Heritage Livestock: Ducks

The second post in my series regarding TLC (The Livestock Conservancy) and heritage breeds. In this post, I’ll review the breeds of ducks that are listed as “critical” or “threatened.”

TLC currently lists two breeds of ducks as critical, another four as threatened, and six under “watch” status. It might also surprise you to know that the very popular runner or Indian runner duck is a heritage breed, and is listed as recovering – likely due to its popularity among homesteaders.

As a reminder, ducks are not only for pretty. There are many breeds of ducks that lay eggs, others bred for meat, and some that are dual purpose, similar to chickens. They provide great fertilizer and keep pests off of plants without disturbing the plants themselves. The critical & threatened breeds are listed below:

  • Aylesbury – bred for high quality meat, lays extra large white or tinted green eggs, docile temperament, originated in England, “superior meat breed,” has unique white (compared to yellow on most ducks) skin
  • Dutch Hookbill – bred for laying large white to blue-green eggs, originated in the Netherlands, downward curving beak (to distinguish wild from farm ducks), docile & active, capable of “strong flight”
  • Buff (or Orpington) – dual purpose for meat & eggs, lays large white or tinted eggs, medium weight duck, ready for market in 8-10 weeks, originated in the UK
  • Magpie – dual purpose meat & eggs, white medium to large eggs, light weight breed, developed in Wales, white with black caps/saddles on head & back
  • Saxony – dual purpose breed developed in Germany, lays extra large white or blue-green eggs, drakes display mallard pattern but different colors unique to the breed
  • Silver Appleyard – used as dual purpose, lays large to extra large white eggs, docile, broody, large breed, blocky body build

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