Pekin Duck – Breed Profile & Facts
The Pekin ducks are among the most popular duck breeds of all time. They thrive well in both homesteads and backyards. The multi-purpose duck breeds are ideal for both meat and egg production.
History of Pekin Duck
Duck keepers have been domesticating Pekin ducks for over 2,000 years. These ducks originally hail from Southeast Asia, China in particular. Pekin ducks became popular in the Americas and across the globe in 1872. Upon arriving in America, these ducks became the most popular duck species.
Pekin Duck Characteristics
Pekin ducks are among the most beautiful duck breeds. These large birds are white, although the ducklings and younger ducks are yellow. As the ducks age, their yellow color turns white. Their leg color, however, doesn’t change as they age.
Pekin ducks have a yellow bill, although some ducks have some dark spots around their bills, especially hens. Pekin ducks have a long shape and a fairly wide body, which explains why duck keepers keep these ducks primarily for meat.
– Size & Weight
Mature Pekin ducks are large birds with drakes weighing around ten lb., while hens weigh around 9 lb. Drakes grow quite fast and large, making these birds terrific meat producers. Ducklings are nevertheless smaller and lighter than adult Pekin ducks. However, ducklings gain substantial weight a couple of months after hatching.
Pekin ducks are perhaps the friendliest duck breeds. These birds are overly non-aggressive. Pekin ducks enjoy being petted by their owners, especially those who raise these birds either as pets or egg birds. Handling Pekin ducklings from an early age can help the ducklings get used to touching and handling.
Although Pekin ducks can be somewhat noisy, they get along with other duck species and poultry. Pekin ducks are pretty cautious, despite being excellent free rangers. They remain highly alert of threats in their surroundings, and they won’t hesitate to run for their safety upon detecting threats.
Pekin hens are quite attentive mothers. They enjoy helping their ducklings learn their environment right from hatching. Hens also stick to their ducklings, and they will vehemently protect their young ones from threats.
Pekin ducks have a fairly long lifespan compared to other duck species. On average, captive Pekin ducks can live between 8 and 12 years. However, wild Pekin ducks can’t live this long because they are constantly under attack from predators. However, captive ducks can live for over 12 years with good care since these ducks are hardy and disease resistant.
– Egg Production
Pekin hens lay around 200 to 300 eggs annually. These ducks are known to lay extra-large white eggs. Pekin hens start laying when they are between five and six months old. Like other poultry, cold weather affects Pekin hens’ laying cycle. Having lighting in the coop is crucial for providing your Pekin hens with enough daylight.
Ideally, Pekin ducks need between eight and 10 hours of sufficient light to lay eggs.
Pekin duck eggs weigh around three ounces. The eggs are still safe to eat for at least ten days after laying. Furthermore, eggs are still viable for incubating after ten days. Although Pekin hens aren’t eager to sit on their eggs, they aren’t selective about the eggs they choose to sit on, unlike Mallards and other duck species.
Pekin hens are unlike chickens, which lay approximately after 26 hours. It is common for Pekin duck hens not to lay between dusk and dawn. This egg-laying schedule makes it easier to collect Peking duck eggs before the eggs break from trampling by the ducks. Although Pekin hens rarely lay in nest boxes, they make their nests where they lay and sit on their eggs.
– Meat Production
Keeping Pekin ducks can be an awesome idea if you like duck meat. Pekin ducks are a multi-purpose duck breed that produces a decent amount of eggs and meat. The meat from Pekin ducks is an abundant source of protein. These ducks have dark meat, and their meat is known for its distinct delicious flavor.
Pekin ducks are ready for slaughtering around six weeks old. On average, the meat from a Pekin dark weighs approximately six pounds. Some Pekin drakes can weigh over 11 pounds, producing a large quantity of delicious dark meat. Pekin ducks have a rapid weight gain, implying that these ducks’ attributes make people raise these ducks exclusively for meat.
These ducks are less expensive to raise for meat since they mature rather quickly, and hence you won’t spend loads of money on duck feed. The influx of Pekin duck meat in restaurants and homesteads proves that Pekin ducks are terrific meat producers.
Pekin Duck Care
Pekin ducks are pretty easy to care for since these ducks thrive in almost any environment. Keeping Pekin ducks can be pretty straightforward with proper housing, food, and nutrition. Although some diseases affect these birds, It is quite hard for Pekin ducks to succumb to the many conditions that affect them.
– Feeding & Nutrition
Free-range Pekin ducks forage on small frogs, tadpoles, crustaceans, and small fish. They also patrol for bugs while free-ranging. Indoor Pekin ducks, however, can’t forage for such food items while living in their coops. Therefore, you should give your Pekin ducks a wide array of foods to meet their dietary and nutritional needs.
Protein is one of the most vital nutrients for Pekin ducks, especially ducks meant for meat production. Protein helps Pekin ducks develop large muscles, enabling the ducks to mature quickly and be ready for slaughter in a couple of months. Pekin hens also need plenty of protein-rich feed since protein helps enhance egg production and improve the overall quality of the duck eggs.
Pekin ducks are large, and therefore they need calcium to grow stronger bones to supply their massive weight. Ducklings, in particular, need plenty of calcium to make their bones strong and healthy as they grow. Calcium will also help your Pekin hens lay eggs with a healthy shell. Consider adding calcium supplements to your ducks’ feed to increase your birds’ calcium intake.
Pekin ducks are omnivorous birds like other duck species. These birds, therefore, can eat a variety of nutritious and healthy foods. The best foods to give to your Pekin ducks should have nutrients, vitamins, and a variety of minerals for healthy development and growth. Good foods to provide to your Pekin ducks include oats, grains, seeds, and rice.
Food items such as grapes also have loads of vitamin C, which helps improve protein synthesis in Pekin ducks. Vitamin C also enhances Pekin ducks’ immune system, making the birds less vulnerable to duck diseases. Most importantly, consuming vitamin C-rich foods will help eliminate signs of stress in your Pekin ducks.
Pekin ducks also love mealworms; whether fresh or dried, Mealworms help provide the ducks with a consistent supply of protein, which is especially suitable for egg-laying and meat-producing Pekin ducks. Besides mealworms, pellets are a convenient option for ducks because pellets can make your Pekin ducks remain fuller for several hours. However, ducklings should only eat starter pellets since they aren’t mature enough to digest the ordinary pellets.
Although it helps to feed Pekin ducks with enough nutritious foods, duck keepers should understand the types of foods to avoid giving to their birds Bread, crackers, and popcorns are some of the least healthy foods for Pekin ducks since they have no important minerals and nutrients Bread, for instance, has little or no nutritional value for Pekin ducks.
Apart from food, ducks also need clean water like other captive birds. Having water in your backyard or coop will help the birds avoid dehydration in the summer months. Furthermore, ducks enjoy being in the water to cool feathers. Have a water pond in your yard to allow your free-ranging Pekin ducks to swim as they forage outdoors.
While feeding your ducks, don’t forget to discard all the leftover foods in the coop or backyard. Leftovers can harbor bacteria, therefore subjecting your birds to Salmonella and Avian cholera. Avoid providing your Pekin ducks with excess food since they will spill it all over, creating messes. Only feed your birds when you are certain they want food.
Housing is crucial for Pekin ducks, whether you keep Pekin ducks for commercial or subsistence purposes. The ideal coop should have plenty of space for ducks. Overcrowding ducks can be disastrous since Pekin ducks, like other ducks, like walking around other than remaining in one place even while indoors.
Since Pekin ducks drink and excrete more than chickens, ventilation is important to eliminate moisture and retain proper temperatures in the coop. Having a properly designed coop will provide your Pekin ducks with a high level of protection against detrimental aspects of extreme weather and multiple duck diseases.
If you have ducklings in your flock, provide your newly hatched Pekin ducklings with a dry and warm brooding area free of drafts. Have a heat source in the brooding place to keep the Pekin ducklings warm.
Floor space is a vital factor while keeping any duck species, including Pekin ducks. Overcrowding Pekin ducks is extremely detrimental to your birds’ health, egg production, and growth. Provide sufficient floor space at each phase of your ducks’ growth and development.
Other than floor space, flooring is also essential for ducks. Avoid having any flooring in the coop that is likely to injure the sensitive skin covering your ducks’ hock joints and feet. Pekin ducks have sensitive skin that is more vulnerable to injuries, especially when you confine the ducks on rough surfaces. Straw and sawdust can make perfect flooring in your ducks’ coop.
Your Pekin duck coop should also have enough feeders to ensure every duck has ample feeding space. The feeders should be larger if more adult Pekin ducks are in the coop. Older ducks have large bills, and thus they need large feeders while feeding lest they spill the feed around.
Predation is a serious concern for duck keepers. Lots of duck owners have been losing their Pekin ducks to predators. Seal all the loopholes where predators can take advantage of and get to your birds. Free-range Pekin duck keepers should have a fence or barrier to stop predators from attacking their ducks.
Lighting is essential while considering housing for your Pekin ducks, particularly if there are many egg-laying Pekin ducks in your duck flock. Having proper lighting for your Pekin hens can help prolong their laying period.
– Health Problems
While most Pekin duck owners consider Pekin ducks as highly disease-resistant compared to most duck species, these ducks are still prone to several health problems. Here are some of the health problems that affect Pekin ducks.
- Duck Plague– This acute and highly contagious viral disease usually affects mature Pekin ducks Pekin ducks carrying this disease develop ruffled feathers, show sluggishness, and have greenish-yellow diarrhea.
- Avian Cholera– This health condition results from a bacterial infection Ducks with Avian Cholera have a poor appetite, difficulty breathing, and mucous discharge from their mouths.
- The colibacillosis-This disease usually affects Pekin hens, reducing their hatchability and infecting their egg yolks.
- Botulism-Pekin ducks develop this condition after eating decaying organic matter prevalent in stagnant ponds. The disease causes neck, wings, and legs paralysis.
Can Pekin Ducks Fly?
Pekin ducks aren’t excellent fliers, thanks to their heavy, massive bodies compared to other ducks. Therefore, these ducks will rarely fly away from your yard.
How Much Do Pekin Ducks Cost?
The cost of Pekin ducks isn’t definite. Factors such as the duck’s size and the duck’s age influence the cost of these ducks. Pekin ducklings can cost between $5 and $10. Pekin drakes can cost anywhere around $12, while hens cost between $15 and $20.
Are Pekin Ducks Loud?
Yes, Pekin ducks can be extremely loud, especially when they want to get their owners’ attention. Drakes are the loudest, and they can be extremely noisy at night. Pekin ducks make loud noises, particularly when there is a looming danger.
Pekin ducks are wonderful ducks. Whether you want an egg or meat duck breed, you can count on Pekin ducks. These ducks are especially awesome meat producers. Although they can be noisy, Pekin ducks are worth keeping for meat and eggs or pets.