Two Duck Eggs in Nest

When do ducks start laying eggs?

Your tiny fluffy ducklings have somehow transformed into a duck. They quack all the time, poop everywhere, and somehow turn everywhere around their water into a mudhole. They’re fun, but you’re wondering when you’ll get the rewards of all the work and money you’ve put into them. Where are those eggs?

Depending on the breed and the season, you can expect your first eggs when your ducks are 4-7 months old, or when breeding season starts.

Ducks mature and become old enough to lay at 4-7 months or 16-28 weeks of age. Smaller breeds, such as bantams and Runners, will lay earlier, often around 4 months, and heavier breeds such as Pekins and Muscovies will lay later. Khaki Campbells will start laying around four months, or 17-18 weeks of age, and Muscovies start laying when they’re about six months, or 25 weeks of age – unless they reach this age during fall or winter.

In the wild, ducks will start laying at the beginning of breeding season, at spring. Some domesticated ducks, especially types such as Mallards, still are somewhat seasonal in their laying and will often only start laying in spring regardless of age. If you use artificial light to artificially extend the length of the day (which is often done to keep ducks laying all winter), then they are more likely to start laying earlier, when they reach maturity, instead of at the onset of breeding season.

So if your ducks are older than 28 weeks and haven’t yet started laying, you may have to wait until spring.

 

11 thoughts on “When do ducks start laying eggs?”

  1. I raised a single orphaned muscovy duck, now she doesn’t want me to handle her and doesn’t trust me she is 3 and half mos. Old. Is that normal behaviour? I never mistreated her.

    1. Hi Myrna,

      Good question! It seems to be something that frequently happens (at least with Muscovies) during the adolescent stage. I’m really not sure why, but I have two guesses. It could be just a “teenage” thing that has to do with their maturing. Or it’s possible that growing feathers makes them sensitive and tender, because I’ve noticed that all my ducks become skittish during every molt.

      Either way, don’t worry, it’s not your fault, and it should pass. All the Muscovies I’ve ever had, as best as I can remember, behaved with what seemed to be irrational skittishness for about a month when they were growing up.

      But while she’s in this sensitive stage, do try to refrain from handling her, especially petting and holding her, since it upsets her so much.

      Hope that helps!

      ~Hannah

  2. My Muscovy female duck started laying 12 days ago, and still doesn’t seem to be getting broody. She sits on her nest of eggs for only a few minutes at a time, and is found wandering the property foraging majority of the day. If those eggs aren’t good anymore and she never gets broody enough to set her eggs, will she continue laying eggs daily or take a break? There is a drake always around and they’re still actively mating. I’m considering to start taking those eggs for food.

    1. They don’t always go broody. Some Muscovies go broody on every single clutch they lay. Others only go broody once or twice a year–or never. Muscovies are generally known to go broody a lot, but not all do. I have girls that are four years old and have only been broody two or three times in their entire lives.

      And if this is her first ever clutch, she’s probably not going to go broody. For some reason, domestic Muscovies rarely go broody on their first clutch.

      Likely, she’ll stop laying within a few days and take a break. My ducks will lay a clutch, stop laying for a couple weeks, and then lay another clutch. It does depend on the strain of Muscovy, though. Some strains, especially the ones bred for production, lay far more consistently and rarely take breaks, while other strains, usually the ones that are closer to their wild origins, only lay a few clutches in spring and then don’t lay for the rest of the year.

      I would certainly suggest taking the eggs for food. If she decides to surprise you and go broody anyway, you can always give the eggs back (assuming you haven’t already eaten them all).

      And if she doesn’t go broody, maybe she will on her next clutch.

      (Also, the drake has nothing to do with whether she lays eggs or goes broody. He only ensures that the eggs will actually hatch. Ducks don’t really know whether their eggs are fertile or not, so they’ll gladly go broody on infertile eggs.)

      1. Thank you for the reply. My female Muscovy finally stopping laying after 19 eggs and then sat consistently on the clutch. I candled them after 1 week and threw out 2 that looked bad. Later I threw out another 1, and finally after 32 days, 14 ducklings hatched (2 were unknown or stolen by rats). Thanks for the advice. My female turned out to be a very good mother for her first clutch.

  3. I accidentally frightened a mallard duck while she was laying eggs – the nest has 7 eggs and she has not come back. (It’s been several hours now and the temperature is 42F)
    Is this normal, and will she be back, or is there something I can do? (I don’t think I can interfere with the nest, correct?)

    1. Normally, broody ducks will return even if they’ve been frightened, so I think maybe she wasn’t even broody on them. If she was actually LAYING an egg, she probably wouldn’t have been on the nest long anyway. Ducks only go broody and stay sitting on the eggs after they’ve finished laying the clutch. Most likely, she’ll return tomorrow to lay another egg.

      But once my dog did scare a broody duck so badly that she never came back to the nest. If she really was broody, the eggs would unfortunately have died from going that long without warmth. I don’t exactly remember how warm Mallard eggs are supposed to be, but Muscovy eggs require a temperature of approximately 100-101 degrees to hatch. And broody ducks generally can’t leave the nest for more than half an hour before their eggs die.

      I’m not quite sure what you mean by interfere with the nest, but with my domestic Muscovies, I do occasionally mess with the nest, sometimes to add more bedding, sometimes to candle the eggs, etc. It’s not going to hurt anything to touch the eggs.

      I hope she’ll be back tomorrow. 🙂

  4. I have a 13 month old runner that has never laid an egg. She looks and acts healthy, I feed her all flock layer feed. What could be wrong? She’s not hiding them.

    1. First of all, are you sure this is duck is actually a female?

      Runners normally start laying around five or six months of age, so she should have started about seven months ago. Often, “why aren’t my ducks laying?” cases can be blamed on the weather and climate. But after that long, and with a duck breed that’s supposed to lay almost year round (although not all Runners are that good), I doubt that’s the answer. Even so, if you live in a very northern area like Canada, it’s a possibility. A lot of people have been wondering recently why their ducks aren’t laying yet, but they still have snow. But most of those are Muscovies, which almost never lay in winter. Runners often do.

      Could you tell me what her living situation is like? Is she alone? Is she in a barn all day? Does she free range? Does she have access to a pond?

      You say she’s not hiding her eggs. Do you think it’s possible that predators are taking them, instead? Just this morning we discovered that our GSD puppy has become an egg thief. Foxes have stolen quite a few of our eggs, too. Even if she’s in an enclosed area, snakes, rats, and other small animals may still be a possibility.

      Also, Runners are one of the breeds of ducks that rarely go broody and have virtually no interest in incubating. So they often just drop the eggs wherever they happen to be when they feel the egg coming. Don’t expect them to be in a nest box. If you have a pond, she could be dropping the eggs in the pond.

      It’s possible she eats the eggs, but I think you would have noticed at some point.

      Is she kept in a dark barn or other dark area often? Ducks decide whether or not to lay based on the length of the day, and if she’s only outside for a few hours or not at all, the days would seem very short to her and she probably wouldn’t lay. If you can’t let her outside for longer, the answer would be an artificial light. This is what I feel is the most likely reason—the length of the day.
      Her feed sounds fine, although you may want to add calcium. Most flock raisers add crushed eggshells or oyster shell to be sure they have enough calcium to make eggs.
      Obesity is one other possible reason she might not be laying. Some ducks are gluttons, and obese ducks don’t lay.

      Stress is another major reason. Is there anything stressful that frequently happens to your duck–getting chased by dogs/kids, being picked up and petted or held a lot, being in a pen that is too small, getting beaten up by chickens or other animals frequently, not always having water available, etc.? Also, if she’s alone, she’s lonely. I don’t know if that’s enough stress to cause a duck to not lay, but it’s a possibility. Frequent weather changes might also mess up her laying. Recently, we had a series of sunny mornings, and we were getting plenty of eggs (and the ducks are in a mobile pen without a roof, so they can see the moment the sun comes up). And then…bam! One cloudy morning, and we only got one egg that day. It’s funny what a huge effect the weather has on their laying.

      There could be other, more unusual causes, such as being a hermaphrodite or something weird, but you should rule out all the usual causes first.

      I hope one of these gave you an answer!

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