Understanding the different duck breeds is very important for aspiring poultrymen. You at least need to learn how to differentiate between ducks raised for meat versus the ones grown for laying eggs.
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RELATED: Raising Ducks For Your Homestead
9 Duck Breeds to Consider Raising in Your Homestead
Duck Breeds Best For Egg
1. Khaki Campbell
If you’re looking into raising ducks for eggs but don’t know much about poultry management, you can opt for the Khaki Campbell. These are elegant, mild-mannered domestic birds known for being among the most prolific egg-laying duck breeds.
In fact, one Khaki Campbell can lay more than 300 eggs annually. That means you’re guaranteed to get at least one egg every other day!
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Apart from their ability to lay eggs regularly, they’re also very obedient and docile. These birds are actually quite caring in nature so homesteaders won’t have trouble getting their ducks to sit on their eggs.
2. Indian Runner
Indian Runners are characterized by their small, stump-like bodies and long, gangly necks. They sort of look like bowling pins.
What makes them one of the best egg-laying duck breeds is their ability to produce more than 250 eggs a year. This guarantees you one egg every three days.
Plus, they’re very light and mild-mannered, so it’s highly unlikely for them to crush their eggs.
If you decide to raise Indian Runners, we strongly advise letting them run free from time to time. They are very active birds. You’ll often see them digging dirt and scavenging for bugs.
Just make sure to put a fence around your farm to keep the predators away.
Duck Breeds Best For Meat
Rouen ducks are stumpy looking, heavyweight, general-purpose ducks primarily chosen for decorative purposes. They’re relatively easy to take care of and are quite attractive. Many cartoon shows even base their wild duck characters off of Rouens.
The Rouen duck is ideal for homesteaders looking to raise poultry for meat. With every inch of their bodies brimming with both lean meat and fat, they’re undoubtedly one of the thickest duck breeds around.
Note, however, that these ducks take around six to eight months to mature, so they might not be suitable for poultrymen looking to raise fast-moving poultry products.
Also, they are notorious for being terrible egg layers. Rouen ducks are only capable of producing a meager amount of 30 to 100 eggs annually.
Homesteaders looking to raise ducks for meat without investing too much time and money should consider Aylesbury ducks. These are docile, pure white ducks originating from England.
What makes them a great choice is the fact that they can be ready for slaughter in just five to nine weeks. They mature faster than any other domestic breed.
When it comes to taste, homesteaders won’t be disappointed as its white flesh is filled with a rich, unique flavor. The dish won’t taste gamey even if you cook the meat directly after butchering the duck.
However, the only problem with Aylesbury ducks is they’re very rare. They mature at such a fast rate that farms are slaughtering and selling them faster than they can reproduce.
If you do decide to raise these birds, we strongly suggest keeping at least two pairs of parent ducks. That way, you won’t affect the breed’s already low population.
Duck Breeds Best For Egg and Meat
Whether you’re looking into selling duck meat or just curious how to raise ducks properly, you can’t go wrong with an Ancona duck. These are definitely one of the best duck breeds for beginners.
Firstly, they’re very docile and calm. You won’t have to worry about your flock of ducks straying far from your farm.
Secondly, they are prolific egg-laying birds. In fact, one Ancona duck can produce more than 280 eggs in the span of one year.
Lastly, their meat tastes great. It has that thick, juicy, and chewy flavor very similar to Thanksgiving turkey.
The problem with raising egg-laying ducks is that some breeds tend to be quite aggressive. Luckily, this isn’t the case with Saxony ducks.
These are docile, motherly birds who instinctively know exactly how to care for their offspring. Among the 200 to 250 eggs they lay annually, you can expect at least 90% of them to survive.
Plus, Saxony duck meat is very flavorful. It’s thicker, leaner, and richer as compared to other egg-laying duck breeds.
7. Silver Appleyard
The Silver Appleyard is a friendly, docile, and mild-mannered duck perfect for all kinds of beginners. You can easily take care of a few of them in your yard.
For homesteaders who want to focus on duck eggs, you’ll be glad to know that each Silver Appleyard duck can lay up to 260 eggs in one year. This amounts to one egg every two and a half days.
At the same time, Silver Appleyard meat is very flavorful. They’re quite heavy and stump-like by nature, so as long as you feed them properly, you won’t have trouble using these birds for meat.
Note: The Silver Appleyard is considered a threatened duck breed. If you plan on raising these birds, we encourage breeding them as well for a more sustainable approach.
8. Welsh Harlequins
Welsh Harlequins are the ultimate egg-laying duck breeds. If fed and cared for properly, each duck can produce a whopping 330 eggs annually!
On top of that, they have thick, rich meat. It’s not as thick as Rouen duck meat, but it has its own unique range of flavors.
What sets Cayuga ducks apart from other duck breeds is their color. Their beautiful feathered body consists of a unique mixture of dark green and jet black feathers.
They are only able to lay 150 eggs a year, but these are rare eggs with unique colors. In fact, the shade changes from black to white depending on what time of the year it is.
The only downside here is that their dark feathers can get hard to clean. We don’t advise the Cayuga duck to homesteaders who aren’t fond of tending and grooming their livestock.
Check out this video by White House on the Hill to learn more about the different duck breeds you can raise on your homestead:
These are the most popular duck breeds most homesteaders consider raising on their farms. There are other options available, but keep in mind that they might not be as easy to take care of as the ones listed above.
Once you’ve decided on which duck breed to grow, we highly encourage reading up on how to raise ducklings. You need to be fully equipped to ensure that these small, fragile birds grow strong and healthy.
Which of these duck breeds would you consider raising in your homestead? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
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