Our ducks are 100% unfenced and fancy free. They spend their days swimming their pond, sitting by the roadside or foraging with the geese and turkeys.
When it comes to laying, they take their pick of tiny A-frames on the edge of the pond, or they head down to the bath house by the blueberry patch. That’s a two-story shed we built on an old concrete pad, once the foundation for a farmhand’s outbuilding.
At night, they sleep in the poultry barn: an 18×8′ shed with a place for everyone. Turkeys sleep upstairs. Ducks, geese and a few miscellaneous chickens prefer to roost below.
Meet Our Ducks
Pekins are a great breed for both eggs and meat. Descended from China’s Mallards, they originally lived in the canals of Nanjing. Back then, they were small, black ducks, but when the capital of China relocated to Beijing, traffic in the canals increased, more grain spilled, the ducks grew bigger on their new diet, and over time they turned white, too.
Most of the time, if you’re eating duck in the US, you’re eating Pekin. They’re also popular pets, too, though. When a Pekin duckling is socialized for human companionship, it’ll get attached to you in much the same way as will a dog: a smart, loyal, lifelong friend.
Called after the black-and-white corvid of the same name, Magpie Ducks have starkly vivid, black and white plumage. They’re hardy, high-strung, highly motivated foragers – quite good at filling their bellies from the grass, bugs, seeds, slugs and pond life they can dig up.
More to the point, they lay big eggs. A lot of them. Blue ones.
They make gourmet-quality meat, too. Far less common than the Pekin, they’re also kind of rare: a unique addition to a duck flock.
Native to the wetlands and forests of Mexico, Central and South America, the Muscovy is a distinctly American duck – originally domesticated by indigenous peoples.
Black with white wings and a naked red face, Muscovies are pretty interesting to look at. They’re also surprisingly suited to frosty climes, given that they’re basically a tropical bird. Another surprising thing: “Muscovy” means “from Moscow” (not a shred of truth there). This may be a corruption of the word “Muisca,” a Native American nation in present-day Columbia, a place from which Muscovies do indeed come.
Their meat is lean, tender and very flavorful, they’re quiet (“quackless”) ducks, and they make good layers.
Here’s a hybrid duck introduced by Metzer Farms, attempting to combine the prolific egg-production of the Campbell duck with the calmness of other breeds. It worked. 300s are more easygoing than Campbells. Add to that, they’re more fertile, their eggs are bigger, and they lay more of them.
Speaking of which, the eggs are really tasty: definitely different than a chicken’s in flavor, but good. And they fluff up beautifully when baking.
Ah, the penguin of the duck world. Tall, upright and quick, you won’t catch these ducks waddling.
Runners love to swim, they love to run and they’re good foragers. They lay well too, but their mothering abilities are questionable: a Runner will drop her egg where it lands and simply move on.
The breed originated in Indonesia, and it comes in many colors. As for the quietness of this duck, interestingly, the females may quack, but the drakes only whisper.