All Your Ducks in a Row - Modern Farmer

All Your Ducks in a Row

The familiar Mallard isn't the only breed worth farming. These 12 options include some ducks that excel at egg laying, others that bulk up fast with meat, plus an ideal pet or two.

Buff (aka Buff Orpington)

Active and upbeat medium-weights (6 to 8 pounds), Buffs are good layers and excellent meat ducks. They can be buff, blond, or brown, and males have darker heads. The breed is “threatened” (fewer than 1,000 breeding birds in the United States).


The classic, popular pet duck, Pekins originated in China. This heavyweight breed (7 to 12 pounds) is valued for its fast growth and choice meat. Pekins are also fair layers.


These exceptionally hardy American medium-weights were bred for meat production, but are also good layers. Unnaturally quiet, Cayugas make good urban ducks. The breed status is “threatened.”

Rouen (aka Roan)

A centuries- old French breed that is principally raised for high-quality meat, Rouens are heavyweights. In fact, they tend to get so fat that they often crush their eggs while sitting on them.


These medium-weights are good layers and meat producers. The distinctive markings on their backs mean individuals are easy to recognize and, thus, bond with.Because of their “critical,” status (with fewer than 500 breeding individuals in the U.S.), ducklings cost at least $10; an adult hen can fetch $35.

Khaki Campbell

Originally bred for meat production, these lightweights (3½ to 5 pounds) are prolific layers of high-quality eggs. Females may produce up to 300 eggs their first year.

Blue Swedish

These medium- weight ducks may be gray, black, or white as well as blue. Their eggs, too, range in color from whites to blues and greens. Blue Swedish are also good for meat production.


This very old, highly vocal Dutch breed was originally used to decoy wild ducks. Calls are bantamweights (18 to 40 ounces): quick, small-footed, and ideal for garden pest control. They come in assorted colors from white to gray to black to fawn.


Good foragers and layers, these lightweight ducks also yield high-quality meat. Their breed status is “critical;” ducklings sell for $10 and up.

Welsh Harlequin

These placid lightweight birds combine high-quality meat with outstanding laying. The colors of the females vary greatly, from white to buff and brown and green. Their status is “critical.”


This rare heavyweight breed yields high-quality meat. The females are capable fliers; males are adept at climbing and may be aggressive, which makes them poor pets. Ducklings can be white, black and white, blue and white, or chocolate, and cost as much as $15.


Among the most popular ducks, this lightweight Southeast-Asian breed runs rather than waddles. Prolific layers and supreme foragers, Runners are also very entertaining. They’re colorful in the literal sense, too, and can be white, black, fawn, buff, or chocolate.

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