Many people dislike ducks because of their uncontrollable behaviour. But Benjamin, a university student thinks otherwise.
trueVision Group in partnership with dfcu bank and the Netherlands Embassy in Uganda is searching for Uganda’s best farmers. Harvest Money is profiling nominated farmers every Tuesday until September when a panel of judges shall select Uganda’s best farmers. Sh150m and a fully sponsored trip to the Netherlands await the best farmers who will be announced in October.
By Jackie Nambogga
Many people dislike ducks because of their uncontrollable behaviour like dumping waste all over the place. By contrast, Benjamin Akena, the 22-year-old student of Makerere University (Jinja branch) pursuing a bachelor’s degree in tourism is proud of his ducks’ farm.
The project, which sits on a 100ftx50ft piece of land, fetches him enough money to cover both his tuition fees and other necessities. Akena’s project is located at his elder brother’s homestead in Triangle Zone, Njeru town council in Buikwe district.
How he started
Akena started rearing ducks during his Senior Six vacation in 2010. Initially, he kept ducks for home consumption, but his attitude changed after he visited his friend, Bob Otto, who owns a piggery and also rears ducks in Njeru town council.
Otto was earning millions of shillings from his ducks and Akena felt an irresistible urge to follow suit. “We used to eat the eggs for breakfast and reared ducks for meat, but when I told my brother Lalobo how Otto’s project was faring, he bought the idea and discouraged me from giving the family the eggs and ducks for meat. This is how I managed to multiply the numbers in a short time,” he says.
Running the farm
Since ducks need plenty of water to survive, Akena constructed a pond for them on the same small piece of land. He uses a water pump to channel the water into the pond. The dirty water in the pool is not wasted. Every after three days, Akena uses the water to irrigate the flowers and the grass in the compound. To mow the grass, Akena uses a tractor and a manual mower.
The tractor cuts and pelts the grass into small pieces, making it easy for the ducks to feed on. Akena improvised a five-litre jerryycan, which he fixed on the mower, to act as a grass harvester.
The grass which is not used to feed the ducks is used as mulch in the flower gardens Akena also improvised a candler, which he uses to test the eggs during the first week of the brooding period to establish if the embryo is forming or not. The candler contains a florescent bulb, which is enclosed into a long paper-like tube.
He powers the candler with a generator. Unlike chicken eggs, which take 21 days to hatch, those of ducks take about 35. Akena manages his project alone because it does not require much effort.
Unlike chicken which are highly susceptible to diseases, Akena says ducks are rarely attacked by disease. “I have never bought any drugs for my ducks all these years. This is a good venture because it is not expensive and tiresome compared to rearing chicken,” he says.
The swimming pool Akena constructed for his ducks
Akena, who started with 12 ducks in 2010, now boasts of 233.Of these, 150 are female A mature female duck costs sh15,000, while a male duck goes for between sh20,000 to sh30,000, depending on the size. He also sells ducklings at sh10,000 each.
Most of his clients are from Nwoya district, where duck meat is on high demand. Recently, he sold 150 ducks and bagged sh2m. If well-fed, ducks lay between 15 to 20 eggs per month.
A a tray of duck eggs goes for about sh11,000. Most of his clients who buy eggs are chapatti and cake bakers within the area. “I have a female client who bakes cakes and pays for the eggs in advance. The demand for eggs is so high compared to my production,” Akena laments.
He earns between sh50,000 and sh80,000 weekly from eggs alone.
Investing in knowledge
Akena does not miss New Vision’s pull-out Harvest Money published every Tuesday, which he confesses has given him a lot of information on farming. “My brother buys New Vision every day, but he makes sure that he keeps for me that of Tuesday because I must read Harvest Money,” he says.
In July last year, Akena bought two geese (a male and female), popularly known as water fowl, from Kenya at sh300,000. This was after he researched on the Internet and discovered that goose meat was on high demand in Kenya, the United States of America and France.
“I am trying to multiply the geese as I did with my ducks. Recently, the female goose laid seven eggs, but it failed to hatch any due to poor brooding,” he says.
However, when he discovered that one of the eggs was still good, he gave it to a duck which was brooding and it hatched an offspring.
Akena says he does not feel the pinch to fuel the motorcycle he uses to go for lectures. “I used to incur high transport costs to attend lectures, but ever since my mother, Lucy Uma, a retired nurse, gave me the motorcycle she used to ride while going to work, transport is no longer a big challenge.
Akena went to Negri P/S in Gulu district and to Kalinabbiri P/S, where he completed his Primary Seven. Later, he joined St. Lawrence SS in Kampala for his O’ and A’level.
Akena mowing the grass in the family compound. He uses the grass to feed the ducks
The economics of rearing ducks (By online sources)
Rearing ducks is a well-paying venture, especially because there is a high demand for their eggs and meat. There are also several advantages that accrue to farmers rearing ducks. For starters, ducks are rarely attacked by infections like other poultry breeds as long as they are kept in the right environment.
Ducks are great rummagers and are quite happy to eat the snails, flies and bugs in your garden and compound. Unlike raising chickens, ducks will not destroy your flowers or your vegetables if you let them loose in your garden.
Ducks are a vital player in the farm’s ecology by eating snails, slugs and other bugs in your vegetable garden. They also provide rich manure to enrich your soil.
However, foraging for food is not enough for a duck if you want it to be a good layer and a fat bird for your table. You will need to supplement their diet with chopped tomatoes, maize bran, duck marsh or remains of foods from a meal.
A farmer should also make sure he provides his ducks with lots of fresh drinking water, which is an absolute requirement. A clean bucket of water each day allows the ducks to drink and wash, if you can get a suitable automatic drinker, big enough for the ducks to immerse their heads, then that is even better.
A farmer should note that a duck that does not have access to water to clean its eyes on a regular basis will go blind. Where possible, create a pond for the ducks to swim and play in.
If ducks do not have access to water, they start showing abnormal behaviour and may fly off in search of water and never come back. Clean the ponds regularly.
The pump Akena uses to feed water to the ducks’ swimming pool
If the pond is costly to sink, then one can sink an old plastic or metalling drum. However, make sure that you construct it in such a way that all ducks and ducklings can get access it easily. When it comes to housing, the other thing to note with ducks is that they cannot climb.
Therefore, it is important that the door of the house is low enough for the ducks to go through easily. Ducks are also good at laying eggs and if one has a good breed one can get up to 200 eggs per year per bird if it is fed well.
Ducks start laying eggs at around six months of age. If you are going to let your ducks hatch their eggs naturally be carefully and do not touch the eggs of change the nest when it starts laying eggs. In cases where it leaves the eggs you can still hatch them by putting them under a brooding chicken.
However, due to the large size of the duck eggs a chicken can only comfortably sit on seven to 10 duck eggs. You will need to make sure that the eggs are sprinkled with water regularly, especially towards the last few days. Ducks fatten fast and can be ready for eating after three months.
If well-fed, ducks can weigh up to 5kg in six months. One thing that you need to know is that the ducks reach a time when they stop adding on weight, however much you feed them. This stage is called the moulting stage.
Rearing ducks is very good business