The Ultimate Duck Breed Guide

March 10, 2022

Raft of ducks

Ducks are welcome additions to any family farm or backyard coop. But with so many different breeds to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? Ultimately, it boils down to various factors, including your intended use, budget, and space.

Overall, ducks are low-maintenance birds with fun and kind personalities. However, different breeds have unique characteristics. Our duck breed guide covers the most popular breeds, so you can find the best duck breed for your home and family.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Duck Breed

Before you decide to buy and raise ducks, you must consider several factors to find the perfect fit.

  • Usage – Are you raising ducks for meat, eggs, pets, show birds? Several duck breeds are known as multi-purpose birds because they have beautiful plumage, are friendly, and can produce high-quality meat and many eggs per year.
  • Living space – How much space do you have for a coop and run? Even if ducks are free-range, they still require a secure coop and run to exercise when they are not out foraging. Can they live in confined environments? Do they prefer more space? Understanding their personality and characteristics can help you choose the right one for your husbandry style.
  • Cost – Generally, domesticated duck breeds are great at foraging for food when they are free-range and have a pond to dunk for food. These food sources can keep feed costs down and give ducks a natural diet during spring to fall but may need supplemental feed in the winter.
  • Breeding – If you plan to breed ducklings to sell them off or expand your flock, you need a brooder that includes small feeders and waterers and a heat lamp. While some ducks are prolific egg layers, others are not. Some may tend to their offspring, while others may ignore their brood. Invest in an incubator if you choose duck breeds that are not known for sitting on eggs. Ducks can live between eight to 10 years.
  • Domestication – Buy domesticated duck breeds to keep them from flying away from your backyard or migrating in the winter. Domesticated ducks raised for meat can usually only fly about one foot in the air and about a foot in distance. Buy domesticated breeds at agriculture stores, poultry shows, and hatcheries.

American Pekin Ducks

White duck and family

Hailing originally from Asia, the Pekin duck is a popular duck breed. They have a short and heavy build and creamy white plumage. Pekin ducks are usually bred for their meat and can be about 10 pounds when ready for slaughter.

Pekin ducks are great at egg laying, commonly between 200 to 300 eggs per year, starting at just six months old. However, they are not the best sitters.

They love to forage bugs and dunk their heads for food in the pond. They can thrive on pasture or feed.

Pekin ducks have a fun personality and are very smart. They fit right in with other poultry birds and get along with humans, too. Pekin ducks are known for being very talkative, especially around mealtime or when they want your attention.

Muscovy Ducks

raft of ducks eating food

Muscovy ducks have a unique look featuring striking red flesh surrounding their beaks. These ducks have an additional claw on their feet, making them better able to perch while sleeping.

While they are not very talkative, they are known for bobbing their heads and their low-volume hisses. They are sociable and calm birds but can be easily startled and take off if they feel threatened. They love to forage, swim, and look for food in ponds.

A male Muscovy duck can easily weigh 12 pounds or more while females weigh around six pounds. They are usually raised for their meat because of their large size but are not as good at laying eggs compared to other duck breeds. They can lay about 150 to 180 eggs per year.

While they can breed with other duck breeds, their offspring will be sterile. Keep at least five ducks per drake since the drakes can get a little aggressive when mating.

Mallard Ducks

beautiful brown mallard

It is hard not to fall in love with the beautiful iridescent color of mallard ducks. Their drakes have shiny green heads with gray hues on their wings and stomach area. Female and young ducks have a mottled brown appearance with orange and brown bills. Mallard ducks have either white and black or blue wing feathers.

Unlike other ducks, mallards are simpler to hand rear, making them easy to tame and have around people. In fact, they are very social and prefer to live in flocks instead of being independent. Just make sure to have a pond or mini pool nearby since they are dabbling ducks.

In terms of egg production, mallards can lay about 180 green or blue eggs annually. They can breed about eight to 13 ducklings at once. They can crossbreed with other breeds and produce fertile offspring.

Swedish Blue Ducks

If you are looking for free-range ducks, look no further than Swedish blue ducks. They are excellent foragers and like having a lot of space to live. While they do not fly, they do not want to be in confined spaces and small pens.

Swedish blue ducks can lay eggs and be raised for meat. Swedish blue ducks can lay about 100 to 150 large green, blue, or white eggs. While they are on the watch list, you can breed them for meat and eggs and keep expanding their species. Drakes can get to about nine pounds while females get to about seven.

This duck breed can thrive in cold areas and comes in a wide range of colors, including black, green, blue, and gray. They are generally sociable and friendly pets and show birds.

Silver Appleyard Ducks

Silver Appleyard ducks are a heritage duck breed considered a threatened species, but you can do your part in growing their kind and get good eggs and meat out of the deal, too. They can easily reach about nine pounds and lay between 200 to 270 eggs per year.

However, they do not sit well on eggs but are better than Pekin ducks when housed in a coop and run While they are not known to brood very often, when they do, they have an innate mothering instinct.

They love to forage and find food on their own. While they can be noisy, they are not as loud as Pekin ducks and are generally gentle creatures. They also have a beautiful color and appearance. Since they are known to fly, they may need their wings clipped.

Call Ducks

three white call ducks

Hunters commonly use call ducks to call out to other ducks in the hunting area. When the wild ducks appear, the hunter can take aim and shoot. While call ducks are generally small, they grow to about one pound.

While they are small in size, they can be pretty talkative. Call ducks are very social creatures and commonly used as show ducks. They make a great addition to a family with kids.

Rouen Ducks

Raft of rouen domestic ducks

Rouen ducks are traditionally raised for meat since they can easily reach eight to ten pounds. They can produce between 60 to 120 eggs annually. They are friendly and calm pets that get along well with humans. Their bright and vibrant colors can add a touch of whimsy to any coop.

Because of their heavyweight, they cannot fly as much. A basic fence around your garden and veggies can keep your Rouen ducks away. These ducks will need a pond for mating. They are low maintenance and love to forage and search for food in ponds.

Magpie Ducks

two magpie ducks

Magpie duck breeds look similar to magpie birds due to their black and white feathers. While they are a threatened species, they can lay about 200 to 290 white and medium-sized eggs annually. At just five to six pounds, they are not good for meat, but the meat they do produce is quite tasty.

They love to dunk in the pond for food and forage. Keep about five ducks per drake since the drakes can get quite pushy when mating. Start bonding with the ducklings as soon as possible because they can take some time getting used to people.

Saxony Ducks

Saxony ducks have a striking light brown appearance. They are considered a threatened species, so we recommend breeding them to grow your flock. They are calm, friendly, low maintenance, and make great pets and show ducks. They love to forage and have plenty of space.

Saxony ducks can be bred for meat and eggs. They can reach eight to nine pounds and lay about 190 to 260 huge white or bluish eggs annually. They may take a little longer to get the proper weight, but when they do, it is worth it for their lean and tasty meat.

Buff Orpington Ducks

buff orpington duck

Buff Orpington ducks are a critically endangered species due to their meat production since many prefer their meat taste. Drakes can weigh up to eight pounds, while ducks can weigh about seven pounds.

They can lay between 150 to 220 eggs per year. Raising them for eggs is a great way to increase the breed count of the species. Grow your flock and sell off the extras as your flock expands.

Buff Orpington ducks are great foragers and love to search for food in ponds. They are friendly and make excellent pets and show birds.

Indian Runner Ducks

Indian runner ducks

Indian runner ducks run everywhere they go. They will run even if traveling a short distance. Many have compared their appearance to bowling pins or penguins due to their narrow and lengthy bodies and long bills. These calm birds can reach about four to five pounds, making them easy to lose track of in small areas.

They are a popular duck breed for egg-laying since they can produce about 200 to 250 greenish eggs per year. Hens can begin laying as soon as they are four and a half months old. However, they are not the best sitters. Mothers do have some maternal instincts.

They can be kept free-range or in smaller and confined areas. A runner duck is great at foraging and getting rid of snails, slugs, and other insects to keep your garden safe and fertilized. Just make sure to keep them away from your garden. Your vegetable and flower garden can make for a tasty snack if not around a fence.

Cayuga Ducks

Multicolored cayuga duck

Cayuga ducks used to be listed under the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Conservation Priority List’s threatened status but were changed to the watch category as of 2020. This means the survival of the duck breeds is at risk.

They are usually bred for both eggs and meat. Cayuga ducks can weigh about eight pounds. However, their darker skin does not make them commercially viable for meat like other ducks.

Cayuga ducks have a breathtaking, iridescent, beetle green color. They have a completely black appearance from top to bottom. They can produce black eggs, about 100 to 150 per year. In the winter and the start of spring, the eggs laid will usually be black and lighten in color later on in the year.

They prefer a large run and love to forage and look for food in ponds. They prefer to hang around in the shade since their black feathers attract the sun’s heat.

Welsh Harlequin Ducks

Welsh Harlequin ducks have a striking look with a mix of white, brown, and green colors, making them great as show ducks. Apart from their beautiful appearance, they are a very calm breed and have warm personalities making them great additions to your home and family.

These calm ducks can weigh up to five pounds and do not need much additional feed. They are one of the most prolific egg layers, laying between 240 and 340 big eggs per year. They love to forage and thrive in pastures, paddocks, and natural ponds. If you intend on keeping them in runs, make sure they have a long-run space with plenty of space.

Khaki Campbell Ducks

If you are interested in breeding ducks to lay eggs, consider the Khaki Campbell ducks. They can lay between 280 to 320 eggs per year. They can also be excellent breeding ducks. They do not tend as well to their offspring as other duck breeds. They will usually not pay much attention to their offspring.

These ducks are medium-sized and can weigh about four pounds. They are not very robust, but their meat is tender and moist.

Khaki Campbell ducks are known for their independence and calm nature. They are not very talkative and generally take some time getting used to humans.

Due to the size and taste of their eggs, their duck eggs are worth more than chicken eggs. These duck breeds can begin producing eggs at just six months of age and keep going up until five years old.

They can easily fit in with the rest of your flock. They are quick to adapt and catch on to your daily routines. When fully acquainted with your home, they can quickly bond with other farm birds such as chickens, quails, and guinea fowl.

Keep Your Backyard Birds Healthy with Wilco Farm Stores

Geese and roosters

Raising ducks is relatively easy and rewarding if you have the right environment and supplies to keep your birds happy and healthy. Shop at Wilco Farm stores in Oregon, Washington, and California for all of your fowl needs. Shop in-store or online today!

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