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Domestic duck

Domesticated ducks are ducks that are raised for meat, eggs and down. Many ducks are also kept for show, as pets or for their ornamental value. Almost all of the varieties of domesticated ducks are descended from the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), apart from the Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata). There are many existing breeds with more being created today. Most domesticated breeds are descendants from the wild Mallard with exception of the Muscovy.


Ducks have been farmed for thousands of years, possibly starting in Southeast Asia. They are not as popular as the chicken, because chickens have much more white lean meat and are easier to keep confined, making the total price much lower for chicken meat, whereas duck is comparatively expensive and, while popular in the haute cuisine, appears less frequently in mass market food industry and restaurants in the lower price range.


Ducks can be kept free range, in cages, in barns, or in batteries. To be healthy, ducks should be allowed access to water, though battery ducks are often denied this. They should be fed a grain and insect diet.

The females of most breeds of domestic duck are very unreliable at sitting their eggs and raising their young, and it has been the custom on farms for centuries to put duck eggs under a broody hen for hatching; nowadays incubators are usually used. However, young ducklings rely on their mother for a supply of preen oil to make them waterproof, and a hen does not make as much preen oil as a duck; and an incubator makes none.


Domesticated ducks can be kept as pets. They can be kept in a garden or backyard, and with special accessories, have also been known to be kept in the house. They will often eat insects and slugs. A pond or water dish is recommended, although in a pond they will probably dredge out and eat any wildlife and frogspawn, and swallow adult frogs and toads up to the size of the British common frog Rana temporaria, as they have been bred to be much bigger than wild ducks with a "hull length" (base of neck to base of tail) of up to a foot or more; the wild mallard's "hull length" is about 6 inches (150 mm). A coop should be provided for shelter from predators such as foxes, hawks, coyotes, and racoons, as their size makes them unable to fly properly.


Ducks are also kept for their ornamental value. Breeds have been developed with crests and tufts or striking plumage. Shows are held in which ducks can be displayed.

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Uploaded on May 25, 2009