Raising Pekin duck
Pekin ducks, also known as Long Island ducks, is a duck breed of domesticated ducks used largely for meat production. They can also be raised for their eggs but they are often raised by farmers for meat because they are capable of growing in a short period of time. The Pekin duck was bred from the Mallard duck in Peking, China (hence the name). The ancestors of these ducks originated from the water vessels which linked water canals in Nanjing, and originally had petite bodies and a jet black plumage.
With the relocation of the chinese Capital to Peking (now Beijing), the supply barge traffic increased going to the new capital that would often spill grain, crops and other feeds during the barge trips, providing a great source of feeds to the ducks. As a result of this, the ducks gradually increased in size and grew white feathers. In five dynasties in China, the evolved species of Mallard ducks had been raised by Chinese farmers.
In 1873, nine ducks were exported from Peking to Long Island, New York, thus it is also called Long Island ducks. It is the most widely known duck meat in the United States, even though some farmers had relocated to Indiana from New York. Today, about 90% of duck meat consumed in North America is the Pekin Duck.
Pekin duck eggs take around 28 days to hatch at an incubator with an environment of 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 per cent moisture. A heartbeat can normally be observed in the third day of incubation during candling. The duck eggs should be regularly turned during incubation. This is to imitate the natural turning of duck hens, as she shifts the position of the eggs while sitting on it for hatching. For artificial incubation, there are machines that can turn the eggs instantly.
When incubated artificially, the eggs are transferred to a hatcher at least three days before they are expected to hatch. This has a slightly decreased temperature and the percentage of moisture is increased, to add the level of survivability for the newly-hatched ducklings while their protective egg sheaths develop.
Compared to other poultries, duck eggs are quite easy to hatch as they are very adaptable in variations in warmth and moisture.
Fully matured adult Pekin ducks can weight about 8 to 11 lbs in confinement. The average lifespan is about 9 to 12 years. Their outer feathers are white, sometimes with a tinge of yellow or orange. This is clearer with ducks that have been brooded inside pens and not exposed constantly to sunlight. The ducks have increased upright posture than dabbling ducks, and have overturned remains.
A mature Pekin will produce an average of 150-200 eggs every year. They will normally lay an egg every day. They will lay eggs in what they think is a safe place and sometimes, where another duck has already laid their own. Ducks can be tricked into laying eggs when desired by placing a lure such as a golf ball or alike objects in a place where you want them to lay their eggs.
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