Many people’s knowledge of duck breeds includes only Mallards, Pekins and Daffy Duck, yet many others exist. Like chickens, some duck breeds are primarily ornamental, some are ideal for meat and others are admired for their egg-producing abilities. Ducks are among four poultry species that are commonly raised for eggs. If raising ducks for eggs is something that appeals to you, but you’re not sure where to begin, this list of six egg-producing duck breeds should help “egg you on.”
Commonly referred to as the Khaki Campbell because of its tan color, the Campbell is unquestionably one of the best duck breeds to raise for eggs—these ducks have been known to lay as many as 340 eggs per year. Campbells are active foragers and well-suited to a variety of climates, making them an ideal breed for hobby farmers throughout the world. According to Dave Holderread, author of Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks (Storey Publishing, 2nd edition 2011), Campbells are happiest when they receive an adequate diet, calm environment, and plenty of grazing space, and are part of a flock of less than 200 birds. Be aware that crossbreeds sold as Campbells may not lay as well, so ensure the breed’s authenticity when acquiring your animals.
The oldest of the six duck breeds listed here, the Runner—sometimes called the Indian Runner—is another highly productive layer, producing as many as 300 chicken size eggs per year. Like the Campbell, the Runner is categorized as “lightweight” by the American Poultry Association, the category most often associated with stellar egg producers. Runners are voracious foragers. Historically, the ducks were used in Chinese rice patties to gather weeds, snails, insects and even small reptiles, so don’t be surprised if your ducks uncover an array of “treats” from around your farm. They will likely forage a large area and are very active, so be sure to provide them plenty of space.
The Buff is among duck breeds known as dual-purpose. Slightly larger than the others on this list—weighing 7 to 8 pounds—it’s classified as “medium” by the American Poultry Association. Also known as the Orpington, Buffs lay fewer eggs than their smaller relatives but can still produce more than 200 eggs each year; they’re also ideal meat birds.
4. Welsh Harlequin
Listed as a critically endangered species by The Livestock Conservancy, the Welsh Harlequin, which hails from Wales, is another lightweight duck breed that produces remarkable amounts, often yielding more than 300 white eggs each year. Known for their practicality around the farm, this heritage breed can be raised for meat and because hens are broody, they can also help you to raise ducklings. Welsh Harlequins are among duck breeds that can be raised for meat.
This lovely lightweight duck, typically black and white but also found in blue-and-white, lays as many as 290 eggs per year. If striking egg colors are something you desire, the Magpie won’t disappoint: Its eggs range in color from white and cream to blue and green. Magpies tend to be quieter than other duck breeds, offering peace for those that might not enjoy the constant sound of quacking ducks.
Like the Buff, this medium size duck (about 6 to 6½ pounds) is an excellent dual-purpose breed, laying around 240 eggs per year and producing high-quality, flavorful meat. This England native is an attractive bird that, like the Magpie, comes in many colors and can produce a variety of white, cream, blue and green eggs. These birds have calm dispositions, prefer ample foraging space, and make good yard or pond birds, as their size protects them from being the prey of winged predators. The Livestock Conservancy lists the Ancona as critically endangered among duck breeds.
Other duck breeds are good egg producers, as well. The breed you choose will depend in part on where you live, which ducks are available for purchase and whether you are interested in helping to raise and protect a rare species; however, if quantity of eggs is your goal, these six breeds are bound to please.
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