The variety of duck breeds is astounding. Ducks come in every color, shape, pattern, and size you can imagine. When you first dive into the world of ducks, it can be difficult to decide which of these amazing breeds would be best for you.
Determine what you want out of your ducks:
- Purpose. Do you want eggs, meat, or pets? Do you want to preserve a rare breed, or bring your ducks to exhibitions? Do you just want a lawn ornament? Or do you want a breed that lays plenty of eggs, is big enough to provide meat, and makes a good pet?
- Egg production–do you want 300 eggs a year, or are you okay with only 100?
- Size–bantam, light, medium, or heavy? A two pound duck or a ten pound one?
- Availability–which breeds are available in your area? If you’re in the US, for example, it may be impossible to find Abacot Rangers or Shetlands.
- Popularity–do you want to preserve a rare breed, or do you want something that’s cheap and easy to find?
- Flying–does it matter whether the breed can fly or not?
- Foraging–do you need a breed that can find a good chunk of its own food?
- Mothering–do you need a breed that will go broody, or one that won’t?
- Personality–do you want a quiet, friendly, calm breed? Unfortunately, it’s difficult to go by blanket breed statements, because individuals vary so much.
- And looks–do you like the looks of the breed?
Here’s a duck breed comparison chart. Swipe to the side to see two more categories, “Flying” and “Mothering.” If you’re on a desktop computer, there is a scroll bar at the bottom of the chart to allow you to scroll horizontally to view the other categories.
|Alabio||Light||Dual Purpose||200-250||3.3-4.4||Popular (Indonesia), Rare (Elsewhere||Good||Good|
|Australian Spotted||Bantam||Exhibition/Pet||50-125||2-2.2||Critically Endangered||Good||Good|
|Buff Orpington||Medium||Dual Purpose||150-220||5-8||Threatened||Poor||Fair|
|Rouen Clair||Heavy||Dual Purpose||150-200||6-9||Rare||Poor||Fair|
|Silver Appleyard||Heavy||Dual Purpose||200-270||7-9||Threatened||Poor||Good|
|Silver Appleyard Miniature||Bantam||Exhibition/Ornamental||60-160||2.5-3||?||Good||Good|
Here’s a list of duck breeds with a link to a complete guide to each duck breed (although this list is still in progress and some breeds are missing). Click on a breed name to see pictures of the duck breed and read about its history, use, egg production, meat production, appearance, and more.
Abacot Rangers are extremely rare, beautiful, dual-purpose light ducks. They’re not only extremely talented egg-layers, they’re also good for meat, good…
The Alabio duck is one of the rarest duck breeds in the world. It is not globally recognized as a duck breed and is almost unheard of…
The Ancona duck is a large dual-purpose duck breed that’s beautiful, friendly, excellent at foraging, and has recently been experiencing a surge…
Australian Spotted ducks are critically endangered and underappreciated, despite their beauty, friendliness, and adorable Call-like conformation…
The Aylesbury is a large meat breed of duck developed in the town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, England in the 18th century. Their status is…
The Blue Swedish (or Swedish Blue) is an attractive dual-purpose duck breed that makes a perfect addition to any homestead, hobby farm, or backyard…
The Buff Orpington duck is the epitome of a dual-purpose duck. For someone looking for one single “do-it-all” breed, these would be one of my first…
The Cayuga is almost unmistakable, with their solid black bills and feet, and solid black feathers that are a beautiful luminescent green in…
The Duclair duck is an old French breed of duck that used to be an extremely popular meat bird, but is now difficult to find. Most Duclairs…
The most striking feature of the extremely rare Dutch Hookbill duck is, of course, its curved “Roman-nosed” bill. No other duck breed has…
East Indies are relatively rare ducks and are primarily used as ornamental birds, exhibition birds, or pets. They are shyer and quieter than other…
The Muscovy is a very unique breed of duck. In fact, it’s not even a true duck – it’s simply called a duck. The Muscovy is to the duck world what the donkey…
The Pekin duck. Oh, we’ve all seen the Pekin duck. Many “city people” and other laypeople have hardly seen any duck but the Pekin (and Mallard). They are the duck. The duck of all ducks….
This is not the Rouen. The Rouen Clair is a totally different breed that has slipped out of the spotlight. It doesn’t lay enough to be mentioned in any “best egg layers lists,”…
The Saxony duck is a heavy dual-purpose duck breed that is considered one of the most beautiful breeds. Its status is threatened. They are…
Shetland ducks are a small, critically endangered breed of duck, one of the rarest breeds in the world. They are so rare that there is currently no…
The Silver Bantam is a rare ornamental/exhibition bantam breed of duck. They are mostly kept as a pet, or for exhibition. Females have a…
My kids and I are hoping to add a few ducks to our flock of chickens this spring, but we are having a hard time choosing a breed! We live on a small 1/4 acre lot and need ducks that will be quiet and friendly. We would like something on the smaller side and would like moderate egg production. Mostly we are looking for companions with eggs as a bonus!
There are no duck breeds that are “quiet” except Muscovies. Muscovies are friendly and quiet, but they’re not small and they’re not prolific egglayers (they lay 60-120 eggs a year). Beyond that, it’s hard to measure quietness. Some people will say a breed is quieter than average and others will say the opposite. There isn’t much consensus.
However, I think I’d recommend the Welsh Harlequin. They’re small (4.5-5.5 pounds), lay 240-330 eggs a year, and seem to be one of the breeds most commonly considered to be on the quiet side. They should also make great pets.
Khaki Campbells lay great (250-340 eggs a year), but tend to be considered a bit nervous and skittish. This varies, though. They also might be a little quieter than average.
The best layer of the bantam breeds is probably the Australian Spotted. They lay 50-125 eggs a year and tend to be friendly.
Indian Runners, Magpies, Anconas, and Buff Orpingtons might also work well for you. Saxonies and Silver Appleyards are larger, but you might like them as well anyway.
Hope that helps. 🙂
I was thinking about getting 4-6 Ancona ducks, and I was wondering how much space they would need. I would get a male, and the rest would be females.
Each duck needs about 4-5 square feet of space for a nighttime-only enclosure, so your coop would need to be 16-30 square feet for 4-6 ducks. 10 square feet per duck is considered the minimum for daytime/outdoors, but I think that is kind of small. The ducks will tear up the grass and be living in mud and dirt before long, unless they’re in a mobile run. The more space, the better. 25 square feet per duck would be better.
Good luck with your ducks! 🙂