Duck eggs and meat production is a relatively lucrative business and if you have been thinking of going into that then you should know the best breeds for backyard rearing of ducks.
Some of the best duck breeds you can come across include the Mallard duck, who is believed to be the ‘father’ of all ducks.
There are strains of the species in most other domestic breeds. The Pekins breed is another great backyard duck breed for meat production.
Today we bring our top 10 best duck backyard breeds which we will discuss in detail, also we will look at whether ducks can free-range and whether ducks are great backyard pets.
10 Best Duck Breeds For Backyard
There are a wide variety of duck breeds and species the world around and this list will focus on the top 10 for backyard breeding. They include:
1. Mallard Duck
Mallards are one of the most popular duck breeds around the world. Most domestic duck breeds have strains of Mallard except for the Muscovy ducks.
The drakes are known for their glossy green heads with white rings around their necks while the females are brown speckled.
Mallards are very energetic and great talkers and are good for backyard rearing.
They also do not do well in confinement and due to their lighter shape they are able to fly.
This means they can fly away if they do not have a covered run. Mallards are not great egg producers, laying about 60 -120 eggs per year.
2. Pekin Duck
Pekins are so popular because not only are they beautiful, they can serve both as pets and are also egg and meat producers.
Pekins are calm and docile, they are friendly and have a stockier build so they are unable to fly.
They have pure white feathers and usually lay between 150 – 200 eggs per year.
They are not broody in nature though as they do not hatch their ducklings so artificial incubation is required.
3. Muscovy Duck
Muscovies are wild birds originally from South America. They are distinct because they do not look like the typical duck.
Muscovites have their own species which have not been influenced by strains of Mallard.
Muscovites are a great choice for backyard rearing because they are quieter than most ducks.
They do not quack, the males make a hissing sound while the females make a ‘pip’. This means they do not get to disturb the neighbors.
The Muscovy hen lays about 30 to 40 eggs per year, however it has great abilities to hatch almost its eggs and the meat is superb.
4. Cayuga Duck
Cayuga’s are popular for their shimmery green feathers, black bills and black feet. Originally from the US, Cayuga’s are calm and docile ducks.
They can lay about 100- 150 eggs per year.
Cayuga’s can live 8 to 12 years if well cared for, they weigh about 8lbs at maturity and are a great addition to a backyard flock.
You can keep them for eggs, their flavorful meat, as pets and even for shows.
5. Khaki Campbell
The Khaki Campbell duck is a cross between a Penciled Runner and a Rouen and then a Mallard.
Khakis have great egg laying capabilities with about 280 – 340 eggs per year even outnumbering some chickens.
Their bodies are brownish in color with a dark bill. They are excellent foragers and can live 10 to 15 years. You can keep them for eggs and as pets.
6. Saxony Duck
Saxony ducks are heavy breeders that weigh as much as 7 – 8 pounds at maturity. They are also a popular backyard breed.
They are fairly calm and quiet and are good layers. They can produce between 200 -240 creamy white eggs per year, the hens also go broody.
They are fun loving and can be mischievous and they make a great choice for backyard duck rearing.
7. Crested Duck
Crested ducks are popular for the crests on their head also known as the ‘top-knot’.
They come in several colors such as white, brown, fawn and grey mallard color. They are medium sized and can weigh up to 7 pounds.
They can produce between 100 to 120 eggs per year and roasted crested duck is a popular delicacy in some countries.
They have a friendly demeanor and are quite popular as pets.
8. Rouen Duck
Some duck keepers prefer Rouen ducks to Mallards as they are heavy and as such are less flighty.
They are domesticated and are raised as pets and also for egg and meat production.
The Rouen has a beautiful plumage similar to that of the Mallard, they are very calm and are sometimes tagged lazy.
They can produce up to 125 eggs per year and are great as backyard pets.
9. Swedish Duck
Swedish duck is a medium weight breed weighing between 4 to 6 pounds, the females are decent layers that can produce about 180 eggs per year.
They are hardy, calm and very good foragers.
The females can go broody and they come in black, white or silver colors.
10. White call Duck
Call ducks are popular and the White call ducks are great as backyard pets. Their beautiful white plumage endears them to pet lovers.
Originally hunting birds, they are known for their compact bodies and short bills.
White Calls can weigh up to 25 ounces and lay about 150 chicken sized eggs per year. The hens are also broody and love raising their ducklings.
Call ducks are perfect as pets because of their sweet disposition although they can be a bit of a chatterbox.
These domesticated duck breeds are great for all purposes and if you are looking at getting ducks either as pets or for commercial purposes then these are some of your best options.
Are Ducks Good Backyard Pets?
Ducks make terrific backyard pets. Ducks are cute pets to keep around, not to even mention baby ducks.
They also serve the dual purposes of providing eggs and meat.
Ducks can forage for their food to supplement the feed you give them. They literally eat up pests such as slugs and worms from your garden. They are also long livers if well cared for.
These are all great reasons for keeping ducks however there are some things you should also take into consideration if you want to keep ducks and they include:
- Ducks need companionship so you have to buy more than one
- Ducks can be pretty messy and require constant clean up
- They are loud with their quacking except you don’t mind the noise
- They are high maintenance
- Ducks require clean and fresh water constantly to drink and wade in.
Notwithstanding these, ducks still make great and intelligent pets. Before raising ducks read up about proper care for ducks, their feed and how to handle them
Are Ducks Good For A Pond?
Ducks are considered goods for ponds as they have the natural cleaning ability of removing unwanted elements from the pond to the delight of the pond owner.
Ducks will eat up algae, frog eggs, insects and even small snakes from your pond and its environs.
However you should not just introduce ducks to a pond without putting some things into consideration.
An important factor is duck poop. Duck’s are messy and create a lot of waste which can cause a proliferation of bacteria in your pond over time.
Also too many ducks on a pond can create an imbalance in the pond ecosystem and excessive digging with their bills can cause pond erosion.
It is recommended that you can release 8 to 15 ducks per acre of pond water and this ensures that aquatic life thrives will provide food for the ducks.
Can Ducks Be Free Range In Your Backyard?
Ducks should actually be allowed to free range. They still retain some of their characteristics from the wild and have foraging instincts.
Foraging allows them to get the extra proteins they need from insects and slugs.
They can also feed on fresh grass and use the free range as exercise. It is also good for you economically as it saves you the cost of feed because they get to eat less feed.
However free ranging comes with its associated risks top of which is predators.
The expression sitting ducks means your ducks are very much vulnerable to predator attacks and this is heightened when they are not in the safety of a covered run.
You can still get around this however by taking the following steps:
- Have a meshed wall around your property to keep predators out and your birds in
- Always be on guard and keep your birds in their coop if you are not within the premises.
- Get a guardian animal such as dog or mini donkey
- Have powerful lights around your property to deter predators.
With these steps your birds can free range while still remaining in safety.
There you have it, everything you need to know about raising ducks from the type of breed to buy to whether you can free range ducks.
Ducks are the new chickens and are becoming popular with flock owners. They are great pets, lay beautiful eggs, are super cute and their meat delicacy is top notch.