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11 Best Duck Breeds for Eggs

11 Best Duck Breeds for Eggs

So you’ve stumbled into the wonderful world of raising ducks for egg production, but you aren’t sure which breeds would be most suitable for you. 

I’m about to show you the eleven best duck breeds that will lay many eggs, of all sizes, in various colors. 

Whether you’re chasing a lot of eggs or want to create a whimsical rainbow-colored egg basket every morning, this guide is for you. 

Let’s talk about it! 

Raising Ducks for Eggs (Ducks vs. Chickens)

Most new homesteaders start with chickens, but it doesn’t take long to look into ducks. 

Why do so many people have ducks? 

And are they worth the mess? 

Not only do ducks lay more eggs than chickens, but they do so sooner, longer, and all year. 

Their eggs are larger than chicken eggs too. 

Ducks are quieter birds, with fewer fights and better foraging and free-ranging skills. 

Ducks do not damage landscaping and garden beds to the same degree as chickens. 

They cannot fly well, so shorter fences with fewer breakout birds are more acceptable.

So what are the cons of keeping ducks for eggs? Ducks are… unnaturally messy. 

Seriously, I have no idea how they are so filthy. 

Do they have secret meetings amongst themselves to discuss new chaotically dirty schemes? 

I don’t know. 

If you get ducks, plan on a mess. 

They create so much wet, loose manure that it almost immediately becomes a layer of muck and “mud” atop your grass, mulch, and gravel driveway. 

Ducks also require pools or ponds; this is non-negotiable. 

Unfortunately, they will defecate in these water sources daily, meaning you need to dump, wash (or power rinse), and then refill their water containers daily. 

You will also have to find a way to provide fresh, unfrozen water for them to swim in all winter, which can be a hurdle for those of us living in the north.

If you have a beautiful pond, snap a photo to remember the good times because it will be irredeemably disgusting in less than two weeks. 

To keep it fresh, you’ll need to install proper filters and drainage for regular maintenance.

Still, ducks are intelligent creatures who adapt to your routines quickly. 

They produce many eggs of incredible colors and shades that many chicken breeds simply cannot, and their eggs are considerably larger than those of chickens. 

While they come with different challenges than chickens, to the right people, they could be a valuable asset to your homestead. 

Wanna read more about the Pros and Cons of Raising Ducks? Check this out

The Best Duck Breeds

If you’ve decided that ducks are right for you, choosing breeds that will suit you, your goals, and your land best is essential. 

Here are my favorite egg-laying duck breeds, ranked based on their egg quantities, coloring, and egg sizes.

indian runner duck flock best duck breeds for eggs

Indian Runner

Egg Color: Green or Blue

Egg Size: Jumbo

How Many Eggs a Year: 300

The Indian Runner Duck is my first choice regarding duck breeds, and it’s not just because they look like mobile feathered bowling pins. 

Indian Runners are terrible meat producers (they only weigh three pounds).

But they more than make up for it with their giant, beautifully colored eggs that they lay all year round. 

If I had to describe an Indian Runner to someone who had never seen one before, I would say they look like skinny ducks raised by penguins.

It looks like they don’t know how to stand or walk like ordinary ducks. 

Carvings of this duck were found in the 2,000-year-old Indochina Temple, suggesting these cuties have kept mankind company for a while. 

Indonesian people used to tend to Indian Runner duck flocks much like other countries kept sheep herds. 

Historians believe that many of these duck herders tended to flocks of 1,000 birds all on their own, all. 

At the same time, they kept predators at bay and collected the eggs, which is quite impressive if you ask me. 

As you probably guessed, they love to free-range and are great foragers. 

Most will forage far away from their duck house, opposite many other duck breeds, like Anconas.

Welsh Harlequin Duck best duck breeds for eggs

Welsh Harlequin

Egg Color: White or Blue

Egg Size: Large

How Many Eggs a Year: 300

The Welsh Harlequin Duck is a beautiful fowl that lays many beautiful eggs yearly and produces lean meat full of flavor and very little greasy fat. 

They weigh about five pounds each and are considered light-class. 

This means that they eat very little, so your cost of egg production is relatively low. 

As their name indicates, Welsh Harlequins were created in Wales in 1949 by Leslie Bonnet, the same Leslie Bonnet who wrote Practical Duck Keeping in 1960. 

One thing to remember is that the drakes have aggressively high libidos. 

Do not keep more than one drake with your hens, or the drakes will severely damage the hens’ reproductive organs or even kill them. 

It is incredibly inhuman to keep your drake-to-hen ratio too high. 

To humans, though, these ducks are docile and suitable for homesteads with smaller children. 

They enjoy human interaction, especially if you show them that you are the bearer of delicious treats.

magpie duck breed in grass

Magpie

Egg Color: White or Blue-Green 

Egg Size: Large

How Many Eggs a Year: 280

Magpie ducks are surprisingly underrated. They produce so many large, colorful eggs a year, and I don’t understand why they aren’t more common for backyard duck keepers. 

They are dual-purpose birds that grow to be three to five pounds and are light class. 

While they are smaller, they are a great source of protein. 

Magpie ducks can survive up to twelve years too! If you’re looking for feathered friends who will stick around for a long time while producing lots of eggs, the Magpie is it. 

Most people agree that M.C. Gower-Wiliams and Oliver Drake created the Magpie Duck in Wales in the 1800s. 

It wasn’t until 1977, though, when the American Poultry Association finally recognized the duck as an official breed with standards. 

Magpies are available in two varieties: Black and White and Blue. 

Both types are docile and usually want to befriend those who care for them. 

They are likelier to imprint on a human than most duck breeds. 

An interesting fact about Magpie ducks is their incubation period; eggs only take eighteen or nineteen days to hatch. 

This is a week shorter than most other duck breeds and nearly two weeks shorter than most chicken breeds.

khaki campbell duck

Khaki Campbell

Egg Color: White

Egg Size: Medium

How Many Eggs a Year: 280

The Khaki Campbell Duck is one of the most common duck breeds in America, and it’s easy to see why. 

These dual-purpose ducks are so sweetly soft in appearance, thanks to their khaki coloring, brown bills, and feet. 

They can survive in nearly any weather conditions.

Khaki Campbells will do well, whether below zero for weeks or temperatures soar into the nineties and one hundred degrees with high humidity. 

They weigh four or five pounds at full maturity. They have a tremendous bone-to-meat ratio for those interested in harvesting them. 

Hens lay eggs at five to seven months old and keep laying 230 to 280 eggs yearly for their first five years without issue. 

After five years, they begin to slow down egg production. 

Khakis are some of the quietest duck breeds; very little excites them, so they’re ideal for suburban settings where fowl are usually not as celebrated. 

They are not quite as social to humans as other duck breeds, but they can warm up to you if you’re willing to put in some effort and offer lots of treats.

appleyard ducks best duck breeds for eggs

Appleyard

Egg Color: White

Egg Size: Medium to Large

How Many Eggs a Year: 250

Appleyard ducks are like the slightly new and improved version of a wild Mallard Duck.

They share many similarities but produce a few more eggs and a bit more meat than their wild counterparts. 

These dual-purpose ducks weigh eight to ten pounds each and originated in the United Kingdom. 

Regional Appleyard cultivated this breed near Bury, St. Edmond in England. 

He crossed Pekins, Rouens, and Aylesbury Ducks to create the Appleyard. 

He wanted to be an all-around farmyard duck with beautiful feathers, lots of meat, especially in the breasts, and many big white eggs all year round. 

He succeeded! 

If you want to make a pet out of your Appleyards, consider hand-raising them. 

They can be tamed as adults, but you will find it much easier to bond with these ducks (who can live to be ten years old) if you start them from ducklings and take the time to hand-feed them whenever possible. 

Even though I have Appleyards ranked high on my duck egg-production list, many chefs and meat-focused homesteaders would also rank them high for meat production. 

They grow fast and have high-quality, robust, lean meat with little fat or grease. The large breast makes it easy to cook with and easy to harvest. 

While the birds grow fast, their incubation period is slightly more extended than most other duck breeds. It takes about twenty-six to twenty-nine days for ducklings to hatch from their eggs.

ancona duck walking on mud

Ancona

Egg Color: Green, Blue-Green, Blue, or White

Egg Size: Jumbo

How Many Eggs a Year: 250

The Ancona Duck is a dual-purpose heritage duck breed critically endangered in 2015. At one point, only one hundred and twenty-five breeding ducks remained in the US. 

These numbers have steadily increased to nearly 1,500 breeding pairs and moved from endangered to the “watch” list.

This six to six-and-a-half-pound bird is stocky, with about three-quarters of white plumage and a quarter colored. 

Homesteads with more predators will like Anconas.

Anconas stay close to home and are large enough to deter most birds of prey and smaller land animals like raccoons and foxes. 

They are also the hardiest known duck breed in the US; they tolerate temperature extremes and do exceptionally well in cold weather. 

Since they are “homebodies” who like to stay near their coops, prepare for more droppings in the immediate vicinity. 

Most Anacona hens will lay 210 to 280 eggs yearly for about eight years. 

Their first few years will produce more eggs, while their later years will yield slightly fewer eggs that are much larger. 

buff orpington duck breed laying in grass

Buff Orpington Duck

Egg Color: White

Egg Size: Large

How Many Eggs a Year: 240

These cuties are usually kept as pets or pond ornaments because they are so sweet and docile. They make little to no noise and are incredibly gentle and social with people. 

Buff Orpington Ducks, or Buff Ducks, are six to eight-pound birds that are great egg layers and even better meat producers. 

They’re good at sourcing their own food, too; Buff Ducks love to forage and thrive when they are allowed to free-range. 

You can expect them to find at least half of their diet in the yard or pond from mid-spring to late fall. 

They avidly hunt for tadpoles, snails, slugs, frogs, mosquitos, ticks, wild greens, and algae. 

Buff Orpingtons are pretty broody but not quite on the same level as the “super motherly” Muscovy duck. 

However, they still take great care of their ducklings. They will do everything they can to protect their babies while teaching them how to forage successfully. 

These kinds of birds are not very popular amongst breeders right now. It is estimated that there are fewer than 1,100 breeding stock in all of North America. 

If you want to get into Buff Orpingtons, you’ll need to go to a hatchery like my personal favorite, Murray McMurray. 

It may take extra effort to locate Buff Ducks, but they are worth the hassle. 

Saxony duck waddling around

Saxony

Egg Color: White

Egg Size: Large to Extra Large

How Many Eggs a Year: 220

Saxony Ducks are a dual-purpose breed that is a bit more difficult to locate but a great addition to your farm or homestead overall. 

They were created in Saxony, Germany, in 1930, but most of the stock was lost in World War II. Developer Albert Franz had a few left and used them to continue his breeding program. 

In 1957, he was able to get their numbers up and get the breed recognized by Germany. 

Later in 1984, it was imported to the US, and then in 2000, the American Poultry Association admitted the breed. 

Saxony ducks love people and will fearlessly approach them. This means they are also noisy, especially when their favorite person visits or brings them food. 

They are kind to young children and typically love playing with someone close to their size. 

They don’t grow particularly fast, but the flavor is worth the wait. The bird weighs eight to nine pounds, and you can expect four to five pounds of meat each. 

Saxony Ducks are also a popular source of down. Their feathers are perfect for stuffing pillows and quilts to be extra cozy. Selling this down can be a good stream of income as well.

pekin ducks swimming in lakes

Pekin

Egg Color: White

Egg Size: Jumbo

How Many Eggs a Year: 200

When you picture a farm duck, you probably imagine the classic Pekin. These white ducks with bright yellow beaks and webbed feet are easy to spot and lay giant eggs for you for most of the year. 

They also produce quite a bit of high-quality meat that tastes good and grows quickly; they weigh eight to nine pounds at full maturity. 

Pekin ducks have been domesticated for at least two thousand years, if not longer. 

It is believed that they originated in Southeast Asia in the Chinese region. The first birds were sent to England in 1872 and then to America a few years later.

They are great at foraging and free-ranging but don’t expect them to sit on eggs. You’ll need to find another broody duck, hen, or guinea to hatch a clutch of eggs, or you’ll need to invest in an incubator. 

Once the ducklings have arrived, Pekin hens will happily raise their storybook-classic yellow ducklings. 

A fun (or irritating) quirk about Pekins is that they will lay their eggs randomly whenever they feel like it. 

Don’t worry; they will create a nest and then painstakingly roll (or sometimes carry) all of their eggs over to it for safekeeping. 

If you don’t know to expect this, it can be confusing to see a duck running across your yard with a giant egg in her beak.

Musckovy ducks sitting on rock wall

Muscovy

Egg Color: Cream, Off-white, or Speckled

Egg Size: Large

How Many Eggs a Year: 200

The Muscovy Duck, or Greater Wood Duck, is the easiest breed to identify. 

They are the ducks with bright red caruncles (fleshy skin that resembles a waddle or comb’s texture) around their bills, eyes, foreheads, and cheeks. 

Muscovy is kid-friendly birds that do well in most temperatures, so long as their caruncles aren’t at risk of frostbite. 

They weigh between four to six pounds as hens or ten to fifteen pounds as drakes (yes, that is a lot). You can butcher them around three to four months old, though they can live to be twelve years old. 

Their meat is only 2% fat, which is very low for ducks, and they produce 50% more breast meat than most standard ducks. 

The flavor is strong, while some people love it, others do not. You’ll have to try it for yourself. 

Muscovy ducks are a naturally wild breed that originated in South American, Central America, and Mexico. Indigenous people developed a strain of them to be domesticated for meat and eggs. 

These are not true ducks, as they do not descend from Mallards; they’re more like geese. If you crossed a Muscovy with a Mallard, the offspring would be a Mulard, and these Mulards are sterile. 

Some use these hybrids as meat birds, though they are not commonly kept, especially in the United States. 

Like geese, Muscovy graze pastures and fields. Their webbed feet also have long claws, something most ducks don’t have. 

They use these claws to help themselves perch up in trees. 

Muscovies are fantastic foragers.

They prey on mosquitoes, flies, ticks, millipedes, fish, salamanders, and even small snakes. 

They also eat a considerable amount of plant material, including the roots, shoots, and leaves.

cayuga duck breed in grass

Cayuga

Egg Color: Light Grey, Charcoal Grey, or Black

Egg Size: Large

How Many Eggs a Year: 200

Cayugas are medium-sized, heavy-breed ducks that, in my opinion, have some of the most beautiful feathers and coloring. 

Their origin is uncertain, but many believe they come from wild ducks in the Dutchess County, New York region. 

A mature Cayuga weighs seven to eight pounds and can be processed in as little as eight weeks. However, twelve weeks is a much more common age due to better meat quality and quantity. 

The meat tastes similar to that of prime beef and is quite tender. 

The only issue you may find when harvesting Cayugas is that the dark feathering makes cleaning difficult.

Some breeders opt to skin them rather than tediously pluck away the feathers. 

Those in cold regions will love the Cayuga because they are best equipped to handle it. 

Frigid temperatures are not an issue, though intense heat and humidity could be a severe threat without proper shade and ventilation. 

Dog herding trials commonly use Cayugas because they naturally flock together, making it easier for the dogs to round them up.

Which Duck Breed Is Best For Egg Production?

Indian Runner Ducks are the best for egg production; however, Welsh Harlequins, Magpies, and Khaki Campbells are close runner-ups. 

I say Indian Runners are the best because they produce some of the highest quantities of eggs. Their eggs are Jumbo sized and come in gorgeous shades of green and blue. 

What Is The Best Duck For Meat and Eggs?

Pekins are the best dual-purpose duck breed to produce a lot of meat and eggs.

Pekin ducks lay about two hundred eggs a year, rapidly gain weight, and each bird produces at least four pounds of meat. 

If you want a dual-purpose bird emphasizing egg production, go for a Welsh Harlequin. 

They are only five pounds at full maturity, but the meat has great flavor, and they will give you three hundred eggs per year per bird. 

What Duck Lays The Largest Egg? 

Pekins lay the largest eggs. They are jumbo-sized and white, and the eggs weigh three ounces each. 

The heaviest recorded duck egg was laid by a White Pekin Duck in 1999, and it weighed a whopping eight ounces. 

When the shell was broken, another fully formed egg with another shell was found inside. 

What Is The Best Duck to Breed? 

Magpie ducks are outstanding breeding stock because they are dual-purpose (producing lots of eggs and good quality meat). 

It only takes eighteen or nineteen days for the eggs to incubate and hatch. 

Magpie ducks lay colorful eggs, are docile, good around young children, and can live to be twelve years old. 

How Are Duck Eggs Different From Chicken Eggs?

Duck eggs contain significantly more albumin, which results in fluffier pastries. 

The eggs are 50-100% larger than chicken eggs, and the yolk is deep orange, tasting significantly richer and creamer than chicken egg yolks. 

Commercial chickens can lay around 250 eggs a year, while commercial ducks lay 300 to 350 eggs annually. 

Which Duck Breed Should I Get For The City or The Suburbs? 

Khaki Campbells are perfect for small backyards and stricter neighborhoods because they are small, docile, and quiet birds.

They enjoy the company of their humans and don’t have a strong desire to stray far from their coop or barn.

What Is The Broodiest Duck? 

Muscovy ducks are not as domesticated as many other duck breeds. Because of this, they feel strongly compelled to sit on a nest of eggs and adequately raise their ducklings. 

Most ducklings will stay with their Muscovy mothers for ten to twelve weeks before they feel confident and competent enough to join the rest of the flock. 

It is rare for a Muscovy duck to abandon her ducklings before they are ready.

 

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