Growing up, my father raised chickens and ducks. He has very vivid memories of his ducks one day upon hearing wild ducks quacking in the sky, taking off and flying away, never to be seen again. I was always worried that would happen to me as well. But, I got to know a bit more about different breeds of ducks and their ability to fly.
There ARE some breeds that will fly, and fly away if necessary. These are the breeds you should avoid as a first-time duck owner, although you will find plenty of homesteaders who have raised them with a lot of success.
When you are considering the best types of ducks to raise on your farm, think carefully about your goals in doing so. Do you want ducks as pets, or do you expect to get a good, steady supply of eggs? Do you care about meat production?
What about cold hardiness or personality? Think carefully about all of these traits so that you know what factors are important to you as you begin your search for the perfect breed of duck.
The search can be downright overwhelming. From heavy duck breeds, like the Rouen, to the tiny but noisy Call duck, there is definitely a duck out there for everyone – it’s simply a matter of finding the one that is right for you.
In fact, there are nearly 90 breeds of domestic duck that are officially recognized at the national or international level! Although most derive from the wild mallard, there are a small minority of ducks that are directly descended from the Muscovy duck.
In short, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, regardless of whether you want to raise your ducks for meat, for eggs, or as pets.
The Muscovy is a duck breed that can fly. Muscovys like to “roost” in trees, and Mallards are small enough that they can take off at a moment’s notice. It would be heartbreaking for the small homestead to own either of these breeds, and then go out to feed them one day only to have them disappear.
If you have a larger homestead with lots of room, Muscovys would be a great breed as they eat lots and lots of mosquitoes. Their ability to fly will help protect them from predators, and they usually will stick close to home anyway.
These ducks, due to their body build are unable to fly away.
Muscovy ducks aren’t the largest ducks you will find. They only grow to about 3 or 4 kg in 70 days, which is much smaller than other breeds. The meat, though, tends to have minimal fat and is a dark red color. You’ll also get up to 250 eggs per year, so that’s a good tradeoff to consider if you’re interested in raising these ducks.
Like Muscovys, Mallards also like to fly! If you choose Mallards due to their gorgeous color, you may want to consider a closed off area for them to live, where they can’t fly away.
There are other breeds of ducks that are excellent for a small homestead. These generally have small builds making it difficult for them to fly.
Male mallards are most easily identified. They are an average weight, only growing to about 3 lbs, but have gorgeous iridescent blue feathers. Females lay around 13 eggs per month, typically laying every other day or so. These eggs can be white or a greenish-buff color. They do not have spots.
Pekin are normally raised as meat ducks, but I have personally found them to be excellent layers as well. We have one that is going on 6 years old and is still laying 5 eggs a week.
Their body weight is what keeps them unable to fly more than 5-6 inches at at a time. They are pretty happy ducks, and quite friendly, but can be a bit on the noisy side.
Believe it or not, there are actually several kinds of Pekin ducks, including the American Pekin and the German Pekin. When people talk about Pekin ducks, though, they are usually referring to American Pekins. They are bred in many parts of the world and known for their pure white coloration.
This bird, as I mentioned, is raised almost exclusively for meat. It is known for its rapid growth – it can reach nearly 8 lbs in as little as seven weeks!
se rice paddies to gThese birds also have a high feed conversion ratio and are known for being easygoing and laying fertile, hatchable eggs. If you ever raised Pekin ducks, you’ll love how easy they can be to pluck, too.
Unfortunately, Pekin ducks aren’t the best if you want to get a ton of eggs. They only lay about 150 white eggs each year. They are also not great mothers, preferring not to sit on their eggs – so if you want to raise your own ducklings, you’ll need to incubate them.
4. Indian Runners
Indian Runners are quirky little ducks, that walk more upright than other breeds.
Their body length and small wings are what seem to keep them from being able to fly away. But, boy, can they run! Let one of them get loose and good luck chasing it down if it’s far ahead of you.
The best thing is that ours seem to like to stay close together, and if one gets out, it’ll work it’s way to getting back to the rest of the flock. They are a talkative breed and a bit more skittish, but are great layers and easy to care for.
This is perhaps the oldest of the duck breeds, and is a highly productive layer. It can produce up to 300 eggs per year, although these are sized closer to chicken-eggs.
These lightweight birds are voracious eaters and will forage for much of their own food. They were historically used in Chinese rice paddies to gather weeds, insets, reptiles, and snails – they’ll keep your property clear of any unwanted pests for sure! They do need lots of space, so they aren’t’ ideal for smaller homesteads.
Indian Runner ducks can also be raised for meat, although egg production is the primary reason for raising one of these ducks on most homesteads. They can weigh around 3 to 5 lbs, with females being much smaller. They stand erect and are absolutely gorgeous to look at, too!
5. Khaki Campbells
Khaki Campbell ducks are another breed that won’t fly away.
They have gorgeous feathering and are pretty sweet. For all the breeds I’ve owned, they are the quietest of the bunch, and the very friendly.
They are pretty calm and happy as long as they have plenty of water and they are great layers, laying 6 eggs a week consistently. That’s right – more than many breeds of chickens!
You may hear these ducks referred to simply as Campbells. They are called “Khaki” Campbells for their tan colors, and they’re one of the best duck breeds you can raise for eggs – they’ll lay up to 340 per year! In addition, Campbells are great foragers, so you don’t have to worry about spending a ton of money on feed.
Campbells don’t need a lot of space, but do best when they are provided with lots of grazing areas. They can tolerate a wide variety of climates, but they do like to be housed in smaller flocks of fewer than 200 birds. You want to avoid purchasing Campbells as crossbreeds with other duck breeds, as they might not lay as well.
Campbells are considered mature at 8 months. They can hatch large broods of ducklings together but you can also incubate their eggs, too. These ducks aren’t usually raised for meat, as they tend to be more on the small side.
The Buff duck breed is a dual-purpose duck that is raised for both meat and eggs. Because of this, it is a larger breed that can grow up to 8 pounds.
It’s not unlike the Orpington breed of chicken, which can also be found in “buff” shades and is a dual-purpose bird. In fact, this duck breed is often referred to as the Orpington Duck or the Buff Orpington Duck.
These ducks lay fewer eggs than other breeds, but they can produce over 200 eggs per year, still – so that’s nothing to laugh at!
Usually, Buff Ducks can reach up to 8 lbs. Although they aren’t typically raised for meat, there’s no reason not to. It’s a great dual-purpose bird as it gains weight quickly and is ready for slaughter in just eight to ten weeks.
7. Welsh Harlequin
This duck breed is actually listed as critically endangered by the Livestock Conservancy. However, this duck breed is one you just have to consider. It is a lightweight breed that produces ample amounts of eggs each year – up to 300!
It is a classic heritage breed for the homestead that can be raised for meat as well. This is also one of the broodiest species of ducks you can raise – they can help you raise your own ducklings on the homestead!
The Welsh Harlequin Duck is a relatively lightweight duck breed, coming in at five or six pounds at most. It has a long body and takes a while to reach maturity. However, like I said, you will get plenty of delicious white-shelled eggs each year. Plus, these ducks are known for being active foragers who produce a lean, delectable meat as a result.
Magpie ducks are lightweight, typically found in shades of white and black. However, you can also purchase Magpie ducks in blue-and-white patterns, too.
These ducks lay up to 290 eggs each year, and these eggs range in color from white to blue and green – as well as everything in between. These ducks are also one of the quietest duck breeds, offering a bit of peace and quiet if you tend to live in a more urban setting.
Although Magpie ducks are also pretty small and lightweight, only reaching weights of about four or five pounds, they are active foragers. They’ll get most of their nutrition from grass, insects, seeds, and aquatic life.
In fact, they’re so good at going after slugs and snails that some farmers use them to get rid of parasite infestations (like liver flukes) on the farm. They produce gourmet-quality meat with carcasses that are easy to clean.
Ancona ducks are medium-sized birds that weigh around six pounds. Also a dual-purpose duck breed, this one lays about 240 eggs per year and also produces tender, flavorful meat. Native to England, this bird is found in multiple colors and will produce a wide variety of colorful eggs in shades of cream, white, green, and blue.
Ancona ducks are extremely calm, and are good for living in ponds or yards. They are large enough to avoid predation by most winged predators, although they can still be vulnerable to predators like foxes and weasels on the ground.
The Ancona breed is also listed as critically endangered, so it’s a good choice if you want a decent dual-purpose heritage breed duck on your farm. These ducks are good egg producers and will add a calm atmosphere to your farm.
Ancona ducks average around six to six and a half pounds. They are a bit heavier than their close relatives, Magpie ducks. As a hardy, adaptable duck, you’ll find that the meat of the Ancona duck is more flavorful and contains less fat than that of other duck breeds raised for meat.
This duck breed is native to England and is considered by many Englishmen as the top breed of duck. A popular meat breed, this duck is more calm than other types of ducks and is also quite friendly towards humans.
Unfortunately, it is not as hardy to the elements or to poor care, so you will need to be vigilant about providing proper housing for this duck.
This breed has white feathers and skin with pale orange feet and legs. These ducks are good foragers and can be slaughtered in as little as eight weeks – weighing in at seven pounds then, no less! Male Aylesbury ducks can grow up to nine pounds, while females are slightly smaller.
You can even get decent egg production out of the Aylestbury duck – while it’s definitely not as good as other breeds of ducks, you can expect to get up to 125 eggs from this breed.
A superior meat breed, the Aylesbury duck produces meat that is flavorful and easy to fatten up. These ducks are aren’t known for being terrified foragers, so you’ll want to provide plenty of supplemental feed.
This large duck breed is shaped similarly to a Pekin, making it a good option if you are interested in raising ducks for meat. It is beautifully colored and you can even use the feathers for fly-tying, if you like to fish! These birds are calm and friendly, laying up to 150 eggs per year. These eggs can be bluish green or even white.
Rouen ducks are primarily raised for meat and can be butchered as early as two and a half months of age – although most people will wait until the ducks are six months old.
They tend to be homebodies, preferring to stay near home, and they don’t like to fly. If you have a farm pond or a wooded property, this is a great spot to raise Rouens.
These large ducks are known for being incredibly massive, often reaching nine or ten pounds. They are blocky, too, with deep keels. Unfortunately, they mature slowly – again, you’ll want to wait a minimum of six months to get them to full size.
You also need to be careful about using Rouen ducks if you want to hatch your own eggs, since they often crush their own eggs by mistake.
12. Blue and Black Swedish
These ducks are considered rare int eh United States but are very popular in Europe. They eat a ton of insects and lay up to 150 blue-grey eggs each year.
These birds have unique protective coloration that makes it tough for predators to see them. They are also independent in that they are good foragers and good parents to their young.
A medium sized duck, the Swedish averages six and a half to eight pounds. It enjoys foraging in orchards and paddocks so you can get some good weed control out of this duck, too.
It doesn’t do as well in confinement, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about raising ducks primarily indoors.
13. Bantam Duck Breeds
If you’re just getting your feet wet – so to speak – with raising ducks, you might want to consider one of the many bantam breeds of ducks. Some to consider include the Australian Spotted, the Call, and the East Indie.
These are small birds, and while most don’t produce a ton of eggs – usually no more than 125 each year – they are usually quite lovely to look at. The birds themselves tend to be small, but because of this, the meat is usually excellent. They will lay well in the spring if you are consistent about collecting eggs.
Want a shot at a charcoal-colored egg? Raise a Cayuga duck! These ducks occasionally produce charcoal-colored eggs, although typically you will get eggs that are in different shades of gray.
Scientists aren’t sure what causes these eggs to be gray, and they also aren’t sure where this duck originated. Some people claim it is native to the United States, while others believe it originated in the United Kingdom.
Regardless of its exact origins, this is a great duck breed to raise on the farm. It is easygoing and a great forager – it will be docile among small children too. It grows up to eight pounds and is a great dual-purpose breed. You will get up to 150 large eggs each year. This bird can also tolerate both hot and cold climates with ease.
The Cayuga duck is renowned as being one of the hardiest duck breeds you can find. It’s easy to tame and will produce excellent quality meat. With a high average weight, these ducks can get most of their nutrients from foraging. However, the carcasses are reportedly a bit difficult to pluck since they have such dark feathers.
Saxony ducks are native to Germany. A dual-purpose breed, this large breed can weigh up to nine pounds! They grow somewhat slow, so they may not be the most economical choice if you are raising ducks for meat. However, since they are excellent foragers, you also might be able to get by with feeding them a little bit less.
Saxony ducks are friendly and docile and do well around children. They are great for first-time duck owners. They lay large white, blue, and green eggs – you can get up to 240 eggs every year!
16. Silver Appleyard
Despite the fact that the name of this duck is incredibly fun to say, this duck is also quite fun to raise. If you are new to raising ducks, this is a breed you should definitely consider.
Silver Appleyard ducks weigh between 8 and 9 pounds. They can adapt easily to a wide range of temperatures, laying extra-large white eggs. You can get anywhere between 200 and 265 eggs per year with this gorgeous English breed.
These ducks reach about nine pounds at maturity, as mentioned, but can take six months or more to do so. They have beautiful plumage, though, and their meat is reportedly more flavorful and less fatty than that from other duck breeds.
17. Crested Ducks
These ducks are often raised for ornamental or exhibition purposes, but they’re also often raised as pets. These ducks are very large and white, and they have a crest, or a ball of feathers, atop their heads.
They are slow-growing so they aren’t often raised for meat. However, they lay quite well, producing eggs as often as every other day. You can find bantam crested ducks as well as crested ducks in other colors, but white is the most common color.
Keep in mind that the “crest” in the crested duck is actually a deformity of the skull – there are some animal rights groups that protest to breeding these ducklings. It can be fatal to the offspring. Therefore, you should avoid trying to breed your own crested ducks at home.
A sturdy duck breed, it’s one of the best laying ducks you’ll find that also produces heavy amounts of meat. The meat is allegedly lean and flavorful.
Another reason for raising Silver Appleyard ducks is that they are calm and easygoing. They are good foragers, but the better you feed them, the closer they’ll stay to home. This is a low-maintenance breed that will work well for most homesteads.
18. Swedish Ducks
Swedish Ducks are medium-large sized dual-purpose birds. They grow slowly, but are excellent forages. You will get bout three or four eggs every week, and these eggs are typically laid in a variety of shades, including blue, white, and green.
These ducks are often raised aspects because they are extremely calm and beautiful to look at. Black Swedish ducks are, as you might expect, mostly black with white patches on their chests and necks. Blue Swedish ducks, on the other hand, are a slate-gray with a white patch.
As with chickens, there are several popular hybrid breeds of ducks that you might choose to raise. These eggs were bred for specific genetic traits that make them excellent layers for mass production.
Some popular options include the Golden 300 Hybrid and the White Layer. These breeds are often considered industrial or commercial ducks, generally kept for egg production. They lay a ton of eggs and have clam dispositions, making them good options for homesteads – but keep in mind that ducklings can be more expensive to purchase from a hatchery.
So, yes ducks can and will fly. Some of them. If you’re looking for duck breeds that don’t fly (or don’t fly well) consider raising:
- Pekin ducks
- Cayuga ducks
- Muscovy ducks (they can fly a bit, but not far)
- Khaki Campbells (same as Muscovies)
- Indian Runner ducks
- Welsh Harlequin ducks
- Buff Orpington ducks
- Rouen ducks
You should likewise avoid “flightier” duck breeds such as:
- East Indie
- Silver Bantam
- Australian Spotted
Best Duck Breeds To Raise as Pets
If you’re thinking about raising homestead ducks primarily as pets, you will want to consider breeds such as:
- Call ducks
- Pekin ducks
- Cayuga ducks
- Indian Runner ducks
- Muscovy ducks
Not only are these duck breeds all highly productive, but they are friendly and fun to have around, too.
There are plenty of breeds to choose from to raise on a smaller homestead that won’t break your heart, too! Grab a couple ducklings and get quacking!
What breeds are you thinking of raising? Be sure to pin this to your favorite board for later