A few weekends back I went on an adventure to find Pekin ducks here in Bali. Wayan, one of the Gardeners at Bambu Indah, took me to a breeder in Payangan, north of my house. On arrival we discovered that the duck breeder was out of stock, but she recommended that we go down the road to her friend who might have a few. Her friend didn’t have any babies. He did have four adults, and agreed to sell them for Rp. 100,000 each: just under US$40.00 for all four. It was a steal. It’s hard to find Pekin ducks here in Bali and this is a good price for a large Muscovy, much less a Pekin. I thought I’d take this moment to talk about ducks here in Bali and let you in on the first phase of my duck breeding adventure.
There are three types of duck that I know are available here in Bali. The most common is the Bali duck which is sometimes called a crested runner duck because it is close to the Indian runner breed. This duck is descended from the wild Mallard. Its scientific name is: Anas platyrhynchos domesticus. The Bali duck is a light breed that lays lots of eggs (although they won’t sit on them). Here in Bali they are an important part of the rice field system. Farmers keep ducks to help them fertilize the soil and to eat the snails between rice plantings. The ducks are also a supplementary source of income. They provide eggs, meat, and the occasional ceremonial sacrifice. If you go to the market right before Galungan you’ll notice that the price of a white duck is double the usual price.
The next duck you see here in Bali is the Muscovy. This is actually a separate species and is descended from the wild Muscovy of South and Central America. Its scientific name is Cairina moschata domestica. It will breed with the Anas platyrhynchos domesticus on occasion, but fertility is low and the offspring are sterile. The Muscovy still retains many of its wild instincts. They are low maintenance, good parents, and don’t require water to breed. If the Anas platyrhynchos domesticus is the dog of the duck world, then the Muscovy is the cat. I wouldn’t attempt to herd them through your rice field, but if you want a few ducks for your property that have a fair amount of meat on them these are a good option. Some people think they are ugly, but I think those people are missing out on their beauty. Don’t be surprised if they don’t swim around much. I have a couple that sat at the edge of my empty pond consistently for two weeks. When I finally filled the pond up they never got in and continued to sit on the edge.
The Pekin duck is exciting for me because until recently I didn’t know they existed here. To be fair it is harder to find. Like the Bali duck the Pekin is descended from the wild Mallard and will breed with the Bali Duck. Pekin ducks are big and heavy. The ones I just purchased weigh about 3 kg each. The lady says they lay, but won’t sit on their eggs. If I want to breed them I should keep a few Muscovies near by to incubate the eggs.
Any duck needs at least 1m2 of space (per duck) to be healthy and sane; of course if you have more room you should give it to them. Life is always better when you’re free. Also if you are breeding the Anas platyrhynchos domesticus you will need a pond. Otherwise the eggs are infertile. Ducks need to get wet to really get it on. The Muscovy doesn’t need a pond. Low fencing 61m tall for Pekins and Bali ducks is a good idea if you have areas where you would rather not have your ducks go. My sister just sent me an awesome photo of a Cassava living fence. It is essentially a row of live Cassava cuttings that you plant close together so the duck can get out. You can then feed the ducks the Cassava leaves when they get tall. If you live in an area that has dogs, the infamous lewak (asian palm civit), pythons, owls, water monitor lizards or cats, as I do at my house, I suggest making a secure pen for your animals at night. If your dogs are aggressive you will need a secure fence at all times. I have heard that keeping a goose in with your ducks also helps ward off predators and I have to say I have lost fewer ducks since the goose was introduced. Keep in mind Muscovies must have a higher fence unless you clip their wings. If you have a garden you can run your ducks through the garden between plantings so they eat the bugs and poop on your beds. See Duck Housing and Management.
I read on Mother Earth News a comprehensive list of grains and greens to feed your ducks. You can check it out if you like. But like most guides it is geared for the western world not the tropics. The two main principles I picked up from it are: babies need slightly more protein and vitamins than adults. If you want them to be fat and juicy they should be fed more carbs, and if you want them to breed or lay eggs, they need more proteins and nutrients with less sugars. Its good for them to have a staple mix of food, but adding fresh greens is also important. They also get a fair bit of food from roaming the garden. So the amount of feed you should give them depends on how much food they can acquire from the land they are roaming. I’m going to feed my ducks a mix of 4 parts rice bran, 3 parts cornmeal, 2 parts mung bean (soaked), and 1 part red rice mixed with greens from the garden such as: banana stalk, water hyacinths, taro and kitchen scraps from a local restaurant.. This is because I plan on breeding them. If I were going to fatten them up to eat I’d increase the corn and rice content.
We’ll see how it goes and I’ll write another post when they have babies.