Do ducks lay eggs in the same place? Understanding the laying habits of ducks

Do ducks lay eggs in the same place? Understanding the laying habits of ducks.

I have been raising chickens for a while now. One intriguing observation I have made is that they like laying at the same location. I have provided my chickens multiple laying boxes, but they seem to like one. 

Sometimes you will see chickens squeezing in one box while the others are vacant. 

Ducks on the other hand do not lay eggs in the same place. They will lay in multiple locations around the coop and yard.  They will find a hidden corner in the coop or some bushy place in the yard to nest. If they detect any sign of threat to their eggs, they will find another location that they deem secure and lay their eggs there. 

This duck-laying habit has made poultry keepers’ ducks hide their eggs from being taken by human beings or predators. To some extent this is true. Who would want their eggs taken each time they lay? Understanding the laying habits of ducks will make sure you reap the benefits of having ducks lay eggs for you. Let us look into details of ducks laying habits by clarifying several queries that will come up time after time when you decide to add ducks to your flock. 

When ducks start laying eggs.

Ducks will reach productive maturity at 6 months (17-24 weeks). Sometimes they will mature later in the 7th month. Heavier duck breeds might start laying a bit later.  If the laying maturity happens during winter, their bodies are designed to delay laying until spring, when there are longer light hours. The delay is not attributed to the cold, but to the fact that long light hours are needed for the bodies of ducks to start developing eggs. 

How to tell that your duck is laying. 

It is entirely possible for a new duck keeper to miss out on the tell-tale signs that their ducks have begun to lay. This is due to the fact that ducks are good at hiding eggs. You might never find the eggs. 

The body of a mature duck ready to start laying changes when it is time. Their abdomen might appear swollen. The vents get moist and the distance between the pelvic bones will widen. A sure test for telling a duck that is laying is measuring the space between the pelvic bones with your fingers. Place your fingers between the pelvic bones of the duck. If only two fingers fit, then it is not yet time for the duck to start laying. If three or four fingers fit, then the duck is ready for laying. 

Some breeds of ducks may exhibit darkened plumage as an indication that it is time to start laying eggs. 

Feeding egg-laying ducks.

Switch to layer feeds in form of mash or pellets when ducks are ready for laying. This will provide their bodies the right amount of calcium, protein, and vitamins to develop high-quality eggs. 

The table showing the nutrients required for laying ducks. This is useful if you are making your own feed at home or at the feed mill. Make sure your duck feed meets the recommended levels of protein, calcium, vitamins among other nutrients.

NutrientQuantity
Dry matter, %89
Metabolizable energy, Kcal/kg2600
Crude protein, % min18
Crude fiber, % max8
Calcium, % min3
Available P, % min0.5
Linoleic acid, % min1
Lysine, % min0.65
Methionine, % min0.30
Total Sulfur Amino Acids, % min0.55
Salt, % max0.60
Recommended nutrients for laying Khaki Campbells ducks. These will work for all laying duck breeds

How often do ducks lay eggs?

Domesticated ducks will lay 1 egg per day.  Ducks will produce an egg every 24 to 48 hours and lay eggs in a clutch. 

A clutch, made of between 3 to 13 eggs is a full set of eggs a duck lays in a period of time before incubation Female ducks will lay in intervals of a day or 2 and complete a clutch in about 14 days. 

The range of the clutch size depends on the breed. An example is Malard ducks clutch size ranges from 8 to 13 eggs. 

When the ducks lay all the eggs in a clutch, they will start the incubation process. 

Where do ducks lay their eggs?

If you are keeping ducks in a coop, they will lay on the floor, on nests they make using the straw that you have provided as nesting materials. After laying they will try to hide the eggs by covering them with straw. This is to avoid their eggs being taken. 

Ducks will lay the first set of eggs at the same location but will spread the risk by making another nest. If you do not find the eggs in the first next, chances are that the duck has is laying elsewhere. 

If you let the ducks free-range, they might lay in the yard. They will dig up a shallow hole on the ground, lay their eggs and cover them with leaves. Good luck finding them. Be sure that the duck will have multiple laying nests around the yard. Once ducks get accustomed to laying in the yard, they can hold the egg until you let them out of the coop. 

What time of day do ducks lay eggs?

Ducks lay eggs early in the morning. They will begin laying at about 4 am and will be done by sunrise. However, they can still lay until early morning, between 9 am and 10 am.

If you do not want your ducks to lay eggs outside, it is good to keep them locked in until they finish laying. Inspect the coop for a few days so as to be able to tell what times your ducks are laying eggs. This will help you determine what time to let them out. 

A point of note is that if a duck has established a laying point outside the coop, she will hold the eggs until she is let out. She will then go ahead and lay at her chosen laying spot. 

You can stop your ducks from laying out of the coop by locking them up for a few days. This will change their designated laying spot to inside the coop. 

Ducks and dirty eggs

One of the weird things you will discover while keeping ducks is dirty eggs. You might think something else is making the eggs dirty. You might even want to clean the nesting areas so that you can be collecting clean eggs from your ducks. 

Ducks intentionally make their eggs dirty. One of the reasons ducks will dirty their eggs is to mask them from predators. When dirtying the eggs, they will poop on them and go ahead and roll them on their droppings. 

Duck eggs that have been made dirty.

If ducks can get the eggs muddy, they will go ahead and make them as dirty a possible. 

Collecting clean eggs from ducks.

Since ducks will always attempt to make their eggs dirty, how do you collect clean eggs from your ducks? Providing a lot of straw for laying nests is one way of getting cleaner eggs from your ducks. This is because the straw takes some of the dirt as the duck is making the eggs dirtier. 

There is no guarantee of ever getting clean eggs from ducks. Most backyard duck keepers have settled on this fact. They instead have resulted to wash the eggs from their ducks. This can be done immediately before use or immediately after collecting. If you wash duck eggs immediately after collecting, make sure you refrigerate them.

Ducks laying in the pond. 

Sometimes you might be wondering where your ducks’ eggs are disappearing to. You have searched all over the coop, run, and yard. They are nowhere to be found.

The duck will sometimes lay their eggs in water. This is if the ducks are spending most of the time in the pond. Ducks will also lay in the pond if they feel that is the safest place for them to lay their eggs. Ducks and other birds have a motherly instinct where they want their eggs to be a safe as possible. 

It is possible to get your ducks laying again in their pens or coops. They are likely to be laying eggs in water because they do not feel safe on land. You need to find out what is making them not feel safe. This might be your pet dog that keeps chasing them around playfully or your cat that lurks around when they are laying the eggs. 

To get your ducks laying again in their pens and coops, remove the source of insecurity. Lock them in for a few days, so that they can get used to laying again on the ground.  Once they get the notion that it is safe to lay in their coop, pens, or run, they will establish that location as their new laying ground. 

Will ducks lay eggs in winter? 

When keeping poultry for eggs, you will want to have eggs throughout winter. Ducks are an excellent choice for such, in that they will continue laying throughout winter. The eggs might reduce in number, but be assured that you will not lack eggs in winter from your ducks. 

If you need consistent layers in winter go for breeds like the Khaki Campbell, Silver Appleyard, and Welsh Harlequin. Khaki Campbell ducks have been known to lay eggs throughout all seasons. 

Khaki Campbell ducks lay between 280 and 300 eggs per year.

Final Thoughts.

Understanding the laying habits of ducks will enable you to get the most from your ducks while keeping them comfortable and happy. The egg-laying habits are much affected by their surroundings.  Providing the ideal environment will keep your ducks and you happy for a long time.

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About James

I grew up on a small farm. My parents used to grow food and keep animals for our sustenance. They would sell the surplus to make an extra coin to supplement the income from their jobs. I am taking the same path. I have over 40 chickens for eggs and meat. I also grow vegetables in my backyard. follow me on Twitter

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