Livestock Research for Rural Development 18 (3) 2006 Guidelines to authors LRRD News

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A preliminary study on duck management under peri-urban system

S Duru, G N Akpa, *L Sai'du, T S Olugbemi and G E Jokthan

Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria
*Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria.


A survey of duck management systems was carried out in five locations in Basawa District of Sabon Gari Local Government Area in Kaduna State, Nigeria.

Information collected via the questionnaires distributed revealed that the management system was free-range. Two varieties were encountered:  Muscovy and Malard ducks, with the Muscovy predominating. The mean flock size was 10.9+ 10.8 birds occurring in the ratio of one drake to six females. Egg laying was seasonal, commencing at the onset of rains. Estimates were obtained for the following production parameters; age at first lay 7.7 + 0.44 months, clutch size was not noted by any of the farmers. Average number of eggs per duck per season was 80.8 + 0.74, average selling price of drakes N 400 + 19.3, ducks N 281 + 0.37, weaners N 201 + 11.5, ducklings N 101 + 3.70 and eggs N 12.2 + 0.74. "Mugwui" and ecto parasites were identified as major health problems.

The survey showed the present level of duck management system in Basawa District is free-range with home attachment.

Keywords: Duck, free-range, Murgwui, Nigeria, peri-urban


The livestock industry, and indeed the poultry industry in Nigeria, has been subjected to inappropriate policies, which has hampered its development and the industry is once again at a cross-road, arising principally from the rising cost of production inputs, unavailability of quality day-old chicks and the problems associated with marketing of products. The industry is dominated by imported stock which constitutes only about 10 million of the total National population of 133 million (Akinwumi et al 1979). While the better performance of the exotic stock has resulted in the neglect of their indigenous counterparts, the consumption of poultry meat is still beyond the reach of the average person due to costs. . It is therefore imperative to raise the contribution of local poultry species to natural supply of animal protein.

Apart from the local chickens, little or no attention has been given to other promising local poultry species such as ducks, geese, turkeys and pigeons. Of late, there has been increased attention especially in developing countries to the contribution of local chickens and other poultry species. The duck is very prolific and hardy (NRC 1991), and quite promising among indigenous poultry species because of their rapid growth rate and dressed weight of drakes.

In spite of the high population of ducks, no recorded effort has been put into improving their performance in Nigeria. This can however only be possible if the present production status is known. The objective of this study was to obtain first hand information on duck production from the farmers in the area under study and determine the health status of their flocks.

Materials and Methods

A structured questionnaire was drawn to cover some important aspects of duck production such as management, breeding and reproduction, nutrition, health, marketing and utilization. Fifty farmers were randomly selected to constitute the target population from five locations in the study area (Samaru, Bomo, Basawa Town, Haying Dogo and Jama'a) known for duck production. The questionnaire was administered through personal interview with the farmers. Numerical aspects of the data collected were analysed using simple descriptive statistics.

Results and Discussion


The occurrence of the various strains observed in the study area is shown in Table 1. A mean flock size of 10.9 + 10.8 birds occurring at the ratio of one drake to six females was observed. Two varieties were observed: Muscovy and Malard ducks. In order to obtain foundation stock, 60 %of the respondents bought a pair of drake and ducks to start with. Thirty percent used domestic fowls to hatch duck eggs to start their foundation stock, while 10 % had theirs as gilt from relatives.

Table 1. Breeds observed during study



No. of Farmers











Most of the farmers managed their flock on free-range. This conforms to the reports of Williamson and Payne (1959), King (1978) and NRC (1991) that domesticated ducks are best maintained on free-range, because they are good foragers and that they find a considerable proportion of their own feed if allowed to range freely. Most of the farmers reported that confinement would be difficult considering the watery nature of duck droppings. All the respondents provided supplementary feed (kitchen leftover, maize bran and brewer's residues).T his was done to create a "home attachment", and was provided early in the morning and towards evenings in order to condition the birds to coming back home after scavenging in the neighbourhood. Eighty six percent of the respondents provided housing (mostly mud-huts) while 14 percent did not provide housing in whatever form for their flock.


Table 2 shows some reproductive parameters observed during the survey. Age at first lay of 7.7+ 0.44 months obtained in this study is in agreement with the report of NRC (1991), that females reach sexual maturity by 28 weeks of age, while males require a month more. The farmers observed that Malard ducks are good egg-producing strains and do not go broody compared to Muscovy. Thus most times the Muscovy duck and domestic fowl were used to incubate and hatch eggs laid by Malard ducks. This observation is confirmed by the report of Williamson and Payne (1959) and NRC (1991) that mallard ducks are better layers than Muscovy ducks and can produce up to 300 eggs per year. A major problem observed during the study was that the ducks' nesting places often were unknown to the farmers. This results in eggs being stolen or eaten by predators or carried away by run-offs during heavy downpour. Due to this reason, the total number of eggs laid by the ducks is not known to the farmers. Some farmers observed 80-90 % hatchability in their flock. This agrees with the hatchability percentage of 84% reported by Wilson et al (1987) in Muscovy ducks. NRC (1991) reported that strong female's parental qualities help assure the survival of ducklings with a minimum of human intervention.

Table 2. Estimates for some reproductive parameters



Age at first lay

7.7 + 0.44 months

Incubation/ hatching period

4.6 + 0.15 weeks

Average number of eggs/season

80.8 +0.74


The health problems encountered during the study are seen in Table 3. Fifty percent of the farmers complained of "Murgwui" which is the local name for inflammation of the preen or oil gland which is situated above the root of the tail feathers. It was reported by Arnal and Keymer (1975) that the gland may be damaged occasionally, in some cases it may be impacted with secretion or become the site of granuli matous lesion. Tumours are reported to be rare (Arnal and Keymer 1975). The farmers reported that young ducks particularly weaners are more susceptible to the disease. The symptoms as reported by the farmers include immobility, inability to feed, loss of weight and finally death. The most popular traditional treatment for "Murgwui" is the surgical removal of the inflamed preen (oil) gland with potash and palm oil later applied to the site. The farmers claimed this treatment had been very effective sometimes in the control of this problem. Eight percent complained of ectoparasites (lice) and 42% did not have any form of health problems in their flock. Accidents by automobiles were reported to be a major cause of death by the farmers. This agrees with NRC (1991) that ducks are so phlegmatic that automobile accidents are major causes of death. In general, the farmers ranked ducks to be very hardy compared to other poultry species they rear along side with ducks. This also agrees with NRC 1991 that the Muscovy is apparently more resistant to diseases that regularly decimate other poultry. This is one reason why villagers favoured them as when chickens die, Muscovy often survives.

Table 3. Health problems encountered



No. of farmers










Marketing and utilization

Table 4 shows the average selling prices of this birds as was estimated, drakes N 400 +19.3, ducks N 281 + 0.37, weaners N 201 + 11.5, ducklings N 101 + 3.70 and eggs N 12.2 + 0.74. The main reason for rearing of ducks was for meat and eggs. The ducks, apart from providing the animal protein needs of the families in forms of meat and eggs, also act as sources of income in times of urgent cash need. Quantifying the income from this bird was not possible in this study because of improper or non existent records.

Table 4.  Details of duck flocks and prices of products


Flock Size








    5.48 + 0.6

  25.54 + 2.6


42.8 +3.9

9.98 + 1.7

Prices  (N)


401 + 19.3

281 + 0.37

201 + 0.74

101 + 3.70

12.2 + 0.7

N  Nigerian Currency 



Akinwumi J A, Degeye T A, Ikpi A E and Olayide S O 1979 Economic analyses of Nigeria poultry industry: A study commissioned by the federal livestock department (FLD) Lagos.

Arnal I and Keymer I F 1975 Bird: Diseases. Published by Bailliere and Tindall, Henrietta Street London WC.2E8QE.

King J O L 1978 An introduction to animal husbandry pp 394-406.

National Research Council 1991 Micro livestock little-known small animals with a promising economic future: National Academy press, Washington D.C. pp 91-177.

Williamson G and Payne W J A 1959 Introduction to animal husbandry in the tropics pp.353-357. Longmans, Green & Co Ltd: London,  UK

Wilson R T, Traore A, Kuit H G and Slingerland M 1987 Livestock production in Central Mali. Reproduction, growth and mortality of domesticate fowl under traditional management: Tropical Animal, Health and Production 19: 229-236.

Received 12 August 2005; Accepted 1 December 2005; Published 13 March 2006

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