Ducklings are a great animal to start with. Whereas chicks grow into chickens quite quickly, ducklings take their time to mature. Which gives the kids a longer time to play and handle them. They greet you when you come by and will follow behind you. They are a friendly animal.
Check out my blog on raising ducklings
High Lonesome Homestead
Khaki-Campbell: Strictly an egg-laying duck. They will lay 300 - 325 eggs a year! They continue through the winter. They will be good layers for 3 to 4 years. The females are seal-brown and the males are the same with touches of darker brown. They are excellent forages and withstand cool climates very well. They weigh about 4 1/2 pounds
Although Khaki's are excellent egg layers, I do find them a little flighty and not as apt to be buddies with you.
The Welsh Harlequin is a lightweight breed at 5-6 pounds. Harlequins are streamlined, with relatively long bodies. The color and patterning of the Harlequin is complicated. The drake's head is greenish black, shoulders reddish chestnut frosted with white, and breast creamy with reddish-chestnut. The upper back has a tortoise effect in cream, white, brown, and chestnut while forewings are cream-white and reddish brown, with a shiny green and bronze cross-band. The tail is blackish/bronze edged in white, the legs and feet are orange, and toenails are brownish-black. The duck has a creamy white head with brown stippling. Often there is a delicate light rust or burnt orange blush to her head, neck, and breast. The crown of the head typically has more brown stippling than the rest of the head. Her body is creamy white with buff and brown-green or bronze bands on her wings. Her tail is a mixture of creamy white and brown. Her legs are orange when young, and brown when older. Toenails are brownish-black. Welsh Harlequin duck and drake ducklings may exhibit a subtle sex-linked difference in bill color at birth.
Harlequins are primarily raised for their wonderful practical attributes. "They are highly adaptable, outstanding layers producing 240-330 white shelled eggs yearly, active foragers, excellent producers of lean meat, beautifully colored and pluck almost as cleanly as white birds when dressed for meat."
There is a critical need for more conservation breeders of Harlequins. Their excellent laying ability, lean meat, and stunning plumage make them a great addition to any small farmstead or backyard producer's flock.
I find these ducks to be friendly and with personality. These are my favorite egg layers.
These ducks are on the "critical" list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
Blue or Black Swedish: These attractive ducks are known for their blue color, and have a white bib that runs down the breast. The Black variety is black with a bib.
Drakes 8 pounds, and the hens are 7 pounds. Will lay mostly white eggs with an occasional blue tint. They are very hardy ducks and good foragers.
The Swedish is a medium sized bird that weighs between 6 1/2 and 8 pounds.
The Swedish is a "utility breed which matures fairly slowly and provides well-flavored meat. This special flavor may be attributed to the fact that the Blue Swedish prefers to have an orchard or paddock in which it can forage, and grass and natural foods assist in the development of succulent flesh. In confinement they do not thrive as well." Swedish will lay 100 to 150 white, green, or blue tinted eggs yearly. Typically they have calm temperaments and make fine pets.
These ducks are on the "watch" list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
ROUEN (pronounced Roan)
These ducks are similar to the wild Mallard duck in looks. With the beautiful green head. They are larger and unlike the Mallard, cannot fly.
Among the domestic ducks raised by French farmers several hundred years ago were some resembling large Mallards. Around 1800, these ducks reached England, where they were variously called "Rhone," for an area in southwest France, "Rohan," for a Catholic Cardinal, "Roan," a mixture of colors, and finally "Rouen," for a town in north central France.
The most common is the White Pekin: A large all white breed that are disease and stress resistant. Originally in China in ancient times. The drakes get to be 10 pounds and hens 9 pounds. They are not a foraging duck, and the females can be noisy. They are a good layer, and will lay 125 - 175 eggs a year!
Although these birds dress out really well, we do not raise them because we are interested in the ducks foraging trait.
MUSCOVEY (pronounced Mus-coh-vee)
These are the ducks with the mask of red skin on their beaks. They are the only breed of duck that did not originate from the Mallard.
Muscoveys make great pets, they socialize well with people as well as other pets such as dogs and cats. They are great for pest control as they love to eat bugs and slugs.
Muscoveys are not great swimmers, so do not need a pond or large body of water. They are content with a pan.
The meat of the Muscovy is unlike that of the other domestic ducks. It is not greasy and is much more like white meat than like poultry. The males are large, weighing up to twelve pounds, with the smaller females reaching only seven. Their feet have strong sharp claws and are built to grasp, so that they can perch on branches. They have large red warty caruncles above the beak and around the eyes.
They will often fly up and roost, and are known more for flying around than flying away!
By age 8 weeks, ducklings can do without shelter, except for shade from the sun, or from chilling rains and freezing weather. By the time they are adults, no housing is necessary at all! Some owners like to provide either a 3 sided shelter, or a totally enclosed shack. They will adapt to this, and enjoy being our of the wind, which they dislike. They do not lie to be confined in a building all the time.
They will lay their eggs before 9 am and are a very habitual animal. If you lock them up every night they will return to their shelter on their own.
If they are to be confined, they need 8" of floor space and plenty of water.
Ducks need water to eat and not choke. Keep a water dish handy, large enough to dip their entire heads into.
For young ducklings, a trough about 2" deep and 1" wide will work.
They are VERY MESSY! and enjoy splashing around. Put a thick layer of wood shavings (never cedar as they can cause respiratory problems) on the floor.
DO NOT let the ducklings get totally wet and chilled. THIS COULD KILL THEM! If your duckling gets soaked, dry them with a towel and hair dryer.
Ducklings do not have their mother to coat their feathers with a special secretions to help keep them water-proof. When the ducklings are fully feathered, you should not have any trouble.
Ducklings should NOT be given medicated chick starter feed. Some medications for coccidiosis can cause death
Commercial Feeds: Ducks do best on crumbles, rather than mash. You can feed them ducking starter, turkey poult starter or gamebird starter.
Homegrown Starter: This can make the duckling very messy and cause their feathers to matte, but if you watch them carefully and want to save money, this is the way to go...
Breakfast: cooked oatmeal covered with a little water
Lunch: Scrambled eggs covered with a little water
Dinner: homemade whole wheat bread with water covering it. Chop up some tender greens such as onion tops, dandelion greens, and sprinkle on top of the water.
Month-old: By 4 weeks, ducklings can forage for tender grass, clover, green leafy plants, insects, slugs, snails, weeds, berries, and seed. You can add to this: housescraps, milk, and hardboiled eggs.
Ducklings are fed all they will clean up three or four times daily for the first four weeks and then may be cut down to two feeds daily. Sand or grit, or both, must be kept before them at all times
Ducks do eat some green feed and farm flocks are usually allowed to run at large. Cut green feed can be supplied to the birds when they must be kept inside in bad weather.
DO NOT feed cracked or whole grains until they are at least 4 weeks old. Feed once in the evening, unless they are not able to forage, then feed twice a day.
SWIMMING: Adult ducks do not need a pond to swim in, but a little baby pool with clean water will be readily enjoyed. We have raised ducks for many years without a pond to swim in. They get wet and splash about in troughs, muck buckets, and rain puddles!
Bethany herding 50 duckling!