Mini Duck Breeds - 7 Duck Breeds for Your Farm or Backyard

Mini Duck Breeds – 7 Duck Breeds for Your Farm or Backyard

Mini Duck

Mini duck breeds are those domestic ducks that are noticeably smaller than their standard counterparts.

Miniature duck breeds have a special place in the world of ducks. They are often kept for several reasons. They can be pets, used for decorative purposes, or showcased in exhibitions.

Each of these breeds has its own unique characteristics but one common thread is their suitability for smaller properties and urban settings. The more compact size of these mini breeds means they don’t need a large space to thrive. This is a significant advantage if your backyard isn’t big.

Mini duck breeds are also more manageable which is a big plus especially for first-time duck owners or children. As a result, they continue to gain popularity among duck enthusiasts who want all the benefits that ducks offer but in a more manageable package.

Here are the most popular mini duck breeds.

Black East Indian Duck

The Black East Indian Duck is primarily believed to have been developed in the United States during the 19th century. Its exotic name was probably a marketing strategy, as foreign poultry breeds were all the rage and fetched better prices.

Being the oldest breed of bantam duck, their weight ranges from 700-900 grams for drakes and 450-700 grams for females. They match Call Ducks in size but are more reserved. They’re excellent fliers and get along well with non-aggressive birds thanks to their smaller size.

The draw of the Black East Indian Duck is undoubtedly its striking dark green plumage and black bills. Some ducks may grow white feathers as they age but that’s completely normal and doesn’t affect their appeal. Males maintain their black color, while females may show white patches as they mature. The green sheen of their feathers in sunlight is truly a sight to behold.

Although they aren’t top performers in egg-laying department — producing just 40 to 100 eggs annually — it’s their quiet demeanor that makes them a popular choice as pets or exhibition ducks. The color of their eggs varies seasonally, from black or dark grey early in the year to light grey or blue later on.

The Black East Indian Duck is a sturdy breed known to avoid pests and illnesses. Love free rangers? This breed’s got you covered. They’re excellent foragers who can spend hours in a large duck run hunting for insects. Not to mention, they’re friendly toward humans, but be aware as they might boss around other ducks.

Although small, these ducks are big on hardiness and don’t seem bothered by their smaller stature. More than mere paddlers, they’re also great fliers. They’re generally passive, only showing aggression when it’s time to protect their ducklings.

Miniature Crested Duck

The Miniature Crested Duck or the Mini Crested Duck is the offspring of the late 20th Century breeding efforts of John Hall and Roy Sutcliffe in the United Kingdom.

Recognized in 1997, this bantam duck breed weighs between 0.9 to 1.2 kg. With an any-color-goes attitude, as long as the markings are symmetrical, they’re industrious ducks, foraging for food despite their small size.

The Miniature Crested Duck lays up to 100 eggs a year. However, breeding Miniature Crested Ducks can be challenging due to the lethal variant of the dominant crested gene.

In terms of care, the Miniature Crested Ducks are fairly silent and generally have a calm, friendly demeanor, making them an ideal choice for pet owners.

Silver Bantam Duck

The Silver Bantam Duck is a small, rare ornamental duck breed. It’s wrongly known as the Miniature Silver Appleyard in the USA.

Developed back in the 1940s in Suffolk, UK, the duck breed is credited to Reginald Appleyard. His experimental crossing of a small Khaki Campbell with a White Call duck birthed this unique mini breed.

Silver Bantam Ducks are small in size. Females weigh around 1.75 lb (0.8 kg) and males are slightly heavier at 2 lb (0.9 kg). Females have a buff-colored head, while males have a green one during the breeding season. Males change to a black head in their eclipse plumage. The bills of the drakes are olive green, whereas the ducks have dark slate grey bills.

Silver Bantam Ducks aren’t slackers when it comes to laying eggs. These ducks deliver 60-160 small white eggs per year. You don’t need to worry about excessive noise with them either. They’re docile and less noisy than Call Ducks.

Known to be excellent fliers and doting mothers, these ducks are on the priority list of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST). Unfortunately, diminishing numbers have put this breed under the spotlight.

Mallard Duck

Contrary to common perception, the Mallard Duck doesn’t meet the classification criteria for a mini or bantam breed – even though its size could be deceptive.

Adult Mallards tip the scales anywhere between 1.6 and 3.5 pounds. This makes them larger than the average bantam duck, yet smaller relative to several other domestic duck breeds.

Regarded as the most popular duck breed, Mallards enjoy worldwide affection with breeding activity throughout the globe, including the U.S. A visual treat, males flaunt dark green heads complemented by grey bodies, while females have speckled brown feather coats.

Mallards are adaptable ducks that can thrive in various weather conditions. They’re drawn to bodies of water but can also be found in suburban parks and cities. These birds are known to feed on a variety of foods, both on land and in water. Although they’re not picky eaters, they tend to prefer animal matter during the breeding season.

Miniature Silver Appleyard Duck

Miniature Silver Appleyard Duck stands out among mini duck breeds for its social nature and vibrant characteristics. This particular breed is a smaller version of the Silver Appleyard Duck, a breed developed in the 1940s at Priory Waterfowl Farm, England. Despite their size, Miniature Silver Appleyards share the same genetic makeup as the full-size version.

This breed is friendly, inquisitive, and an ideal pet or exhibition bird. You’ll notice that its plumage is paler than a wild-colour Mallard because of the genes which restrict the pigment. However, this doesn’t dull its beauty. A key feature of both Silver Appleyard and its miniature version is the ‘Mohawk stripe’ on their head. Spot the stripe, and you know you’re seeing a genetically true Appleyard.

Miniature Silver Appleyards are hardy birds and diligent mothers. If you’re keen on having plenty of eggs, some strains can produce up to 160 eggs a year with regular removal.

Their physical charm lies in their iridescent green head and neck, adorned with white rings and black spots on their bills. With a warm, chestnut-brown body contrasted by silver-gray wings and backs, these ducks are a sight. A slight physical difference does exist between males and females; males tend to have more vibrant colors and are slightly larger.

Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is far from being regarded as “mini” or “bantam” duck due to its medium size. This distinct duck species offers a unique perspective into miniaturization in the duck world. It’s native to North America measuring between 18.5-21.3 inches in length, weighs 16.0-30.4 oz, and has a wingspan of 26.0-28.7 inches.

While it’s not typically classified as a mini breed due to its size, interestingly, the American Bantam Association (ABA) recognizes the Wood Duck as a bantam breed. You’d usually find bantam breeds as smaller versions of larger ones, but in case of Wood Duck it’s different. This duck is considered a mini duck not because it’s a smaller version of a larger breed but due to its relatively smaller size compared to some other duck species.

Wood Ducks are known for their vibrant and unique appearance, which resembles stained glass due to their striking colorations. Male Wood Ducks have red eyes and a yellow bill patch. Their head and crest display a shiny, metallic purplish-green color. On the other hand, female Wood Ducks have a more subdued, but equally impressive, appearance. They have grayish-brown bodies, which are highlighted by a white ring around each eye.

Wood Ducks pair up in late winter and start breeding come early spring in tree cavities. Proving resourceful birds, they’ll even move into a nest box if there are no tree cavities available. To create a cozy home for their babies, the nests are lined with feathers gathered from the mother herself, generally housing up to 15 eggs.

Despite facing challenges like habitat loss and deforestation, these sturdy birds have managed to sustain their population. Even though there was a decline in the late 19th century, the Wood Duck population has seen an uptick in recent decades.

Welsh Harlequin Duck

The Welsh Harlequin Duck, a lightweight mini duck breed, is a product of Wales, originating as early as 1949. Group Captain Leslie Bonnet transformed two pale-colored Khaki Campbell ducklings into this exquisite duck breed which he fondly called “Honey Campbells”. It’s interesting to note that this breed was renamed to Welsh Harlequin when Bonnet relocated to a farm in Wales.

You’ll find these ducks to be calm with an intriguing curiosity making them a perfect match for backyard keepers. Their adaptability to various environmental conditions is impressive. They can survive both warm and cool climates.

The Welsh Harlequin Duck has a reasonably long body, a medium-width back, rounded chest, widely spaced legs with by a moderately full abdomen. These ducks have an oval head and a medium-long straight, or slightly concave bill. The color variations include Gold and Silver. The Silver coloration presents higher contrast while the Gold variant displays soft colors. This breed lacks black pigmentation.

When it comes to egg-laying, Welsh Harlequins are producers of 100–350 eggs annually. Expect pearly white eggs from them with some exceptions where they lay tinted eggs. If you value lean meat with a robust flavor, this breed is a great choice. They have a non-greasy, tasteful meat which is a popular preference among many.

Welsh Harlequin Ducks are an approved breed within the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection since 2001 and currently listed under The Livestock Conservancy’s watch. Their nature is calm and alert, with a capability of poor flight yet efficient foraging. Be aware of their vulnerability to predation due to their pale coloring.

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