Bred animal myself
Pennsylvania, United States
Posted Jun 27, 2013
I acquired "Anna" as an egg that was in a batch of Indian runner eggs as an extra. She is my oldest duck, ten years old at the time of this writing in 2013, and showing little of her age besides her feather colouration getting increasingly white.
Ancona ducks are a medium, dual-purpose breed from western Europe. Anna has done very well here in the dry tropics, with only a cement mixing tub for bathing and swimming, and occasional walks to a seasonal freshwater pond. She lives well on a mix of free grazing, low-protein ration-size dog kibble, Eggmaker (layer) pellets, and vegetable trimmings and duckweed.
Anna formed a pair bond with a black Indian runner drake and they have been more or less monogamous ever since, although I did have to service the drake out to other hens for breeding purposes. Anna's offspring with this black runner drake have been mostly black with white bibs. Anna is a calm duck, who routinely out-lays my Indian runners and her own Ancona-runner mix offspring, consistently laying large white eggs throughout the year. Her production has slowed with age but she still lays at age 10!
Anconas are black and white, brown and white, or blue and white. Anna is a black and white Ancona. As she ages, more of her feathers grow in white after moulting. I have not known Anna to go broody or be a particularly good mother, but broodiness and mothering skills vary wildly even within pure breeds of ducks.
Ancona eggs hatch at 28 days of incubation at 99.5F in forced-air of 101 F in still-air incubators, when turned 4 times daily and kept at 60% humidity. I also sprayed the eggs with warm water for the last few days of incubation. Ancona ducklings grow very quickly on non-medicated gamebird grumbles and leafy greens, and most have fresh water available at all times to drink (but don't allow non-feathered ducklings to swim). Ducklings should be kept in a brooder (use towels as a substrate for the first two days, until their legs are strong, then switch to newspaper with paper towels, and finally plain newspaper) at 95F for the first week, decreasing by 5F each week until ambient temperature is reached. They can be kept outside once they are feathered.
Anconas were bred for use for both meat and eggs but as pets they are excellent. They do not like being handled though, and so that should be kept to a minimum.