A Guide to Duck Breeds

By Dave Holderread 

A perfect choice for many farmers, ducks produce eggs and meat efficiently, thrive in inclement weather, help control insects and snail populations, and they're also entertaining and beautiful. From selecting the breed that's right for you to rearing, housing, and caring for your birds, Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks (Storey Publishing, 2011) by Dave Holderread provides the essential advice and practical know-how you need to keep a thriving flock. The following excerpt is from Chapter 3, "Choosing the Right Duck."


Profiles of duck breeds

Most domestic ducks raised in North America belong to one of 23 breeds or their hybrids. These water-loving fowl represent a marvelous cornucopia of sizes, shapes, and colors. By examining their breeding histories, we get an intriguing glimpse of the places, events, and traditions that have helped to shape the present duck world.

When reviewing the various breeds, always remember that birds within the same breed can vary greatly in their physical, practical, and personality traits. Furthermore, the environment they are raised in and the diet they consume can significantly alter not only their growth and productivity but also their appearance.

Weight Class  Breed  Male/Female Pounds (kg)  Yearly Egg Production  Egg Size per Dozen Ounces (kg)  Mothering Ability  Foraging Ability  Status 
Bantam 

Australian Spotted

2.2 (1)            2 (0.9)

50 - 125

20 - 24 (0.55 - 0.7)

Excellent

Excellent

Endangered

Call

1.6 (0.7)        1.4 (0.6)

25 - 75

16 - 20 (0.45 - 0.55)

Fair - Excellent

Poor - Fair

Common

East Indie

1.8 (0.8)        1.5 (0.7)

25 - 75

18 - 24 (0.5 - 0.7)

Excellent

Excellent

Fairly common

Mallard

2.5 (1.1)        2.2 (1)

25 - 100

24 - 48 (0.7 - 0.8)

Excellent

Excellent

Abundant

Mini Silver Appleyard

2.2 (1)            2 (0.9)

50 - 125

20 - 24 (0.55 - 0.7)

Excellent

Excellent

Endangered

Silkie

2.2 (1)            2.0 (0.9)

50 - 125

20 - 28 (0.55 - 0.8)

Excellent

Excellent

Endangered

Light 

Bali

5 (2.3)            4.5 (2)

120 - 250

28 - 36 (0.8 - 1.0)

Poor - Fair

Excellent

Endangered

Campbell

4.5 (2)            4 (1.8)

250 - 340

28 - 34 (0.8 - 0.95)

Poor - Fair

Excellent

Fairly common

Harlequin

5.5 (2.5)         5 (2.3)

240 - 330

29 - 34 (0.8 - 0.95)

Poor - Good

Excellent

Rare

Hook Bill

4 (1.8)            3.5 (1.6)

100 - 225

24 - 32 (0.7 - 0.9)

Fair - Good

Excellent

Endangered

Magpie

6 (2.7)            5.5* (2.5)

220 - 290

30 - 38 (0.85 - 1.1)

Fair - Good

Excellent

Rare

Runner

4.5 (2)            4 (1.8)

150 - 300

28 - 36 (0.8 - 1.0)

Poor - Fair

Excellent

Common

Medium 

Ancona

6.5 (3)            6 (2.7)

210 - 280

30 - 38 (0.85 - 1.1)

Fair - Good

Excellent

Endangered

Cayuga

8 (3.6)            7 (3.2)

100 - 150

30 - 38 (0.85 - 1.1)

Fair - Good

Good

Common

Crested

7 (3.2)            6 (2.7)

100 - 150

30 - 38 (0.85 - 1.0)

Fair - Good

Good

Common

Orpington

8 (3.6)            7 (3.2)

150 - 220

30 - 36 (0.85 - 1.0)

Fair - Good

Good

Fairly common

Swedish

8 (3.6)            7 (3.2)

100 - 150

30 - 38 (0.85 - 1.1)

Fair - Good

Good

Fairly common

Heavy 

Appleyard

9 (4.1)            8 (3.6)

200 - 270

34 - 40 (0.95 - 1.1)

Fair - Good

Good

Rare

Aylesbury

10 (4.5)          9 (4.1)

35 - 125

38 - 44 (1.1 - 1.25)

Poor - Fair

Fair

Rare

Muscovy

12 (5.4)          7 (3.2)

50 - 125

38 - 50 (1.1 - 1.4)

Fair - Excellent

Excellent

Abundant

Pekin

10 (4.5)          9 (4.1)

125 - 225

36 - 46 (1.0 - 1.3)

Poor - Fair

Fair

Abundant

Rouen

10 (4.5)          9 (4.1)

35 - 125

36 - 44 (1.0 - 1.25)

Poor - Good

Fair - Good

Common

Saxony

9 (4.1)            8 (3.6)

190 - 240

36 - 46 (1.0 - 1.3)

Fair - Good

Good

Rare

*The APA Standard gives weights of 5 pounds (2.25 kg) and 4.5 pounds (2 kg), respectively, for Magpie drakes and ducks, approximately 1 pound lower than typical.

Note: Information presented in this profile is based on the average characteristics of each breed. Actual performance may vary considerably from the norm.


This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks, published by Storey Publishing, 2011.  

Cover image courtesy Storey PublishingGuide to Raising Ducks cover

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