Raising ducks for eggs is no more difficult than raising chickens for the same reason – in fact, it might just be far easier. Although ducks do make noise, they are sometimes far less noisy than chickens … especially if a rooster is included in your backyard flock. Male drakes, unlike mature male roosters, rarely ever become prone to attacking their keepers.
Ducks are probably even better free rangers than chickens. These adorable little egg producers absolutely love to eat mosquito larvae, ticks, and their all time favorite … tadpoles. If you have a pond or even lots of deep mud puddles on your land, dozens of loudly croaking frogs can invade your serenity every spring – that is if you do not keep ducks for eggs.
Why Raising Ducks For Eggs Is Such A Good Idea
Chicken eggs are nice, especially large and fresh brown ones. But duck eggs bring so much more flavor to any baked dish and produce creamier and fluffier scrambled eggs on your morning breakfast plate. Raising ducks for eggs is one of the reasons you should look into owning ducks.
- The lower water content and higher fat levels in duck eggs make then a perfect choice for cooking and especially baking.
- Duck eggs may actually be a little more nutritious than chicken eggs because their whites contain a significantly higher degree of protein.
- On average, duck eggs have a longer shelf life than chicken eggs because of the thicker membranes and shells they are housed in – which also makes duck eggs far less likely to accidental breakage.
- As long as the chicken coop has a light source (which chickens need, as well) ducks often produce more eggs during the winter month than commonly available chicken breeds. In fact, on my homestead, the duck hens typically produce four more eggs per week than the chicken hens.
- Duck hens are usually far less likely to turn broody than chicken hens.
How Many Ducks Do You Need To Raise Them For Eggs
Ducks are inherently social creatures, typically far more so than chickens. A bored duck can become depressed and frustrated and stop or reduce the amount of eggs that it lays. Keeping at least three ducks at a time, but preferably five or six, is a good ratio for proper socialization.
If you are keeping drakes as well, the best ratio is four to five laying hens to ever mature drake. You don’t need a drake for the duck hen to produce eggs, only to fertilize them.
Is It Difficult To Raise Ducks For Eggs?
There is a very simple and short answer to that question … no. Ducks are as easy to raise as chickens, if not easier. Duck husbandry is identical to chicken husbandry with very few exceptions.
If you are already raising chickens for eggs now want to raise ducks for eggs as well, you are not alone. Many folks interested in raising their own egg birds often opt for chickens from the start because they are a more traditional choice for not only eggs, but meat as well.
Ducks and chickens can be raised together, the housing and habitat just needs some slight adjusting to do so. There is absolutely no need to build a second coop and run to house duck egg breed birds, unless you truly want to. Simply adding a water feature to a spacious run, such as a baby pool or shovel dug garden pond can serve as the necessary water source for a small flock of ducks.
Both mature ducks and chickens can eat the same feed. If you plan on hatching ducklings to grow your flock, they can share a brooder and feed with chicks only if a NON-medicated chick starter is used.
Ducks will drink a lot (I mean a whole lot) more water than chickens. You should supply a second waterer when adding ducks to an existing coop of chickens. The type of waterer that has a holding tank that is placed on the outside of the coop and fountain style attachments on the inside will help keep the coop or run area far more tidy. Ducks will attempt to get inside of even a small bowl style waterer and dirty it with their muddy feet – even if they have a nice large baby pool only a foot away. Ducklings should not be allowed to get into water until they are at least two weeks old because the oils that allow them to dry quickly and not become chilled or waterlogged have not yet come in.
Top 7 Best Egg Laying Duck Breeds
There are hundreds of domestic duck breeds that can provide delicious, large, and creamy eggs. But, some duck breeds are far better than others at laying top grade eggs consistently throughout the year – including during the winter months.
- Khaki Campbell
This mild-mannered duck breed is known for its khaki colored feathers as well as the ability of the hens to lay an abundance of eggs. Unlike some great egg laying duck breeds, Khaki Campbell hens are almost always diligent sitters, as well.
Khaki Campbell hens typically lay roughly 340 eggs annually. They are hardy to a wide array of climates and are wonderful additions to any free ranging flock. While they tolerate coop and run life well, when allowed to free range for at least part of the day, these ducks become avid foragers.
Hens of this duck breed usually produce between 200 to 250 large white eggs each year. Unlike the Khaki Campbells, Pekin duck hens are rarely good sitters. Even though Pekins produce less eggs than Khaki Campbell hens, I still keep many of this breed because they are an extremely smart breed that learns to avoid predators and the “put up” and “turn out” routines well – teaching them to the rest of the flock members. They are also hardy to a wide range of climates and in my personal experience, against the majority of common poultry parasites, as well. While my Pekins are kept for eggs and as farm pets, many keepers choose them because of their large size in order to have a dual purpose egg and meat breed poultry bird.
Ancona hens produce approximately 240 eggs each year. This dual purpose bird is highly regarded for the quality of both the eggs they lay and meat they produce. Not only are the Ancona excellent layers, they are an overtly friendly and incredibly beautiful breed of duck.
Ancona laying hens do best in a free ranging environment or at least a very large coop and run. They forage like pros even when they are mere ducklings. Due to their abundant size, they are less prone to attack by hawks and small barnyard predators.
- Indian Runners
This classic duck breed creates hens that are capable of laying about 300 eggs each year. Indian Runner ducks are excellent foragers, hardy to a vast array of climates, and will quickly rid your yard of bugs when allowed to free range.
Indian Runner ducks were traditionally used in China to patrol rice patties to remove snails, weeds, small reptiles, and insects from the marshy growing plots. These ducks are best kept in a free range husbandry style, but can still thrive in a large coop and run.
The breed is intelligent and friendly once they become accustomed to both their keepers and new environment.
These affable and lightweight ducks have been kept exclusively for egg generation for centuries. Magpie hens commonly lay roughly 290 eggs on an annual basis. Unlike the vast majority of domestic duck breeds, Magpie eggs come in a series of beautiful shades from a creamy white to hues of both green and blue.
If you are keeping backyard ducks in a small town or rural environment so fresh eggs are always at your fingertips, the Magpie breed may be your best choice. These ducks are often regarded as not only the most calm and docile, but also the quietest keepers.
- Welsh Harlequin
This heritage duck breed is prone to producing in excess of 300 large white eggs annually. They are often regarded as a dual purpose breed due to their large size. In addition to being superb layers, Welsh Harlequin hens are also known for their steadfast sitting abilities.
This duck breed was created by selectively breeding some Khaki Campbell ducks that were born with unusually light color mutation. Thanks to their Khaki Campbell heritage, they are prone to being not only a dependable laying and sitting breed, but hardy in most climates, as well.
- Buff Orpingtons
Members of this dual purpose and large duck breed typically lay between 200 to 250 eggs per year. Both mature hens and drakes are the same color, with the exception of “seal” brown shade of the male’s head.
These are great easy keepers for a newbie to duck husbandry. They are a fairly quiet breed, adapt to coop and run exclusive living quite well, and are affable with their human keepers and other poultry birds.
How To Use Duck Eggs
The only issue you will likely experience when transitioning from farm grown chicken eggs or store bought eggs to duck eggs is adjusting your recipes. Typically, you use a ratio of two duck eggs for every three standard to large chicken eggs called for in a recipe. While duck eggs really do offer a far more rich taste than chicken eggs, they can become rubbery when overcooked.
It takes a little more elbow grease to beat duck eggs whites than chicken egg whites because the gel inside of the egg is thicker and larger. Bringing the duck eggs to room temperature first or tossing a pinch of baking soda on them can help the egg white beating process to go a lot smoother and quicker. Once the egg whites are finally beaten, they become wonderfully frothy and whip up quite well.
Plan on adding a few minutes to the cook time when making hard boiled duck eggs. It usually takes 12 minutes to hard boil large duck eggs, like those from Pekin ducks. Hard boiled duck eggs can be kept in the refrigerator unpeeled when covered with cold water and a handful of ice cubes.