If you’re wondering if duck breeds can comingle, the answer is generally a yes, but with a few exceptions, which we will get into below.
Whether you’re thinking about breeding your favorite ducks together to make the perfect flock of new ducklings or you’re toying with the idea of creating your very own new breed of ducks, it’s important to know how crossbreeding in ducks works.
Don’t worry; we have everything you need to know. Let’s talk about it!
The Three Types of Ducks
First, there are three types of domesticated ducks, common, muscovy, and sterile hybrids.
Almost all domestic ducks are considered “common.”
We’ll get into the specifics of common duck breeds below.
Still, the important thing to know is that common ducks mainly originate from wild mallards.
These common ducks can all interbreed with one another, and their offspring will not be sterile.
Muscovy ducks do not originate from mallards.
Instead, they were initially wild and living in either South America and/or Egypt (the history is not entirely known here).
Ancient records exist in both locations, but we don’t know if humans transported them from one place to another or if they did this in the wild.
These caruncle-faced ducks can breed with common ducks, but it doesn’t happen often.
You’ll probably have to go the AI route if you want a mix.
However, their resulting offspring will always be sterile.
They can also breed with mallard ducks; though this is rare, these ducklings will also be sterile.
Sterile Hybrid Ducks (Mule Ducks)
Sterile hybrid ducks, also occasionally called mule ducks, are the result of mixing Muscovy ducks with any other type of duck, common or wild.
A muscovy male bred to a common female duck creates a mule, while a common male duck bred to muscovy female results in a hinny duck.
However, it’s worth noting that in Taiwan, “Mule Ducks” are only the offspring of Muscovy males to Kaiya females; all others are called sterile hybrids.
Most duck breeders in the US follow this same ruleset, but they routinely cross Muscovy males with Pekin females instead.
Occasionally breeders will give specific hybrids different names, like a Muscovy male bred with a Pekin female creates “Moulards.”
Why Do People Like Mule Ducks?
People intentionally create mule ducks because they taste differently and are usually one of the leanest types of duck meat you can produce.
These ducks are usually quite large, meaning more meat per bird.
They have a better quality liver and are generally calm ducks who are easy to raise.
They’re also pretty quiet, which is another strong perk.
The reason why artificial insemination was developed in the duck industry was to create mule ducks for consumption.
Even though mule ducks are completely sterile, the females will still produce eggs; they don’t have any chance of fertilization or developing an embryo.
An interesting fact about crossing common females with Muscovy males is that their offspring ratio is almost always 60% male and 40% female.
They have a unique incubation period too.
Most common ducks have an incubation period of 28 days, while Muscovies take 35 days to hatch.
When you cross these two, the eggs will take 32 days to hatch, right in the middle.
Which Duck Breeds Can Mix?
- Albacot Ranger Duck
- American Pekin Duck
- Anacona Duck
- Australian Call Duck
- Black East Indie Duck
- Blue Swedish Duck
- Buff Orpington Duck
- Cayuga Duck
- Crested Duck
- Dutch Hook Bill Duck
- Golden Cascade Duck
- Indian Runner Duck
- Khaki Campbell Duck
- Magpie Duck
- Mandarin Duck
- Rouen Duck
- Saxony Duck
- Silver Appleyard Duck
- Swedish Duck
- Welsh Harlequin Duck
- White Call Duck
Can Wild Ducks, Like Mallards, Breed with Domestic Ducks?
Most domestic ducks can interbreed with Mallards.
However, most duck breeders opt not to do this.
Almost all domestic ducks originate from Mallards with careful, selective breeding practices.
The favored traits were bred and reproduced, while the unfavorable traits were removed after a few generations.
Much work has gone into the development of today’s common duck breeds.
If you wish to develop a new breed, it would be far more efficient to breed at least two common duck breeds together to develop what you’re looking for.
Most wild ducks just do not have the traits that most duck keepers want.
The Problem With Domestic and Wild Ducks Reproducing
When domestic and wild ducks have ducklings together, these ducklings are genetically inferior for living in the wild but act far too feral for the average homestead to cater to.
They need to migrate but usually cannot fly far.
They are too heavy, their wings are underdeveloped, and their feathers are too short.
They are not well-equipped to handle introducing new viruses or diseases and are much more likely to die from illnesses and diseases.
Another major issue with wild and domestic hybrids is what happens if they escape the farm or get dumped into a pond by irresponsible owners– they are too “in-between” to get the help they desperately need.
Animal shelters see them as too feral to be pets, but animal sanctuaries typically categorize them as truly wild.
Both facilities are regularly too full, understaffed, and underfunded, adding insult to injury.
What Are The Best Duck Breed Hybrids?
Muscovies and Pekin Ducks (Moulard)
These ducks are large in size, meaning more meat per bird.
They have a better quality liver and are generally quiet and calm ducks who are easy to raise.
Many people enjoy the flavor of the meat, which is another perk.
They have long claws, swim well, and walk slowly but cannot fly.
Some people feel more comfortable eating Moulard eggs because they are sterile and have zero chance of developing a duckling.
It’s interesting to note that almost all of the Muscovy and Pekin crosses are between a Muscovy male and a Pekin female.
This combination creates offspring that grow up to be approximately the same size, whether male or female, and neither the males nor females can fly.
This combination is commercialized successfully in some regions.
Pekin males and Muscovy females make Hennies, and these birds have not been commercialized anywhere as far as I know.
The offspring from this pair is not uniform at all.
The males are heavy, and cannot fly, while the females are very lightweight, look like muscovy, and fly very well.
It takes 32 days for the eggs of this crossbreed to hatch.
Muscovies and Kaiya Ducks (Mule)
This combination is extremely similar to the above-mentioned Muscovies and Pekin ducks. The offspring are large, quick to grow, with good temperaments, great livers for eating, and a great taste and texture in the meat.
Duck Breeds with Beautiful Eggs
If you’re chasing that colorful basket of eggs, you may want to consider crossbreeding your common ducks.
If you want to see new colors, consider letting your breeds mix a bit before incubating your next clutch of eggs.
When Do Hybrids Become New Breeds of Ducks?
You can call any hybrid of ducks a new breed, it just won’t be standardized or officially recognized by other breeders in the poultry industry.
If you want to develop a new breed of duck, you need to have a specific end goal in mind.
Afterward, work to develop that creation of duck over multiple generations.
Almost all of today’s modern ducks were created by breeding different varieties, sometimes three to five different breeds, together to create a new species.
If you’re serious about creating a new breed that is officially recognized by the American Poultry Association, you can visit the APA, and then read and/or fill out the following forms:
- Read the Elements of the Standard for Ducks from the APA
- Read the New Breed Guidelines
- Apply for a New Breed Admission
- Read the Checklist for Admission Requirements
- Fill out the Breeder’s Affidavit / Confirmation Form
What Is a Barnyard Duck Breed?
A barnyard breed is a “mutt” or “hybrid” duck that is the result of two common breeds mixing.
If you have one drake in your flock, you’ll know for certain that the ducklings are at least half that species.
If you have only one type of female duck breed, you can also know for certain that the ducklings are half that species.
And finally, if you have multiple breeds of males and females, then the offspring’s genetic history will likely be a mystery, and these ducks will simply be called a barnyard variety.
Why Do People Mix Duck Breeds?
Most of the time when people mix duck breeds, they keep multiple breeds together and do not separate them before incubating eggs.
There is nothing wrong with this; the offspring are generally called barnyard or backyard mixes.
Some people intentionally cross breeds, though, which is what we’ll cover next.
More or Better Duck Eggs
Indian Runners produce about 300 jumbo eggs a year, and their eggs are green or blue. Welsh Harlequins lay 300 large white or blue eggs a year. Breeding these two varieties will likely result in a duck that lays 300 blue eggs that are a little bit bigger than large, but not quite jumbo-sized.
More or Better Duck Meat
Mixing two or more meat birds that either produce a lot of meat, very little fat or have a great flavor should yield a duck with a nice combination of these three characteristics.
Moulards are the perfect example of this.
Their meat tastes better than the Pekin, but they have larger bodies with more meat than Muscovies.
For specific temperaments, you may want to breed ducks of different species, or you may just find two ducks in your yard that are exceptionally sweet and decide to breed them together.
The same principles apply for creating aggressive ducks that will carefully watch your flock and protect the others from predators.
A word to the wise– if you’re breeding for protection, do it soon.
Your beloved tough drake may not win every battle.
Some people breed ducks specifically to use as herding stock for their dogs.
For these ducks, the desired trait is birds that will flock together so it’s easier for the dog to maneuver the flock around.
If you have some birds that really seem to stick close to the others, consider breeding them to make excellent herding ducklings.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are a great multipurpose breed because they lay 300 large eggs a year (that’s a lot), and produce lean meat that is full of flavor.
Magpies are another great dual-purpose breed that lay 280 large eggs a year (still a lot) they are small, but grow quickly and produce good meat that has a high protein content.
Magpies are very docile and sweet birds that are likely to imprint on their humans.
Breeding Harlequins with Magpies will likely give you a gentle hybrid that lays 280 to 300 eggs a year, plus a lot of lean meat that has a great taste and texture.
Can Ducks and Chickens Breed?
Luckily for us, ducks and chickens cannot breed.
There have been some speculations about strange hybrids between the two in the past, but most people speculate that the offspring is a bit deformed, and not actually a mix between chickens and ducks.
Chickens and ducks have different chromosomes that are shaped differently and totally incompatible with each other.
It’s rare for ducks and chickens to successfully mate in the first place, it is unheard of for their strange union to create any chicks or ducklings.
Can You Keep Chickens and Ducks Together?
Many people do keep their chickens and ducks together, and for the most part, this should not cause any issues.
The water troughs and swimming areas will need to be cleaned daily, but other than that, they are mostly compatible.
Roosters and drakes generally get along, much better than two roosters, that’s for sure.
However, an unruly or inexperienced drake could become an issue.
Are Drakes Unsafe Around Chicken Hens?
Drakes are generally safe around chicken hens. However, if a drake were to mount a hen, it would likely cause severe damage to her reproductive organs, simply because she is built differently than a duck.
Ducks have larger reproductive systems than chickens, and drakes have corkscrew phalluses.
An aggressive drake can severely injure or kill a hen if a rooster doesn’t intervene and get the drake away from his hen.
One of the few rare times that a drake and a rooster may fight would be over this instance.
Because of this, you must only keep docile, gentle drakes that stick to their own kind when chickens and ducks comingle.
Keep your drake population as small as possible so they won’t feel compelled to explore outside of their species.
Can Duck Breeds Mix: Final Thoughts
Whether you’re thinking about breeding your favorite ducks together to make the perfect flock of ducklings or you’re toying with the idea of creating your very own new breed of ducks, it’s important to know how duck crossbreeding works.
Almost all ducks can crossbreed, but not all offspring will be fertile.
Still, these infertile crosses have their own advantages and may be the most desired cross to certain breeders.
Whether you want to keep your ducks purebred or venture into the interesting world of crossbreeding, there is no right or wrong solution, and both options are valid and viable.