Duck breeds and marketed products
Duck breeds can be classified depending on their aptitude, which means if they are suitable for meat or egg production.
This article is a review on duck breeds and the products obtained. Additional articles including productive management and the main challenges faced by duck producers are also published.
Ducks belong to the Order Anseriformes, Family Anatidae, which also includes swans and geese. World population of ducks was estimated at 1.15 bilion in 2017 and 88% of the population was in Asia. The countries with the largest population of ducks are China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
Ducks are very rustic animals that can obtain a proper yield under semi-extensive production conditions, although this system cannot offer the same biosecurity conditions as the intensive one. The intensive system allows greater control over environmental and biosecurity conditions, but may also have disadvantages, such as the need for litter management and the potential infectious and locomotor problems that may arise from poor litter quality, which are very frequent in this species.
Table of Contents
- 1 Duck breeds
- 1.1 Breeds for meat production
- 1.2 Laying breeds
- 2 Products obtained and marketed from the duck
- 3 Conclusions
Duck breeds can be classified depending on their aptitude, according to whether they are suitable for meat or egg production.
Breeds for meat production
The most popular duck breeds for meat production are Peking duck, Barbary duck, Ruel Kagua and Mulard duck.
Pekin duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus)
Pekin duck is native to China. It is the most popular breed used for meat production. Animals have a strong body, white feathers and orange peak and legs.
Pekin duck have little sexual dimorphism. Females can have a good laying rate. It is a precocious animal that tends to a faster fat deposition.
Eggs of common duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus) have a 28 day incubation.
Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata)
Muscovy duck, also known as Barbary duck, is native to jungle areas of South America. It is the only domesticated breed that does not come from the Mallard breed. They are often called â€śmute ducksâ€ť, because they are quieter than common ducks, which are usually noisy.
Currently, its production has been extended to equatorial countries in Africa and Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia, for meat and egg production purposes. It has a very marked caruncle around the eyes and the beak in wild species.
Egg incubation period is of 35 days, instead of 28 days, as in the common duck. Although it has a very low laying rate, its meat is leaner than other breeds, similar to beef meat. It is not precocious and it reaches sexual maturity at around 28 weeks.
Mulard duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus Ă— Cairina moschata)
The Mulard Duck is a hybrid between the Barbary duck and the Mallard duck (it is also possible to combine de Barbary duck with other breeds of common duck, like the Pekin duck or a local breed). They are sterile hybrids used to produce meat and foie.
These hybrids inherit the average of the characteristics of the parent breeds. Like the Barbary duck, its meat is lean and attracts consumers of healthy products. Incubation is of 31-32 days. They show significant sexual dimorphism.
The most known duck breeds for egg production are the Indian Runner duck and the Khaki Campbell. They are animals with a lower average weight than meat breeds (around 2 kg).
Indian runner duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus)
The Indian Runner Duck is native to Asia.
It is a tall, upright stance animal that can produce up to 365 eggs a year.
Khaki campbell duck (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus)
The Khaki Campbell is a hybrid between the Indian Runner duck (laying breed) and Ruel Kagua (meat breed), originally developed in England. Khaki feathers are characteristic and give name to the breed.
It can be used for both meat and egg production and can produce 344 eggs per year.
Products obtained and marketed from the duck
Ducks offer different products to be marketed: meat, eggs, feathers and foie.
Duck meat is red and has a high iron content. Comparing to turkey and chicken meat, protein levels are similar but the flavour is different. Animals with low fat deposition have been genetically selected, although fat content of the carcass is still higher than in broilers (20% vs. 12-15%) and ducks have worse conversion rates than broilers.
Processing of duck meat is difficult and laborious because the pin feathers should be removed. In addition, processing plants are less automated than broiler plants, although they do have special cleaners and dryers for feather and down processing. Breast and thighs are the most important parts of the carcass and account for 20% of the carcass weight, respectively.
The duration of the production cycle depends on the breed, the weight to be achieved and the production system used. Average weight of Pekin duck for both sexes is around 3 kg at 7 weeks of life in intensive production.
In the case of the Muscovy breed, the initial development of this breed is slow and it may take around 11 weeks to reach slaughter weight. Sexual dimorphism is highly accentuated in this breed, since the average weight of the female (2 kg) can be almost half of that of the male (4 kg). Competitiveness for feed can have a negative effect on the growth of females if the both sexes are raised together.
Asian countries are the main meat producers and consumers, accounting for more than 80% of world production. China is the world’s largest producer of duck meat. This country concentrates 60% of world production and 80% of regional duck meat production.
Duck eggs are widely consumed in Asian countries. In countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, ducks are mostly used for commercial egg production.
Khaki Campbell and Indian Runner duck breeds can produce more than 300 eggs per year. The colour of the egg varies with the breed. For example, the Indian Runner duck can produce eggs with a characteristic light blue eggshell.
Birds start their laying period at 21 weeks, similar to laying hens. The duck egg weighs about 90 grams and is rich in vitamins, especially A and D, and cholesterol.
Feathers and down
Duck feathers have a higher commercial value compared to other poultry species. Feather production is lower in ducks than in geese, especially the down. However, they can be used for high quality products, since their white colour is an important value for their commercialization.
Feather production depends on age, weight and feathering period. After every moult, the number of feathers increases, especially the down, and these are less fragile and more durable.
The right time for moulting is when the feathers have completed their cycle (growth and maturation) and they are ready to be renewed by other new feathers. The frequency of moulting is variable, it can be practiced four times a year, starting when animals are four months old. It is not advisable to moult during the laying season to avoid a reduction in the egg production. As an example, in the Muscovy breed production, two moults are usually carried out annually between the laying periods. Therefore, an additional product is obtained for commercialization.
The liver of birds is very sensitive to fat degeneration since birds lack of lymphatic system, so dietary fats reach the liver directly via the portal vein.
The aim of obtaining a fatty liver in ducks is the production of foie gras. Most popular breeds for this purpose are the Mullard and, to a lesser extent, the Muscovy, widely used in the past. The main foie gras producing countries are Hungary and France, which represent approximately 75% of world production and consumption.
Male ducks for fatty liver production are reared up to 14-15 weeks of age and 5-5.5 kg of weight. In order to obtain a fatty liver, a forced feeding is carried out from 9 weeks of age and for 14-21 days. Animals are fed two or three times a day with a diet based on fat and grain, mainly corn.
Livers of 600 grams are obtained thanks to the forced feeding. The carcass is very fatty, which makes it very difficult to be sold. Carcass is usually chopped to be distributed. It is recommended to deworm animals prior to the fattening period to achieve a better liver weight gain.
The world population of ducks was estimated at 1.15 bilions in 2017 and 88% of this population was in Asia. The countries with the largest population of ducks are China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
Ducks are very rustic animals that can obtain a proper yield under semi-extensive production conditions. Intensive productions allow a greater control of the environment and the biosecurity of the farm, although it can favor other infectious and locomotor problems, which are very frequent in this species.
Duck breeds can be classified depending on their aptitude, which means if they are suitable for meat or egg production. The most used duck breeds are, according to their aptitude, the Pekin duck for meat purposes, the Indian Runner duck for egg production and the Mullard breed for foie production.
* Video of ducks eating in their habitat.