Trying to decide on breeds - have questions

Salixx

Songster
Jun 1, 2021
157
294
136
Central Vermont
After the loss of my babies I am trying to be more thoughtful about my future ducks and part of that is thinking about what I want in a duck flock. I will be building a duck house ultimately big enough for 8 ducks but starting out with 5, four hens and a drake. While I acknowledge the risk of free range, I want my ducks to live their happiest life so I am planning on free ranging during the day and sleeping in a secure duck house at night. Most of our predators are nocturnal (foxes, fishers). Stray dogs have become rare. My own Alaskan husky could be a risk but she has a low prey drive for the breed and I routinely call her off rabbits and even a loose silkie chick the other day. My chickens are kept in a large run, so the risk to them from a drake will be minimal.

I loved my baby Campbells and I love the prospect of egg production. I know I want two khaki Campbell hens.

I love the look of Welsh Harlequins and they seem like good dual purpose birds (S/O will eventually want duck meat) with good temperament but they seem difficult to find for a later this year hatch. Silver Appleyards also are appealing as they get even bigger but seem to have the same problem with limited availability. With both I have seen them or mixes of them in passing on craigslist, so maybe I will get lucky and find older ducklings or young adults locally that folks are looking to rehome. If not, I am considering Rouens instead. Whatever I am able to get, I'd like two hens.

That brings me to the drake. I am not a purest when it comes to breeds. I want healthy birds, with the possibility of raising my own ducklings here and there either to add to my own stock, to sell/trade locally or raise for meat. I also know how rough drakes can be on hens which had me thinking that a smaller breed drake might be a good choice and am considering a mallard drake or maybe a runner. My considerations on this are three fold, however. Will it make that much of a difference for my hens? And, will the offspring end up being ultimately poor for meat and egg production? Finally, if I go with a tiny drake (ie mallard), will he be able to really breed with the hens at all?

If I end up getting young ducklings, I am looking at the end of August. I have a batch of chicks in my outdoor brooder that will be ready to move to the big house by then. The brooder has a hardware cloth bottom that I can cover half with pine shavings and leave the other half open in order to let messy be beasts be messy but also keep their bedding relatively dry and clean. If it doesn't happen by then I will wait until next spring.
 

cheezenkwackers

Crowing
6 Years
Aug 28, 2016
1,896
3,368
362
Memphis, TN
You have obviously put a lot of thought into this and your ideas are sound. If you wait until spring, Metzer is building a new hatchery. here in Memphis, that is supposed to be opening in January. They would have all the breeds you mentioned and overnight shipping. Just a thought, as you would be able to get Appleyards and Harlequins.
As for the drake, yes, he would affect his offsprings size and egg laying ability. I would suggest a Khaki drake or a Choclate Runner drakewith the females you mentioned. Dave Holderread, in his book “Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks”, mentions that in his experience when Khaki drakes were mated to lower egg producing breeds the female offspring laid a lot more eggs than their mothers. Also, a Khaki drake or a Chocolate Runner drake would give you sex-linked ducklings when crossed to a Silver Appleyard hen or a silver Welsh Harlequin (the most common type) hen. The female ducklings would be brownish, males would be darker, blackish. I have a Khaki x Appleyard cross drake, and a Khaki x Harlequin cross hen. Both are a little bigger than than my full Khakis. The hen lays larger eggs and lots of them.
In the picture below, she is on the far right by her mother, and he is in the front. This was there first encounter with deep snow so they have their tails tucked and legs pulled up out of the snow.
189AB50A-FF47-49EF-8ED2-C252F3B5DBED.jpeg
 

Salixx

Songster
Jun 1, 2021
157
294
136
Central Vermont
Thank you so much for the information. I think I will just go with a khaki Campbell drake then even though I love the look of the chocolate runners. I checked Metzers site and they had harlequins available for late August along with Khakis so I ordered them for August 30th. In the spring I will see about adding a couple Appleyard hens to the flock from their new hatchery.

I always hate the end of summer, having some duck antics around will make the shorter days more bearable 🥰
 

Quatie

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
Oct 16, 2020
3,729
15,333
551
Northern California
Since you are planning for duck meat. I would recommend getting a few drakes and see who has the best personality. It is not always the smallest one. My flock has a Saxony drake and I got rid of a khaki Campbell male because he was a jerk and far worse on my females than my large drake. Since you are already planning on eating duck meat, I think having more may actually be better for you. Cull the jerks and keep the nicest male. Gives you more options.
 

Salixx

Songster
Jun 1, 2021
157
294
136
Central Vermont
Since you are planning for duck meat. I would recommend getting a few drakes and see who has the best personality. It is not always the smallest one. My flock has a Saxony drake and I got rid of a khaki Campbell male because he was a jerk and far worse on my females than my large drake. Since you are already planning on eating duck meat, I think having more may actually be better for you. Cull the jerks and keep the nicest male. Gives you more options.

That’s not a bad idea at all. I’ll have to think about when I want to add more boys and might wait until spring. If the campbell is a jerk he can still go while so new boys come of age.
 

Angel07

Songster
Mar 11, 2021
380
1,064
171
Victoria, Australia
Rouen ducks are really good for meat. We're actually getting a drake either late this year or early next year to breed with our duck. We had heaps quite a few years ago now which we bred for the table. Everyone enjoyed them even my mum and sister who both are really picky with their meats.

Defferently recommend them. They're also really good layers too. I just put 20 in the incubator the other day from the one duck plus whatever I've taken of her while she was laying.
 
Sep 6, 2020
227
206
141
After the loss of my babies I am trying to be more thoughtful about my future ducks and part of that is thinking about what I want in a duck flock. I will be building a duck house ultimately big enough for 8 ducks but starting out with 5, four hens and a drake. While I acknowledge the risk of free range, I want my ducks to live their happiest life so I am planning on free ranging during the day and sleeping in a secure duck house at night. Most of our predators are nocturnal (foxes, fishers). Stray dogs have become rare. My own Alaskan husky could be a risk but she has a low prey drive for the breed and I routinely call her off rabbits and even a loose silkie chick the other day. My chickens are kept in a large run, so the risk to them from a drake will be minimal.

I loved my baby Campbells and I love the prospect of egg production. I know I want two khaki Campbell hens.

I love the look of Welsh Harlequins and they seem like good dual purpose birds (S/O will eventually want duck meat) with good temperament but they seem difficult to find for a later this year hatch. Silver Appleyards also are appealing as they get even bigger but seem to have the same problem with limited availability. With both I have seen them or mixes of them in passing on craigslist, so maybe I will get lucky and find older ducklings or young adults locally that folks are looking to rehome. If not, I am considering Rouens instead. Whatever I am able to get, I'd like two hens.

That brings me to the drake. I am not a purest when it comes to breeds. I want healthy birds, with the possibility of raising my own ducklings here and there either to add to my own stock, to sell/trade locally or raise for meat. I also know how rough drakes can be on hens which had me thinking that a smaller breed drake might be a good choice and am considering a mallard drake or maybe a runner. My considerations on this are three fold, however. Will it make that much of a difference for my hens? And, will the offspring end up being ultimately poor for meat and egg production? Finally, if I go with a tiny drake (ie mallard), will he be able to really breed with the hens at all?

If I end up getting young ducklings, I am looking at the end of August. I have a batch of chicks in my outdoor brooder that will be ready to move to the big house by then. The brooder has a hardware cloth bottom that I can cover half with pine shavings and leave the other half open in order to let messy be beasts be messy but also keep their bedding relatively dry and clean. If it doesn't happen by then I will wait until next spring.
First thought I had to add on is when you are building your duck house dedicate a place in it that you’ll have their water and use small fencing for the floor in that one area. It will save your floor board so much.

Secondly if you like Khakis a lot you might like the looks of Indian Runners. If you are looking for specific breeds then ordering from a hatchery is probably your best bet. Plus when getting ducklings from anywhere else you run the risk of getting males when you want females. With the hatcherys you can get sexed ducklings. Actually all the breeds you mentions are or at least were just available on McMurray Hatchery. I ordered from them and currently have about 3 week old ducklings. Everything I wanted was available, and they shipped out the week after I ordered. All 10 ducklings we ordered arrived alive and we actually received 2 extras. Shortly after arrival we lost 2 but all other are growing and very healthy. I would order from there again for sure. Their customer service is great as well.
 

Salixx

Songster
Jun 1, 2021
157
294
136
Central Vermont
Congrats on your new babies!

I actually received my 5 babies on September 1 so they are now about 6 weeks old. It’s amazing how fast they grow!

I ended up with three Khaki Campbells and two Welsh Harlequins, all girls except one of the Khakis is a boy. Below is a photo of four of them playing in their mud “puddle.”
 

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