Whether you want to breed muscovy ducks or pekin ducks, or khaki campbell ducks or any other duck breeds for fun or for business purposes, the smartest way to start out is by learning the best way to breed ducks.
Learning the best way to breed ducks is very important for raising backyard ducks or commercial ducks successfully.
Ducks prefer to mate in the water, it is more natural, and they are categorized as waterfowl for a reason! Nonetheless, ducks will mate on land if that is where the female is when they decide to copulate. I've heard people saying if ducks do not mate in duck pond the eggs will be infertile. That's a total lie and not true at all. My ducks don't have a duck pond, but they always hatch eggs every quarter.
For excellent breeding which results in the highest egg hatching ratio, different duck breeds should follow their respective male to female ratio so as to achieve successful breeding. Generally about 5 to 10 ducks can be mated to each drake. In colder weather, limit the number of ducks per drake to five. In warmer weather increase it to eight or even 10. Heavy sized breeds like Muscovy and other meat breeds will generally have a ratio of 1 male to up to 6 females while lighter breeds such as the Khaki Campbell and Indian Runner can have a maximum male to female ratio of nearly 1 male to 10 females.
Never keep too many male ducks or too many female ducks for breeding purposes as keeping too many male ducks with too few female ducks can cause injury to the females because they can be mated too often and male ducks, known as drakes, have very big and very long reproductive organs.
Different breeds have different breeding seasons. Some domestic ducks generally breed year-round. But some breeds have different breeding seasons which go from late winter through spring to early summer.
During the mating season the ducks generally show mating behavior and lay eggs. During the breeding season, mating behavior will include neck biting, pecking, head bobbing and attempts at mounting by the male.
The best strategy for breeding ducks is to keep males and females separately. Male ducks, especially muscovy drakes, are very aggressive to female ducks and ducklings too. This results in eggs getting broken as males chase down females. She lays 15 eggs, but you will be surprised to find her left with just 10 eggs on the day she hatches them and the other 5 eggs disappear without any trace. To solve that mystery, simply separate male ducks from female ducks. You will only bring the females to the males when it's time for mating or breeding, and this is usually a month after they hatch their eggs.
If you often find dead ducklings in the duck house, it's usually because of the male ducks. They are too aggressive to even ducklings as well. By separating males from females, you will see a sharp decline in duckling mortality rate.
Mate the ducks for at least 2 weeks before collecting eggs for hatching. Doing this will ensure high fertility of the eggs, and it will also give the ducks time to settle down into mating.
While some domestic ducks will mate year-round, the typical mating season goes from late winter through spring to early summer. This is the most likely time that your ducks will show mating behavior and lay eggs. Mating behavior will include head bobbing, pecking, neck biting and attempts at mounting by the male.
Ducks will typically mate with any other duck including those of different breeds. If you want to create particular crosses you must keep breeds separate that you do not want mixed in. If you do not want your ducks mixing and you have multiple breeds then you should separate them during breeding season. Muscovy ducks that mate with other domestic ducks will produce mule ducks. Mule ducks are sterile but can be good meat producers. Mixes between other domestic ducks will not be sterile.
If a female duck doesn't want to mate, the drake will force himself upon her. Forced mating is not a good sight. When the mating is forced, the female resists, and this usually does not result in fertilization due to the complex nature of their reproductive organs.
If a female is ready for breeding, then mating begins as soon as the drake approaches her. When ducks mate, the female lies as flat as she can in the water or on the floor. The drake bites down on the back of her neck and does his thing. It will appear as though the drake is trying to drown the female because he is holding her head down in the water.
Breeder ducks are most profitable during their first laying year. However, they can be used successfully for 4 to 5 years. In backyard flocks it would be more desirable to keep ducks for several years.