I’ve recently noticed while doing some research on duck breeds that Pinterest is in dire need of some information regarding laying duck breeds – so I decided to do a blog post about them.
I do NOT currently have any laying ducks, though have plans to add some to the funny farm, hopefully next spring. Ducks can be more prolific layers than chickens, and are often a great addition to any homestead. The information outlined below is not from personal experience, but research that I’ve done via Facebook and Google.
Reasons to add laying ducks to your homestead
Ducks make great homestead additions because they can provide a multitude of different goods in relatively small space, similar to a chicken. There are some breeds of egg laying ducks that are more prolific layers than your average (or even your super, overachieving) backyard hen. Ducks are also easier foragers, they don’t scratch the soil so they won’t disturb plants, and are used frequently for pest control in gardens. Ducks DO need water, however, as they don’t have salivary glands and need help swallowing/digestion. Water also helps keep them well groomed and happy. If you only have a small number of ducks (ie. 1 drake and 2 hens), a small kiddie pool should suffice. In return, the water from this kiddie pool will provide a great source of fertilizer for your plants (that can be instantly applied instead of needing resting time)! Ducks are also more likely to go broody than most hens, and with egg laying breeds (or dual purpose breeds), you can end up hatching ducklings which you can later use to replace old layers, or butcher for meat. Any eggs that you don’t want to hatch can be consumed. Duck eggs have higher values of good fats than chicken eggs, they are also larger and can be easier to digest for some than chicken eggs.
Which breeds lay the most?
I’ve made a wee photo outlining the top 6 egg laying duck breeds, based on information found across the web. The breeds are as follows:
- Khaki Campbell – small breed (4-5lbs), bred for laying 300+ white eggs per year, a curious breed who thrives in captivity, however are not typically broody; “khaki” or brown colored (Rouen & Runner heritage)
- Indian Runner – small to medium sized, bred for laying 200-300 greenish-blue eggs per year, also used for meat, great foragers, upright body carriage (they run, not waddle); come in a large variety of colors
- Buff (or Orpington) – medium breed (7-8lbs), bred for laying 200+ tinted white eggs/year and also for meat (dual purpose); currently listed as threatened by the livestock conservancy; light tan in coloration, similar to a buff orpington chicken
- Welsh Harlequin – small to medium sized, bred dual purpose meat & can lay over 300 white eggs per year; highly adaptable, excellent foragers; females are light tan with black speckles while males are dark tan/brown marked similarly to mallards [this is the breed I will be adding to my homestead]
- Magpie – small breed (4-5lbs); bred primarily as layers, laying up to 290 white eggs per year, can be used as a small market weight meat bird also; readily eat slugs, snails, pests; can be high strung; threatened via livestock conservancy; predominantly white with a colored “cap” on the head & back
- Ancona – medium breed, stocky; dual purpose for meat & averaging around 240-250+/- white, tinted, blue-green, or spotted eggs per year; quick grower and lays sooner than a chicken, make good pets; colors are generally black & white (related to Magpie), and can have chocolate and white, though chocolate is a sex-linked color