I am ready to place an order for ducklings, first time owner. I’m having a tough time with a few decisions; ANY AND ALL ADVICE is welcome!!! I want layers and meat. I am interested in having a large flock eventually. I have narrowed it down to: RUNNERS, for eggs and garden duty. I am debating over choices for meat: SAXONY or SILVER APPLEYARD Choosing one because of the all-around purpose of both. In researching, it seems Appleyards grow faster, lay slightly more eggs than Saxony and tend to sit nests better. Are these claims true, in your experience? OR Muscovy: for meat and mothering abilities, hopefully to hatch any eggs I may want to breed, even from other breeds. Please let me know if the following numbers seem good or way off: *We currently buy at least 6-8 dozen chicken eggs/week and I would like to replace those with our own duck eggs* - approx 15 Runners for primary egg-laying. But when I compare price on 15 runners vs 25, it's the same with bulk discount, so I think I should just get 25. Is that too many for starting out? - 25 meat birds for our first time butchering (my husband's mother and sister regularly butcher 40-80 chickens and so we would have experienced help) -I want to be able to have drakes and ducks to try breeding in the future, for sustainability QUESTIONS: 1.) As a first time owner, should I just do Runners (hens only) for eggs, and Muscovies (mostly drakes for meat) with a few Muscovy (4??) hens to hope for a good layer/mother/setter. 2.) Since the Saxony & Silver Appleyard breeds are heavier, is their feed-to-egg ratio, or their feed-to-meat ratio too high to be reasonable? How many weeks do you keep them before butchering? I couldn't seem to find this in my research. 3.) I could do just the Runners and Muscovies, but my husband is wondering if the Muscovies would be a hassle; since they roost up high, can we house them with our Runners? Or do we need a separate Coop? Where we keep them runs right up next to a pine forest; will it be too difficult to keep them in the bounds of our yard? Finally: We have a natural pond, about an acre, approx 6' deep. It has Canada geese and Mallards that nest, and other wild ducks and waterfowl that visit, but they stay far from our yard, where our ducks would be. It would be possible for us to fence a large run and keep our ducks from the pond, since I know they don't *need* a large pond. But we also feel like with having a pond it just seems natural to have our ducks on it. So... 6.) ...does anyone have experience with large ponds/wild waterfowl/losing ducks? My thought is that maybe we could keep our ducks off the pond in the early spring until the Canada goslings and Mallards hatch (they seem to move off our pond the day after hatching.) And hope that we will have the ducks trained to come for treats when we call, to get them back into their run at night. Again, I'm so sorry for the long post! If you're still reading, please feel free to speak to any aspect here that you can.