have been grown in Taiwan for more than 275 years. Until recently the parents were hand mated to overcome the problem of poor fertility of eggs from natural matings of Muscovy males and common ducks. The farmer stood in the water of the pond (two times each week) and held the duck for the male! Nowadays artificial insemination is used, made possible by the invention of an artificial vagina in Japan about twenty years ago

Mule ducks are popular in other countries of Southeast Asia but they are all produced from preincubated hatching eggs shipped to them from Taiwan. Preincubated? Eggs that hatch mules require 32 days of incubation. Such eggs are set in incubators in Taiwan and incubated for 28 days. They are then candled to remove infertile eggs and eggs with dead embryos and packed in plastic boxes to be shipped by air to dealers in other countries. The dealer puts the eggs on a table and covers them with a blanket -- two days later he has duckling to sell. (Originally the preincubated eggs were shipped by boat. The Taiwanese love to tell of the salutary effects of the sea voyage on hatchability)

The Need for a White-feathered Mule

The French will tolerate black pinfeathers as evidence of the bird being rustic but the Chinese demand a cleanly picked bird. Therefore the plumage of a bird must be white or the pin feathers become more prominent and some residual black pigmentation may appear on the skin. Producing a mule with white plumage presents an interesting problem in the genetics of plumage color. The genes fro white in both species are recessive but they are NOT homologous, i.e., they are not located in the same place on the same chromosome. In this case a mating of two white birds produces colored progeny because the genes for color previously hidden under the recessive white will appear

The Taiwanese have solved this problem in two distinctly different ways: 1. By breeding a recessive white with favorable cryptomeres and 2. by ingeniously exploiting the dominant "white runner" usually seen in Indian Runner ducks

Breeding a Suitable Recessive White

The plumage of the indigenous egg-producing duck of Taiwan is a buff color but the Taiwanese have never felt the need to eliminate mutant colors which appear among them. Thus a pure breeding recessive white variety could be made in a single generation by simply selecting yellow duckling for breeders. But as far as I know the hypostatic color genes of the recessive white bird now in use remain to be determined

When mated to Muscovy males his newly developed recessive white Tsiaya solved the problem of producing mule ducklings with white plumage. But, after the introduction of the large White Pekin ducks to the market it became apparent that a larger white mule duckling was required. The white Tsiaya was first crossed with a White Pekin male to increase the size of the Kaiya, the mother of the mule. Unfortunately the Pekin introduced the genes from colored plumage hidden by his recessive plumage and many of these mule ducklings were colored instead of white

Apparently only one private breeder succeeded in eliminating these hidden genes for color in a recessive white Kaiya. His birds are completely white except for just a hint of buff rustiness on the flight feathers. His method is a trade secret but I suspect this rustiness is due to lack of hidden genes for black and that he may also have utilized the dominant gene for black as described in the following section

Breeding the Pied Runner Tsiaya

This ingenious solution to the problem of eliminating colored feathers in mule ducks was developed by two Taiwanese duck breeders each working independently but with the same genetic material (and with a little luck). They made a new pied variety of Tsiaya from the dominant white ducks which occasionally appear among the buff Tsiaya. These ducks can be readily identified because while mostly white they have some black feathers in the face and head. This pattern is the expression of the incompletely dominant gene for white which is involved in the pattern of the Indian Runner breed

But mule ducklings from the "Runner" Tsiaya were too small so, as in the recessive white variety, white Pekin males were crossed on Runner Tsiaya females to produce the mother of the mule.

The Pekin Grandfather

This is where the Taiwan breeders got lucky. As we have seen, use of a white Pekin introduces genes for color which are normally hidden by recessive white. By chance, the Pekin these breeders used happened to also carry the dominant white runner gene so that, when crossed on pied Tsiaya, the progeny were pied. When these pied females were mated to white Muscovy males black down color in mule ducklings was all but eliminated

These breeders believe that this white Pekin had originally come from Denmark. Even now they plead with me to help find more (and bigger) white Pekins of that strain. I have not found anyone in Denmark who knows of this special white Pekin. My duck breeder friend were just lucky

A Bronze Muscovy drake from Australia

A female Chocolate Pied Muscovy

A Muscovy drake swimming

A Muscovy Duck with her brood

Chocolate Muscovies

Wild Muscovy hen

Lavmus Muscovy

Chocolate Muscovy ducklings










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The Mallard Duck

The head of a Mallard drake

A wild Mallard drake

A wild Mallard hen

Another Mallard drake


The Mallard or wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos), is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical countries. The male birds have a bright green or blue head, while the female's is light brown. The Mallard lives in wetlands, eats water plants, and is gregarious. It is also migratory. The Mallard is the ancestor of all domestic ducks, and can interbreed with other species of genus Anas. However, a potentially terminal side effect of this vast interbreeding capability is gradual genetic dilution, which is causing rarer species of ducks to become at risk for extinction

Although domestic ducks (except for Muscovies) are all descended from Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), most of them have been bred so that their bodies are too heavy and wings too small to support flying. Of the mallard-derived breeds, only Calls and some of the other bantam ducks can fly. Muscovies also can fly well, especially the females. Male Muscovies can lumber up in the air and flap about a bit, but they sure don't remind me of birds

Note that most Mallard-colored drakes, and some of other colors, undergo an Eclipse molt in late summer, after which they are colored like females. They will molt again into male colors later in the year


Scientific classification

 Kingdom:    Animalia

 Phylum:    Chordata

 Class: Aves

 Order: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Subfamily: Anatinae

Genus: Anas

Species: A. platyrhynchos

Binomial name  Anas platyrhynchos



Mallards usually form pairs (in October and November) only until the female lays eggs at the start of nesting season which is around the beginning of spring (early March to late May), at which time she is left by the male who will join up with other males to await the molting period which begins in June. During the brief time before this, however, the males are still sexually potent and some of them will either remain on standby to sire replacement clutches (for female Mallards that have lost or abandoned their previous clutch) or forcibly mate with females of a different species that appear to be isolated or unattached. The nesting period can be very stressful for the female; since she lays more than half her body weight in eggs and requires a lot of rest and a feeding/loafing area that is safe from predators. When seeking out a suitable nesting site, the female's preferences are on areas that are well concealed, are inaccessible to ground predators, and/or have few to no predators living nearby. This unfortunately includes urban areas that have roof gardens, enclosed courtyards, and flower boxes on window ledges/balconies more than one story up which prevents the ducklings from leaving safely or at all without human intervention. The clutch is 8–13 eggs, which are incubated for 27–28 days to hatching with 50–60 days to fledgling. The ducklings are percocial and fully capable of swimming as soon as they hatch. When ducklings mature into flight-capable juveniles, they will learn about and remember their traditional migratory routes (unless they are born and raised in captivity). After this, they will either continue staying with the mother (until the breeding season arrives) or finally set off on their own to seek out new sources of food and water, both natural and artificial. When they pair off with mating partners, often one or several drakes will end up "left out". This group will sometimes target an isolated female duck, even when she's of a different species, and proceed to chase and peck at her until she weakens, at which point each male will take turns copulating with the female. Lebret (1961) calls this behaviour ‘Attempted Rape Flight’ and Cramp & Simmons (1977) speak of ‘rape-intent flights’. Male Mallards will also occasionally chase other male ducks of a different species, and even each other, in the same way. In one documented case of ‘homosexual necrophilia’, a male Mallard copulated with another male he was chasing after the chased male died upon flying into a glass window.



The green head, yellow bill, and black rump of the Mallard Duck is a familiar sight for many people living in the Northern hemisphere. Nearly 10 million Mallards live in North America with millions more in Eurasia. It is thought to be the most abundant duck in the world today

The water feels so good! 


The Mallard is a medium size duck measuring 18 to 27 inches in length. During the breeding season the male has a green head, white neck ring, chestnut colored breast, and a gray body. The inner feathers on the wing are a metallic bluish-purple bordered with white. Its bill is yellow with a black tip. The female is a mottled brown with a white tail. Like the male, the feathers on its inner wing are a bluish-purple. The female has a mottled orange and brown bill rather than the distinctive yellow.

During the non-breeding season, the male's plumage is similar to the females, but it maintains its distinctive yellow bill and chestnut colored breast

The Newest Generation 

Mallards are known as puddle or dabbling ducks, which means they search for food on or near the water's surface. They dabble by tipping up with their head under water, and their tail wagging in the wind

Like most puddle ducks, the Mallard can spring into the air without having to run across the water's surface to build up speed

Range and Habitat

The Mallard Duck's summer range covers a wide territory. It stretches from Alaska and Quebec, south to northern Mexico and Texas. The Mallard will spend its winters in the warmer climes of the United States, Central America, and the West Indies.

They inhabit most wetlands. They will settle along lakes, ponds, river bends, marshes, estuaries, and even ditches. It is not uncommon to see a family of Mallards, swimming in the lakes and ponds in city parks and playgrounds. If the water is fairly calm, the Mallards will find it.

Stay together

From Courtship to Parenthood

The Mallard Duck's courtship starts in the fall. The Males grunt and whistle, swim, pump their heads, and preen in front of the females. The females spur the males on with loud calls and suggestive body movements. The rituals usually occur on the water, but chase flights are not uncommon. By midwinter the pairs have formed. The mated pair migrate together returning to the female's place of origin.

The nest is usually built on the ground within a hundred yards of water. The depression is lined with soft reeds and grasses. The nest is usually concealed in tall grass or reeds. Once the female lays her eggs, the male abandons her.

The female Mallard's clutch usually has 8 to 13 eggs. They are incubated for 27 to 28 days. The ducklings are precocial, which means they can swim and feed themselves right after hatching. They stay close to their mother for protection until they fledge at 50 to 60 days.

Watch Your Step


Baby Mallard Ducks in my Swimming Pool


The Annual Molt

After the Mallard drakes abandon their mates to the job of raising the young, they fly to a secluded area and undergo their annual molt. The molting of their wing feathers leaves them temporarily flightless. They are no longer displaying their courtship plumage, but a drab "eclipse" plumage is similar to that of a female. It provides better camouflage against predators while their wing feathers grow back. The entire process takes 2 to 3 weeks. The hens go through a similar molt once their ducklings have fledged.


After breeding season, the Mallard Duck is quite gregarious. They will form large flocks which are known as a sord.



Mallard Ducks are omnivores. They are often seen with their head under water and their tails sticking up in the air as they dabble for their next meal. That meal may be comprised of plant food, invertebrates, fish, or amphibians. They will also graze on land, feeding on grains and small plants.

Mallard with Ducklings,


Mallards fly in small groups or in V shaped flocks. The flock is usually comprised of 10 to 20 members, but the flock can swell to over a hundred. They are swift fliers and excellent swimmers.

Mallard Duck Flying


The Mallard Ducks are a noisy species. The hen's call is the quack-quack often associated with ducks. The drake's call is a reedy quack and during mating season will pierce the air with sharp single and double-noted whistles.

Listen to the call of the Mallard Duck



The lifespan of the Mallard Duck is 7 to 9 years, but over half die before they reach 2 years of age. They die from predation, accidents, hunting and diseases such as botulism, cholera and viruses


A Mallard hen on a new brood




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khairy abd-El-Hameed

يحتوى الموقع على الأقسام المختلفة للدواجن وتشمل الدجاج-الرومى-الحمام- النعام -الطيور المائية. مع الاهتمام بالموضوعات ذات الأهمية فى الوقت الحاضر مثل موضوعات البيئة- المخلفات(الزرق والأمونيا....الخ) وتجد مجموعة من الكتب التى تغطى بعض الموضوعات المعاصرة وذات القيمة العملية وهذه فى صورة ملفات تحميل ولقد حرصت على اللغة الأنجليزية فى المرحلة التمهيدية وسنوالى »


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