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About Duck Research Laboratory

Duck Research Lab in spring.
Duck Research Lab in spring. 


The Cornell University Duck Research Laboratory is a research, service and biologics production laboratory located on Long Island at Eastport, New York. It is a national and international resource for information on duck disease control, good husbandry practices, proper nutrition, and various other aspects of duck production. The Duck Laboratory is also a federally licensed biologics production facility. It manufactures biologics that provide protection against most of the common diseases affecting ducks. Our current research emphasizes duck health, focusing on the improvement of diagnostic techniques and the development of new or improved duck biologics.

Mission Statement

The Duck Research Laboratory and the International Duck Research Cooperative are committed to the prevention of diseases that result in the loss of ducks, and to the provision of a safe and nutritious human food supply via healthy ducks. Vaccine production, diagnostics and the provision of technical support to the duck industry are our priorities. We continuously strive to develop improved tests for the diagnosis and prevention of duck diseases and to optimize our testing spectrum. As a part of the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University, we value our clients as partners and work with them in order to deliver the solutions they need.

Who We Are

We are part of a working team that includes several faculty members and extension service veterinarians from the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Animal Health Diagnostic Center. The expertise of our faculty and staff is supplemented by extensive collaborations with investigators from Cornell University and many other institutions.

Our Eastport based team members include:

  • Dr. Gavin Hitchener, DVM, Dipl. A.C.V.P.
    Specialty interests: Avian pathology and disease prevention
  • Diane Stemnock – Biologics and Production Manager
History of duck research lab
Image provided by Cornell University. 


The Duck Laboratory came into existence in 1949 as a result of a working relationship between duck producers on Long Island and Cornell University. At that time, very little scientific research was being carried out on ducks. In contrast, a considerable amount of research was being conducted at a number of universities on chicken and turkey production.

The relatively small size of the duck industry in the United States, compared to the chicken and turkey industries, placed the duck industry at a decided disadvantage in obtaining financial support for research. To help overcome this obstacle, the duck growers made a commitment to pay a large portion of the cost of research themselves through the payment of dues and fees. An agreement between Cornell University, and what was soon to become the Long Island Duck Research Cooperative was reached to establish and operate a duck laboratory at Eastport, New York. The laboratory initially operated in a rented building in Eastport. Construction of the present research facility on a 75 acre tract of land in Eastport began in 1955.

As duck production grew in other parts of North America, participation in the laboratory by duck producers located outside of New York increased, and many of these producers helped support the laboratory financially. In addition duck producers in Canada and other countries as well became supporters of the duck laboratory. In order to reflect its diverse makeup the name of the research cooperative was changed to the International Duck Research Cooperative (IDRC) in 1992.

Diagnostic Laboratory Service

The Duck Laboratory is equipped to run all tests necessary to accurately diagnose diseases of ducks. Experienced duck disease specialists are on staff who can advise growers on the best methods of treatment and control. Testing includes isolation, identification and serotyping of causative agents due to the fact that successful prevention and treatment is often contingent upon up-to-date information on the serotypes responsible for a given disease problem on a particular farm. Monitoring the level of disease protection (antibody) present in breeders and their progeny is another service provided by the lab that pertains to the control of diseases such as duck viral hepatitis. In addition to ducks, all other major species of poultry, pet birds, and wild and captive fowl of all kinds are accepted for examination.


Consultation services are available to members of the IDRC. A team of experienced duck specialists are available to review difficult problems that arise in the course of producing ducks, and to offer their recommendations. In cases where new problems arise, the laboratory will, within the limits of funding, conduct research to seek a solution. When necessary to properly diagnose a problem, on-site visits to a farm by a team of specialists are performed.

Veterinary Biologics for Ducks

Duck biological products are available to both members (of the IDRC) and non-members alike. Members receive these products at a reduced price since they contribute through their membership dues. The following products are produced at the Laboratory and tested according to USDA regulations.

Riemerella Anatipestifer Vaccine, Avirulent Live CultureRiemerella Anatipestifer Vaccine, Avirulent Live Culture

This biologic, which can be administered by spraying one-day-old ducklings, provides protection against R. anatipestifer infection caused by serotypes 1, 2, and 5 throughout the period when ducklings are most susceptible. This vaccine provides protection against serotypes most common in North America. This product, which is in freeze-dried form, is mixed with sterile diluent immediately before use. More information on the administration of this biologic, and the equipment required is available from the duck laboratory. Note: This product was formally called Pasteurella Anatipestifer Vaccine.

Duck Virus Hepatitis Vaccine (Type I)Duck Virus Hepatitis Vaccine (Type I)

This biologic is used mainly for vaccination of breeder ducks. Antibodies produced as a result of vaccination are passed from breeders through the egg to their offspring. These maternal antibodies protect ducklings from duck virus hepatitis during the period when they are most susceptible. It can also be used to immunize ducklings that have no maternal antibodies (ducklings from non-vaccinated breeders). This vaccine (modified live virus chicken embryo origin) is available in frozen form. It is mixed with sterile diluent (provided with the vaccine) immediately before use.

Duck Virus Enteritis VaccineDuck Virus Enteritis Vaccine    

Duck virus enteritis (Duck Plague) is primarily a disease of mature ducks, causing high mortality and reduced egg production. Accordingly this vaccine is used primarily to protect breeder ducks from the disease. Under some conditions the disease can occur in younger ducks. On farms where this is the case, younger ducks may be protected by vaccination with this product at the proper time. Contact the Duck Laboratory for more information regarding the control of outbreaks in younger ducks. This product is available in frozen form. It is mixed with sterile diluent (provided with the vaccine) immediately before use.

Escherichia Coli - Riemerella Anatipestifer BacterinEscherichia Coli - Riemerella Anatipestifer Bacterin

This product is used for immunization of ducklings against E. coli. and R. anatipestifer infections, which commonly occur in ducklings. In ducks, E. coli. infection produces lesions very similar to those seen in Anatipestifer infection. This biologic is a formalin-inactivated cell suspension of serotype 0:78 of E. coli. and three serotypes (1,2 and 5) of R. anatipestifer. It comes in ready-to-use form and is stored at refrigerator temperature (35-45ºF) until time of use. Two injections, given at 2 and 3 weeks of age, are necessary to provide protection.

Autogenous BacterinAutogenous Bacterin

In cases where less common serotypes of Riemerella anatipestifer or other bacteria are involved in a disease outbreak, an autogenous bacterin can be prepared for a designated farm. The product consists of killed whole cell suspensions made from cultures of a particular organism isolated from the designated farm. This product is stored at refrigerator temperature (35-45ºF), and is in ready-to-use form. Two injections, 7 days apart, are required to provide protection.