When we bought 20 ducks from a local egg farm, it was with the intent of putting meat on the table. However, after eggs began to appear, we decided to hold back a few layers for ourselves. Problem was, ages varied throughout the flock. We didn’t want to keep old birds that weren’t producing, so we learned how to tell if a duck is laying!
How to Tell If a Duck is Laying
The best way to tell if your duck is laying involves both dirt and manure. In any case, be sure to wear old farm clothes!
You’re going to have to inspect the pelvis of each hen (sorry, but it’s farm life)! If a hen is laying, you ought be able to fit 3-4 fingers between her pelvic bone points. Yes, you’ll have to feel around down there. Hence the farm clothes!
One at a time, you’ll have run this test on every female in your flock. I highly recommend containing your ducks to their house or a small enclosure for the procedure. This way, you can release the inspected birds outside!
Also, keep a tube of oil-based paint on hand so you can mark the old hens that need to go!
The Practical Process
Catch a duck and make it ‘sit’ in your lap. Like this!
Search for the pelvic bone. Gently work your way down the duck’s stomach until you find two V’s just above the rectum, pointing at one another. Like this > <!
Warning: when you are feeling for the pelvic bones, don’t push too hard on the duck’s stomach or you may get a dirty surprise!
One you find the pelvic bones, gently attempt to nestle 3-4 fingers between these points. If you can, your duck is laying well!
However, if only two fingers fit between the points, this usually means your hen isn’t laying consistently (unless she is a very small bird).
If all you can fit is one finger (or in some cases none) between the pelvic bones, it means your bird is past her laying days. Mark her with a swipe of paint. Be sure to place it in a location where she can’t wash it off!
Once you know what to feel for, the job will go fast! If you have a large flock ducks to work through, you’ll feel like a pro by the end of the testing process!
When You Should Run This Test
Try to run this test when ducks are producing well, ideally during the spring season. If you are testing later in the year, remember that egg production usually decreases with the cold and darkness of winter. This is particularly true of birds without artificial lighting! During the winter months, your laying bird’s pelvic bone span may narrow down.
Take this into account if testing during the ‘off’ season!
Wondering how to tell if your duck is going broody? Here are the 5 signs you should look for!
That’s how to tell if a duck is laying! And let me also say that while the finger-width test has been true for us, the best way to know when a duck is ‘on it’s way out’ is to keep records. When did you purchase them? How old were they? How long have you had them?
On average, a duck hen will produce well for 5 years. So keep track of the details and you should be able to skip this (sometimes) messy job altogether!