Adding new livestock to your homestead is a big deal, so make sure you pick the best homestead duck breeds.
When my husband brought home our first ducks, I had no idea – he just showed up with them. We loved our little babies, but to be honest, they weren’t ideal homestead duck breeds. In fact, they ended up all being drakes anyway!
A few years later, I’ve learned that picking appropriate breeds is important if you want to get the most out of your livestock.
Some animals are better suited for your plans than others. If your goal is to produce all the eggs your family needs, but you pick a ducks that don’t lay many eggs, you’ll end up disappointed with your animals and the experience of raising ducks.
Don’t let that happen to you! Before you buy homestead ducks, do some research – that’s why you’re here right now!
Related: How Long Do Ducks Live?
How to Pick the Right Homestead Duck Breeds
Ducks are great additions to the homestead site because they provide both meat and eggs. If you’re looking for a breed to produce eggs, you should consider the production rate of each breed as well as the egg size. If you’re raising ducks that will be harvested for their meat, then choose a breed that has desirable characteristics that fit into your homesteading lifestyle.
Picking the right breed of any livestock is a huge deal. Don’t ever just simply pick an animal to have it!
Here are some considerations when picking homestead duck breeds.
If your main goal is to have duck eggs – so yummy – you need to consider how many eggs the ducks lay in a year. Just like chickens, each breed lay a different amount of eggs.
For example, Pekin ducks are a popular egg-laying duck and have been known to lay over 300 eggs a year! However, Muscovy Ducks produces an average of 225 eggs per year.
That’s quite a difference!
So, take a look at and make sure you pick the right ones for your homestead if egg production is your main goal. You can take a look at my list of 11 best duck breeds for eggs!
On the other hand, you may want to raise ducks as a source of meat, and once again, not all ducks are ideal for this. It’s quite important when picking meat ducks that you get the right breed.
Typically, these are the larger breeds with plenty of meat on them. Most are dual-purpose, so they lay eggs and work great for meat production as well.
Adult Size and Space Required
Ducks are typically, in my experience, larger than chickens. That tends to surprise people, but when I’m picking duck breeds, I often consider their adult size to make sure I have enough space for them.
If there isn’t enough space or pastures available on your homestead site to raise ducks, then choose an egg laying breed that has been known to do well in small spaces such as Indian Runners . They only require 2 square feet per bird but they lay an average of 200 eggs per year!
Also, not all breeds handle confinement as well as others. If you don’t plan to free range your ducks, read about their personality and how well they handle being confined to a penned area.
Even if you decide to free range, make sure you have enough space to do so. A flock of Rouen or Muscovy ducks will easily free-range a 2.5 acre plot of land.
Best Homestead Duck Breeds
1. Pekin Ducks
One of the most popular types of homestead duck breeds is the Pekin Ducks. These are the classic white ducks everyone knows and loves for good reasons.
First, they lay on average 300 eggs per year. So, if your goal is egg production, you cannot go wrong with Pekins. Their eggs are generally large, weighing about 3 to 4 ounces each.
They also are a good choice for meat production, especially if they are allowed to free range along with supplemental feed. Typically, you butcher Pekin Ducks around 6 to 10 weeks of age, and their meat is flavorful and dark – perfect!
Pekin Ducks require around 15 square feet of space each, however, they handle living in confinement pens quite well. When allowed to free range, they’re excellent foragers.
It’s hard not to love these ducks! They are generally consider friendly and gentle fowl, perfect if you have kids on your homestead. They’ll come up to you without any
2. Muscovy Duck
If you’re looking for a meat duck, this is the breed, even though they technically aren’t a duck at all. It’s similar to geese but has duck characteristics. Muscovys are one of the oldest domesticated waterfowls
Muscovy ducks won’t lay you many eggs per year. The average is between 60 to 100 eggs per year.
However, they shine as a meat duck breeds. These ducks yield the highest amount of meat out of any domestic duck breed. Expect to wait 15 to 20 weeks to butcher these birds. Some say the flavor is a bit strong.
3. Rouen Ducks
Rouen ducks are considered a meat or dual purpose duck breeds, but if you’re raising them with the sole purpose of meat production, know that they do take longer to grow out to full size. In general, expect to raise these ducks for 6 to 8 months before butchering.
However, if you have patience, once they reach butchering size, they produce a decent sized carcass. It means you need to make sure you have the time and resources to raise them for an extended time frame.
When it comes to egg production, Rouen ducks only lay 35-100 eggs per year. So, these definitely aren’t ideal egg production ducks. They’re ideal for meat.
When it comes to space needed, Rouens typically require only 10 square feet of space each and handle confined areas well. Give them some free time outside of the pen to keep them happy; they love to forage for food!
4. Indian Runner Ducks
One of the first ducks that my husband brought home was an Indian runner duck. The way they walk is pretty funny; they stand more upright than other ducks and have an adorable waddle.
These ducks have a long history, and they’re one of the top duck egg laying breeds, laying between 220 and 250 eggs per year. However, Indian Runners aren’t meat ducks – there is little meat on those upright bodies!
Another thing I noted as we raised these ducks is that they are quite docile but very active. They forage and explore regularly, so while I know they handle confinement, I think they excel when allowed to free range.
Indian Runners really cannot fly, perhaps due to their body length and small wings. However, as their name suggests, they run like the wind, especially when separated from the rest of their flock.
5. Ancona Ducks
If you’re looking for a friendly duck breed, consider adding Anconas to your homestead. Not only are these impressive egg layers, but they’re friendly and calm, especially if you raise them handled often from the start.
Anconas lay between 200-280 eggs per year, laying blue-tinted eggs. However, the eggs are small compared to other breeds.
You also can raise Anconas for the flavorful meat; it’s less fatty than other breeds.
6. Khaki Campbell Ducks
Khaki Campbell ducks are a cross between Rouen ducks and Indian Runners, making them one of the most prolific egg laying duck breeds. These ducks lay anywhere from 200-260 eggs per year. Some say their Khaki Campbells lay closer to 350 eggs per year!
In general, these ducks don’t require too much space. The recommendation is to have 12 square feet per duck.
Another reason why these are some of the best homestead duck breeds is that they are known for being calm and friendly ducks. They are great with small children and love free ranging if given the opportunity.
7. Ayelsbury Ducks
Ayelsbury ducks are more popular in England and Europe than the United States. They are listed as critically endangered by the Livestock Conservancy, so if you’re looking for a breed to raise to support its growth, this could be a great choice for you.
Ayelsbury ducks grow quickly, reaching butchering weight between 7 to 12 weeks of life. Some say that they taste even better than Pekin ducks!
That being said, there are some reasons why Ayelsbury ducks aren’t as popular as other breeds.
First, they only lay less than 30 eggs per year, and they’re medium-sized eggs. So, if you want an egg production duck breed, skip this one.
Also, many homesteaders love to free range their animals, but Ayelsbury ducks prefer to be fed rather than forage. They prefer confinement, requiring around 15 square feet of space.
I would only raise these ducks for meat or if I wanted to support an endangered species and focus on breeding them for others.
8. Saxony Ducks
Saxony ducks are another homestead duck breed that is known for growing quickly and producing a solid amount of eggs each year. On average, Saxony ducks lay upwards of 200 medium size eggs.
These ducks handle confinement pens well and often behave calmly. However, they have the tendency to become aggressive when startled. Saxony ducks only need around 15 square feet of space per duck to maintain optimal health.
It’s possible to raise these ducks for eggs and meat. However, they are slower growing than other breeds, but they have flavorful, lean meat!
9. Cayuga Ducks
If you’re looking for homestead duck breeds that lay black or gray eggs, Cayuga ducks are an excellent option. Their eggs range in color from white to nearly pitch black, depending on the time of year.
Not only do they lay beautiful eggs, but they also are gorgeous birds – black that reflect green and blue, depending on how you look at their feathers.
Cayuga ducks lay 150 medium-sized eggs, on average, and they also produce delicious meat. So, while they don’t lay the most eggs, this is a breed you could sell for hatching duck eggs!
These are some of the hardiest homestead duck breeds, thriving in cold weather. They handle confinement well, but they often ten to be skittish around people if you don’t hand raise them from the start.
10. Silver Appleyard Ducks
Some of the ducks I have are Silver Appleyard ducks, and they’re adorable! This breed is listed as threatened on the livestock conservancy list, which is a shame because they’re a beautiful, heavyweight breed.
These ducks are large, producing plenty of lean meat. They also lay around 220-250 eggs per year.
If you live somewhere with a cold climate, Silver Appleyard ducks are a great option; they stay warm in most conditions. They’re also known for being docile and friendly, along with being excellent free rangers.
11. Welsh Harlequin Ducks
Here is another breed listed by the Livestock Conservancy as critically endangered, which is sad because they have some excellent qualities.
This is a lightweight breed that produces between 250 to 300 eggs per year, and since it’s a classic heritage breed, you can raise them for meat as well. Also, some say that Welsh Harlequin ducks are one of the broodiest species, so they can help you raise other little ducklings for your homestead.
These are lightweight ducks, typically weighing around 5 to 6lbs, and it takes several months to reach maturity. However, they are active foragers who produce lean meat as well as plenty of eggs.
12. Black Swedish Ducks
Black and Blue Swedish ducks aren’t as common in the United States as other breeds; these are also more popular in Europe. This breed lays up to 150 eggs that are tinted blue-grey each year.
Not only are Swedish ducks one of the hardiest breeds, but their coloring is quite unique. It makes it harder for predators to spot them, and they love to be out foraging.
These are medium sized ducks that typically weigh around six pounds. If you have gardens or orchards, using these ducks are foragers for insects is a great ideas. It’s how they really shine.
Adding ducks to your backyard homestead is a great idea, but not all breeds are a good idea. Try adding some of these homestead duck breeds, and remember to consider why you want to raise ducks! That’s how you pick the right breed for you.