Domestic Duck Breeds [All You Need to Know]

Domestic Duck Breeds [All You Need to Know]

Domestic Ducks

Domestic ducks are a type of subspecies of the Mallard breed. Born and bred around humans, these ducks have been used through history primarily for their meat, eggs and down feathers.

Interestingly, all domestic ducks you see around are descendants of their cousin, the wild Mallard. Although, there’s one exception to this – the Muscovy Duck. This duck breed has separate roots.

With that said…

Here are all the domestic duck breeds.

Mallard Duck

The Mallard Duck, scientifically known as Anas platyrhynchos, is a dabbling duck that you commonly encounter in North America. You can easily identify the male, or drake, by its iconic green head, white neck-ring, and brown chest. On the flip side, the female sports a mottled light and dark brown pattern. Both genders have a violet-blue mirror-like patch, called the speculum, on each wing

You can’t ignore the Mallard Duck’s striking adaptability. They thrive comfortably in various habitats, including cold climates. And here’s the kicker: this breed shows a remarkable tolerance to human activities. Yes, they won’t mind living near or around human settlements. That’s a clear win for those considering keeping ducks as pets or for farming purposes.

Having a Mallard Duck around is like living with a songbird. Unlike many other duck species, the Mallard Duck is vocal and employs a wide array of quacks for communication. If you’re willing to pay attention, you could even decipher their simple language.

Mallard Duck isn’t a picky eater. Their omnivorous instinct drives them to dabble in assorted foods. They feed on seeds, rootlets, tubers, and aquatic plants. They also feast on insects, crustaceans, and small fish when available.

Monitored by biologists a lot, the Mallard Duck’s population status is a crucial indicator for waterfowl’s health. This data is not just idle chatter. It comes in handy to plan hunting regulations for most duck species. So, in effect, the Mallards help to define and shape the future of their fellow ducks.

Abacot Ranger Duck

The Abacot Ranger Duck was born in the United Kingdom, specifically, Colchester, Essex, between 1917 and 1922. A brainchild of Oscar Gray from Abacot Duck Ranch, this breed originated from the Khaki Campbells and a White Indian Runner Drake. You’ll recognize them as a light duck breed, known for their active nature and love for foraging.

In size, these ducks are medium with a rather long body. You’ll notice they carry their body at about a 45-degree angle when they’re on the move.

What makes them stand out are their distinctive plumage colors. The male Abacot Ranger Duck has a claret breast with white edging, which smoothly transitions into a white/cream on the underside. They have white primary feathers specked with shades of iridescent grey, vibrant blues, and greens on the secondary feathers. The clarity of the black and white bars can’t be missed. The upper coverts are white, sprinkled with black and tipped with white, and they stride on orange legs and webs.

Females down a ‘hood’ of fawn-buff feathers and sport a creamy-white body, gracefully streaked and adorned with color.

Never underestimate their temperament either. Being very tame and docile, they easily make for good pets and exhibits. Their foraging skills are impressive and they’re unlikely to fly, making them ideal for a free-range environment. Despite their distinct features and utility, they’re not very common. However, there are initiatives in the UK that aim to rejuvenate the breed using German bloodlines.

Aylesbury Duck

The Aylesbury Duck originated from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire in England. This breed gained fame in the 18th century for their high-quality white feathers. Quilt makers sought this breed out as a prime source of feather fillers, giving a distinct appearance to their product.

The Aylesbury Duck doesn’t only have a beautiful pure white plumage but also a large size. With an average weight of 9 to 10 pounds, it’s a high meat producer. Their unique physique includes a pink bill, orange feet and legs. It also has a unique horizontal stance, parallel to the ground and a fine large keel.

What makes this duck breed truly special is its amiable and placid temperament. If you’re seeking a friendly addition to your home flock, the Aylesbury Duck is a very good choice. Its annual egg production ranges from 35 to 125 eggs, which may be white or flaunt a greenish hue.

Despite all these appealing things, the Aylesbury Duck breed is scarce and critically endangered, especially in the U.S. Luckily, breeders are striving to bring this duck breed back from the brink.

The presence of the Aylesbury Duck is deeply rooted in the heritage of the Aylesbury town. Many local establishments and locations sport the name of this duck breed. The Aylesbury Duck is also the heraldic emblem of the town, living on as a symbol in the town’s coat of arms.

American Pekin Duck

The American Pekin Duck, commonly known as the White Pekin, is known for its meat. It’s a breed that finds its way to many US farms. This duck breed also has a significant presence globally with origins tracing back to the 19th century China.

The Pekin Duck has a solid build, often sizeable with a rectangular-shaped body. Notably, the body is held at about a 40-degree angle to the ground. It carries a hefty round head atop a thick neck. Covered with creamy white plumage, these ducks have yellowish-orange feet and a yellow, fairly straight, and short beak.

When it comes to growth, the American Pekin doesn’t disappoint. In just seven weeks, they can achieve a body weight exceeding 3.5 kg or 8 pounds. With such fast growth, they’re recognized for their high feed conversion ratio. They’re not just heavy breeders but also calm in nature.

Beyond the farming needs, the American Pekin has been slowly gaining popularity as a pet. After all, who wouldn’t like having a duck that’s a part of popular culture? The Walt Disney character Donald Duck is modeled after the Pekin Duck.

In the United States, this duck breed fills more than half of the duck meat demand. Every year, tens of millions of American Pekins are raised for their meat. Despite its massive commercial use, the Pekin maintains its charm as a farm animal and a pet, making it a preferred breed by many.

Ancona Duck

The Ancona Duck is a versatile breed known for its unique and variable broken-colored plumage. Thought to be a mix of the Belgian Huttegem Duck and Indian Runner Ducks, this breed was developed in England in the early twentieth century.

This medium-sized duck sports a body stance 20-30 degrees above horizontal and has a stocky build. But it’s not just about looks – these ducks are fantastic egg-layers too. You can expect an impressive 210-280 eggs per year, in colors ranging from white and cream to blue.

The Ancona Duck is an excellent choice for those with backyards or hobby farms. Their hardy nature allows them to adapt to various environmental conditions, and they’re great foragers too. Plus, this duck breed’s friendly and calm demeanor makes them a great choice for those looking to keep ducks as pets.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love the Ancona Duck. Their meat is renowned not just for its flavor, but also for being less fatty than most Pekin duck breeds.

Despite the plethora of benefits and desirable traits, the Ancona Duck breed is currently considered critically endangered. There’s a pressing need for more conservation breeders to step up and help preserve this unique and wonderful duck breed.

Australian Call Duck

The Australian Call Duck is native to Australia. This duck breed was developed separately from its English and American counterparts. As a bantam breed, the Australian Call Duck is still in the works, and it’s mainly raised for ornamental purposes or as pets.

These ducks have short bills, domed heads, and stubby webbed feet. Not to mention, they’re available in shades like brown and buff. While they might display similarities with other Call Duck breeds, they have distinct genetics. The Australian Poultry Standard Committee denotes the Australian Call Duck as a genetically independent breed.

Their tiny size, round faces, and big eyes, make these ducks increasingly popular as pets.

Black East Indie Duck

The Black East Indie Duck is also known as the East Indie. It’s known for its remarkable looks. Generally acknowledged as the oldest breed of bantam duck, it’s thought to have originated right here in the United States. Don’t be fooled by its size. This breed is hardy and robust, usually weighing less than 1 kg.

This duck looks great with its lustrous, greenish-black plumage, and a black bill. In the right light, specifically sunlight, its feathers shine with a mesmerizing emerald green sheen. This duck breed is typically shyer and more reserved than the Call Duck.

The annual egg production of the Black East Indie Duck can range anywhere from 40 to 100 eggs. What sets this breed apart is its natural resistance. The Black East Indie Duck doesn’t easily succumb to pests or illnesses.

If you’re looking for a companion that can do more than just look pretty, consider the Black East Indie Duck. They’re excellent free rangers and known for a sociable, calm demeanor. Despite their petite size, you’ll find them highly resilient. As females get older, they tend to develop patches of white, a distinctive characteristic of this breed.

The Black East Indie Duck is kept mainly for exhibition or ornament, doubling as a handy helper in gardens by helping in pest control. Despite these many desirable traits, this breed is rare.

Blue Swedish Duck

The Blue Swedish Duck is derived from the ancient soils of Swedish Pomerania, now part of north-west Poland and north-east Germany. It made its first documented appearance in 1835. This medium-sized duck captures attention with its distinct bluish slate color. Adding to the appeal is a white bib that modestly drapes from under the bill halfway down the chest.

The striking deep blue head of the Blue Swedish drake is complemented by a greenish bill. The duck doesn’t fall short on allure either, adorned with a head and bill that match the blue slate body. They also have reddish-brown legs, lightly speckled with greyish-black.

The Blue Swedish Duck is known for its ruggedness and superior foraging skills. You’ll find them calm and companionable, fitting nicely into the role of a pet.

Don’t mistake them for just another pretty face. They’re far from being only ornamental. Their utility goes beyond that, with impressive meat and egg-laying deliverable. With a prolific egg laying span of 120-180 eggs a year, they serve as a consistent source of nourishment.

Breeding the Blue Swedish Duck isn’t easy. When a blue drake and blue female mate, the pattern of colors shared by their offspring is unpredictable. Only half of them turn out blue. The colors black and silver or splashed are shared among the rest – 25% each.

Buff Duck

The Buff Duck, sometimes referred to as the Buff Orpington Duck, comes from Orpington, Kent, England. This medium-weight, dual-purpose duck was skillfully crafted by William Cook, a noted poultry breeder. How did he accomplish this? The answer lies in a rich blend of Cayuga, Runner, Aylesbury, and Rouen ducks. His goal? To create a buff-colored duck that captured the heart of duck enthusiasts in the early 20th century.

Recognizing a Buff Duck is a cinch; look out for its long, broad body frame. Add to that an oval head, a medium-length bill, and a gracefully curved neck. The body carriage stands at twenty degrees above the horizontal line. Interesting, isn’t it? Let’s dig deeper. The Buff Duck showcases short wings along with a small, well-curled tail.

There’s more to admire about the Buff Duck than meets the eye. Both the duck and drake sport the same buff plumage, a testament to the breed’s name. The bill of the drake is yellow while the duck boasts a brown-orange bill. Moreover, their shanks and feet introduce a brilliant orange-yellow coloration. Notably, the Buff Duck’s amiable and docile temperament wins the day, making it a pet of choice.

These ducks also have a knack for foraging. So they can thrive in diverse climates. They also appreciate suitable housing and fresh water access.

The Buff Duck lays 150 to 220 eggs in a year and gains weight at an impressive pace, making it ideal for meat production. However, this productive duck breed faces a threat to its continuity. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has flagged the Buff Duck as a threatened breed.

Cayuga Duck

You’ll find the Cayuga Duck, a true American breed, right in your backyard if you happen to live in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Their namesake? The Cayuga people who first introduced them in the year 1840.

The Cayuga Duck stands out in a flock with its rich black plumage that throws off a spectrum of green, blue, and purple when it catches the sunlight. Long heads, slightly flattened bills and medium-length necks give them a distinct look.

The Cayuga Duck is a hardy breed that can thrive in diverse climates. In fact, they’re known as one of the hardiest breeds of domestic ducks. This adaptability extends to harsh winters as well.

These ducks are calm and docile. If raised by hand, they easily tame, making them a great choice for urban or suburban settings. They also forage well and flock together, traits that often put them in dog herding trials.

The Cayuga Duck is no slouch either when it comes to laying eggs. Expect 100-150 large eggs per year from this duck.

Circa 1890, the American Pekin breed displaced the Cayuga Duck as the principal duck for meat-rearing. These days, you’ll find the Cayuga Duck mainly as an ornamental bird. But some still value them for their meat, harking back to the 19th-century taste profiles. Don’t let this casual usage fool you. The Cayuga Duck is listed as “threatened” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Increased awareness and the right conservation efforts can help us preserve this unique breed.

Indian Runner Duck

The Indian Runner Duck is a unique breed earning the nickname “Penguin Duck”. It’s known for an upright stance and the ability to run instead of waddle. Tracing its origin from the East Indies, this breed flaunts a long history, backed by evidence of its existence dating back 2,000 years found in ancient Javan temple carvings. Not just this, the Indian Runner Duck boasts a long, slim, cylindrical body, a wedge-shaped head with high-set eyes, and legs positioned further back as compared to other duck breeds.

What’s impressive about the Indian Runner Duck is its prolific egg-laying abilities. If you are looking for a breed to increase your egg yield, the Indian Runner Duck could be the right choice. With females known to lay about 300 to 350 eggs a year, such a yield is quite commendable. And these aren’t just your ordinary eggs. They’re often a unique greenish-white color.

If you think the Indian Runner Duck’s uniqueness stops at its running ability and egg-laying record, you’re mistaken. This breed is quite graceful in water and makes for excellent foragers. Go back in time, and you’d find them being used to glean scattered grain, weed seeds, snails, insects, and other small creatures from rice paddies and fields.

The Indian Runner Duck falls under the “light class” domesticated duck breed. Don’t let their size fool you, though. They’re surprisingly meaty with their flesh often likened to the quality flavor of wild duck.

Despite their many desirable traits, they can be a bit skittish and prone to panic. But worry not, with calm handling, they can be tamed. Today, they are primarily kept for their egg production, unique appearance, and foraging abilities.

Khaki Campbell Duck

The Khaki Campbell Duck is a British breed that hails from Uley, Gloucestershire, England. At the dawn of the 20th century, Mrs. Adele Campbell brought this breed to life and made it public in 1901. She skillfully united Mallard, Rouen, and Runner ducks to craft a unique breed with khaki-colored plumage akin to British army uniforms. The drake stands out with a deeper khaki, sometimes seen as olive green, minus the white ring tied to its Mallard kin. The duck counterpart takes a more restrained approach with a khaki hue enrobing it completely.

The Khaki Campbell Duck’s toughness and adaptability can’t be overlooked, particularly when it gets by in cold climates, even when temperatures plunge below zero. Visualize active, streamlined birds carrying an elegant body carriage that hovers 20-40 degrees above horizontal. With a head, bill, neck, and body that extends modestly long, these ducks aren’t just about the looks. They’re also excellent foragers, feeding on numerous slugs, snails, insects, algae, and mosquitoes from ponds.

A feat of the Khaki Campbells is their impressive egg-laying power, with some strains churning out an average of 300 eggs each year. Each egg carries approximately 2.5 ounces and comes in a pristine white shell. Even with such notable egg production, raising them for meat isn’t common. When it does happen, they grow into 3-4 pound high-quality, lean roasters.

Despite this amazing combination of traits, the breed finds itself on the ‘Watch’ list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, signaling a need for conservation efforts.

Muscovy Duck

The Muscovy Duck is native to the Americas, spanning regions from Texas and Mexico, down to Argentina and Uruguay. Unlike other domestic ducks, these ducks aren’t Mallard derivatives. A quick distinguishing feature is their plumage; wild Muscovies sport blackish feathers adorned with large white wing patches while domesticated varieties embrace a wider range of colors.

Muscovy Duck greatly differs from its counterparts in size as well, with the males larger than females. You’ll notice that domesticated Muscovies are often larger than their wild kin. You might even mistake them for small geese due to their elongated necks. A signature trait is their bright red caruncles, found around their eyes and above the beak. Don’t be surprised if you see them roosting; they’re equipped with sharp claws specifically for grasping tree branches.

Although classified as ducks, Muscovies won’t be found swimming about as often as you might expect. This is largely attributed to their underdeveloped oil glands.

The Muscovy Duck holds claim to being one of the world’s oldest domesticated fowl species, a feat of its longevity and adaptability. Early Spanish explorers found them under the care of native people in Peru and Paraguay. Their robust, yet lean and tender meat is favored by many, often likened to roast beef and veal. On top of that, they’re also much quieter than most species, earning them the nickname “quackless” duck.

Despite the laundry list of merits, the Muscovy Duck’s population is on the decline. They are now relegated to small uninhabited regions, with their food and hunting grounds dwindling. Conservation efforts are much needed for this unique breed’s future survival.

Rouen Duck

The Rouen Duck, originating from France, shines with the same color pattern as the Mallard Duck – but extra large and extra bright. It’s no surprise this breed that’s a few centuries old sprints past the Mallard in size and hue. The males have dark yellow bills, green heads, a white collaring their neck, black tail feathers, a dark upper back, light lower body, deep claret breast, and bright orange legs and feet. Females have identical plumage, making these ducks true visual marvels.

Why get a Rouen Duck? Their calm disposition ranks high on the list. Excellent at rummaging for food, they’re adept foragers – a real asset to a backyard poultry flock. Don’t fret over high fences. These heavyweight birds tend not to take wing.

Here’s the real selling point, though: Rouen Ducks mean business. A standard adult Rouen will tip the scales at between 9 and 10 lbs. They have large, blocky bodies with a deep, level keel, and backs that arch gracefully from their shoulders to their tails – aesthetically pleasing and meaty.

When it comes to eggs, they might not be the best. Some strains manage to lay around 100 eggs annually, others top 150. But it’s clearly not about the eggs. It’s about the lean, flavorful meat these birds yield.

Don’t get it wrong, the Rouen Duck isn’t just large. They’re unique to. They don’t quite meet the egg-laying prowess of some breeds or the meat rapidity of the Pekin, their U.S. commercial counterpart. Yet, they offer a great combo deal. They’re a striking, purposeful breed that’s perfect for exhibitions or suited as general-use ducks.

Silver Appleyard Duck

The Silver Appleyard Duck is a British duck breed. A creation of Reginald Appleyard in the 20th century, this breed is known for both high egg-laying and meat production. The breed came to life on Priory Waterfowl Farm in Ixworth, Suffolk, England. It has a large build, blocky physique, and a standout breast. And its weight is between 8-9 lbs.

The hen has a white coat with shades of brown and grey. As for the drake, you’ll spot a greenish-black head and neck. Keep an eye out for occasional striping with age.

The Silver Appleyard Duck mingles easily and is known for its calm temperament. It also has excellent foraging abilities. In fact, it sits high among the heavyweight ducks for best egg-layers. It averages 220-265 white-shelled eggs per year.

Beyond laying eggs, this breed is a known for its versatility. You’ll often find it stealing the show at exhibitions and basking in the comfort of homes as pets. It contributes to the egg and meat market as well.

About the meat, the Silver Appleyard Duck offers lean and flavorful meat. A reason why it’s a top choice for culinary uses.

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