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How Do You Know When a Duck Is Going to Start Laying?

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Ducks add beauty to a backyard pond while providing eggs for the table. While the characteristics of many breeds make it easy to tell the males from the females by the time a duckling is 4 months old or younger, it's not always easy to know when a female duck is going to start laying. Ducks often lay eggs in hard to find spots -- sometimes camouflaging them in mud -- so you'll need to observe her closely to know when she's ready to lay.

Timing Is Everything

A female duck is sexually mature and begins egg development at about 6 months old, although some may not begin laying until 7 months of age. If she matures during the winter when days are short, she will not begin laying until springtime unless you provide supplemental light for a total of 15 to 17 hours of light per day.

That Laying Feeling

Most ducks lay eggs very early in the morning, so you probably won't notice her heading for her nest box. You can tell if a duck is laying by feeling her pelvic bones as you hold her. A duck's pelvic bones spread and become flexible when she is capable of laying eggs. You will be able to place three or four fingers between the pelvic bones of a medium-sized laying duck, where a non-laying duck will only have a two-finger width between her bones.