Pekin ducks were raised in China for their meat, but now these ducks are fully domesticated and are one of the most popular breeds to keep as pets. The cute yellow Pekin ducklings quickly grow into beautiful white ducks with yellow bills. Adult Pekin ducks are large enough that they are considered one of the flightless duck breeds.
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About Pekin ducks
Adult Pekin duck hens weigh 7 to 8 pounds, while drakes can reach 9 or 10 pounds. These birds are great pets that grow quickly from ducklings into adults, but you must be committed to the animal because the typical Pekin duck life span is 8 to 12 years. Raising Pekin ducks only takes about seven to eight weeks when the birds are nearly to their adult weight. However, if you have a hen for eggs, she will need to mature to about 5 to 7 months of age before she starts laying Pekin duck eggs.
Habitat for Pekin ducklings
An adult Pekin duck prefers to spend most of the day outside but needs shelter at night. Since ducklings grow quickly, be sure to have a shelter and run for the ducks ready to go. Make sure the house for the ducks is secure and will keep them safe from raccoons and other predators.
When raising Pekin ducks, you will need to provide additional shelter for the ducklings. Get a brooder with sides that are at least 12 inches tall to contain the ducklings. Consider a kid's plastic pool or a plastic tub. Cover the bottom of the brooder with straw or pine shavings. Clean the brooder and change the bedding as needed.
Caring for ducklings
Ducklings rely on their mother for warmth when they hatch, so when you are raising Pekin ducks, make sure there is a heat lamp in the brooder to keep the ducklings warm.
Immediately after hatching, the brooder should be kept at a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. On the second day, you can lower the temperature to 85 degrees. Continue to lower the temperature each day by 5 degrees, removing the heat source when the room temperature is the same as the brooder temperature.
Pekin duck food
Pekin ducklings should not be fed the same food as adults. During the first three weeks of life, feed ducklings a starter food that has 18 to 20 percent protein. Make sure the food is not medicated and that it is formulated for ducks and not chickens, as the birds have different nutritional needs at this stage of life. When ducklings are 3 weeks old, you can transition them to a grower food that has 15 percent protein. Duck or chicken grower feed is acceptable at this stage. When the Pekin ducks are 20 weeks old, you can transition them to their adult diet.
Health and behavior
Pekin ducks are generally quite healthy when they receive proper care. Speak with your veterinarian about recommended vaccinations for your ducks. This may vary depending on where you live. Some potential vaccines may include duck virus hepatitis and duck plague.
Monitor your duck for signs of illness. Symptoms such as depression, lameness, ruffled feathers, and not opening the eyes may indicate a salmonella infection. Your vet can treat this with amoxicillin. If ducks are fed moist food contaminated with aflatoxins, your duck may develop the fungal illness aflatoxicosis. Symptoms include slowed growth, bruising, pale coloring, and sleepiness.