Chickens tend to be the most common birds kept in backyards across the United States. But ducks are growing in popularity. While these birds do require different care from chickens, their eggs taste rather similar. Overall, ducks tend to be hardier than many chicken breeds out there. They do vary a bit from breed to breed, though.
Mallards and Pekin ducks are the most common. However, there are many options out there. Here, we look at 11 of the best backyard duck breeds.
The 11 Best Backyard Duck Breeds
Mallards are extremely common. They are often considered to be “grandfather” ducks, with most of the duck breeds in the United States coming from this original breed.
These ducks are rather small compared to some others, which makes them capable of flight. Therefore, they can be somewhat more difficult to keep because they can fly away if their wings are not clipped. You need to contain them carefully.
These birds lay greenish eggs. Depending on their diet, these can taste similar to chicken eggs. However, these ducks have some of the lowest egg-laying rates around, with only a couple of eggs per week.
Since these birds are native to much of the U.S., you have to mark your birds in some way to show that they are not wild. You also cannot catch wild birds and domesticate them.
These birds are pretty, so many people keep them for solely ornamental purposes.
Out of all the duck breeds out there, the Pekin is one of the most well-known. They are completely white and lay a large number of white eggs. For this reason, they are extremely common in backyards. If you’re looking for eggs, these birds are among the better options.
They also grow quickly, so they can make great meat birds. In fact, 90% of duck meat in America comes from this breed. They can grow to be quite heavy.
These birds are also calm and curious. They have great personalities and are often considered a joy to be around.
The Cayuga is the only breed of duck that was developed in the United States, in New York. They are a heavy breed that is slow growing, so they aren’t best for meat. However, they are quite pretty. Their feathers are iridescent black and can look green under certain lights.
Their calm nature makes them great backyard birds. They are also good exhibition birds because they tend to be quite laidback.
They are decent egg-layers, producing about three to four eggs per week during laying season. Their eggs are black in color, so convincing people to eat them can be a bit difficult.
Bred to be a multi-purpose bird, the Rouen grows to be quite large and lays up to five bluish-tinted eggs a week. In many cases, they can get too large to fly away, which makes them easier to keep.
They are pretty birds. They have glossy green heads with white neck rings, and the males have grey bodies. The females are speckled with blue speculum feathers. Their calm disposition makes them great pets.
The crested duck has a crest, as indicated by their name. These ducks are all white and similar to other white ducks, except for the tuft of feathers on their head. They grow slowly and are not a popular meat choice. They lay about four eggs per week.
However, their tuft is caused by a deformity of their skull, so their breeding is somewhat controversial. Also, breeding two crested ducks together can be fatal for their offspring. Many of their eggs will not hatch, even if you breed them with a non-crested duck.
This breed of duck is native to the southern hemisphere. They are a completely different species than the Mallard duck and their relatives. Therefore, their meat is a bit different than typical duck meat. Specifically, they have a plump breast similar to that of a turkey. Their meat is often considered leaner than that of most other ducks.
These birds can mate with other ducks, but the offspring will be sterile. They also do not quack. Instead, they make breathing sounds and coos. Therefore, they are quieter than most other options out there, which is great if you have close neighbors.
7. Buff Orpington
These adorable birds have soft, brown feathers with white mixed in throughout. They lay about three to five light-colored eggs a week. They are a rare breed. In fact, they are listed as threatened.
If you’re interested in supporting a species and eating tasty eggs, this species is a solid option.
This breed was bred to be dual-purposed. They are fast-growing ducks that happen to lay a large number of eggs. They were originally bred in Germany, but much of the breeding stock was lost in WWII.
They look like Mallards, but their colorations are unique to their breed. They are currently considered endangered.
These dual-purpose birds are slow-growing, but they are great natural foragers. If you have the patience, they can make good meat birds. Usually, they lay about four eggs per week, which are varying shades of white, green, and blue.
This Swedish breed is calm, and they make great backyard birds for this reason. These birds come in various colorations. Some are blueish and others are black. Still others are silvery grey or white and grey.
10. Khaki Campbell
This bird is known for their great egg production. They can lay up to six eggs a week, which are usually cream-colored. This trait is why they are such popular backyard birds. If you just want ducks to lay eggs, this is the species for you.
Since these birds are small, they do have the ability to fly off. Therefore, it is essential to contain them properly. Otherwise, you could lose track of them. Their name is based on their khaki coloration. The drakes will have a dark-colored tail and face, while the females are lighter in color.
11. Welsh Harlequin
These colorful birds are all-purposed. They are raised for eggs, meat, and exhibition. They are medium-sized and lay about six eggs per week during the laying season. They are natural foragers and quite laidback. In fact, these ducks are among the calmest breeds around.
These birds look similar to Mallards and are sometimes mistaken as such. They do have differing bill colors, which makes them easy to be sexed.
There are many species out there that you can use as backyard ducks. Which breed is best for you depends largely on what you’re planning to use them for. If you want a meat and egg producer, you can choose a dual-bird, for instance.
However, if you want just an egg-layer, there are great egg-laying birds out there. The same can be said for solely meat birds. There are also a few exhibition birds out there, which aren’t great for practical purposes.
Featured Image Credit: Annette Meyer, Pixabay