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There are few better ways to start the day than with a couple of fried duck eggs on toast. Duck eggs are rich, creamy, and incredibly tasty. If I were only left with one species of bird on my own homestead, it would probably be my ducks.
Ducks can be both rewarding and challenging to keep. Depending on the breed, they can lay between 50 and 300 eggs a year. Sometimes however they do not always lay those eggs where we would like them to. It is not uncommon to find out your duck is laying her eggs in the pond.
In this article, I look at some of the reasons a duck lays her eggs in the pond and what we can do to stop her.
Over the years, many dedicated and talented breeders have developed strains of ducks to make them either table birds (edible), egg-laying birds, or for dual purposes.
Many breeds of duck do not have strong maternal instincts and they do not take care of where they lay their eggs. Ducks will frequently drop an egg out whilst they are walking along or even when they are swimming on the pond. Alternatively, they may simply sit wherever they happen to be, lay an egg, then carry on with their day.
Why Are My Ducks Laying Eggs In The Pond?
The main reason ducks lay their eggs in the pond is because all of their maternal instincts have been bred out of them.
The vast majority of duck breeds we keep either in our backyards or on our homesteads are bred for egg production, for meat, or for both. One consequence of creating new duck breeds is that in most cases the duck has lost its natural ability and desire to sit on and incubate its own eggs.
For generation after generation, breeders were removing the eggs from the ducks to incubate them artificially and as a result, the ducks lost many of the maternal instincts.
Whilst this is not true of all breeds, many of the modern breeds of duck don’t even worry about laying their eggs on a nest. The eggs frequently drop out whilst the duck is walking, or swimming in some cases, and the duck does not give it a second thought.
I have a couple of duck breeds that just drop their eggs where ever they happen to be, and I am forever finding their eggs just lying around in their pen or around the edges of their ponds.
Sadly, I would recommend that any duck egg found in the pond should be discarded into the compost pile. If the egg is floating, there is a good chance it has gone bad, and if has sunk to the bottom of the pond, it is probably not going to be very appetizing by the time you get it back.
How Can You Stop A Duck Laying In The Pond?
You can not make a duck have maternal instincts if they have been bred out of it. However, there are some tricks that can help prevent your duck from laying eggs in the pond.
Keep the ducks off the water in the morning
In my experience, most ducks want to lay their eggs in the morning. If possible, keep your ducks off the pond until the afternoon. That way, whilst they may not start using a nest, they will leave their eggs somewhere on land, making them easier to collect.
Reduce access to the pond
Some breeds of duck, only lay an egg every third or fourth day. If you keep these breeds, then consider only allowing them access to the pond on the 2 or 3 days after laying, then keep them in a pen (with access to some water) until they lay again.
Although using this technique you will still occasionally lose an egg or two to the pond, the majority of the eggs will be laid in the pen on non-pond days.
Keep the ducks penned when laying
Probably the least desirable, yet most effective technique to prevent your ducks from laying their eggs in the pond is to only allow them access to the pond outside of the laying season. If your ducks only lay in the spring and summer, then keep them in their pen for the laying season, with access to a shallow water source.
By keeping the ducks off the pond when laying, there is zero chance any eggs will be laid in the pond. Once the laying season is over, allow the duck free range again.
Encourage your duck to go broody
Going broody is the term given to ducks and chickens when they sit on their eggs to incubate them. Typically a duck will lay in her nest until she has a desired number of eggs (usually between 6 and 10), then she will sit on them.
Sometimes, by placing false eggs, like these ones you can buy on Amazon.com in the ducks nest, the mother duck will feel compelled to lay next to them.
Providing you remove the real eggs each time one is laid, your duck will continue laying next to them as she will never reach the desired number to trigger her sitting on them.
Many modern breeds of duck are typically careless about when and where they lay their eggs. It is not uncommon for them to just sit where ever they happen to be, including on the pond, and lay an egg.
Ducks do not typically have the discipline of chickens, and they rarely feel the urge to return to the nest to lay their eggs.
If your duck continues to lay when on the pond, try some of the techniques listed above and see which one works for you and your ducks.
If you found this article interesting, why not check out one I wrote recently titled ‘Why are my ducks laying small eggs?’.