Having selected a breed or breeds that you want to raise, the next step is getting suitable stock.
How about hatching eggs, maybe day-old ducklings or mature ducks. How many should you get ?
If theres a good dependable setting hen or incubator available, you may wish to buy hatching eggs to start your flock. Some advantages of this method is that the eggs are 1/3 to 1/2 the price of day-old ducklings, and you get to experience the enjoyment of waiting and witnessing the hatch. Disadvantages are that eggs vary in fertility, may be broken or internally damged if shipped, and it's impossible to know just how many will hatch.
Unless you know that the eggs are over two weeks old when you recieve them, it is best to hold the eggs at 55 to 65 degrees F six to twelve hours prior to placing in the incubator. Make sure the large end is up. Older eggs are best set promptly.
Buying day-old ducklins is the most popular method of starting a duck flock. They are more available that eggs or adult stock. Ducklings are very sturdy and can be shipped thousands of miles. You can get them sexed but it will cost you a bit more than unsexed. Unsexed theoretically will be 50% drakes and 50% hens. Practically, there may be 10% to 25% more male than female or visa versa, when purchased in lots of 25 or less.
The first 24 hours after ducklings arrive is important. They should be given drinking water, food, and a home to rest in as soon as possible. House them in a box or other brooder with bedding and temperature of 90 degrees F the first seven days.
This is the quickest way to get a producing stock. Poultry farms and hobbyists often have adult ducks available. Productivity declines after the third or forh year so it is better to get birds that are not over one year old. It's also best to get the ducks locally to save on transportation costs and to see what your getting before hand. Waterfoul adapt to weather changes and are easily shipped, so don't hesitate if you need to order from out-of-area breeders or hatcheries if the birds aren't available locally.
How many ?
This will depend on the purpose you're raising them for, how much room you have, and the type of breed you've decided on.
For laying stock the average number of eggs per bird per year is about 250. You can figure from there how many you'll need. There will be more or less eggs produced depending on type of feed and amount of day light.
For meat stock if you like roasted or smoked duck get however many that will keep your belly full.
For pets and general purpose, eggs and meat get enough to keep you happy. Just allow 2.5 to 4 square foot of floor space per bird in the duck house for only night houseing. To keep them in a house continuously a minimum of 6 square feet of floor space per bird. The minimum yard space should be 10 to 25 square ft per bird.
Check the links on the main page for a listing of hatcheries and others sources you may use to purchase your ducks.