The production of waterfowl can contribute to the improvement of the nutritional standards of the
human population. Feed for waterfowl is not commonly used for human consumption and there is no
strong competition between waterfowl and human nutrition.
In comparison with chickens, ducks and geese play a minor role in production of meat and eggs. But
in certain countries of East and South-East Asia ducks and geese produce significant amounts of
meat and eggs, with a sharp rise in production during recent decades. Duck meat production increased
from 1.3 million tons in 1991 to 3.8 million tons in 2009; geese meat production was 0.76 million tons
in 1991 and 2.47 million tons in 2009, and total waterfowl production accounts for 6.8 % of total poultry
meat. The largest duck and goose producer is China with 65 % and 94 % of the world production,
Duck egg consumption has a long tradition in China and South-East Asia with 10-30 % of total egg
consumption. Waterfowl is also widely used as source for feathers and downs.
Large-scale production of ducks and geese need more efforts for higher efficiency and for improving
product quality by breeding, nutrition and management according to the requirements of animal welfare
and environment protection. Family poultry farmers (small-scale production) with low levels of inputs
(housings, feed, breeds, vaccines, drugs, equipment and time/attention) contribute significantly to
food security, poverty alleviation and ecologically sound management of natural resources. They
should have more access to improved breeds, appropriate technologies and support services, which
could substantially improve productivity, income and food security. Efficient waterfowl farming requires
appropriate disease control, use of strains with high genetic potential and management conditions
compatible with natural behaviour and welfare of the birds.
Waterfowl is easier to manage than chickens in regions with hot and humid climate. Under such conditions waterfowl can be preferred as contributor to food security.
Domestic ducks and geese trace back to two species of waterfowl each: the mallard duck (Anas
platyrhynchos) and the muscovy duck (Cairina moschata), the greylag goose (Anser anser) and the
swan goose (Anser cygnoides). Ducks and geese were known in ancient China and Egypt, where
they had already achieved considerable status at that time. The use of duck and goose meat, eggs
as well as feathers and downs has been traced back to very early times in history.
Meat and eggs of waterfowl have high nutritional value as human food. People eat meat of ducks
and geese not only because they like the taste, but also for its high nutritional value in terms of optimal
composition of essential amino acids as well as favourable composition of fatty acids, with a high
percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids and a favourable ratio of omega 6- to omega 3-fatty acids.
Duck and goose meat has a unique flavour and a delicious taste. It is economical, and quick and
easy to prepare and serve. Processing of waterfowl eggs as salted eggs, “thousand year eggs” (pidan)
and balut has a long tradition in some Asian countries. Waterfowl is also widely used as a source of
Feed for ducks and geese is not commonly used for human consumption and there is no strong
competition between waterfowl and human nutrition. Waterfowl can utilize cheap feed resources on
rural farms. Waterfowl kept on fish ponds increases the amount of plankton as feed for fish. In view
of these advantages, we can expect that ducks and geese will become increasingly important for
reducing hunger and improve food security for many rural families.
Generally, poultry convert feed to human food efficiently and need only short periods to adjust to
market demands. Laying ducks provide a steady source of food. Meat ducks and geese need only a
relatively short time to produce edible food.
Development of waterfowl meat production
Millions of people in the world are currently suffering from starvation or malnutrition. Can waterfowl
production contribute to the improvement of nutritional standards and food security of a growing world
population? Especially in countries of Eastern and Southern Asia, significant amounts of meat and
eggs are produced from ducks and geese and are important for the economy of these countries. The
development of waterfowl production since 1991 is shown in the following table 1.
Table 1: Development of global waterfowl meat production (million tons) (FAOSTAT 2011)
The share of duck and goose meat of total poultry meat production increased from 4.87 % in 1991
to 6.83 % in 2001 and 6.82 % in 2009.
Although ducks and geese are well known all over the world, their economic importance and contribution to food security varies considerably between continents and countries. To show the role of
waterfowl meat and eggs for food security, we consider the changes of total and per capita production from 1991 to 2007. Especially the change in per capita production characterizes the role in the actual
contribution for food security, because it takes the growing human population into account. Tables 2
and 3 will demonstrate the contribution of each continent to global duck and goose meat production.
Asia is the leading continent in duck meat production with a share of 82.2 %, followed by Europe with
12.4 %. Asia has also the highest increase of total and of per capita duck meat. Almost 10 per cent
of poultry meat in Asia is produced by ducks compared with 4.1 % in the world. Duck meat production in Africa and Latin America is neglible.
Table 2: Duck meat production per continent between 1991 and 2007
(Calculations based on FAOSTAT data, 2009).
Table 3: Goose meat production per continent between 1991 and 2007
(Calculations based on FAOSTAT data, 2009).
With 94 % of total goose meat production, Asia accounts for a dominant share of global goose
production. Goose production dropped by 10% in Europe between 1991 and 2007, but increased in
Asia by 223 % and contributed 6.9 % to total poultry meat. Goose consumption in America and
Oceania is very low and has no commercial significance.
Table 4 shows the growth in different Asian countries. China alone has 65 % of the global duck meat,
followed by Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. With the exception of Thailand and Bangladesh, duck
meat production increased in all these countries, especially in Laos, Myanmar and Korea. Malaysia
has the highest per capita production with 4.4 kg, followed by Taiwan with 3.4 kg and China with 1.8
kg. Myanmar, Thailand and Republic of Korea have more than 1 kg per capita. The drop in duck meat
production in Thailand is apparently the result of Avian Influenza control programs, whereas Bangladesh
has a preference for duck eggs. Duck meat accounts for the highest share of total poultry meat in
Cambodia (32.5 %), North Korea (25 %), Vietnam and Laos (19 %) and China (15.5 %).
Table 4: Duck meat production in Asian countries between 1991 and 2007
(Calculations based on FAOSTAT data, 2009).
The major non-Asian countries with high duck meat production are listed in Table 5.
Table 5: Duck meat production between 1991 and 2007 in some non-Asian countries
(Calculated from FAOSTAT data, 2009).
The leading country in Europe is France, where Muscovy and Mule ducks are also used for fatty liver
production by forced feeding. Hungary has the highest per capita production in the world (5.2 kg) and
has a strong tradition as exporter of fatty liver products. In both countries, ducks account for 14-15
% share of poultry meat production. The USA and Australia have also doubled their duck meat
production to satisfy the demand of Asian immigrants, but the share of total poultry meat is relatively
low due to very high broiler and turkey meat consumption. Remarkable is the high duck meat production
in Reunion with 16.4 % share of poultry meat. Egypt and Madagascar are the only two other African
countries with appreciable duck meat production.
With regard to geese production China has a share of 93.9% of the world, followed by Ukraine and
Egypt. The goose meat production in the world was increased by 293 %. This was caused by the
high share of China with a growth to 328 % (Table 6).
Table 6: Development of goose meat production in the top countries between 1991 and 2007
(Calculated based on data of FAOSTAT, 2009).
With regard to per capita goose meat production, Hungary leads with 2.8 kg, followed by the Ukraine
with 1.9 kg and China with 1.58 kg. Increased production was observed in China, Egypt, Poland,
Myanmar and Ireland only. The share of goose meat to poultry meat decreased in all countries, except
China and Ireland. Ukraine and Taiwan are missing in FAO-Statistics. Therefore, changes could not
The FAO-Statistics rank the top 20 countries in duck and goose meat production as shown in Table 7.
Table 7: Top 20 duck and goose meat producing countries in 2007 (FAOSTAT, 2009)
The top 20 countries produced 96.1 % duck meat and 99.9 % goose meat of total world production,
and represent an estimated value of 4.485 and 4.254 billion US$, respectively. China alone contributes
65 % of global duck production, followed by France, Malaysia, USA, Vietnam and Thailand, and
93.9% of goose production, followed by Egypt, Hungary, Poland and Madagascar.
Development of waterfowl egg production
Processing of duck eggs to produce “salted eggs” and “thousand year eggs” or alkalized eggs has a
long tradition in China and other Asian countries. In some countries like Philippines pre-incubated
eggs (Balut) are used for consumption. In the other continents waterfowl eggs are used more or less
for incubation only.
Between 1991 and 2009 total production of eggs for consumption increased by 74 %, hen eggs by 72 %
and “other” eggs (mainly duck eggs) by 102 %.
Table 8: Development of world egg production between 1991 and 2009 (million tons)
About 95 % of non-hen eggs were produced in Asia, of which China alone contributed 83.2 %. As
shown in Table 8, per capita production increased by 47 %, from 0.47 kg to 0.69 kg.
Table 9: Production of “other” (mainly duck) eggs in Asian countries 1991 and 2009
(Calculations based on FAOSTAT data, 2009).)
The per capita production shows considerable variation. Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar and Malaysia
reduced per capita production. China ranked second with 2.9 kg behind Thailand with 4.7 kg per
head. The biggest jump made the Republic of Korea with an increase to 712 % for total duck eggs
and to 633 % of duck eggs per head. China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and
Vietnam account for more than 99 % of the world total production of “other” or duck eggs. In countries
like Thailand (36.5 %), Bangladesh (29.7 %) and Vietnam (27.5 %), duck eggs contribute significantly
to total egg consumption.
Trade of waterfowl products
The comparison of export and import of duck and goose meat between 2001 and 2007 shows some
changes (Table 10). China could increase duck and goose meat export to 141 and 108 %, respectively.
The Netherlands doubled duck meat export, but France, Hungary and Thailand reduced duck meat
export to 81 %, 66 % and 23 %, respectively. Japan and Hong Kong have been the main importer
for duck meat in Asia. In Europe Germany und UK are the main duck meat importer.
Table 10: The leading duck meat exporting and importing countries in 2007 (FAOSTAT, 2009)
Table 11 shows the most important countries for export and import of goose meat. The main exporting
countries are Poland, China and Hungary, while Germany is the main importing country. Germany
imports duck meat mainly from France and The Netherlands, geese from Hungary and Poland. Selfsufficiency of duck and goose meat in Germany is only 60 % and 13 %, respectively.
Table 11: The leading goose meat exporting and importing countries in 2007 (FAOSTAT, 2009)
In some countries, especially France, Hungary and China, geese and ducks are force-fed to produce
fatty livers. Forced feeding utilizes the ability of waterfowl to take in large amounts of feed and to
deposit a lot of fat in the liver. This is essential for wild migrating ducks and geese. In France more than
30 million Muscovy and Mule drakes are used for fatty liver production per year. In 2007 France
exported 2510 tons fatty liver (Foie Grass), followed by China and Thailand with 712 tons each
(FAOSTAT, 2009). In Europe, the practice of forced feeding is opposed by poultry welfare and illegal
in several countries.
Waterfowl is also widely used as a source of feathers and downs. They are obtained at the time of
slaughter as a valuable by-product. The harvesting of feathers and downs from live ducks and geese
during the partial moulting at intervals of about seven weeks can be an additional source of income
from fattening geese kept on pastures beyond 22 weeks of age and from breeding or laying ducks
and geese in small-scale farms. In 2000 the value of world trade of 55,000 tons downs and feathers
was 600 million US$ (WEZYK and CYWA-BENKO, 2002).
Contribution of waterfowl production for food security
Our analysis of available statistics on waterfowl production indicates extreme differences in their
importance for food security. Duck and goose meat producers in industrialized countries can focus
on seasonal demand for special products to recover the higher production cost, e.g. the Christmas
goose or smoked goose breast in Germany and in central Europe and the Peking duck in East Asia.
The increasingly popular Asian restaurants in Europe and North America offer a wide range of special
dishes and contribute to a growing demand for duck meat. In China and other Asian countries with a
high percentage of Chinese people, intensive production of duck meat and duck eggs is expected to
Intensive production systems have been developed during the past 50 years through activities of
breeders, nutritionists and specialists for management and health. Fully integrated duck operations have
been established, with own parent-stock. Further genetic progress can be expected in feed efficiency,
meatiness, egg number, fertility, hatchability and reduced incidence of disorders by selection for
“robustness” (HALL, 2006). While producers of waterfowl meat and eggs focus on full utilization of
the current genetic potential, primary breeders, nutritionists and management specialists will focus
on further improvement of efficiency, with due attention to animal welfare and environmental
Consumers in developed countries are not only interested in the price and quality of the final product,
but also in the manner in which meat is produced. That means that intensive production systems for
ducks and geese have to be organized in such a way that the welfare of the birds is not compromised
and negative influences on the environment are minimized (RODENBERG et al., 2005). Some people
with high income may prefer meat from organic or ecological production systems. Traditional producers
of ducks and geese in free range with access to water for bathing can focus on this niche market.
In developing countries, extensive production in small-scale or family farms is common. In some
countries of south-east Asia more than 80 % of poultry is kept in small-scale family farms. DINESH et
al. (2008) described an FAO supported project in five provinces of Cambodia, involving almost 100 duck
farms. About 80 % of the ducks were common laying type ducks and about 20 % Muscovy ducks.
The ducks are reared on free range and survive mainly by scavenging, but most farmers give extra
feed, mainly grain from their own farm. The average flock size in the provinces ranged between 10 and
204. Very few farmers used improved breeds for upgrading the flock. More than 40 % of the farmers
hatched the ducklings in their own farm, using a Muscovy duck or a brooding hen. Others bought
ducklings from the neighbor or local market. The houses were usually constructed with on-farm
material, but 7 % did not provide any shelter. More than 70 % of the farmers did not use veterinary
service and vaccination programs. The average egg number per duck was less than 50; the average
female body weight between 1.3 and 1.4 kg. After meeting the family requirements, 57 farmers sold
surplus eggs and 53 sold growers, drakes and spent ducks either at the local village market or to a local
Extensive waterfowl production in small-scale farms plays a vital role in rural areas in Asian countries
for utilization of cheap natural feed resources by scavenging, like insects, worms, snails and snakes.
But the productivity under these conditions is low. The availability of low-cost or no-cost feed might
compensate the disadvantage of low performance. A supplement of concentrate with minerals and
vitamins will be adequate to provide a balanced ration. This is an easy and effective way to increase
production and improve food security under scavenging conditions.
As GUE’YE (2009) stated, “Family poultry represent an appropriate system for supplying the fast
growing human population with high quality protein and providing additional income to resource-poor
small farmers, especially women. Although requiring low levels of inputs (housings, feeds, breeds,
vaccines, drugs, equipment and time/attention), family poultry farmers contribute significantly to food
security, poverty alleviation and the ecologically sound management of natural resources”
However, small-scale producers are often constrained by limited information, access to appropriate
technologies, support services and markets, which could otherwise substantially improve productivity
and income generation. Along with these basic problems, diseases like Highly Pathogenic Avian
Influenza (HPAI) hurt especially rural duck farmers (DINESH et.al, 2008). In view of the significant
increase in waterfowl meat and egg demand in recent decades, small-scale farms in south-east Asia
could benefit from the application of current knowledge to generate family income from waterfowl
- Use of ducklings and goslings of improved genotypes from parent-stock farms.
- Use of concentrate with vitamins and minerals as feed additive for better utilization of scavenger
feed to ensure a balanced nutrition. Mold growth in paddy rice, maize and peanuts should be
controlled by suitable storage.
- Management should be improved, especially for ducklings and goslings during the first weeks, by
providing additional heat, drinking water and protein rich feed.
- Use of veterinary services and vaccination programs to control diseases.
- Extension service supported by radio programs and demonstration farms for basic training and
advocated the improvement of small-farmers skill with participation of women.
SHELDON (2000) emphasized education and training at all levels, including agricultural extension, full
involvement of women at all stages of the development, provision of low-cost credit facilities, and the
development of suitable marketing systems, including cooperatives.
Duck farming in most south and south-east Asian countries consists of large numbers of small farms
and only few intensive commercial farms. Where integrated waterfowl production has been established,
family farms should be included and supported. By introducing a contract purchase and sales system,
family farms can be assisted in increasing their production capacity with access to the market. NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs) can also play a significant role in supporting backyard duck
production (PEETHAMBARAN and JALALUDEEN, 2005).
In Africa and Latin America we find extensive areas with similar climatic conditions as in south-east
Asia, and it is surprising that we find so little waterfowl in these parts of the world. In most African
countries more than 70-80 % of poultry is kept on family farms (SONAIYA, 2007), but the share of
waterfowl is low. There is apparently little demand for waterfowl products, duck meat and eggs are
seldom found. Perhaps there is a lack of information on the nutritional value of these products. Geese
are mostly kept as pets or guards. In Latin America chicken meat production has been increased in
recent decades and is much cheaper than duck meat. BONINO and VELEZ (1992) reported that in
Argentina farmers have changed from Peking ducks to broiler production because consumers prefer
leaner meat and vertically integrated broiler operations can produce poultry meat more efficiently.
Due to their good foraging and reliable brooding behavior, Muscovy ducks are especially suitable for
scavenging systems; they also adapt better to hot climate than chickens. The Muscovy duck would be
suitable for small–scale rural farmers in Africa and Latin America and could contribute to food security.
In rural tropical areas where meat cannot be conserved, ducks provide an excellent protein source
for a family for one or two days. The eggs are naturally incubated and the ducklings are reared and
protected by the duck mother.
Waterfowl is generally easier to rear than chickens, especially on small family farms in regions with hot
and humid climate. Wherever such climatic conditions exist, support for waterfowl production on family
farms seems justified to ensure increased productivity and food security.
BESSEI, W. and NYVOLD, S (1990) Waterfowl production – some general aspects. Proc. of FAO expert consultation on
waterfowl production in Africa. 5-19.
BONINO, M.F. and VELEZ, A.M. (1992) Influence of natural and artificial incubation on the hatchability in the Argentine
Muscovy duck eggs. Proc. 9th Int. Symp. on Waterfowl, Pisa-Italy,115-117.
DINESH, M.T., GEERLINGS, Ellen, SCHWABENBAUER, Karin, SÖLKNER, J., THIEME, O., WURZINGER, Maria (2008)
Characterization of the domestic duck production systems in Cambodia. FAO-Report, pp 96.
FAO-Statistics 2009 und 2011,
GUE’YE, E.F. (2009) The role of networks in information to family poultry farmers. World’s Poultry Science Journal 65, 115-
HALL, T. (2006) Breeding for the future. World Poultry 22, 11, 20-21.
HUQUE, Q.M.E. (1996) Improving skills of the small farmers in poultry management. 20th World’s Poultry Congress, New
Delhi, India, Vol. 1, 47-60.
JENG FENG HUANG, (2011): personal communication
PEETHAMBARAN, P.A. and JALALUDEEN, A. (2005) Performance of Kuttanad ducks under backyard. Proc. of the 3rd
World Waterfowl Conf., Guangzhou, 292-294.
RODENBERG, T.B., BRACKE, M.B.M., BERK, J., COOPER, J., FAURE, J.M., GUÉMENÉ, D., GUY, G., HARLANDER,
A., JONES, T., KNIERIM, U., KUHNT, K., PINGEL, H., REITER, K., SERVIÈRE, J. AND RUIS, M.A.W. (2005) Welfare
of ducks in European duck husbandry systems. World Poultry Science Journal, 61, 633-646.
SHELDON, B.L. (2000) Research and development in 2000: Directions and priorities for the World’s Poultry Science
Community. Poultry Science 79:147-158.
SONAIYA, E.B. (2007) Family poultry, food security and the impact of HPAI. World’s Poultry Science Journal 63, 132-138.
TAI, C., WANG, T. and HUANG, C.C. (1999) Production systems and economic characters in waterfowl. Proceeding of 1st
World Waterfowl Conference, Taiwan, 19-31.
WEZYK, S. and CYWA-BENKO, K. (2001) Global trends in waterfowl production and science. Archiv für Geflügelkunde,
ZAKHATSKY, N.I. and BONDARENKO, Y.V. (1999) Waterfowl production in Ukraine. Proceedings of 1st World Waterfowl
Conference, Taiwan, 450-453.
Die Wassergeflügelproduktion kann zur Verbesserung der Ernährung der Weltbevölkerung beitragen.
Da das Futter für Wassergeflügel kaum für die menschliche Ernährung verwendet wird, ist die
Nahrungskonkurrenz zwischen Wassergeflügel und Menschheit von geringer Bedeutung.
Im Vergleich zum Huhn spielen Enten und Gänse nur eine untergeordnete Rolle in der Fleisch- und
Eierproduktion. In verschiedenen Ländern Ost- und Südost-Asiens werden jedoch große Mengen an
Fleisch und Eiern von Enten und Gänsen erzeugt mit deutlicher Produktionssteigerung in den letzten
Von 1991 bis 2009 wurde die Entenfleischproduktion von 1,3 Mill. t auf 3,8 Mill. t und die
Gänsefleischproduktion von 0,76 Mill. t auf 2,47 Mill. t gesteigert. Insgesamt beträgt der Anteil des
Wassergeflügels 6,8 % der gesamten Geflügelfleisch-produktion. Der größte Produzent von Entenund Gänsefleisch ist China, mit 65 % bzw. 94 % Anteil der Weltproduktion.
China und Süd-Ost-Asien haben auch eine lange Tradition im Verzehr von Enteneiern mit 10-30 % Anteil
am gesamten Eierverbrauch. Weiterhin wird Wassergeflügel genutzt als Quelle für Federn und Daunen.
Die Produktion von Enten und Gänsen in großen Unternehmen erfordert eine höhere Effizienz und
Verbesserung der Produktqualität durch Züchtung, Fütterung und Management unter Berücksichtigung
des Wohlbefindens der Tiere und des Umweltschutzes. Kleinproduzenten mit geringem Aufwand
hinsichtlich Unterbringung, Futter, Leistungsfähigkeit der Tiere, Krankheitsprophylaxe und Betreuung
tragen dennoch zur Sicherung der Ernährung, zur Minderung der Armut und zur ökologischen Nutzung
natürlicher Ressourcen bei. Sie sollten aber mehr Zugang zu züchterisch verbesserten Tieren, zu
geeigneten Materialien und zu Dienstleistungen haben, um über die Leistungssteigerung das
Einkommen und das Niveau der Ernährung verbessern zu können. Eine effiziente Produktion erfordert
auch für den Kleinbetrieb eine tierärztliche Betreuung und sachgerechte Beratung, sowie leistungsfähige
Tiere und Bedingungen, die mit dem natürlichen Verhalten und dem Wohlbefinden der Tiere vereinbar
Wassergeflügel ist in feucht-heißen Regionen einfacher zu halten als Landgeflügel und sollte in
solchen Gebieten stärker zur Sicherung der Ernährung herangezogen werden.