Bali Ducks, also known as the Balinese Duck or Balinese Crested Duck, is a beautiful domesticated duck breed that, true to the name, resembles a white Indian Runner with fluffy white feathered crests atop their heads.
There’s so much to know about this slender, goofy breed — their history, characteristics, and purpose.
And if you’re looking into getting this for your own flock, I’m telling you right away; you might have a hard time finding one.
Read through this article to know why.
Bali Duck Origin and History
The Bali Duck is a domestic duck breed that originates from the island of Bali in Indonesia.
It is a unique and distinctive breed known for its striking appearance and unusual crest of feathers on its head.
The exact origin and history of the Bali Duck are not well-documented, but we believe the breed was developed in Bali, Indonesia, over the past two millennia.
Though we don’t have written records of the breed, we can find stone carvings depicting them in Bali.
This interesting breed is primarily raised for ornamental purposes and is often kept in temples and gardens in Bali.
They still work in the paddy fields, spending their days foraging for insects and algae in the rice fields while leaving rich fertilizer behind.
Their farmers will remove them from the fields once they begin to mature. Otherwise, the ducks would eat the rice too.
Bali Ducks are highly regarded for their beauty and are often showcased in cultural events and religious ceremonies.
The crest on its head is one of its most prominent features and is a result of genetic mutations.
It’s rare to find a Bali duck outside of Bali, so if you’re interested in adding them to your flock, you’ll have to do some searching.
Bali ducks were imported from Bali to the United Kingdom in the 1920s and then standardized about five years later.
Their numbers gradually declined from the 1930s until the 1980s, when they finally picked up popularity again, and breeders started prioritizing them.
Distinguishing Characteristics of the Bali Duck Breed
Bali Duck is a medium-sized duck with a rounded body.
It has a short and slender neck, a medium-length bill, and a broad, rounded head with a prominent crest of feathers.
The crest can vary in size and shape, ranging from a small tuft to a more elaborate and extensive crest that covers the entire head.
The reason why these ducks are rare is because of their unusual tuft of feathers on their head. Or, more accurately, what those feathers are hiding.
Beneath the crest is a skull deformity.
The gene responsible for this crest and hole, Cr’/cr, is often fatal, so many ducklings don’t survive incubation.
Many Bali breeders try to combat this by cross-breeding Balis with non-crested duck breeds.
These offspring have a better survival rate, but many don’t have the signature crest.
Interestingly enough, breeding a crested duck with another crested duck still will not result in 100% crested ducklings– many will hatch without this deformity.
This gene is also responsible for strange bone formations, poor balance, poor back structure, and arched necks.
Most ducklings afflicted with these ailments will not survive the incubation period.
The plumage of the Bali Duck is usually snow white but can appear in other colors with mottled or random patterns.
Brown and mallard are the second and third most common colors.
The breed can also have patterns such as spots or stripes on its body, though this is not common.
You can distinguish Balinese ducks from other breeds by their yellow-orange bill, sometimes with black spots on it, blue eyes, and bright orange legs.
They walk very upright, similar to Runner ducks, though they are slightly heavier, with wider shoulders, and tend to carry their bodies at 60 to 70 degrees.
Runner ducks, conversely, carry their bodies anywhere from 45 to 75 degrees.
Male Bali Ducks
Most Bali drakes weigh about six to seven pounds.
Typically, the only obvious difference between the drakes and hens are their sizes (males are larger) and quacks.
The drakes are more monotone and quack less but will hiss more.
Also, their feathers are not an accurate way to determine gender – drakes and hens are usually all bright white.
Female Bali Ducks
Bali hens are five to six pounds at full maturity.
They tend to grow in feathers faster than drakes, and they are more talkative and will become louder as they age.
The hens will start quacking as early as 14 days old, but it could take them eight weeks to learn how to quack properly.
Hens are surprisingly good layers and will start as soon as six months old.
Bali Duck Temperament and Personality
Regarding temperament, the Bali Duck is known to be gentle and sociable.
It is generally calm and can adapt well to different environments.
It is a hardy breed and can thrive in various climates, making it suitable for both rural and urban settings.
The Bali Duck’s unique appearance and cultural significance have contributed to its popularity beyond the island of Bali.
It has gained recognition and interest among poultry enthusiasts and duck breeders worldwide.
Efforts are being made to preserve and promote the breed, both in Bali and internationally, to ensure its continued existence and genetic diversity.
Bali Duck Purposes
Bali Ducks are mostly used for shows, kept as pets, yard ornaments, or used in rice farms in Bali, Indonesia.
Despite being good layers, they are not usually kept for egg production.
This is a lightweight breed, too, so most keepers don’t see them worth the effort to raise for meat production.
T ducks are fantastic foragers too, which is why they’re still raised and used on farms in Indonesia.
Bali Duck Egg Production
Bali ducks will start laying eggs around six months old and then go on to produce anywhere from 120 to 250 large blue-green to white eggs every year.
Most Bali ducks produce closer to 200 eggs per year in their first two years of production and then decrease these numbers as they age.
With such a good production, it may seem confusing to learn that Bali ducks aren’t really bred for their eggs.
The reason for this is their low hatch rates and genetic deformities.
Most breeders raise Bali ducks with the purpose of showing them and then creating more ducks, so eating the eggs is usually counterproductive.
The hens usually make bad mothers; most don’t have the instinct to go broody or raise their ducklings well.
Breeders have to incubate and raise the ducklings to keep the flock going.
Bali Duck Meat Production
Bali ducks are lightweight, upright, and thin birds.
While it’s possible to harvest them for their meat, they aren’t ideal for meat production.
Still, Bali ducks have full and deep breasts for their size, and they were once popular in the United Kingdom as roasted duck dinners.
The Pros and Cons of Raising Bali Ducks
Bali ducks are a unique breed that is rare, beautiful, and desired at shows.
They free-range well, are friendly towards people, and are fun to watch with their bowling pin-like bodies and fun personalities.
They lay lots of stunning blue-green or white eggs, and they tolerate heat well.
The downside to raising Bali ducks is that they are hard to find to start your flock, they have genetic deformities and low hatch rates, the mothers are not likely to go broody, and they prefer lots of space to roam and forage.
They are also lightweight and not ideal for meat production.
While most duck breeds live to see 8 to 20 years old, most Bali Crested ducks die by the age of 5 or 6.
How To Raise Bali Ducks
If you want a more general guide, read our article about How To Breed Ducks.
But below, we’ll include the most important points for you to consider when raising Bali ducks.
Build Suitable Bali Duck Housing
Bali Ducks need much outdoor space to feel content and healthy, more than other duck breeds.
You can learn more about appropriate duck coops with our Guide to Duck Housing and Duck Coops.
You’ll need to give them a large run or allow them to free-range your property if you have the space.
Bali ducks are probably not going to thrive in small backyards and will be happiest with pastures or fields to roam.
Like any other breed, Bali ducks need daily access to a pond or pool.
They also need constant water sources need their feed to eat, and properly digest their food so they don’t choke.
Research the Bali Breed Thoroughly
Hey, that’s what you’re doing now! Well done!
Remember that Bali ducks have exposed holes in their heads that are only covered by a thin fatty layer, so raising them will come with a few unique challenges.
It’s possible that your ducks will experience seizures, pain, neurological disorders, and premature death.
When drakes try to breed hens, they could injure or break through the fatty tissue that protects the hens’ brains — which is often fatal.
While many incubated Bali eggs will perish before hatching, some ducklings will die in the days after they hatch too.
It’s not uncommon for them to hatch with their brain outside of their skull or for the hole in their head to be misplaced or too large for them to have any chance of surviving.
Some duck breeders consider it unethical to breed Bali ducks because of these risks.
It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons to see if you want to breed them.
You should also take the time to learn about common duck ailments and diseases you can contract from them.
If you’re just starting out, consider these duck breeds that are best for beginners.
Gather Necessary Duck Breeding Equipment
For Bali ducks, this includes an incubator and a brooder box after hatching.
The ducks are unlikely to sit on a clutch of eggs and raise the ducklings themselves, so this will be up to you.
You’ll also need your typical duck-raising equipment, such as water systems, feeders, pools, and enrichment toys.
Determine Your Breeding Methods
Most Bali duck breeders opt to crossbreed Bali ducks with non-crested breeds. This improves the viability of the offspring.
About half of the resulting and surviving ducklings will have crests.
Determine if you want to crossbreed, and if so, which other breed(s) you’ll use.
Indian runners are most often used, but you can experiment with any breed you like.
Remember that Muscovy ducks aren’t good candidates; they will never give you crested ducklings.
Make sure you have a plan for your non-crested babies.
It’s always a good idea to know where you’ll put them or who you’ll sell the ducklings to after they have hatched.
Find a Breeding Pair or Hatching Eggs
When you’re ready to get started, you’ll need to find your breeding stock.
You can begin with a breeding pair (or better yet, a drake with at least five hens), purchase just-hatched Bali ducklings, or buy fertilized eggs to hatch on your own.
Adult ducks will cost more than ducklings, and ducklings will cost more than hatching eggs.
But the upside to starting with adults is that you can immediately begin your program rather than waiting six or more months.
Keep Good Records
Knowing when your ducklings hatched, who the drake was, and who the hen was (or knowing which flock of hens the baby came from) is a great starting point for your record keeping.
If you want to dive into keeping excellent records, note how many eggs were incubated, how many hatched, and how many of the hatched ducklings were viable.
It’s also helpful to know how much you feed your ducks, what you’re feeding them, and the total cost to raise them.
This makes it easier for you to make decisions in the future, and your findings can do a lot to support and develop the Bali breed.
FAQs on Bali Ducks
What’s The Difference Between a Bali Duck and an Indian Runner Duck?
Indian Runner ducks do not have crests; Bali ducks do.
Bali ducks walk with an upright 60 to 70-degree position; Runners have a wider range from 45 to 75 degrees.
Indian Runners come in an assortment of colors, with yellow to blue or black beaks and legs, while Bali ducks are usually snow white with yellow-orange beaks and bright orange legs.
Are Bali Ducks Good Pets?
Bali ducks are docile towards people, with sweet temperaments, fun personalities, and interesting bodies that are a joy to watch.
With that said, they are rare to find, they don’t live very long, and they have low hatch rates.
Where Do Bali Ducks Live?
Bali Ducks predominantly live in Bali, Indonesia.
Their island, sitting in the Bali Sea, is east of Java, south of Kalimantan, and west of Timor.
The ducks that live on this island are most often found on rice farms, where they are allowed to free-range to eat insects and algae that grow in the paddies and to fertilize these fields for better harvests.
Are Bali Ducks Noisy?
Bali ducks are some of the quietest duck breeds you can find.
The only quieter breeds are Muscovies and Cayugas.
Still, every individual duck and flock is different, so there are some outliers.
Are Bali Ducks Endangered?
Bali Ducks are considered endangered by most breeders, but this information is difficult to narrow down precisely.
They were never officially imported into the United States, so they aren’t even on the Livestock Conservancy’s radar.
Bali Ducks: Before You Go…
If you’re interested to learn more about duck management or maybe, adding a Balinese chicken instead of duck, check out our recommended reads below!