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Peking duck breeder production is a highly specialised area of commercial poultry activities. The reproductive capacity of parent stock is very high and ranks between that of a layer and a broiler breeder. However, there are a number of aspects in the management requirement of this species that make Peking duck breeders distinctively unique and interesting to work with.
By Hermann Klein-Hessling, Ph.D., International Poultry Consulting Services, Inc., Everberg, Belgium (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
here are two primary suppliers for Peking duck parent stock in Europe, namely Grimaud Freres from France and Cherry Valley from the UK. From a production point of view, Europe has a significant commercial Peking duck meat production in Germany (23 million), the UK (10 million), France (4 million) and the Netherlands (3 million). The remaining European countries are largely negligible in terms of Peking duck production and breeding. Globally, the biggest market for Peking duck breeders and Peking meat consumption is China. It is estimated that more than 400 million Peking ducks are placed every year. Within the EU, the consumption and distribution of Peking duck meat differs greatly. In Germany, for example, duck meat is sold predominantly as cut or frozen product or as frozen whole duck. However, in recent years, there has been a trend towards the production of pre-cooked, “ready-to-eat” entries (complete meals) for easy oven preparation and simple microwave applications. Conversely, France produces Peking duck meat mainly for the local Chinese market. The country also sells a fair volume of duck parts and cuts to Germany. Although France does not
take the leading position in terms of Peking duck meat production and consumption, it ranks first in Europe in hatching egg and duckling production. France produces approx. 4 million Peking ducklings per year, 40 million mallard ducklings and about 40 million Muscovy ducklings.
In France, Orvia, through its selection centre Gourmaud Selection, has bred its own Peking and Muscovy strains through intensive breeding and selection methods. Specifically, Orvia’s standard Peking duck parent stock lines consisting of a female line called “CKM” and a male line called “MPM” are, in terms of technical performance, very competitive in the global duck breeder business, as well as in the international marketplace. For example, egg production, fertility, hatchability and liveability of male and female breeders and ultimately ducklings per female are performing comparably well with the lines of the UK-based competitor. At the level of the commercial end product bodyweight, daily gain, mortality and carcass yield are rarely discernable between the strains of the two breeder companies. Several years ago, Orvia began testing
parent candidates for feed conversion ratio (FCR) to rapidly improve the economically important trait of FCR. Using this technique, Orvia has improved the FCR performance of its standard product, on average, by about 8 points per generation, which is expected to continue to improve at the same rate in the future.
Figure 1 - Bodyweight development of Orvia Peking duck female ckM and male MPM from 1 through 60 weeks of age
4000 3500 3000 Bodyweight (g) 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 1 6 11 16 21 26 31 36 41 46 51 56 Age (weeks) Male - MPM Female - CKM
Housing and rearing
In Europe, commercial scale-type brooding and rearing of Peking duck parent stock is typically performed in well-insulated, well-ventilated and light controlled floor housing systems. The ducklings are brooded in rings/ compartments of no more than 200-500 ducklings per compartment. Each ring must have its own heat source. Stocking densities within the ring will vary depending on litter, ventilation and heating capabilities to maintain favourable floor or litter conditions. The building should be pre-heated at least one day prior to arrival of the ducklings to ensure that concrete floors and litter have warmed up sufficiently. A temperature of about 35˚C should be targeted inside the compartments near
WORLD POULTRY - Vol. 23 No 11. 2007
Nest boxes can be grouped at one side of the barn in a separate area. Bodyweight differences exist and are maintained during the feed restriction phase of both males and females. However. Barn temperature will be dropped beginning at about 5 days of age by lowering temperature 1˚C every day until a 15-16˚C background temperature is reached at about 2 weeks of age. As with other poultry. For example. stocking density and feed After the initial brooding phase. After brooding. compartments must be gradually enlarged to allow the ducklings more space and to maintain litter conditions. the ability to maintain litter conditions and the general management skill of the farm operator. 80-90% of the daily egg production is laid within the first two hours after the lights come on. the behaviour of the ducklings should serve as a guide for environmental adjustments and precede standard table values and operation manuals. This weight relationship is usually maintained till the end of the production period. since most matings can or will take place at a time when there is no hard shelled egg in the uterus. Ideally. in the cooler at the hatchery. Peking ducks do not perform well when started only on nipple drinkers. approx. hatching egg quality deteriorates with storage duration. However. Also. it is rather easy to time artificial insemination procedures (for pure-lines. the heat source on day 1. Although Peking ducks do not express broodiness or incubation behaviour in a significant way.0 ducks per square metre. In lightcontrolled housing. while the background temperature in the building should range from 25-27˚C. breeder ducks are raised at a stocking density of 3. floor feeding systems similar to those applied in broiler breeders have also proven very beneficial in breeder Peking ducks. Provisions with supplemental bell-type drinkers or troughs are essential and the risk of a water shortage may be higher during heat stress conditions if only nipple drinkers are used. They help maintain flock uniformity by increasing the feeder WORLD POULTRY . Nest boxes are usually very simple wooden constructions. it is advisable to provide one drinker or trough for every 150-200 ducks. They are also often completely open at the top which keeps them nicely illuminated. This figure encompasses both females and males. separation from the nest is an effective preventive management tool to diminish the impact from this natural behaviour.Vol.e special management Nest box management and egg collection Peking ducks require a lot of nest boxes compared to other poultry species. ducklings should occupy about 50% of the barn and by about 3 weeks of age. As with all commercial poultry. Maintaining clean nest boxes by adding high quality straw and shavings regularly is a prerequisite to secure good hatchability. Empirical analysis suggest a daily decline in hatchability of 1% if the eggs are 8-10 days or older.) effectively and conveniently into a daily farm activity schedule. At 15 days of age. The unique. Peking ducks require excellent pellet quality to avoid feed wastage and to obtain efficient feed intake supporting maximum growth. Typically. 23 No 11. Eggs should be collected at least 2-3 times per day. This method means that the females can be kept out of the nest area after all the eggs have been laid and makes it rather easy to prevent hens from entering the nest during the day. in the current Orvia breeder package (CKM/MPM cross) the males will usually never be heavier than the females. This distinct egg laying pattern provides a natural biological basis for achieving high fertility rates. during production. Even the best pellet quality from the feed mill can get damaged when the selected pellet size does not fit the available feed system in the house. but in separate compartments. This relates to their egg laying pattern. Likewise. highly condensed laying pattern allows for less frequent egg collections than in other commercial poultry species. Male and female weight Breeder males and females are commonly delivered at one day of age and raised in the same house. 2007 space substantially and give the chance for all ducks to feed simultaneously. Eggs should be stored on the farm at about 18˚C with nearly 70-80% relative humidity. Water restriction during rearing is also a very helpful and common tool to maintain litter conditions. they have no gate to prevent multiple females from entering the nest. eggs should not be stored much more than 2-3 days on the farm. individual ventilation capabilities of the house. However. This is very different from broiler breeder or turkey breeder males.5-5. Usually not more than 3. hatchability continues to decline particularly after the eggs are more than one week old. Furbishing houses with slats in the drinker area has many advantages.net 15 . the females may have equalised their bodyweight with the males or are even slightly heavier than the male breeder Peking duck. Applied stocking densities vary greatly and depend on season. extensive exposure to heat and unsanitary conditions for eggs that remain in the barn for long periods of time impair hatchability and must be avoided. The males are introduced to the females at about 15 weeks of age. The laying patter (daily peak of egg laying) does not shift in light-controlled buildings to later parts in the day as it does in broiler and turkey breeders as the flock progresses through the laying cycle. At around 5 days of age. if only bell-type drinkers or water troughs are used. at peak of lay.5 females can be allocated to one nest. Selection of suitable feed pans and managing feed levels in the feed pans correctly (not too high) are helpful in achieving this goal. Common dimensions are 40x40 cm. etc. Management during rearing Peking ducks demand high quality www.WorldPoultry.0-3. all ducklings should be able to move freely through the entire building.
Ducks WORLD POULTRY .Vol.net 16 .WorldPoultry. 2007 www. 23 No 11.
is important and effective to maintain good litter. At 25-26 weeks of age. This underlines the importance of controlling water consumption and explains the high demands and challenges in maintaining litter quality. It is very important to check the female ducks for signs of sexual maturity (called “noddings”) which is a distinct forward and downward movement of the neck to the left and right side when the female is walking through the house. If the transfer of the Peking ducks from the rearing to the layer farm takes place too late then females may begin laying on the floor. 70 and 65 kg for females and males. seasonal differences in performance will still persist. but also during day time. as well as intensive water management (drinkers on slats) are necessary to minimise this condition. in principle. In modern-day controlledfed Peking ducks. respectively. Since the ducks establish a laying pattern at the onset of lay it is very difficult to change this undesirable habit and motivate these hens to accept the regular nests upon transfer to the laying house. Return to ad-libitum feeding should not occur too quickly prior to egg production.0 mm pellets. Ultimately. They typically start between 4-6 weeks of age and aim to follow a predetermined growth profile using a feeding regime that the males and females are gradually introduced to (Figure 1). respectively. great emphasis is placed on maintaining a high degree of flock uniformity. Water restriction. Average feed consumption of the CKM female breeder Peking duck and MPM male breeder is about 18. Sex ratios under natural mating systems typically provide one male for every five females. Peking ducks are also susceptible to foot pad burns and foot pad dermatitis. As a result. 23 No 11. The building must be uniformly illuminated. Juvenile feed restriction has In Peking duck breeder production under northern climates. 2007 . Even if the ducks are raised under natural day light and subsequently placed under constant artificial light during lay. Males and females Lighting Feed restriction and bodyweight control Modern-day Peking duck strains have been bred to produce offspring with much greater growth rates and carcass yield improvements than their 19th century ancestors. Feed restriction and bodyweight control programmes vary with company and strain. On average. as the optimal body condition for sexual maturity needs to be maintained. After 4-5 days on crumbles they can be gradually switched to 2. Peking ducks have a very different feed-to-water ratio than other commercial poultry. When more lines are used. particularly during the night.5 kg from 0-20 weeks of age. They must be highly absorptive and free of fungal contamination. this relates to a problem of excessive and/or wet manure on the litter and the challenge to keep this litter dry. shown to increase egg production substantially and improved fertility. no more than 20% of the females should be “nodding” at 17 weeks of age and no more than 40-50% at 22 weeks of age.1 litre of water per day. Acceptable feed intakes have also been achieved with 4. the onset of sexual maturity and reproductive activity is predominantly controlled through changes in feed allocation and much less through light duration as is the case in other breeding poultry. Beginning with the grower feed at 4 weeks of age they can be placed onto 3. feed intake should be managed and limited during rearing. Daily additions of litter material together with sufficient ventilation capacity and appropriate stocking density. Besides preventing the ducks from growing too big too soon. the pellet size selection decision should be made in conjunction with the practical and logistical aspects of the feed mill.Vol. During lay (42 weeks) feed consumption amounts to approx. depending on the stage and intensity of feed restriction. these two parameters are good and reliable indicators of advancement in sexual maturation. It is also very critical and important to ensure a gradual release from feed restriction. Male breeder ducks do not need any special lighting regime that deviates from the female programme to achieve full sexual maturity and semen production before the females commence egg production. there is a strong effect of season on egg laying performance for birds managed under natural day length. Ducks sexual maturation and early egg production Breeder males and females are usually transferred to the laying house at 18-20 weeks of age. Depending on the applied lighting and feeding programme.litter materials. Research in the 1990s has shown that these seasonal effects can be overcome and excellent laying results can be achieved by providing feed restricted laying and breeding Peking ducks with 17 hours constant photoperiod per day during both rearing and laying. Over-stimulation with a too aggressive lighting programme at the time of transfer into the laying house can also contribute to prolapse and mortality. This requires that all ducks have the opportunity to eat simultaneously.0-2.9-1. for Peking ducks the rule of thumb is about 1:4. Furthermore. Like in broilers and turkeys. Feed production requirements Peking ducks start very well on well-textured crumbled feed for the first couple of days. Egg production should commence at 23 weeks of age.net 17 WORLD POULTRY . However. lighting programmes during rearing. Together with the spread of the pelvic bones.7 and 20.5 mm pellets. An increase in light intensity from rearing to laying promotes sexual maturation and enhances egg production up to peak of lay. a significant production factor is light intensity. Feed and water space must therefore be sufficient to achieve this goal. Straw and/or wood shavings are used as litter material. Sensitivity and susceptibility to aspergillus infection in ducks is very high and of great concern. it helps controlling the initial egg size and diminishes the occurrence of a potential prolapse and mortality problem. There are no indications that Peking ducks benefit from either step-up (other than laying sooner) or step-down www.WorldPoultry. about 10% of the females should be in production. Sufficient drinker and feeder lines also influence litter conditions. Precise weekly bodyweight measurements of male and female ducks at a rate of 3-4% of the birds in the flock are necessary to track the bodyweight development and to be able to take “fact-based” corrective action in feed allocation if necessary. An adult Peking duck uses about 0. it is possible to “spread” and place equal pressure on the litter throughout the entire house. Recommended feed space allocations during rearing are 5 cm/duck on circular-type feed pans and 10 cm per duck on linear troughs while one bell-type drinker per 100-200 ducks is usually sufficient to meet the water demands.0 mm pellets. Peak egg production over 90% is reached around 32 weeks of age. particularly when the annual straw harvest has been problematic due to wet weather conditions.
there is a typical but small www.35 0.50 0.40 0.80 0. drop in feathers (not a moult) that can be noticed on the floor at the end of the rearing period/transfer time at about 20 weeks of age. Therefore.11 Layer 21-end 2650 18.44 Grower 4-8 weeks 2750 16.60 0. under natural mating conditions in littered floor systems.15 1.56 0. sex separate feeding is technically very difficult to accomplish due to the lack or very minute differences in physical attributes between males and females. Close attention should also be paid to premixes and calcium/phosphorus sources as these are known to occasionally carry heavy metal contaminations (cadmium. Characteristic of all ducks is there ability to utilise and digest fibre better than chickens and turkeys.72 0. average hen-housed egg production exceeds 210 settable eggs per hen. In recent years. cover the entire body surface very well. a form of Pneumo virus has affected duck breeders. Physiologically. Sex separate feeding during lay is not practised. Prolapse of the oviduct can sometimes cause mortality. the bodyweight dimorphism as defined in height and size between male and female Peking duck parent stock is rather small. Peking duck eggs are much bigger than broiler breeder eggs (avg. feather quality and feather coverage In light-controlled houses.78 3. complete and intact even in the abdominal and chest area after many weeks in the barn as compared to broiler and turkey breeders.33 0. In areas where ducks and turkeys are raised side by side. Typically. thus. Often the flocks recover poorly and do not achieve previous levels of performance.WorldPoultry. lead and arsenic).14 Developer 9-20 weeks 2700 14. there is also no need to feed a male Peking duck a high calcium high protein diet ad-libitum throughout the entire breeding cycle. Males and females are control-fed after an initial brooding phase and receive ad-libitum feeding during the laying period. 165-175 ducklings per female.net 18 The most common vaccinations in Peking duck parent stock include vaccinations against hepatitis by injection usually at 10 and 20 weeks of age. for females and males during lay. This second feather drop is associated with the onset of egg production. Adaptations to the feeding programme usually solve this problem.94 0.65 1.50 0.98 0. duration of lay (wks) 42 Total no. This can often be associated with a too rapid/early change from restricted feeding to ad-libitum feed allocation in the laying house resulting in undesired additional weight gain and a tendency to have increased early egg size. Peking ducks do not undergo a juvenile moult or feather replacement other than down feather replacement after the initial brooding of the ducklings. Average fertility (based on candling at 12 days) amounts to 94-96%. During a typical 42-week laying cycle.65 0.38 0. 86g.Table 1 . of settable eggs/hen-housed female 210 Average egg weight (g) 86 Average fertility (% candled at 12 days) 94-96 Hatchability of fertile eggs (%) 85-87 No.15 1.86 0.00 0. There is no sex separate feeding applied during rearing.33 0. The same pattern of feather loss is again observed at about 23 weeks of age. of eggs/female 230 Total no. Even the effects of the frequent natural matings are hardly recognisable at the end of the production cycle on the necks of the females. it also necessitates the determination of a correctly adjusted energy to protein ratio. are very vulnerable when exposed to mycotoxins. Typhymurium at 14 and 20 weeks of age. developer and layer feeds are shown in Table 2. There is no published research on breeder Peking duck nutrition that indicates benefits from feeding males and females differently. Contamination rates of less than 30 ppb interfere with normal protein metabolism and the deleterious effects are elevated when low protein diets are employed. metabolisable energy values for specific ingredients can be significantly greater (5-15%) in ducks than those of corresponding numbers for chickens.Dietary specifications for Orvia Peking duck breeders Parameter Met. this can be a significant problem. of ducklings per female housed 165-175 Table 2 . Phosphor (%) Sodium (%) Linoleic Acid (%) Starter 1-3 weeks 2800 18.17 1. grower.15 1. Peking ducks. 96% for males and females and about 90-94 and 96-98%. Energy (Kcal/kg) Crude Protein (%) Amino Acids (Total) Lysine (%) Methionine (%) TSAA (%) Calcium (%) Tot.44 0. Layers benefit from adapting rations with increased age to improve health. particularly S. nor is there published data on positive impacts on reproductive performance by feeding more than one layer feed from 20-65 weeks of age. depending on the applied lighting programme.93 0. 2007 . Phosphor (min %) Avail.38 0. Average hatchability of all eggs set range between 85-87%. 23 No 11. Turkeys are often affected as well.Reproductive performance of Orvia ckM Peking duck breeder females through 42 weeks of lay Parameter Performance Result Age at first egg (wks) 23 Age at peak of lay (wks) 32 Avg. It is therefore much less likely for Peking ducks (breeders and meat-type) to develop signs of breast buttons and/or breast blemishes. female Peking ducks maintain an excellent feather coverage and generally a good overall individual feather quality. Durations of feeding phases are identical. Parent stock liveabilities during rearing are approx. Nutritional specifications Examples of dietary specifications for breeder Peking duck starter. and vaccinations against Pasteurellosis by injection at 14 and 20 weeks of age. flocks may be vaccinated against Salmonella. even under damp litter conditions. ■ WORLD POULTRY . regular quality control on feed ingredients and a prophylactic supplementation with an aflatoxins binder may be necessary when there is evidence of a contamination problem. Consequently. like all other ducks. Males and females receive the same layer feed from the time of transfer to the layer barn (18-20 weeks of age) till the end of the egg production cycle. Feather rows appear to run much closer to each other and more densely (underlying down feathers) and.50 0.02 0. The feather coverage of Peking ducks is extremely thick. Therefore. Enteritidis and S. While this can lower feed cost. which will follow shortly.50 1. Males and females suffer from it. New research in this area would be much appreciated particularly in light of the fact that the Peking duck has a reproductive capacity closely resembling that of a commercial layer. Specifically aflatoxins are very detrimental. Additionally. Typical breeder performance Reproductive performance of modern-day Peking ducks is remarkably high (Table 1) for a meat-type poultry species when compared to broiler and turkey breeders.Vol. Experienced producers associate this initial feather drop as a sign of approaching sexual maturity and receptiveness of the female to mate. Pneumo virus infection can be associated with some very significant drops in egg production.40 0. respectively. of laid eggs/hen-housed female 220 Total no. range: 78-95g) and they can easily produce approx.60 Ducks are fed ad-libitum throughout the egg production period. longevity and cost of production. However. Throughout the relatively long laying cycle (40-45 weeks).40 0. common health and disease challenges Moulting.70 0.58 0.
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