Choosing a Breed

Once you’ve read Duck Breeds, you might know, for sure, which breed you want. But you might also be stuck. Perhaps you don’t know which breed would fit you best, or perhaps you can’t decide.

What are your goals for raising ducks? Eggs, meat, pets, preserving a rare breed, or a combination? Say you want ducks for eggs. You can eliminate Aylesburies and the other breeds that lay very little. Or if you want ducks for meat, don’t choose Khaki Campbells. Some breeds aren’t the best for pets, either.

Then, what breeds are available where you live? In some areas, your choice may be limited. For example, I would really like a Silver Appleyard, but here I can only get Muscovies or Pekins.

Looks and personality are also a major factor. Breeds purported to be calm can often be quite the opposite, so you can’t necessarily go by a blanket statement, but if many people say a breed is calm, then you have a pretty good chance of it being calm. There might be some breeds that you love/hate the looks of, as well. Many people think Muscovies are ugly. I think the deep keel on Aylesburies and some Rouens are unsightly. Some people like the Runner’s upright stance. Some people may like an all-white duck like the Pekin, others may prefer the huge color variations in other breeds.

Some people want a breed that doesn’t fly, others want a breed that does. Foraging and mothering ability are also often important. There are many choices.

So, make a list of the traits that you need in a duck:

  • Purpose – eggs, meat, pet, or dual-purpose?
  • Amount of eggs – 100 eggs a year? 300 eggs a year?
  • Weight – do you need a 5 pound duck or a 10 pound one?
  • Size – bantam, light, medium, or large?
  • Availability – which breeds are around where you are?
  • Popularity – do you want to preserve a rare breed, or do you want a common one?
  • Flying – does the breed fly or not?
  • Foraging – do you need a breed that can find most of its own food, or not?
  • Mothering – do you need a breed that will go broody, or one that won’t? A breed that is a good mother, or a breed that lays and rarely sets?
  • And looks – do you like the looks?

And here is a chart to help you decide:

Breed Size Utility Eggs Weight Popularity Flying Foraging Mothering
Abacot Ranger Light Eggs 200-250 4.5-5.5 lb Rare Unlikely Excellent Poor-Good
Ancona Medium Eggs 210-280 6-6.5 lb Endangered No Excellent Fair-Good
Appleyard Heavy Eggs/Meat 200-270 7-9 lb Rare No Good Fair-Good
Australian Spotted Bantam Pet 50-125 2 lb Endangered Yes Excellent Excellent
Aylesbury Heavy Meat 35-125 9-12 lb Rare No Fair Poor-Fair
Bali Light Eggs 120-250 4-5 lb Endangered No Excellent Poor-Fair
Call Bantam Pet 25-75 1-1.5 lb Common Yes Excellent Excellent
Campbell Light Eggs 250-340 4.5-5.5 lb Fairly common Unlikely Excellent Poor-Fair
Cayuga Medium Meat 100-150 7-8 lb Common No Good Fair-Good
Crested Medium Eggs/Meat 100-150 6-7 lb Common No Good Fair-Good
Dutch Hookbill Light Eggs 100-200 3.5-5 lb Rare Maybe Excellent Fair-Good
East Indies Bantam Pet 25-75 1.5-2 lb Fairly common Yes Excellent Excellent
Indian Runner Light Eggs 150-300 3-4 lb Common Poor Excellent Poor-Fair
Magpie Light Eggs 220-290 4.5-7 lb Rare No Excellent Fair-Good
Mallard Bantam Pet 25-100 Abundant Excellent Excellent
Muscovy Heavy Meat 50-125 5-14 lb Abundant Yes Excellent Good-Excellent
Orpington Medium Eggs/Meat 150-220 5-7.5 lb Fairly common No Good Fair-Good
Pekin Heavy Eggs/Meat 125-225 8-9 lb Abundant No Fair Poor-Fair
Rouen Heavy Meat 35-125 9-12 lb Common No Good Poor-Good
Rouen Clair Heavy Meat 150-200 6.5-9 lb Rare No Good Poor-Good
Saxony Heavy Eggs/Meat 190-240 7-8 lb Rare No Good Fair-Good
Silver Bantam Bantam Pet 30-80 1.75-2 lb Rare Yes Excellent Excellent
Silver Appleyard Miniature Bantam Pet 80 2.5-3 lb Fairly common Yes Excellent Excellent
Swedish Medium Meat 100-150 7-8 lb Fairly common No Good Fair-Good
Welsh Harlequin Light Eggs 240-330 4.5-5.5 lb Rare Unlikely Excellent Poor-Good