So, When Do Ducks Start To Lay Eggs?

One of the best things about keeping ducks, just like keeping chickens, is getting that nearly endless supply of fresh, wholesome eggs. I know for me, and I imagine pretty much everyone else who gets started with them, the long wait until your hens start laying seems to go on forever.

Muscovy duck on nest
Muscovy duck on nest

When you want those eggs, and you want them now, it’s easy to start second-guessing and imagining that something is wrong with them. So, what’s the real answer? When do ducks start laying eggs?

Ducks typically start laying eggs between 4 and 7 months of age, depending on the breed, with larger breeds taking longer to sexually mature. Seasonal and environmental factors might also impact the start of egg laying.

With some breeds, you might not have to wait too long, but with others, you might be waiting the better part of a year!

It all just depends, but knowing what to expect will help you time your operation correctly and also avoid some anticipatory anxiety. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about egg-laying timetables down below.

Different Breeds Reach Laying Age Sooner or Later

The first thing you need to know about your ducks is that they will begin to lay eggs a little sooner or, sometimes, significantly later depending on the breed.

There’s not much you can do about this to speed them up if you’re dealing with slow development, but choosing the right breed means you can be enjoying eggs a whole lot quicker.

For instance, Pekins, the most popular domestic duck in the US, typically start laying between 6 and 7 months of age because they are so large and mature relatively slowly. A hen will not start laying until she is sexually mature!

Contrast this with smaller breeds like Indian Runners, which mature far faster at only around 4 months of age, and can provide you with eggs that much quicker.

If you want eggs on the double, it pays to pick a breed that matures quickly if you’re just starting out. Don’t forget to look at all the other considerations, though, like output, size of the eggs, etc.

The Larger the Breed, the Longer it Takes for Egg Laying to Start

It can be tough enough to memorize all of the vital statistics about the different duck breeds without adding an additional complication in the form of maturation time.

However, there’s a reliable rule of thumb that you can use and if you know a little bit about ducks already, it will serve you well.

The rule is that the larger and heavier the breed is, the longer it will take them to start laying eggs, all other conditions being equal.

For instance, the aforementioned Pekins or Muscovies, both large, heavy ducks, will take at least six and probably closer to 7 months to start producing eggs.

Much smaller breeds, and bantam varieties of larger breeds, start laying quicker as a rule, usually 5 months or less.

You don’t have to know everything there is to know about a breed, but using their adult mass as a guideline can give you a quick estimation of when you can expect eggs after they hatch.

Seasonal Factors Also Affect Laying Timetables

Another complication you’ll have to keep in mind is how the seasons can affect the laying timetable…

Simply, many ducks don’t lay through the winter, and they tend to slow down or stop laying altogether when sustained cold weather arrives and the days get shorter.

If your ducks hatch and reach maturity when winter is already well underway, you might not get any eggs at all until the following spring! This, obviously, can greatly extend the timetable until you are enjoying a bountiful harvest of fresh eggs.

Properly timing the mating of your ducks, or when you put eggs in the incubator if you’re doing it yourself, can also take care of this issue and ensure they will reach maturity when the weather is right, and the days are nice, sunny, and long which will encourage them to lay.

However, there’s more to it than that. If you can artificially create conditions that are suitable for laying, like adding lights into the coop and keeping it suitably warm, these reluctant breeds might go right on laying as usual.

Then there are also breeds that you can expect to lay straight through the winter with no issues: Harlequins and Calls are two such breeds that can give you eggs all year round with no extra effort on your part.

Do Wild Ducks Start Laying Earlier than Domestic Ducks?

As a rule, no. Most wild ducks take anywhere from 6 to 7 months to reach sexual maturity, even in the case of breeds that are very close to their domestic counterparts and mature about the same time.

This is because, in the wild, most ducks are born in the springtime, grow up through the summer, and then are ready for the winter migration. Mating and, subsequently, egg-laying will not occur until later because, as mentioned, once the cold weather sets in, most breeds stop or refuse to lay.

But once again, this depends on the breed and to a degree the ambient conditions. Ducks that live in subtropical and tropical climates might start laying as soon as they are physically mature, whether or not they have mated.

It isn’t out of the question that wild ducks might hatch a little early in the spring and then have enough time to mature and lay before the winter migration, when it happens, but this is unlikely.

When are Ducks Considered Overdue for Laying?

It’s hard to say, and you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. If your hen seemingly isn’t laying any eggs at all despite being well past the age of sexual maturity, you need to investigate.

She might be hiding the eggs, sick, overstressed, or just feeling like the environment or climate isn’t quite right for laying, and so she won’t produce any. Hormones, as ever, determine whether or not a hen will or will not lay, and many factors can impact them.

But keep a close eye on your hen, and you can soon figure it out. If you can’t, contact your vet right away.

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