Rouen Duck Moult, Duck Plumage moult, eclipse

Young drake between around 17 weeks old

When Do Ducks Moult?

Moulting is the most important process your ducks can go through. It’s the time where old feathers are replaced with new improved ones. The reason it’s important for this to happen is because by the ducks bringing in these new improved feathers they are improving flight performance, and maintaining their waterproof coat. So if you’ve ever wondered to yourself “when do ducks moult?”, read on I’ll take you through all the stages of plumage, so at any given time of the year you’ll be able to tell what’s going on with your bird’s feathers.


Juvenile Plumage (6 weeks old)

Ducklings as they start to grow will begin to lose their natal down, and go in to what’s called a juvenile plumage moult where they will start to grow their first feathers.

This process takes about 6 weeks and produces a dull coloured feather on the bird until their next moult at around 15 weeks.


N.B. If you’re looking to process the bird then you will need to do this at around the 7-8 week mark, otherwise you will start to get the pin feathers in them which makes it no good for processing You will then have to wait until the 14 week mark before having this option again.


Adult Plumage (15 weeks old)

They will then go through their adult plumage moult at around 15 weeks. This is where the magic happens. It’s about a 6 week process where the birds reach a more mature size and start to come in to full colour. This is the point where you will start to see the potential of your new flock for the year. The time where you start to separate the champions from the Christmas dinners.

N.B. If you plan on processing your ducks around this time you will need to do it at the 14 week mark, or otherwise you will have to wait until the 21 week mark after their adult plumage moult.

Eclipse Plumage (every 12 months)

You’ll generally find the Eclipse Plumage moult to be much duller than a normal moult. Reason being that while the ducks are going through this 6-8 week process they lose the ability to fly… you know, given the fact that they have just lost their flight feathers. So by dulling themselves down it blends them in with the juvenile birds, and makes them less noticeable to lurking predators.

Though, occasionally some male ducks are lucky enough to regain their colourful breeding plumage before their flight feathers are fully renewed giving them a colourful edge with the females. Turns out having the pick of the flock may be a higher priority than protection from predators for some drakes.