How to raise Fish and Duck together

Fish and Duck Integrated Farming

A multi-commodity farming system is more advantageous to the farmer than the monocropping system. However, commodity mix must fit into the available resources and needs as well as the economic and environmental forces around the farmer. Based on the above principles, a system of integrated fish-cum-duck farming has been developed through a number of production trials. The system not only results in more economic benefit to the farmer but also both the commodities mixed i.e., the fish and ducks are benefitted by their coexistence.

How to raise Fish and Duck together
How to raise Fish and Duck together

The mutual beneficial effect of combined fish culture and duck raising is difficult to assess with accuracy due to complex interactions in the pond ecosystem but experience has shown that this combination increases the production of both the animals and decreases the input cost on fish culture operations considerably. The droppings of ducks act as a substitute to fish feed and pond fertilizers which account for 60% of the total input cost in fish culture. The expenditure incur red on duck raising is largely offset through sale proceeds of duck eggs and duck meat.

The raising of ducks over fish ponds fits very well with the fish poIy-culture as ducks are highly compatible with cultivated fish The ducks feed on such organisms from the pond as larvae of aquatic insects tadpoles, molluscs, aquatic weeds etc. which do not form the food of stocked fish. The duck droppings act as excellent pond fertilizer and the dabbling of ducks at the pond bottom in search of food, releases, nutrients from the soil which enhances the pond productivity and consequently increases fish production.

The ducks in turn get clean and healthy environment to live and quality natural food from the pond for their growth.

The technique of combining fish culture and duck raising in Indian conditions has been developed and demonstrated by the Operational Research Project of this Institute. By this method it has been possible to attain fish production ranging from 3503-4000 kg/ha/yr from the ponds of the farmers in West Bengal without resorting to supplementary feeding. The methodology of fish—cum-duck farming is described below.

Pond Management :

Successful pond management is the basis of profitable fish-cum-duck farming.

1.1 Eradication of weeds :

Ponds are generally infested with various types of weeds which are not desirable for the healthy growth of fish. Where infestation is scanty and scattered, it can be cleared by manual labour. But, if the infestation is heavy, chemical weedicides should be used. Some varieties of weeds can also be controlled by stocking grass carp. Ducks also keep the aquatic weeds under check, as they feed on the weeds.

1.2 Eradication of predatory and weed fish :

Both the predatory and weed fishes are harmful for the baby carps, either directly or indirectly and hence their eradication from the ponds is a must. This is done most effectively by applying mahua oil cake, a fish poison of plant origin (4) 2,500 kg/hectare/meter 1250 ppm). The desired quantity of mahua oil cake is soaked in water and uniformly applied in the pond. A net is dragged in the pond immediately after application so that mahua oil cake get mixed in the pond water. After a few hours of application the fish can be seen in distress, loosing their balance and swimming upside down. The fish can then be collected by dragnetting or by hand nets and can safely be used for human consumption. The toxicity of mahua oil cake lasts for about two weeks. Toxicity test should be done before stocking the pond, by keeping a few fingerlings for 43 hours in a hapa fixed in the pond. mahua oil cake has double advantage as it kills the unwanted fish and also acts as a fertilizer in the fish pond.

Lime should be applied @ 200-250 kg/hectare/yr depending upon the soil and water conditions. The half of the quantity is applied before stocking the pond and rest in 2-4 equal instalments to keep the pond water alkaline and hygienic.

1.3 Stocking of pond :

After 15-20 day of poisoning the pond is stocked with the fingerlings of Indian and Chinese carps i.e., catla, rohu, mrigal, silver carp, grass carp and common carp at a stocking density of 6000 fingerlings per hectare with 1200 catla, 1200 rohu,1200 mrigal, 1200 silver carp 600 grass carp and 600 common carp. The species , ratio and stocking density can be altered according to availability of the seed. Culture of Indian major carps alone or along with common carp can be taken up at places where seed of exotic carps is not available. Fingerlings of 10 cm or above should be stocked as the ducks are likely to prey upon small ones.

1.4 Manuring of pond :

No manures are to be applied to the pond. Instead the ducks are given a free range over the pond surface from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., when they distribute their droppings in the whole pond, automatically manuring the pond. The droppings voided at night are collected from the duck house and applied to the pond every morning.

1.5 Feeding the fish :

No supplementary feed is given to the fish as they utilize the feed spilled by ducks and also eat the duck droppings. The droppings also help in producing natural fish food organisms in the pond. Grass crap, if stocked, is fed by aquatic weeds such as Hydrilla, Najas, Potatnogeton etc. If aquatic vegetation is not available then chopped green cattle fodder such as barseem, Hybrid napier, maize leaves etc. can be fed to the grass carp inside a bamboo enclosure. Aquatic weeds or grasses for the grass carp should be given in the morning before the ducks are allowed into the pond from the duck house and in the evening when the ducks have gone back to the duck house, because the ducks also eat the weeds and in the process scatter them over the pond surface.

1.6 Periodic netting :

Trial netting or monthly sampling is done every month to find out whether fish are growing satisfactorily or not. It also helps in the timely detection of para-sitic infection, if any.

Duck Husbandry :

The egg laying by ducks depends upon many factors ; including the breed and strain but good management contributes considerably towards the achievement of optimum egg and flesh production.

2.1 Types of ducks :

The kind of duck to be raised must be chosen with care since all the domesticated races are not productive and hardly enough for keeping in open ponds in all weathers. The number of ducks required for proper manuring of one fish pond is also a matter of consideration. It has been found out that 200-300 ducks are- sufficient to produce manure adequate enough to fertilize a ha of water area under fish culture. Two to four months ducklings are kept on the pond after providing them necessary prophylactic medicines as a safeguard against epidemics.

2.2 Housing of ducks :

The ducks do not need much elaborate house since most of the time during day they remain in the pond. Any house on the farm not being utilized, can be effectively converted into night shelter for the ducks. Alternatively a low cost night shelter can be constructed on the pond embankments, using split bamboos or any other cheap wood. A floating duck house can also be constructed on the water surface using empty mobil oil barrels as floats. The house should be well ventilated and so designed that the washings are drained into the pond. An important care is to keep the duck house clean and dry as far as possible.

The overcrowding of the ducks in the night shelter should be avoided as
this results in poor growth and reduction in egg production. About 0 3-0.5 sq meter
of floor space per bird is enough for night shelter.

2.3 Feeding of ducks :

Ducks kept in the open waters are able to find natural food from the pond but that is not sufficient for their proper growth. This natural food is, therefore, supplemented with artificial feed. Since duck feed is not commercially available in our country, a mixture of any standard balanced poultry feed and good quality rice bran in the ration of 1 : 2 by weight can be fed to the ducks @ 100 g feed/bird/day in addition to the natural food which they get from the pond. The first feeding is done in the morning and second in the evening. The feed is given either on the pond embankment or in the duck house and spilled feed is then drained into the pond to be utilized by the fish. Water must be provided in containers deep enough to submerge their bills, along with feed.

Ducks are quite susceptible to aflatoxicosis, therefore, the mouldy feeds or feeds kept for long time should be avoided.

2.4 Health care :

Efforts should be made to keep the duck house dry and maintain proper hygienic condition. Sunning the floor is also advisable if there is such provision. Duck house should be washed with disinfectant at least once week. Phenol should be avoided as it is harmful for aquatic life. Always prevaccinated ducklings against duck-plague should be kept for raising.

2.5 Egg laying by ducks :

The ducks start laying after attaining the age of 24 weeks and continue to lay for two years. The ducks Iay only at night, so there is no possibility of eggs being laid when the ducks are in the pond during the day time. It is advisable to keep some straw or hay in the corners of the duck house for egg laying. The eggs are collected every morning after the ducks are let out of the duck house. The local variety of ducks, “Indian runner” , lay between 180-200 eggs in one year.

2.6 Duck Diseases :

Compared to chicken, ducks are subjected to relatively few diseases. The local Indian variety of ducks is more resistant to diseases than other varieties. However, proper sanitation and health care are as important for ducks as for chickens “Prevention is better than cure” is the best formula for proper duckery management.

An experienced farmer can detect a sick bird among the flock by a careful look, listening to the sounds of the birds and by observing any reduction in the daily feed consumption. A sick bird becomes listless, eyes lose brightness and watery discharge comes out of the eyes and nostrils.

The sound of sneezing and coughing from the duck house is a warning for the coming disease. The sick birds should immediately be isolated and not allowed to go to the pond. Local veterinary expert may be contacted immediately for further treatment and advice.

Harvesting :

Some fish attain marketable size within a few months. Keeping in view the size of the fish, prevailing rate and demand of the fish in the local market, partial harvesting of the table size fish can be done. After harvesting partially, the pond should be restocked with the same species and the same no. of fingerlings depending upon the availability of the fish seed. Final harvesting is done after 12 months of rearing

The eggs are collected daily in the morning hours after the ducks are released. Ducks should be sold after completion of two years of rearing because the egg laying capacity of the ducks decreases after 
two years.

Advantages of Fish + Duck integrated Farming

i) The fish can utilize the feed spilled by ducks and eat their droppings which
form very nutritious food for fish.

ii) Due to high manurial value of duck droppings complete saving on pond fertilizers and supplementary feed for the fish is possible.

iii) Ducks keep water plants in check.

iv) Ducks loosen the pond bottom with their dabbling and help in release of nutrients from the soil which increase the pond productivity.

v) No additional hind is required for duckery activities.

vi) Ducks get 30.50% of their total feed requirement from the pond in the form
of aquatic weeds, insects, molluscs etc., which are useless for the fish.

vii) Major quantity of droppings are spread by the ducks themselves over the whole pond area. This is an efficient and labor saving method of pond manuring. The ducks act as living manuring machines.

viii) It results in high production of fish, duck eggs and duck meat in unit time
and water area.

ix) It ensures high profit through less investment.

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