Ducks are a wonderful addition to the small farm, offering numerous benefits and plenty of entertainment.
Selecting ducks for your flock depends on your farm and how you hope to use them. Ducks can be pets, they can provide delicious eggs and they are great for keeping pests (especially slugs) out of the garden.
However, getting the most out of your ducks means picking the right breeds. Hopefully this quick guide to duck breeds can help you choose the right birds for your needs.
If it’s entertainment value you are looking for—look no further!
Runner ducks are endlessly delightful with their narrow, upright bodies and long bills. They are constantly in a hurry, dashing from one place to another.
Runner ducks lay around 100 eggs a year, which is a steady amount for a family homestead. However, their real strength is in chasing and devouring pests, especially slugs and snails. Because of their high energy, they’re always on the lookout and constantly foraging.
As with any duck used for pest control in the garden, you have to take care to cover or fence off your vegetables and flowers, as they will also eat those up.
If there’s a looker in the barnyard, it is a Cayuga duck.
Solid black from beak to feet, Cayugas also lay black eggs. Their large eggs begin in the winter (or early spring) as an inky color and slowly become lighter as the season progresses. All told, they’ll lay over a hundred eggs in a year, and, while not all of them will be totally black, each one is sure to be delicious.
The champion layer of the duck world is the Khaki Campbell.
Attractive brown birds, they can lay in excess of 300 eggs a year, nearly every single day. These docile birds are the right duck for an egg business—and business is good selling duck eggs, which often fetch twice the price per dozen compared to chicken eggs.
The traditional meat duck, Pekins are stout white ducks with affable personalities.
When not raised for meat, they are exceptional layers, producing about 200 eggs in a year. As meat birds, they often mature at around 10 pounds and are easy birds to raise on pasture.
Muscovy ducks would never be confused with any other breed. They are unique, with bright red flesh around their beaks protruding over their feathers, and they have an attitude to match.
Muscovy ducks are big. Males sometimes weigh 15 pounds, and, unlike other ducks, they perch or roost to sleep at night.
Self-confident birds, they sometimes have a wild streak but are still great egg layers—a Muscovy will produce 150-180 eggs in a year.
Mallards might be what you first think of when you imagine ducks, but they are somewhat unusual as pets or farmyard birds.
However, they can be hand-raised and integrated on a farm. When raised this way, these small birds will lay around 180 blue or green eggs in a year.
Call ducks are a more recent breed of duck, developed for hunting in the 1800s.
These tiny, cute birds have miniature features, and their weight is usually calculated in ounces, not pounds, because they often do not even weigh one pound.
Popular as pets and show birds, Call ducks are curious, talkative and calm.
These are not all the breeds of ducks available, and I’d encourage you to research all the breeds that intrigue you and figure out which is the right duck for you. You can hardly go wrong adding ducks to the farm, and I assure you that any breed will bring a smile to your face.