Ducks are everywhere but what’s really behind all that quacking? If you’ve ever wanted to know more about these waterfowl, please check out our comprehensive guide. We’ll explain more about common duck breeds and provide you with some suggestions if you want ducks for your farm.
Duck breeds: Ducks love water but different breeds will live in different types. While we are most used to seeing ducks in shallow bodies of water, such as ponds, there are some that prefer deep rivers and there are even some that like to perch high up in trees. You can find ducks all over the world but there are some breeds that are more popular than others. In North America, the most common duck is the mallard duck. However, if you are looking for a farmyard duck, then the most common is the Pekin duck breed. The Campbell duck breed is great for egg production. Except for winter when it becomes too cold, female ducks will lay eggs year-round, usually three to five a week. You can also raise ducks for meat purposes as they have very fatty and therefore very tender meat. Ducks have great personalities and calm demeanors. You can keep a few on your hobby farm simply as pets as they will add a lot of character to the area.
What are the 3 types of ducks?
Because there are so many breeds of ducks, classification systems are needed. Overall, most ducks fit into one of the following categories. These are based on their physical characteristics and personalities.
Ducks in this category live in shallow water. You can find them in marshy areas as well as flooded farmland.
In order to feed, dabbling ducks will usually dip their heads below the surface of the water, which can be amusing to simply see their feet and tail feathers sticking out. They will happily eat plants, seeds, nuts, and even insects.
Common types of dabbling ducks include mallards and gadwalls.
Diving ducks live in large bodies of water, such as rivers, deep lakes, and even coastal habitats. They are able to dive large depths for food and then it is easy for them to ascend back to the surface.
If you are watching diving ducks, you may be nervous as they can stay under for quite some while. Furthermore, they often pop up much farther than where they first dove.
Common types of diving ducks include loons and grebes.
A smaller group, perching ducks are known for perching higher up in trees. They eat plant material as well as larvae, small crabs, and fish.
Unlike other ducks, perching ducks have very strong claws. This allows them to climb up trees and across branches for a safer vantage point.
Common types of perching ducks include the blue duck and the Brazilian duck.
How many breeds of duck are there?
Within the Anseriformes family, which includes ducks, swans, and geese, there are 162 different species. You can find ducks all over the world so it’s no wonder we may only be familiar with a few in our area.
Why get a duck?
There are certain animals that seem obvious for a backyard farm. Chickens lay eggs, goats are small but give milk. But what benefits do you get from having ducks?
Unlike some animals that only lay eggs once or twice a year, ducks are similar to chickens in that they will continually lay eggs. While they will slow down during winter, there are some breeds that don’t mind the cold.
You can expect anywhere from three to six eggs per week from female ducks. Although duck eggs are not as popular as chicken eggs, there is a growing market for them.
The lifespan of a duck is between five and 10 years. However, female ducks only lay eggs for three to five years. Still, this is a lot of egg-producing time.
It might be hard to say goodbye to beloved duck but duck meat is definitely a market you can tap into. Ducks are ready for butcher by about 12 weeks, although this varies by breed.
Duck meat is fatty and tender and easy to sell. You will want to be a bit more selective when it comes to finding duck breeds for meat, but there is still a large number to choose from.
As people look for more economical meat sources, it is expected that the duck meat market will steadily increase in the coming years.
Low food costs
One of the biggest advantages of having ducks in your backyard is that they love to forage. Most duck breeds are happy to roam around and eat any insects they come across.
While you will need to buy food, especially during the winter months, your overall costs won’t be too high. Just note that these birds will trample their space so make sure you house them in an area that is not a pristine garden.
Pets come in all shapes and sizes and ducks are actually a great backyard option. While you probably don’t want to bring them inside, many duck breeds make for excellent pets.
For the most part, if you raise your ducks from chicks, they will get to know you and will happily follow you around and interact with you as you go about your chores.
Ducks are a good option for children although if you have young, excitable children, you will want to find a breed that is exceptionally patient and not too timid.
15 Popular Duck Breeds
Although there are hundreds of duck breeds, these are some of the more popular options. We’ve included duck breeds from North America, Europe, and Australia.
Abacot Ranger Duck
Originating from the United Kingdom in the 1900s, Abacot Ranger ducks are also known as Hooded Rangers. They look similar to the common mallard, thanks to their iridescent green necks.
Abacot Ranger ducks are dual-purpose. Their medium to large-sized bodies are good for meat and you can expect three to four eggs per week from females.
While not very popular in the United States, Aylesbury ducks are incredibly prolific in the United Kingdom. In fact, they are the most popular breed, in terms of both meat production and backyard pets.
Aylesbury ducks have white meat that is very tender. They also grow quickly, which means the turnaround for butchering is a lot shorter than other breeds.
Aylesbury ducks are white in color and they are quite docile. They will happily get to know their farm keepers and will even interact with humans.
Hook Bill Duck
Hailing from the Netherlands, you can, however, find Hook Bill ducks in some areas of the United States. They are named because of their beaks which are long and pointy, similar to an eagle.
Male Hook Bill ducks are white in color with grey and black feathers interspersed, while females are more of a mottled grey color.
Hook Bill ducks are water birds and were primarily found along the canals of Amsterdam. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species.
There are less than 500 birds left. While there is hope these birds can make a comeback, their population is growing at a very slow pace.
You can find Muscovy ducks in the southern United States, as well as Mexico and Central and Southern America. They have a black and white body as well as a very staggering red face.
Most Muscovy ducks live in Texas but you can also find small pockets in Florida. They prefer warm climates so they are not a good option if you live in northern climates.
Bred for meat purposes, Muscovy ducks have large breast meat that is overall leaner than other breeds. If you are looking for a backyard duck, this is a great choice as they don’t actually quack.
East Indies Duck
With a mesmerizing green-black iridescent plumage, East Indies ducks are impressive to behold. The coloring is very rare and can only be found in one other breed, Cayuga ducks.
East Indies ducks are only raised for exhibition purposes or as pets. They are not large enough for meat production and while females will lay eggs, they are small in size.
It is hard to find East Indies ducks in the wild. Instead, they are primarily bred in hatcheries.
Those wanting a bit of whimsy with their duck breed will quickly fall in love with Crested ducks. In addition to their all-white feathers, these ducks also have a fluffy crest on the top of their heads.
Crested ducks are primarily bred for the purpose of pets and sometimes for exhibitions. They are difficult to breed which makes them a rare duck to find.
A new duck breed that originated in the United States, Cayuga ducks are medium in size and do not grow as fast as other breeds. They are quite striking, with bodies that are completely covered in iridescent green feathers.
Cayuga ducks are great for egg production as females can lay three to four eggs a week. While rare, they have a calm demeanor which makes them great for backyards.
White Call Duck
Although there is also an Australian Call duck, this is a different species and should not be confused. White Call ducks are almost entirely white, with bright, snowy feathers.
Interestingly, they were bred because of their quack. As Call ducks would quack, they would attract other, wild ducks, which would then be fair game for hunters.
Now that technology has changed and there are specific hunting duck calls, White Call ducks are usually bred as pets. They are very small in size and quite adorable.
There are actually different colors that Swedish ducks can be, including black and blue. Black Swedish ducks have all-black feathers except for a small patch of white on their chest, while Blue Swedish ducks have a grey-blue coloring to them.
They are medium to large in size and are bred for both eggs and meat. You can expect females to lay between three and four eggs a week. They are very calm and are great for a hobby farm.
Although Rouen ducks look almost identical to Mallards, they are actually a different species. They are very large in size and do not fly very well. As a result, they are a good choice for backyard ducks.
Rouen ducks will lay three to five eggs per week that have a light blue tint to them. They are very calm in demeanor and are great if you are looking for a new pet.
With bright white feathers and a larger body, American Pekin ducks are very popular. Female Pekins are able to lay a good quantity of eggs that are also a bright white color.
Interestingly, almost all duck meat in the United States and Canada is Pekin meat. The meat is a nice, light color and is not as fatty as other duck breeds.
Silver Appleyard Duck
A hardy breed, Silver Appleyard ducks have a lovely mix of grey and tawny brown feathers. They are medium-sized and thus can be used for both meat and egg production.
Egg-wise, you can expect four to five eggs per month and they will lay eggs even in colder winter months.
Silver Appleyard ducks are great for the backyard. They are happy foragers and will readily eat up all those pesky insects. They are also calm in personality and make for good pets.
The one issue with Silver Appleyard ducks is that they have a tendency to fly away. You may want to clip their wings to prevent this from happening. However, if they come from a loving home, they will want to return to it after a day of exploring.
Found in Australia, Elizabeth ducks are quite small and stocky. They have a very pleasant demeanor and are happy even in small spaces.
Despite their petite size, you can raise Elizabeth ducks for their meat as it is quite delicious. However, many people choose not to, as their size limits just how much meat you can get.
Instead, Elizabeth ducks are often classified as ornamental. They are great as backyard pets and are good with children.
Buff Orpington Duck
Not to confuse you, but these ducks actually have the same name as a different breed of chickens. Both are named after the person who originated the breeds, William Cook, from England.
Buff Orpington ducks have light brown feathers that are rather fluffy. They are medium in size and are primarily used for egg production, as the females can lay three to five eggs per week.
A German breed, Saxony ducks originated in the 1930s and are relatively new to the scene. They are large in size and therefore good for producing meat.
Male Saxony ducks have a greyish-blue head, somewhat similar to mallard ducks, while females are a light brown in coloring.
Although Saxony ducks only produce two to three eggs per week, they are large in size and white in color, so they are still a good investment. These ducks are relatively calm in personality and make for good backyard pets.
5 Best Duck for Farming
Although there are many duck breeds used for farming, there are some that are more useful than others. These are the top five breeds and can be readily found for purchase.
If you love duck eggs, then Campbell ducks are an excellent addition to any farm. They can produce an amazing five to six eggs a week.
In fact, Campbell ducks are some of the most popular for farming. They have a light brown, khaki coloring, and their larger bodies mean they can also be used for meat production.
With elongated bodies, Runner ducks are quite unique looking. They have white necks and white wing feathers, separated by a band of light brown feathers.
Runner ducks originated from China but can now be found on many hobby farms in North America. They can lay between four and five eggs per week, which is very impressive and while they can be a bit nervous, they make for great farming.
If you have a bug problem, you won’t have to worry about it anymore with Runner ducks. They love to forage and will happily eat any insects they come upon.
A duck for all occasions, Welsh Harlequin ducks are perfect for egg production, meat, and even exhibitions. They have a mostly white body but the feathers along the back produce a pattern that is almost rainbow in coloring.
Welsh Harlequin ducks can produce between four and six eggs a week and they vary in color, ranging from cream to light blue. As for temperament, they are calm birds and are great foragers, so will quickly get rid of insect pests.
With similar coloring to magpie birds, these ducks also have a black and white pattern on their feathers. They are perfect for egg laying as you can expect between four and five eggs per week.
The eggs themselves come in different colors, which makes them quite beautiful. Magpie ducks have very calm temperaments, so they are great for backyard farms.
With brown feathers broken up by pure white feathers, Ancona ducks are quite amazing to look at. They originated from the United Kingdom and were introduced to the United States in the 1970s.
Ancona ducks have nice, calm demeanors, which makes them perfect for backyard purposes. You can also expect three to four eggs per week from them.
Other Known Duck Breeds
- African Duck
- Alabio Duck
- Allier Duck
- Antigua and Barbuda Duck
- Australian Call
- Australian Spotted
- Bac Kinh Duck
- Bali duck
- Barbary duck
- Bashkir Duck
- Bau Duck
- Black East Indian Duck
- Blekinge duck
- Bourbourg Duck
- Challans Duck
- Chara Chamble Duck
- Danish Duck
- Dendermond Duck
- Deshi Black
- Deshi White
- Duclair duck
- Estaires Duck
- Faroese Duck
- Forest Duck
- German Pekin
- Germanata Veneta
- Gimbsheimer Duck
- Golden Cascade
- Gressingham Duck
- Grimao Ermaôs
- Haut-Volant Duck
- Havanna Duck
- Herve Duck
- Hook Bill
- Hungarian Duck
- Huttegem Duck
- Idegem Duck
- Indian Runner Duck
- Japanice Criollo
- Kaiya Duck
- Mandarin Duck
- Merchtem Duck
- Overberg Duck
- Pomeranian duck
- Pond Duck
- Tea Ankam
- Tea Kapa
- Termonde Duck
- Tsaiya Duck
- Ukrainian Clay Duck
- Ukrainian Grey Duck
- Venetian Duck
- Vouillé Duck
- Watervale Duck
- West Indian Duck
- White-breasted black duck
What is the most common duck?
In Canada and the United States, the most common duck is the mallard. Male mallards are recognized by their bright green heads and grey bodies while female mallards have brown speckled bodies.
Both male and female mallards also have a patch of blue feathers on their wings.
What is the best duck for a pet?
Ducks make great pets. You probably don’t want them running wild in the house, but having one on your backyard farm is a great option.
Just remember that ducks need a fair amount of space to roam around. They are also good foragers and will happily tear up the yard looking for tasty insects.
Some of the best duck breeds are Rouen ducks and Swedish ducks. For the most part, ducks are gentle, social creatures that are a real asset on your farm.
What is the best duck for your farm?
The best duck for farming depends on whether you want egg production, meat production, or both. You may also want to consider if you have kids running around your farm, and if so, a quieter disposition in a duck breed is a real asset.
Campbell and Magpie ducks offer a high yield of eggs. Welsh Harlequin and Runners will provide a good amount of meat.
We often think of ducks as creatures in the wild, but they actually make for a great addition to any farm. You can find many breeds that produce a good amount of eggs, and they are many perfect for meat production. Don’t forget that it’s ok to want a duck as a backyard pet, as there are many calm breeds perfect for this purpose.