Adding ducks to your small-scale farm can be really exciting—and there are plenty of unique breed choices to look at. The Dutch Hookbill is an absolutely eye-catching selection and an absolute pleasure to keep. However, because of their decrease in popularity, it might be a little challenging to find a hatchery near you that sells them.

If you love looks over function, these ornamental ducks could be a perfect fit for your barnyard. Let us tell you more! Here, we will go over aspects of how to keep this breed, what to expect, and where to find the Dutch Hookbill.

duck-paw-divider

Quick Facts About the Dutch Hook Bill Duck

Breed Name:Dutch Hookbill
Place of Origin:Netherlands
Uses:Ornamental
Drake Size:3-5 pounds
Duck Size:3-4 pounds
Color:Dusky, white, white-bibbed dusky, mallard
Lifespan:5-10 years
Climate Tolerance:Hardy
Care Level:Easy
Production:Low/Moderate
Temperament:Docile

Dutch Hook Bill Origins

The Dutch Hookbill is a very old poultry breed that originated in the Netherlands. As you can see from the pictures, they were given this title due to their uniquely curved beak slanting downward.

These ducks grew in popularity—first in Holland, then they became more widespread. They were accepted into the British Waterfowl Standards in 1997. However, they still are not (and may never be, due to low numbers) accepted into the American Standard of Perfection through any poultry association.

The Dutch Hookbill once soared in popularity when chicken eggs were not quite as prevalent as duck eggs. However, now that chickens tend to run the show in this arena, the Dutch hookbill and many other duck breeds took a back seat.

Now, they are considered an endangered species, making them difficult to find from local breeders and hatcheries. Of course, the likelihood of finding a Dutch Hookbill has a tremendous amount to do with your geographical location.

Unfortunately, today, there are an estimated 800 egg-laying females left, so you can imagine how hard they must be to locate. Do you feel like revamping the breed? If you’re ready to take on that challenge, you might really have to do your homework to find out how to get started, but we think you can.

One really cool fact about the history of these quirky ducks is that Charles Darwin himself kept these waterfowl in his backyard. How nifty is that?

Dutch Hook Bill Characteristics

Dutch Hookbills are incredibly inquisitive birds, always observing the goings-on around the barnyard. They will be the first on the scene if you present a snack or dinner. They aren’t tame without trying, but they can be very docile and friendly with keepers.

These curious critters might not like being handled too much, but they will love interacting with people and other animals. It has been stated many times that these ducks will warm up beautifully to their environment, making them an absolute pleasure to have on any small-scale farm.

Couple their roman-billed appearance with their magnetic personalities—these ducks are a treat.

Uses

Most keepers enjoy the Dutch Hookbill due to its beautiful appearance, making them a fantastic exhibition duck. However, they are also excellent layers that can lay up to 225 eggs annually—which is surprisingly a lot for a duck breed.

The females lay unique blue-colored eggs, which we think are beautiful—and you might agree. However, depending on the color variation of the feathering, eggs might also be green or white, though it’s much rarer.

Dutch Hookbills were never known for meat production, as they are a lightweight breed. Since they are so rare, it is imperative now that these ducks never meet the table.

Appearance & Varieties

It will probably come as no surprise to you, given the name of the Dutch Hookbill, but they have a very uniquely shaped bill that makes them instantly recognizable to knowledgeable poultry owners. Seeing one waddling around on a farm might be rare and unlikely, but many keepers still love the breed.

These ducks are sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females are noticeably different once they reach sexual maturity. Males also outweigh the females by a pound or three, but visual differences are primarily color. Drakes have vibrant colors with a classic curled tail feather that winds up the back.

Females have a loud honk, while males are quieter and raspier in their vocalizations. This really helps to tell them apart early before the tail curls upward.

Colors for the breed, minus extinct exclusions, include:
  • Dusky
  • White
  • White-bibbed dusky

Other colors still exist but are not nearly as prevalent, and some shades are totally wiped from the earth.

Population/Distribution/Habitat

The Dutch Hookbill was once a prevalent domesticated breed. Since the overtaking of chicken egg production, the Dutch Hookbill has decreased dramatically in numbers, plummeting all the way into endangered status with little hope of recovery.

The Hook Billed Ducks Program was set up to preserve the breed. Even though they fight to save the Dutch Hookbill, many colors have gone from the bloodlines, including black, black-bibbed, white and black, mallard, blue, and apricot—which is a shame considering how lovely the color variations were.

As we mentioned earlier, the UK and the United States have a steadily declining Hookbill population. Though, they might be more common in native regions. Buying from a hatchery or breeder might prove difficult, but you might be able to get your hands on some ducklings with the right avenues.

Travel or shipping may be a requirement for you. Be prepared for either once you find what you’re looking for.

Habitat

Like any duck, the Dutch Hookbill needs access to a freshwater source. Whether you are keeping them in an enclosed pen or letting them free-range, they must constantly have somewhere to wash out their beaks and drink plenty of fluids.

Because they are waterfowl, this requirement is much higher for the Dutch Hookbill than for other farm birds. The general rule of thumb is that they need a small water source to enter and exit at will—but the more water you can offer, the better. That’s why small ponds or managed tubs of water on homesteads are so desirable.

Like every other duck species, Dutch Hookbills are messy, messy! Make sure you keep their areas completely clean as needed. If you have a limited water source, you will soon find out just how dirty it will get within just a few hours.

We recommend keeping water out of coops to prevent mold or bacterial growth. As long as they stay in clean, sanitary living quarters with plenty of commercial food and natural foliage, your Hookbills will be happy campers.

duck-divider

Are Dutch Hookbills Good for Small-Scale Farming?

The Dutch Hookbill can make an excellent addition to any small-scale farm. They are docile birds with curious minds, nosing into everything going on. They love to spend time with their own kind but get along well with any farm dweller, including humans.

The trick will be locating a few to add to your existing flock. It will significantly depend on your geographical location, so check hatcheries and breeders near you.


Featured Image Credit: PEO054 1,0 Krummschnabelenten (Paul-Erwin Oswald, Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 Unported)