Focusing your breeds (or beginning a breeding program)

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Dusky Beauty, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Dusky Beauty

    Dusky Beauty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 11, 2011
    Upshur County, Texas
    It's probably an age old debate-- collect lots of different duck breeds purely for looks, or focus on one or two specific breeds.
    What decision did you make, why, and how long did it take you to decide?

    At the moment I'm on my first year of duck ownership and I love so many looks and colors, but the practical farmer facet of me says that my animals will be more valuable is I focus on just one or two heritage breeds and they might even be better adapted to my purposes than going the road most traveled and just cartoning up the eggs of any laying duck I happen to find.

    For my purposes, I want egg layers and being able to send my culls to freezer camp for a decent meal down the line would be ideal (I just can't see a meal when I look at runners for example.) I'm considering focusing on silver appleyards, anconas or welsh harlies. They're all on the critical list. I also like Cayugas, and I'm kicking around the idea of keeping bantam breeders for the youth shows crowd. (Maybe I can get my color fix for blues and beetle greens in there somehow.)
  2. mandelyn

    mandelyn Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    I chose one breed because of limited space. If I don't split them up into breeding groups based on quality... they'll still be purebred. My odd duck out, a Black Swedish, will be crated over night to avoid egg confusion when the time comes.

    Took me about 2 seconds to decide what I wanted on picture alone... lol... I was looking at various breed photos and it was love at first sight with the Saxony. Plus they're really a dual purpose type, nice size, nice frequent eggs.

    With one breed, I can learn the ins and outs of it and breed towards specific goals later on, and really develop an eye for what to look for. I don't want to overwhelm myself with different breeds.

    Seems to be a trend that I start off with a generic pet and then get a focus later on for something more specific. "Laying hens" turned into "If it isn't rare or a Maran I don't want it". "Pet Ducks" went from freebie crossbred hatching eggs to top of the line ducklings being ordered, first time I ever had birds shipped. Reverse happened with fish... went from a killer breeding set-up for various Cichlids to 2 gold fish and a crawdad. [​IMG]

    Really it boils down to me having a hatching addiction and by choosing something rare and useful, they'll be an easy sell. And I don't have to build 6 pens to have purebred ducks. I can set up a temporary breeding hut for a certain pair and call it a day.
  3. TrystInn

    TrystInn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2009
    Southern Arizona
    We tried several breeds of duck before we figured out what worked well for us. Experimenting with what we could easily get in our area.

    The Anconas were too big and noisy. The Magpies were too twitchy and didn't lay enough eggs to justify their feed. Khaki Campbells were quite calm and great layers. Runners were too small for processing, but great egg layers. Swedes were big enough for processing and great layers. Etc.
  4. Dusky Beauty

    Dusky Beauty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 11, 2011
    Upshur County, Texas
    Quote:This is good advice. My current living situation is a lease in a state I don't plan on living in for more than 3 more years so this is a good time to try different things and there will be a good demand in this area for anything I decide to phase out in the course of that time. If I stick with a breed and get any exceptional breeders I can crate them up and move them cross country if I feel the need, or just start over from scratch once moved.
  5. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    I didn't have a choice, one day down at the river below our home a beautiful duck flew in, I found out he was a muscovy, and I fell in love. Because he belonged to the people across the river I didn't feel I could bring him home, [​IMG] So I started looking for some others finally found 3 ducks and went and picked them up, and it wasn't long before the drake was visiting us daily and finally moved in, that was over 7 years ago. and since then I have added 6 more with ducklings here and there which we had a hard time finding homes for, so we don't do much hatching, but I love the breed, and I will stick with it till the last ones says goodbye.Then maybe think of having another breed, although I love the Muscovy so much not just the way they look but their personality, that I may never have anything but this breed. I love all the colors they come in and they way they wag their tail when I speak to them, and they are so friendly. Just couldn't ask for a better duck. [​IMG] Bye the way the peole across the river didn't want him anyway, so He has been my buddy for quite awhile.

    I just want to add when I met this muscovy drake at the river years ago I had no idea they were so many breeds of domestic ducks out there and some very beautiful ones too, Now I have fallen for quite a few, and it would be very hard to pick just one that I would like to have, I feel in love with Runners when i saw Amigas video this year of her girls, I also love the look of the Cayuga that BayyJayy has and then the calls that everyone shows pics of are precious, and buffs and o my I could go on an on, Swedish, I am overwhelmed with how many beautiful breeds there are, and never saw all the wild ducks that ya'll have too, Isn't it wonderful that we have so many choices! [​IMG] and then theres Geese [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
  6. rainy day ducks

    rainy day ducks Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 28, 2011
    Southeast Alaska
    I have tried many different breeds of ducks. The advice I received from Dave Holderread was " Go with what you are most attracted to and try more than a couple of breeds".

    For what it's worth, I really like the Silver Appleyards more than any of the other ducks. They are friendly, eggs are fantastic, and lay up to 270 a year. They LOVE slugs! The Saxonys and Hookbills are pretty friendly. Harlequins somewhat. The Cayugas are the most shy of the bunch.

    People can get Cayugas and Harlequins from many different places. Appleyards, Saxonys, Anconas, and Hookbills are very hard to find. Besides the smaller breeders, Holderreads and Sandhill are the only places to get these (Holderread doesn't have Anconas). Besides Holderreads and Sandhill, there are some great people out there breeding Anconas and Appleyards that have beautiful strains! I am attracted to breeds that are hard to find and are from preservation centers. I have Cayugas and Harlequins because I wanted to see what the hype was. If I were to down size my flock, they would likely be the first to go.

    The most important thing is to go with your gut and what you are attracted to. The endearing qualities that I find in my ducks you might see in the same breed. It is like chosing a dog, there is a breed for everyone.

    Good luck with your breeding endeavors!
  7. GrannyCarol

    GrannyCarol Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2011
    I've had ducks for years and I'm still trying to decide which beauties I'm going to keep and go on with! I like so many pretty breeds. A couple of breeds it seems I just end up with, others I wait and wait to get what I want. Fortunately I have a bit of room and can keep more than one variety and even breed a little. In your situation, I think trying a few of several breeds would be a great way to start out. You have to find out which personalities click with you. However for pretty egg layers that you can butcher, look at Welsh Harlequins. You can even sex by bill color at hatch. They're a little small for butcher but a lot better than Khaki's. I get a lot more eggs from Saxonys than from Silver Appleyards, but that's my experience. They are both great for butchering and decent for eggs.
  8. cat1994

    cat1994 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2010
    Southeast MO
    When I started out I liked every breed and verity of duck and wanted at least two of each and that I would breed them and sell the ducklings. But I soon realized that if I breed all the ducks together the offspring would just be mutts and that they didn’t sell well around here. Plus getting every breed of duck I wanted wasn’t very realistic and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with different breeds. So I decided to narrow it down to just one breed.

    I didn’t need a duck for eggs as I had chickens for that
    I didn’t need a breed for meat as we don’t eat much duck
    I planed to sell the offspring so I would need a breed that is in demand around here
    I also wanted to use natural incubation so I would need a breed that goes broody and make good mothers
    I liked the idea of having a challenge in breeding to meet the breed standard of perfection
    I also decided that I would like a smaller breed so they would have more in my duck house
    And last but not least I wanted a breed that was cute

    This all added up to Call ducks
    Calls come in lots of verities so I decided I needed to narrow it down to just one. I picked the Grey Call duck verity as I think it is the prettiest and it is the rarest around here. All in all I’d say it took me about two years of owning ducks to reach this ending decision and I'm happy I made it as I enjoy being able to focus just on them instead of tons of different breeds.
  9. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    I've spent my entire life with show dogs and show horses, so I am a firm believer in purebreds. It's a lot easier to keep breeds pure with only a very few breeds. Besides that, I enjoy a uniform look.

    I made a list of every trait I wanted and started researching. MY family is more interested in meat than eggs. We eat eggs, but not a lot and I've already had my experience with selling eating eggs. There is no profit in it and it is a lot of hassle.

    I wanted something large enough to limit the predators that would take it on and I wanted camouflage coloring. Then, most of all, I wanted a breed that appeals to my eye.

    I settled on Blue Swedish. I really love that blue color and the breed met the rest of my criteria.

    Who would have thought that it is almost impossible to purchase Blue Swedish? They are common as dirt. But hatchery Swedish don't look at all like the photos that I fell in love with. 6 months later of some pretty intense research and contacting people all over the country, I resigned myself to not getting the ducks I wanted.

    So the next breed in line, that met all of my criteria and I liked the looks of was the Silver Appleyard. I can't praise these ducks enough. Lovely temperament, fast growth, good feed conversion, and they are supposed to lay more eggs than any other ducks except for the laying specialists. They are beautiful and simply very nice to be around.

    Naturally, as soon as I bought Appleyards, I finally found some Swedish. They are gorgeous, but the 16 I ordered and paid for arrived and there were only 6, which turned out to be 4 drakes and 2 ducks. But at least I've got a small start on my Swedish.

    Maintaining separate breeding pens is expensive and it increases the work load. It's hard for me to imagine keeping too many breeds, or even too many color varieties if the colors have to be kept separate.
  10. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2011
    Quote:This is good advice. My current living situation is a lease in a state I don't plan on living in for more than 3 more years so this is a good time to try different things and there will be a good demand in this area for anything I decide to phase out in the course of that time. If I stick with a breed and get any exceptional breeders I can crate them up and move them cross country if I feel the need, or just start over from scratch once moved.

    you'll want to check into what it takes to move birds to your intended state - to move our CA ducks to MO would have taken a $35 blood test PER BIRD - so we sold ours and started over. we might have been able to just do it and not tell anyone, but if you get caught in transit without the tests, they'll destroy the birds.

    I've got some of a bunch of different breeds right now, khakis, cayugas, rouens, sweedish, harlequins. I've had runners, golden 300s and mallards as well. in the spring I'm getting some silver appleyards - looking to get show quality birds and will probably start a breeding program. might upgrade my cayugas also and start a breeding program there.

    I like the rouens for meat and eggs, golden 300s for eggs, cayugas for meat and black eggs, runners for training my herding dogs. I like mallard's green eggs, but they're seasonal layers and I probably won't get more. I probably won't expand my khakis because the eggs are smaller and the golden 300s out lay them, with bigger eggs. I like the sweedish, but they're not adding anything special to my flock except different looks, so I'll probably freezer camp the ones I have, along with the extra cayuga drake. I'm liking the harlequins, although they're supposed to be medium sized ducks which I generally don't prefer... the ones I've got are oversized so I may keep them and see how they do for laying next year. I've got a dark gray crested drake of unknown breeding, but he's handsome with a really nice pouf on his head so I might keep him.

    for the breeders, I'll probably run everyone together over the winter and separate the breeders out a month before I get ready to start hatching.

    if you're going to be temporary where you are, I'd experiment with lots of different ducks and see what you like, then set your program up once you settle.

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