Three pure lines derived from what is often called Pateros duck or mallard (native itik) have been developed by researchers of the National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center headed by Dr. Rene C. Santiago in Lagalag, Tiaong, Quezon.
These are the black, brown and white lines which breed true to type, meaning that each line when multiplied come out uniform in the color of the feather, size and egg productivity. On the other hand, the native itik is variable in size and productivity.
The three new lines start laying at 18 weeks or when they are 4.5 months old. They have 55 to 72 percent egg production which means that in a particular day, out of 100 layers 55 to 72 ducks lay eggs. There are certain periods, however, when as many as 98 per cent of the ducks lay eggs. In one year, they can produce 255 eggs. On the other hand, the native itik only has a 50 percent egg production.
The new ducks weigh an average of 1.2 to 1.35 kilos each. This is an ideal weight for egg layers. They are not big which means they don’t also consume as much feed as the big fowls. The eggs of the new ducks are ideal for making balut and salted eggs, each weighing 68 to 70 grams.
The new lines could pave the way to eventually producing certified Philippine breeds of ducks and also other native animals, according to Dr. Santiago. The certification could be achieved after further research on the fowl’s performance under different situations in different localities.
By the way, the new duck lines were the result of a four-year research study funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) which provided a P10-million grant. This was counterparted with P5 million by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture. The research started in 2012 and slated to end in July 2016.
As early as 2008, however, the NSPRDC started selection of native mallard from different provinces from which continuous selection was undertaken, resulting in the development of the three pure lines of black, brown and white itik.
Today, breeding stocks have been provided to five growers in Nueva Ecija, Batangas and Laguna who are multiplying the new duck lines for eventual commercial sale to the public.
The initiative, according to Dr. Santiago, was prompted by the fact that in the past several years duck egg production was getting lower and the duck farmers were losing money. Victoria, Laguna, used to be the center of duck production for many years. In all those years, the raisers fed their ducks with shells gathered from the Laguna Lake.
When Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) prohibited the gathering of shells for feeding ducks to prevent over-exploitation, the duck raisers shifted to commercial feeds which are much more expensive than shells. Because the native itik only had 50 percent egg production and the commercial feeds are expensive, many of the duck raisers lost money and had to give up their projects.
That started the search for better-performing ducks and less expensive feeds. While the current raisers under confinement use commercial feeds, they can reduce feed cost by giving azolla as supplementary feed. The NSPRDC has a showcase where they produce azolla as supplementary feed for ducks and other animals.
With efficient egg production, duck raising could be highly profitable. Ducks require less investment compared to commercial poultry. Duck eggs sell for P6.80 to P7 apiece today and balut is selling at P15 to P16 each while salted duck eggs sell for as much as P13 apiece.
Most of the ducks today are raised in Isabela, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga where the fowls are grazed in rice fields. There are, however two big raisers in Candelaria, Quezon and a few others in Victoria and Pansol, Calamba City.