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 water-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!
Very gently, see if you can nestle 3-4 fingers between these points. If so, this means your duck is laying well!
If only two fingers fit between the points, it may mean that you hen isn’t laying consistently (unless she is a very small bird).
One (or in some cases none) means your bird is past her laying days. If keeping ducks for egg production, this means it’s time for her to go! Mark her with a swipe of craft paint. Be sure to put 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, possibly to the width of 2 fingers.
Take this into account if testing during the ‘off’ season!
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?
These details, combined with the simple test above should help you know how to tell if a duck is laying! And not just one duck. All of them!