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any one of a heterogeneous group of birds of the family Anatidae of the order Anseriformes. Ducks, which weigh anywhere from 300 to 1,700 g, are distributed throughout the world.
Ducks are divided according to structure, biology, and commercial importance into true ducks, pochards, and mergansers. True, or river or surface-swimming, ducks cannot dive. They feed in the shallows or on dry land, eating plants and animals. Their flesh is of the highest quality. The most valuable commercial species are the mallard (Anas platyrynchos), pintail (A. acuta), widgeon (A. penelope), gadwall (A. strepera), and various teals, such as the true teal (A. creced) and the Baikal teal (A formosd). All ducks are migratory, most flying south in winter; only a few winter in the north, on the sea or on bodies of water that remain unfrozen. Of the 35 species in the USSR, the majority winter along the southern part of the Caspian Sea.
The domestic duck (A. domestica) is descended from the wild mallard, which was domesticated approximately 1000 B.C. in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America. Sexual maturity occurs at the age of six or seven months. During a single egg-laying cycle, which lasts five to six months, a single duck lays anywhere from 90 to 130 eggs. Molting occurs between cycles. It lasts about four months in a natural environment and about two months under artificial light conditions. Each egg weighs 85 to 90 g. The incubation period is 27 or 28 days. The adult male weighs 3 to 4 kg, and the adult female, 2 to 3½ kg.
Ducks are classified according to their purpose as meat-type ducks (Pekin, Gray Ukrainian, Black Whitebreasted), dual-purpose ducks (Khaki Campbell, Speculum), and egg-type ducks (Indian Runner). Ducks are raised primarily for meat. More than 90 percent of all ducks raised at kolkhozes and sovkhozes are Pekin ducks and their crosses. Meat-type ducks are raised mainly on specialized farms using advanced techniques. For example, the breeding stock is developed from two or three strains. Molting is artificially accelerated to prolong egg-laying periods, and the useful period of eggs layers is extended by various means. With such methods, a single duck of the breeding stock can yield up to 250 eggs per year. Ducks are commercially bred in batteries or in poultry houses, with or without limited ranging. The distribution of food and water is mechanized, as is the cleaning of cages. The microclimate is artificially controlled. The ducks are fed mixed feeds. Meat-type ducks are slaughtered 50 to 55 days after hatching, when they weigh 2½ kg or more.
Ducks are raised on ponds on some fish farms (see FISH-AND-DUCK FARM).
REFERENCESPtitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 4. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1952.
Abakumov, V. Utkovodstvo v spetsializirovannom khoziaistve. Moscow, 1968.
Proizvodstvo miasa utok napromyshlennoi osnove. Moscow, 1973.
Bozhko, P. E. Proizvodstvo iaits i miasa ptitsy na promyshlennoi osnove, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1975.
Pigarev, N. V., and T. A. Stolliar. Tekhnologiia proizvodstva produktov ptitsevodstva na promyshlennoi osnove. Moscow, 1975.
What does it mean when you dream about a duck?
Ducks fall under the larger meaning of birds, especially if one dreams of them flying through the air. Ducks are also marine creatures, however, and submerge in water, the realm of the emotions and the unconscious. Thus, a diving duck indicates probing the emotions or the unconscious mind. Bringing something up from the depths may represent the surfacing of unconscious material.