We got our first ducks in 2022. We first looked into ducks as an alternative egg source to chickens. We are also hoping they will be helpful in the orchards. They forage through rooting in leaves and dirt, and it loosens up the soil without actually displacing it like chickens do. Plus, they eat slugs, snails, and other tree growth inhibitors.
Fun fact, you can tell ducks and drakes apart as they get older because as the drakes mature, they develop a curly tail feather on the top of their tail. From the moment they start quacking you can also tell them apart: girls have a very powerful and loud quack and the boys have a very quiet almost airy quack.
The Welsh Harlequin was developed from a color mutation of the Khaki Campbell duck, one of the best egg laying breeds. The Welsh Harlequins lay 275+ eggs per year, and are great foragers. They are hardy, and love to spend time outside, regardless of the weather.
The Golden Buff Cascade is a layer duck from Sandhill Preservation. The are thrifty foragers, cold and heat hardy, and are stellar layers.
The White Layer is a hybrid layer breed that produces 290+ eggs a year. They are good foragers, are both heat and cold hardy, and are very active. They are pretty small, the drakes averaging out at about 5.5lb, but are absolutely adorable!
The Khaki Campell is generally considered to be the best heritage laying duck, and it's fair to say that they are very deserving of that label, as they lay 300+ eggs a year. They forage well, and are hardy. Fun fact, the Khaki, for all of it's popularity, wasn't actually the original color of the Campbells. They originated from a cross between a Rouen drake and White Runner ducks, which produced a duck that looked like a poorly colored Mallard. Later, the breeder experimented with crossing to Penciled Runners, and ended up with the Khaki color, which became more popular.
Magpie ducks are a hardy and dual purpose duck breed that has a good carcass weight and excellent laying ability. They are a rare breed of duck, listed as threatened by the livestock conservancy. They have been some of the best foragers in our duck flock.
The Orpington duck was bred as a hardy dual-purpose duck that had fun colors. As the breed was developed, several different colors were perfected, but the Buff was the most popular color. They forage well, are very hardy, and lay a moderate number of eggs.
The Pekin is one of the most widely used meat ducks used in the world today, and originated in China. They are technically a dual purpose breed that produces lots of large eggs, forages well, and has a good carcass. They are specialized for meat production and reach butcher weight at 7 weeks, only 3 weeks longer than the traditional broiler chicken, but without the over-eating, or mortality challenges of the cornish cross.
Cayuga ducks are one of the few breeds of domestic duck that originated from the US. They originated from upstate NY, and were developed around 1840. They were originally used as a meat duck, but have since been replaced by the larger Pekin. Now, they are used primarily for exhibition. They are also good foragers, good mothers, and fair layers of unusual black eggs. As seen in other black breeds of poultry, the iridescent green that makes the Cayuga so eye catching starts to be replaced by white feathers as they age.
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