Best Duck Breeds for Eggs (8 To Investigate)
You could have any number of reasons for raising ducks. For some people, they’re happy, low-maintenance outdoor pets. Others raise them for meat or eggs. I’ve also taken advantage of their ability to control insect populations. In the past, we’ve enclosed a flock of ducks in the orchard, and they did such a good job managing the bugs that, in the fall, we brought in the most flawless, bug-bite-free crop of apples that we’ve ever had.
You could raise ducks for any of these reasons, or perhaps for all three. But if you’re already starting a flock of ducks, why not take advantage of their potential to lay eggs? Duck eggs taste similar to chicken eggs, but tend to be larger, more flavorful, and higher in nutrients. Ducks also lay more eggs than chickens do for a longer period of time. Finally, duck eggs can actually come in many different colors that simply look gorgeous in your egg basket.
If you’re intrigued by the possibility of duck eggs, I suggest researching breeds as not all ducks lay as proficiently as others. You may also want to take other factors into account, like how many eggs you’ll use, store, sell, or gift. For example, if you think you can only use a dozen eggs a week and you’re planning on starting a flock of ten ducks, don’t purchase ducks that lay 300 eggs per year – you’ll quickly start drowning in duck eggs.
What Are the Best Laying Duck Breeds? (The Short Answer)
Ducks can actually be better egg producers than chickens. Whether you’re looking for a dual-purpose duck breed or raising ducks solely for eggs, research what ducks lay the most eggs. The Indian Runner, Khaki Campbell, Ancona, and Appleyard ducks will lay 250-350 eggs per year. If that sounds overwhelming, I’ve included a few options that lay closer to 200 eggs each year.
8 Best Duck Breeds for Eggs
You and your family may eat a lot of eggs, or perhaps you’re planning to store them or sell them to neighbors and friends, and you’re curious as to which ducks lay the most eggs. While technically all female ducks lay eggs, here are my top choices for the best duck breeds for eggs.
Indian Runner Duck
These ducks may be tiny – making them a bad choice for meat production – but they lay around 300 large green or blue eggs per year. Indian Runners like to forage, so they’re great if you can free-range them or enclose them on a large plot of land. Historically, they were actually kept in Chinese rice paddies to get rid of weeds, insects, snails, and small reptiles – so if you have plenty of those, you won’t have to spend as much on feed.
And, honestly, these ducks are just so much fun to have around. With a skinny body that doesn’t look much like your average duck, Indian Runners look like they never learned how to walk like a duck. They also have a fascinating historical background dating back 2000 years – carvings of Indian Runners were found in the Indochina Temple, and the Indonesians used to keep flocks of Indian Runners like other peoples kept herds of sheep.
Khaki Campbell Duck
Khaki Campbells may lay up to 340 eggs a year, so unless you, your family, your neighbors, or your friends are crazy about eggs, I wouldn’t suggest getting more than a few of these – they’re possibly the best laying ducks you find. Campbells also love to forage and are happiest when they live in a peaceful environment with lots of room to move around. They can live in a wide variety of climates.
Keep in mind that sometimes cross breeds will be sold as Khaki Campbells, and these may not lay as well. If you choose this breed, make sure that the ducks you buy are pure Campbell ducks.
As one of the hardiest duck breeds, these medium-sized ducks thrive in a variety of climates and their calm dispositions make them a good choice for many family farms. They also forage, which often results in healthier and more flavorful eggs.
Anconas ducks originated in England and will lay an average of 250 eggs per year that may be green, blue, white, or cream. They’ll lay for around eight years; I’ve found that they tend to lay more eggs in the first years of production, and fewer but larger eggs in later years.
Because Ancona ducks won’t wander away from home and are big enough to deter predators, they’re great for farms or homesteads that have had problems with predators in the past.
A dual-purpose duck breed, Ancona ducks were actually an endangered species in 2015, with only 125 breeding ducks in the U.S. Things have gotten a lot better since then for this species, but if you want to help a watchlisted species, consider Anconas.
Buff Orpington Ducks
Another calm duck that’s great for families, Buffs are quiet, friendly, and gorgeous. These medium-sized ducks love a variety of climates. Also called Orpingtons, they’ll lay up to 240 large cream or white eggs a year.
Buff Orpington are great at foraging and, if they have a duck pond and some land, can supply half of their diet from hunting frogs, slugs, snails, tadpoles, ticks, mosquitoes, wild greens, and algae.
However, they may be difficult to find as they’re currently not popular among breeders. If you decide to try hatching your own ducklings, keep in mind that Buff Orpington mothers tend to do a good job.
Similar in many ways to Mallard ducks, Appleyards produce around 250 white eggs a year. This breed is a cross of Pekin, Aylesbury, and Rouen ducks created in England by Regional Appleyard. It was meant to be an all-purpose duck that has lots of beautiful feathers, lays many eggs throughout the whole year, and produces a good amount of meat.
If you want your Appleyard duck to be a pet, try hand-raising it as a duckling – the bonding process is much smoother with younger Appleyards. Appleyards grow fast and typically live for about 10 years, making them a great choice for a pet duck.
As one of the oldest domesticated duck breeds, Pekins have been raised by humans for at least 2000 years. They likely originated in Asia and later were imported to England and America. You’d probably recognize a Pekin if you saw one – with a classic white body and yellow beak, Pekin ducks are raised on many farms.
Pekins earn their popularity, however. They lay 200 large eggs per year – but they’ll do it at random times in random places. They may move the eggs to a nest later on, but don’t be surprised if you notice funny egg-laying habits.
Pekin ducks aren’t great mothers; if you want to raise ducklings be prepared to have another bird hatch them or get an incubator. Pekin ducklings just might be worth it, though – with their classic yellow fluff, they’re incredibly adorable. Adult Pekins are happy to raise ducklings once they’re hatched.
At around eight to nine pounds, Pekin ducks are a good choice for meat production as well.
A unique breed that may be a little more difficult to find, Saxony ducks were created in Germany by Albert Franz. Though they were first developed in 1930, much of the stock died out during World War II. Later on, Franz built the breed back up, got it recognized by Germany, and imported Saxony ducks to the U.S.
Saxony ducks are a mixture of German Pekin, Rouen, and Blue Pomeranian ducks, and they were designed to be a dual-purpose breed that looks beautiful, produces tasty meat, and lays lots of eggs. Saxony ducks produce 220 large eggs per year and grow to be eight to nine pounds. Their feathers are beautiful and their down is in high demand, so if you’re raising Saxony ducks, consider selling them down as another source of income.
These ducks are super friendly and love people. They’ll approach anyone and they’ll get very excited when someone feeds them or stops for a visit. Because Saxony ducks are so social, they can also be pretty noisy, so keep that in mind.
A naturally wild breed, Muscovies were domesticated by indigenous people in America and Mexico. Interestingly, they didn’t descend from Mallards and thus aren’t actually true ducks. However, Muscovies are tough birds that do well in many climates and will forage much of their food, finding mosquitoes, flies, and ticks to eat as well as lots of plant material. You can expect about 200 large cream, off-white, and speckled eggs a year from a Muscovy hen.
Though Muscovy hens are quite small – only four to six pounds – the drakes tend to be closer to ten to fifteen pounds. They’re friendly birds that get along with people quite well, making them a good option if you want to avoid aggressive birds. Muscovies are often raised for their meat, though they’ll live to be around 12 years old.