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Ducks for Eggs or Pets
By ACS Bookshop on June 30, 2014 in
Farming and Livestock Articles
Ducks are a friendly family pet which can provide garden pest control, delicious eggs or meat. Ducks have a life span of around 10-15 years. A male duck is called a drake, a female is a duck and their babies are called ducklings. They require a little more open space than chickens however they are less maintenance overall.
Generally ducks have a friendly, intelligent, and sometimes clumsy temperament. Ducks vary in purpose; some are bred for eggs, some meat and others ornamental. There are around 40 different of breeds to choose from, and to suit a variety of backyards and families. Breeds vary in size, colours, temperaments and production quality. All duck breeds display their familiar ‘honk’ noise –however some ducks are quieter than others.
Ducks a social birds, it is for this reason that it is recommended you own at least two birds. They get along well with chickens and other domestic poultry so you may be able to keep them with other poultry you own.
Ducks unlike chickens can fly a fair distance, so you may wish to consider getting a flightless breed, or getting the birds wings clipped. As a general rule the larger duck breeds are unlikely to fly as they are too heavy for long distance travel.
In most domestic duck breeds, males (drakes) usually have a curled tail feather (called the drake feather) while females (ducks) have straight tail feathers.
Ducks usually reach laying age at around 6 months old. One duck egg is approximately equal to one and a half chicken eggs, though the size of the egg will vary with different duck breeds and different sized birds.
Choosing a Breed
When choosing a breed you must consider the size and temperament which would suit your needs as well as the intended use of the bird –are you intending to keep ducks as pets, eggs or meat production? You should also consider the availability of different breeds in your area.
Good breeds for beginners
The Aylesbury duck
The Aylesbury was originally bred for meat production, though they still lay eggs. It is a large, plump duck with pure white plumage. They were bred quiet intensively in 18th century England due to the demand for their white feathers as filler for quills. The Aylesbury duck was made popular by the Beatrix Potter character ‘Jemima Puddle-Duck’.
Indian runners are a flightless breed which has a distinctive ‘running’ gait, from which the bird gets its name. They are good layers and can be quite friendly; though they can tend to be nervous is nature and do better when housed in groups. They are usually quiet, though a larger group of them can get a noisy. They tend to lay eggs in all different locations so you may have to hunt around the garden to find them.
Muscovy ducks are quiet, calm and friendly ducks. They are a large duck that come in a variety of colours, though they are usually black and white. They have red or pink wattles around the bill, with the drakes being larger and more brightly coloured.
Khaki Campbell ducks are excellent layers of decent sized eggs all year round. They are usually brown or khaki in colour –hence the name. They can be an energetic bird which needs a fair amount of room to graze. They can be shy and nervous around children and some people when not socialised or handled early.
Learn more about ducks and other poultry
Read our Poultry ebook.
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