Do you keep ducks, or have you maybe thought about adding a few ducklings to your backyard flock? Although they can be an entirely different experience when compared to chickens, ducks are fairly low maintenance and can be great additions to your yard. One popular breed is the Khaki Campbell, which is a great breed to have if you love duck eggs.
Khaki Campbell ducks are well known for being one of the most efficient egg layers, with hens averaging up to 320 eggs per year. The name refers to the breed’s creator, Mrs. Adah Campbell, an English duck breeder who introduced the breed in the late 19th century. The khaki variety indicates the light khaki color of their plumage. The hen has a brown-khaki plumage with a dark-colored beak and feet, while the drakes have a bit more color variety with dark green heads, light khaki plumage, an olive-toned beak, and orange feet. They are a cross between Mallard, Rouen, and Runner breeds, though Mrs. Campbell never revealed the exact genetic makeup of her ducks.
This breed is generally very mild and gentle, making them great for families with young children. Our first Khaki Campbells came to us as ducklings, and were never aggressive when handled. Be watchful if you have more than one or two drakes, however. As they got older, our three drakes became bullies to our smaller chickens, frequently cornering them and even dunking them in their pool on occasion. This behavior stopped once we reduced their gang by one.
A small pond or kiddie pool is a must-have if you keep ducks. We used a small kid’s pool that was light and easy to keep filled and cleaned. You can usually find these at toy stores or outdoor supply stores for around $10-15. Our ducks love to hang out in the pool all year round, and will even dive and zip around underwater if it’s deep enough. Just be sure to keep ducklings, chicks, and other young fowl away from deep water until you are sure they are able to get in and out themselves.
As adults, our Khaki Campbells mostly keep to themselves. We had a few ducklings who were raised by our turkey hen, so today our ducks and turkeys have formed a bit of a family. Our khaki Campbell hen, Flowerpot, got her name when we found her stuck in an empty flowerpot that had filled with water and grown algae she wanted. In our experience, the 320-egg average is very accurate. She is very creative when hiding her eggs, and will do her best to make her nest blend in with the environment. When she last went broody, she made her nest out of sticks in a corner of our bonfire pit. These ducks tend to stick together, so if you suspect your hen has hidden a nest somewhere, watch your drakes! Our ducks tend to be very active during the day, so when I see a drake standing around on his own, I know his lady is somewhere nearby.
Ducklings are one of my favorite things. Khaki Campbell ducklings start out with plumage that is mostly olive colored, sometimes with yellow rumps. As they get older, they become more muddy brown in color, then eventually the males will get dark green heads. An easy way to sex your ducks as they age is to look at the beaks: Females will have darker beaks, while the males develop a lighter, olive-toned beak. Our ducks’ plumage seems to change throughout the year, ranging between the very light khaki tones to a darker, murky brown.
My Own Duck Tale
Flowerpot has led an adventurous life. A few months after her embarrassing predicament, I returned home to find her sitting alone in the backyard, swaying. At first I thought she was maybe sick or hurt. She was dipping her head back and forth like some sort of drunkard, and wouldn’t stop even when I picked her up or moved her. I couldn’t find any injuries, and other than her strange duck-dance there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with her, so I put her somewhere she’d be left alone and left her to her waltz. The next morning she was perfectly fine, and in the end we concluded that she must have eaten something trippy. We talked to her about substance abuse and haven’t had a problem since. Never a dull moment with our flock!
Overall, Khaki Campbells are a great breed to raise, especially if you want duck eggs. They tend to keep to themselves and don’t require a lot of maintenance, though do be watchful for bullying if you have drakes. If you are interested in keeping Khaki Campbells, head over to eFowl for ducklings!