As there were no available production breed ducks on island, importation from a hatchery was necessary. There are few hatcheries that carry waterfowl and fewer still will ship to Guam. Once a hatchery is found, it is crucial to communicate with them in order to obtain the documents needed to apply for an import permit. Guam Department of Agriculture also has paperwork and set requirements (ducklings must come from a healthy flock and must be vaccinated prior to entry, shipping containers must be mosquito proof, ducklings must still undergo quarantine so their living quarters must be mosquito proof during the duration of the quarantine; if quarantine parameters are not met, the importer must seek an approved quarantine facility before entry may be granted). There is a fee for an import permit as well as a processing fee for customs should the ducklings be shipped through air freight (it is the quickest mode of transportation and ensures that the ducklings do not get stuck in distribution centers and die during transit). Additional fees may come from the hatchery (health certificate, vaccines, and freight costs) and customs (if the flight arrives after 1700 and depends on the rank of the officer for off-duty work).
Once an import permit is issued, the importer must prepare for the arrival of the ducklings. It is crucial that the brooder lamps be run prior to the arrival to maintain a temperature of 90F/32C. Water must be given once the ducklings have arrived. To increase survival rates, vitamins may be added to the water. It is important to give the water in sips. For the next few days, add pebbles to the waterers so the ducklings will not drink too much or drown. Carefully monitor the ducklings for the first 3 days. It is normal to have a few losses during this time. Reduce the temperature of the brooder 5-10 degrees per week until they are no longer needed. Heat from the lamps may not be needed during the day unless it is cold. 18-20% protein feed should be given for the next 3 weeks. Once the ducklings have shed their down and are feathered out (approximately one month in age), they may be allowed outdoors and will no longer need a brooder. By this age, they should be eating feed that is 14% protein.
Once ducks have reached production age, layer feed and sources of calcium are necessary to have in their diets to encourage healthy production of eggs.
Data to be collected: Pest population survey, duck production yield, crop production yield.
About the ducks
Our farm has White Layer and Khaki Campbell ducks that were imported from California as there is no other farmer that is pursuing duck production on Guam. We started off with 60 (50 females, 10 males) of each breed.
Currently, we have 45 White Layers and 40 Khaki Campbells which gives us a total annual loss of 15 White Layers and 20 Khaki Campbells.
In terms of production, both breeds perform around the same rate; however, we prefer the White Layers over the Khaki Campbells as they are hardier and produce much larger eggs.
Our ducks gradually increased in commercial feed consumption from 1 (50 lb) sack of feed a week from when they first arrived on island as day old ducklings to 2 (50 lb) sacks of commercial feed as adult ducks completing their first year on island per day.
In addition to commercial feed, fresh food wastes are source from nearby public schools and the ducks can forage for snails and slugs on the farm.
Introduction of calcium to their diet as they are in production is important for the formation of healthy egg shells. Lack of calcium will reduce shelf life of eggs and ducks will have higher rates of becoming egg bound, which could be fatal.
When allowing foraging, having a secure fence between the crops and the ducks is essential as the ducks will also indiscriminately eat the crops as well.
Our ducks began to lay in April, 7 months after arriving on Guam.
Production dips to about 30% on rainy days and 10% when the ducks are molting.
Our duck molting period lasted for approximately a month and a half (late October-November).
From the duck eggs, we produce the following products:
- Balut (aborted duck fetus)
- Penoy (incubated eggs that turned out to be infertile or terminated in development)
- Salted eggs
- Fresh eggs (when our flock fertility was still low)
Of our products, as expected, balut was the most popular from the beginning and we continuously are sold out every weekend that we sell at the farmer’s market.
Initially, we were terminating the incubated eggs at 14 days; however, due to customer preference, we now terminate at 18 days.
Next in popularity was salted eggs, fresh eggs, and finally penoy eggs. Recently, we’ve had an increase of interest in our penoy eggs due to customers that were more squeamish with the embryo found in balut.
Currently, our major line of production is with balut. We had our GQF Sportsman 1502 modified to fit more eggs and converted an old miniature refrigerator into a second incubator. Although we are making a bit more money from this venture than before the modification, the cost of commercial feed in addition to the months with low production has set us back.
In addition, our crop yields have also been low due to the immense amount of effort put into raising ducks and an active tropical cyclone season. Many other local farmers have experienced similar crop yields as many of them had not recovered from Typhoon Mangkhut when Super Typhoon Yutu devastated the Marianas.
Initially, we had an issue with manure output. The ducks were producing more manure than we anticipated. The smell became a problem for our neighbors and the ducks were not thrilled with plodding through the mud either.
We first started using shredded paper as ground cover that we sourced from the local community college. It worked temporarily.
We moved on to grass clippings and leaves that we sourced from a nearby housing community. It helped with the smell and the ducks were happier. We still need to process the manure to be able to use it an alternative to commercial fertilizers.
We added plastic pallets to their housing area so that they would have a place to be off the ground. It also helped keep the eggs cleaner as they were not tracking as much mud into their nesting boxes.
Educational & Outreach Activities
This year, we had two separate farm visits from students at the University of Guam that were taking graduate and undergraduate level courses in agriculture. The students were given a tour of the farm and operations and participated in activities with the ducks.
Ducks are voracious eaters
Ducks are not less susceptible to illness
Manure output from ducks is extremely high
In its current state of infancy, the project has proven to provide an environmental benefit of manure production which would help farmers improve the productivity of their soil, especially farmers in the northern areas of the island with limestone origin soil.
In the future, the project will contribute to future sustainability in:
- Egg production: There are no other farms producing duck eggs. Currently, duck egg products are imported from the Philippines. A local producer could be preferred over importation.
- Manure production: Manure can be sold or exchanged between farmers.
- Manure production : Manure has the potential increase farm crop productivity and improve soil quality.
- New business opportunity: As there are no other farms producing duck eggs, this project has the potential to become a new business opportunity for farmers should it prove to be profitable or become an adoptable model to increase farm productivity.
- Employment opportunities: Integrated livestock and crop farms require assistance in care and management.