Pet Duck Craze
Raising poultry like chickens and waterfowl is becoming an increasingly popular hobby in the United States. However, many people who want to embark on the endeavor of pet duck or flock ownership have no idea where to start in choosing their breed.
Breeding ducks has been a pursuit of many devoted farmers and bird enthusiasts for hundreds of years, yielding a wide variety of ducks with varying characteristics and traits. Some ducks produce more eggs than others, some are excellent birds for their meat. Which ducks make the best pets? Meaning which birds are well behaved, the most adaptable, the friendliest, and the most aesthetically pleasing.
Top Pet Duck Breeds
Here is a run down of the four most popular duck breeds, along with their basic Pros and Cons –
1. Pekin Ducks
Pekin Ducks are the large white ducks (think Aflac commercials), they have a calm demeanor and relaxed temperament. Pekin ducklings are the soft, yellow ducklings that you probably see most often in photo shoots, television, and across the internet. They are the most popular breed of domestic duck in the United States and most likely the most commonly raised breed of duck in the world. Not only are they one of the best pet duck breeds, but they are also very commonly raised for eggs and meat.
- Pekin Pros – calm, sociable, very adaptable, unable to fly, easy to purchase, good layer.
- Pekin Cons – unexciting coloration, can be loud
2. Rouen Ducks
Rouen Ducks are larger cousins of the mallard ducks, having the exact same beautiful coloration while packing a few extra pounds that make them ideal for backyards or farms. They are very calm and sociable, and bred to be a pet duck or farm duck. They key difference between a Mallard and a Rouen is that Rouens are too large to fly, and you won’t have to worry about clipping wings.
- Rouen Pros – beautiful feather coloration, calm, sociable, too large to fly, easy to purchase
- Rouen Cons – Rouens are very heavy and can have a cumbersome stature
3. Cayuga Ducks
Cayuga Ducks are medium sized ducks (still too large to fly), which have a very unique iridescent green plumage. Usually appearing black, when in the right sunlight, they’re feathers will show iridescent green and sometimes purplish hues. They are said to be the quietest pet ducks, and are often the choice for people who live in close proximity to their neighbors. However, as they are still ducks, we can’t guarantee they will be the quietest of pets.
- Cayuga Pros – very unique iridescent plumage, great stature, very quiet
- Cayuga Cons – can be harder to find
4. Buff Ducks
Buff Ducks sometimes also referred to as Buff Orpington Ducks, are also a very popular duck species for backyards. Great egg layers, and traditionally raised as a dual purpose meat bird as well, the Buff has a fairly calm demeanor and provides a great variety of color to your flock. The Buff Duck is also a medium weight duck breed with beautiful golden “buff” plumage.
- Buff Pros – beautiful golden “buff” plumage, medium frame with great stature, calm demeanor, great egg layer
- Buff Cons – popular and harder to find
Runner Up Duck Breeds
Khaki Campbell Ducks are one of the best egg laying heritage duck breeds. Sometimes rivaling the best chicken egg layers, the Khaki Campbell can lay up to 250+ eggs per year. For this reason, it has become more popular as a backyard or pet for many families.
- Khaki Campbell Pros – prolific layer of duck eggs, smaller medium weight duck
- Khaki Campbell Cons – can be “flighty” or less calm, not as great with children
Swedish Ducks are most commonly found in Blue and Black varieties and have become one of the more popular backyard duck breeds as they are becoming more available. Similar in demeanor to the Pekin Duck, they Swedish is a large bread with a unique “bibbed” plumage pattern. A good layer of eggs, Swedish made an excellent addition to the backyard flock.
Where do I find Pet Ducks?
If you’re looking for pet ducks, it shouldn’t be too tough to find some of these more common and popular breeds at your local farm supply or feed store. Some of the more uncommon breeds like Cayuga, Buff, and Swedish can be found online. They will be shipped directly to your local post office! Check out eFowl to see what our partner hatcheries have available to ship in the next few weeks!
UPDATE on 06/19/17: I wrote this blog post in 2009, and it has been the most popular post on eFowl (by far) over the years. We no longer facilitate poultry transactions directly, but rather direct you to the best hatcheries and farms to find the breeds and genetics you are looking for. Generally speaking, Metzer Farms in CA is the best hatchery for pet ducks when it comes to pricing, availability, and shipping skill. What would your top 4 pet duck breeds be? Let us know in the comments!