Info on picking a breed, where to buy, what genders to get

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by jdywntr, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,215
    143
    243
    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    This is something I've been working on for a bit. Any comments welcomed. This (as usual) is based on Storey's Guide and Metzer Farms recommendations.

    The following is information that will help in picking a breed, where to buy stock and what genders to get.
    Picking the appropriate breed of duck is just as important as appropriate care. While there aren’t as many duck breeds as there are chickens, each breed has specific traits.


    The first thing that should be considered when choosing a breed is:
    What is their purpose going to be?
    Eggs
    Meat
    Ornamental
    Pet


    Adult or duckling? There are pros and cons to both. If you raise ducklings, they may bond better with you but they will cost more to feed, you may suffer losses, it will be much longer until you can expect eggs and you will discover just how stinky they are. [​IMG] Adults will allow you to see how the bird looks and, if female, you will get eggs after a short time. You may be able to find an adult that is very bonded to people if you are looking for a pet.


    Once the purpose and age are decided, personality should be taken into account. Do you want a friendly breed or more standoffish? A quiet breed or a talkative one? A breed that will be self sufficient and brood their own young?

    Each breed is different, as are individuals within that breed. The following information is based on generalizations of the breed as a whole. Remember, each individual is different and may vary widely from the norm.

    I am not including all duck breeds, just the most commonly available. Ducks are classified by weight. There are 4 classes, Bantam, Light, Medium and Heavy. Typically, the bantams are the breeds that can fly well. The exception is the Muscovy. The heavy class is typically used for meat but any can be. While some breeds are friendlier than others, even nervous breeds can become very friendly birds if a lot of time is spent with them when they are young.


    Bantam

    Call
    Mallard

    Light

    Indian Runner
    Khaki Campbell
    Welsh Harlequin

    Medium

    Cayuga
    Orpington (AKA Buff)
    Swedish

    Heavy

    Appleyard
    Muscovy
    Pekin
    Rouen



    Temperament/Personality

    BREED

    TRAIT
    Call

    Loud, talkative
    Mallard

    Calm
    Indian Runner

    Nervous
    Khaki Campbell

    Nervous
    Welsh Harlequin

    Very Calm
    Cayuga

    Calm
    Orpington

    Calm
    Swedish

    Calm
    Appleyard

    Calm
    Muscovy

    Calm, quiet, friendly
    Pekin

    Calm, friendly, talkative
    Rouen

    Calm


    Top Egg Layers

    BREED

    AVERAGE # EGGS PER YEAR
    Khaki Campbell

    250-340
    Welsh Harlequin

    240-330
    Indian Runner

    150-300
    Appleyard

    200-270
    Pekin

    125-225
    Orpington

    150-220
    Cayuga

    100-150
    Swedish

    100-150
    Muscovy

    50-125
    Rouen

    35-125
    Mallard

    25-100
    Call

    25-75


    Mothering Ability/Broodiness

    BREED

    ABIILTY
    Mallard

    Excellent
    Call

    Excellent
    Muscovy

    Fair-Excellent
    Cayuga

    Fair-Good
    Orpington

    Fair-Good
    Swedish

    Fair-Good
    Appleyard

    Fair-Good
    Welsh Harlequin

    Poor-Good
    Rouen

    Poor-Good
    Pekin

    Poor-Fair
    Indian Runner

    Poor-Fair
    Khaki Campbell

    Poor-Fair


    Where to buy
    Breeder, hatchery, craigslist, feed store, rescue organization. There are pros and cons to most places that sell ducklings/ducks. You can find stock locally or have them shipped. One of the best things about buying locally is that you may be able to visit the “farm” where the birds are raised and you can get a feel for the treatment and care provided there.


    A good breeder is going to have the best interest of the breed and the individual bird in mind. If you want to show your birds, ducklings need to be purchased from show quality adults that are actually shown. Even then, the offspring may not be show quality. A good breeder is going to breed to the standard, be knowledgeable about the bird and their care and should be willing to answer any questions that you may have. As with anything, there are also “backyard” breeders who have purebred adults and hatch out young. These ducklings may or may not conform to the standard. Both professional and backyard breeders may differ in their care, sanitation and knowledge of the breed. Visit them or research them prior to purchase. Breeders may have juveniles available as well as adults in breeding pairs or trios as well as ducklings.

    Hatcheries can run the gamut of quality. Some hatcheries breed to type and offer show quality stock. Others breed what they have regardless of whether the parent animal conforms to the standard. While there is nothing wrong with a hatchery bird, many do not conform to the standard. If buying shipped ducklings, you will run the risk of shipping losses and may need to buy more than planned depending on the minimum required by the hatchery. A plus is that most hatcheries offer sexing so you can get exactly what you want. Some places online are thought of as hatcheries but are just resellers. Some hatcheries also sell adult birds.

    Feed stores are typically just resellers of hatchery birds though they may resell for local breeders. If you can find out where they get their ducklings, you will be able to get an idea of the quality. At a feed store you will not have the risk of shipping losses as the store incurs it. You will spend a little bit more than from a hatchery but can usually buy just the number you want. You will most likely only be able to get straight run ducklings there.

    Craigslist will also run the gamut of quality. It would be best to insist on visiting the breeder’s farm in order to see how the animals are treated. You may find great quality and care, you may not. Never feel obligated to purchase from someone just because you go to see what they have. Try not to get into the “I must save them” mindset. It is great to try to rescue an animal from a bad situation but a novice is not going to be able to tell a minor health problem from a major health issue. If a place is that bad, consider reporting them to your local animal welfare agency.

    Rescue organizations are a great way to find an adult duck in need of a home. If you decide on an adult duck or if you need to replace an adult due to a loss, a rescue organization may be right for you. You will be able to see the breed as an adult and may get some info on it’s personality from the workers/volunteers there. You can check your local animal shelter, some will have waterfowl or may be able to point you in the right direction. There are several waterfowl rescue organizations around (due to BYC rules, they cannot be listed here) but a simple internet search for “waterfowl rescue”, “duck rescue”, “barnyard rescue”, etc can be done. Many states do not regulate rescue organizations so, as with other sources, do your research and visit the site to ensure that they are a reputable organization.

    Male, Female, or Straight Run
    Depending on what you are wanting to get ducks for will determine the genders that you should purchase. You don’t need a drake in order to get eggs. You only need a drake to get fertile eggs and then ducklings.


    Buying sexed ducklings allows you to get the correct ratio. Most experts recommend getting 3-6 females per male. Sometimes pairs or trios (1 male and 2 females) will work but each drake is an individual. Keep in mind that too many drakes will over breed females which can injure or kill them.

    Buying straight run ducklings leaves what you get up to chance. Theoretically you will get 50/50 male/female if you purchase 100 ducklings. But many hatcheries sell sexed and straight run ducklings and the sexed orders are filled first so you run the risk of getting all or mostly males. If you buy straight run ducklings, you need to have a plan in mind with what you will do with extra males. If you are planning on using your birds for meat, it may be less expensive to get straight run.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  2. DenverDucky

    DenverDucky Chillin' With My Peeps

    605
    146
    158
    Mar 28, 2012
    Colorado
    Very informative! Thanks for sharing :)
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    23,064
    2,095
    491
    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Once again, very concise, well organized information. Thanks so much!

    Is there any benefit to suggesting adopting rescues in this write-up, or is that beyond what new duck folk might be expected to do?

    I can see that rescue organizations may prefer people who already know their ducks.
     
  4. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,215
    143
    243
    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    Nope. I think it's a great idea and I didn't even think about it. I'll get started.

    Okay, I added a bit about adults or ducklings and rescues.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
    Flyingpigfarm likes this.
  5. lovesgliders

    lovesgliders Chillin' With My Peeps

    366
    5
    111
    Apr 2, 2011
    Maine
    Looks great!
     
  6. chickery-do

    chickery-do Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,099
    23
    138
    Mar 25, 2013
    Shellburne, NH
    My Coop
    Very good info. Thanks for all the work and effort that went into posting this.
     
  7. Carcajou

    Carcajou Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,115
    65
    158
    Jul 3, 2012
    Delhi, New York
    [​IMG]
     
  8. danegal2

    danegal2 Out Of The Brooder

    40
    1
    24
    Mar 30, 2013
    Thank you for the information. I am deciding how many call ducklings to get tomorrow. If they are that loud maybe 2 is enough.
     
  9. emma123marie

    emma123marie Out Of The Brooder

    15
    1
    24
    Aug 12, 2013
    This info is exactly what I needed! Thank you sooo much.
     
  10. cher1fan

    cher1fan Out Of The Brooder

    29
    2
    24
    Apr 12, 2014
    Thanks for the info, it's just what I needed. When do Mallards and Pekin ducks get there feathers?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by