A regular baby duck costs between $5 to $30, depending on the breed. However, you should always buy a pair of ducks since they’re social birds and don’t do well alone. Show ducks can cost more at $50 or higher. You can reduce your cost by purchasing from a local farm instead of a hatchery.
In addition to the money you pay to buy the birds, raising ducks can quickly become an expensive hobby—or business effort. That’s why choosing the right breed is essential to minimizing costs.
People buy and raise ducks for different purposes. Other than being a hobby, the two most common reasons for buying ducks are egg farming and meat farming. In the rest of this article, I’ll go over the best duck breeds for each type of farming to help you avoid overspending.
Best Duck Breeds To Raise for Eggs
The best duck breeds to raise for eggs are Indian Runners. These ducks can lay a giant egg almost daily and start laying at four months old. They become more regular at 6 to 7 months. Other popular egg-laying breeds include Welsh Harlequin, Magpies, and Khaki Campbells.
You can get up to 300 eggs a year from these ducks, with each egg weighing between 2.5 to 3 ounces (70 to 85 grams). And the eggs don’t need an incubation period. You can get Indian Runners for around $13 online from websites like California Hatchery. Websites, hatcheries, and small farms may have different prices, but they are generally in the same range.
Indian Runners lay their eggs almost anywhere, leaving them to hatch on their own. The eggs have a creamy texture, making them excellent for baking and cooking.
These ducks are friendly and easy to keep. They can survive well in almost any temperature, giving you a regular supply of eggs all year round without much cost.
Although they’re excellent swimmers, Indian Runners can breed without water. So, a proper pond isn’t a must.
Cons of Indian Runners
Indian Runners can’t be your number one choice if you intend to run a meat farm since they only weigh around three pounds (1.5 kg).
You also have to build a fence around their area because they’re true to their name. These ducks can run faster than an average duck and like to forage. So, in the absence of a fence, they’re likely to wander off and get lost.
Welsh Harlequin ducks also lay about 300 eggs a year. They’re lightweight ducks weighing approximately 5 pounds (about 2.3 kg). You can purchase Welsh Harlequin young ducks for around $15 online or offline.
Welsh Harlequins can reduce your egg farming costs since they’re low-maintenance birds. They can adapt to almost any living environment without much trouble. Plus, they forage, so feeding them isn’t hard.
That said, they need a cozy coop during the winter. In colder temperatures, you can place a solar-powered coop light so the ducks can get at least 10 hours of egg production.
Welsh Harlequins are also famous for their ability to reproduce. The male ducks like to mate regularly. Even a single drake Welsh Harlequin can be enough for a flock of female ducks. Keeping more than one male for the hens may cause physical damage to the ducks.
Welsh Harlequins are a good source of lean meat with minimum fat. Given their fondness for reproducing, the ducks are also a favorite among meat farmers.
Cons of Welsh Harlequins
Although Welsh Harlequins aren’t very noisy, the hens like to make a ruckus when laying eggs. They also quack a lot when they’re hungry. So, make sure they always have plenty of food.
Since these ducks like to forage, you need to make sure they eat a healthy diet, which can mean extra work and money.
Khaki Campbells are another excellent breed for egg farming. They lay medium-sized eggs and give you 3 to 6 eggs weekly—180 to 300 each year. These ducks start laying eggs at 21 weeks, giving you a constant supply throughout the year. Their price range is between $5 to $12 per duck at McMurray Hatchery. Websites and farms may offer discounts on bulk purchases.
Khaki Campbell ducks also have longevity. Healthy ducks can lay eggs for up to 9 years.
One of the best things about Khaki Campbells is that they don’t make excessive noise even when hungry. They’re relatively low-maintenance and do well in both hot and cold temperatures. They, however, like to swim. So, you’ll have to build a lovely little pond for your Khaki Campbells.
Khaki Campbells like foraging and feeding on slugs, worms, bugs, etc. The ducks thrive on a protein-rich diet.
Cons of Khaki Campbells
Khaki Campbells are messy ducks, so you’ll have to clean up regularly after them. But you need to schedule bed changes in a way that won’t interfere with their sleep schedule and affect their health. You also need to provide excellent ventilation in the coop if you want your birds to stay healthy.
Best Duck Breeds To Raise for Meat
Pekins are the best duck breed for meat farming as they mature relatively quickly and provide lots of lean meat without much maintenance. Muscovy Ducks and Khaki Campbells are also excellent options, but they take longer to mature.
As a rule of thumb, the best duck breed for meat farming should have the following characteristics:
- Lean meat with a rich flavor.
- Muscle tone (larger ducks tend to be superior in this regard).
- Fast maturity rate (to keep maintenance costs down).
With that brief introduction, let’s go over two of the best breeds you can keep for meat farming.
Pekin is arguably the most well-known duck breed in the world. Pekin ducks tend to weigh around 11 pounds (approximately 5 kg), which is higher than the average duck. They reach their full size at about 7 to 8 weeks. You can buy a duckling for $8 to $11 from California Hatchery.
These birds have excellent immunity, and they can survive at almost any temperature. Both these qualities make them easy to domesticate. Pekins also like to forage, making it easier for you to feed them. The ducks eat whatever they can find.
Although Pekins can withstand harsh temperatures, you must make their winters cozier. You can do this by covering the floor with hay. The ducks also need shade and a large amount of water during summer.
Cons of Pekin Ducks
Pekins, especially the females, are known for being noisy. They can raise a ruckus at any time of the day. So, keeping them isn’t an option in a neighborhood that values peace. You can keep the ducks quiet by keeping them full and providing them with a good food supply.
These ducks like foraging, so they can end up overeating, resulting in gut and health problems. That’s why you should ensure a healthy diet for your ducks and keep them in a clean area.
Pekins are a messy breed. You’ll have to work hard to keep the coop clean and healthy. Moist or unhealthy conditions can deteriorate ducks’ health.
Pekins can lay about 300 eggs yearly, but the females don’t like sitting on their eggs. Therefore, they aren’t on the top of our list of duck breeds for egg farming. You will have to arrange for other ways of egg incubation, which will increase your farming costs.
The Muscovy breed is famous for its lean meat that tastes like a juicy sirloin steak. These ducks do better at small farms or large industrial setups with proper conditions. Medium-sized operations usually have trouble growing these ducks. You can get an unsexed duck for around $13 from McMurray Hatchery.
With proper maintenance, Muscovies reach the “butchering age” in as little as seven weeks. The females may take more time to mature, and they reach about 4 to 6 pounds (about 1.8 to 2.7 kg) at this age. Two-month-old males, on the other hand, usually weigh about 10 to 12 pounds (approximately 4.5 to 5.4 kg). A fully grown duck can weigh even more.
Muscovy ducks aren’t very picky about their living conditions. However, they need shade during the hot season as constant exposure to heat, and the sun can make them sick. They also need an area to forage and find a healthy diet.
Cons of Muscovy Ducks
One of the biggest disadvantages of Muscovy ducks is that they take time to reach their full weight. A Pekin will be butcher-ready before a Muscovy.
Another con is that these gigantic ducks are incredibly messy. So, you will have to work hard to keep the coop and the foraging area clean.
They also love water. So, you at least need a kiddie pool if you can’t afford a pond. But be warned, poop in the pond won’t be a pretty sight.
A baby duck doesn’t cost much, but running a farm requires a significant investment. Your ducks need a healthy diet and suitable living conditions. Your breed of choice depends on your purpose: eggs or meat.
Indian Runners, Welsh Harlequins, and Khaki Campbells are the best options if you want more eggs, as they lay close to 300 eggs each year.
On the other hand, if you’re after meat, you should go with Pekins since they’re among the largest duck breeds and don’t require much maintenance. Muscovy Ducks are also an excellent option for meat farming.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.