Selecting the Best Ducks for Eggs
Your Guide to the Best Egg Laying Ducks
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Prior to incorporating ducks onto the property, it is best to know which are the best ducks for eggs. There are a plethora of duck breeds that you can add to your flock; however, a handful are prolific egg layers. Selecting the best ducks for eggs begins with knowing which breeds lay up to 200 eggs a year.
More times than not, chickens are the first small livestock added to a property. However, I believe ducks and other waterfowl are better poultry breeds to incorporate onto the property. Ducks tolerate colder temperatures better than other poultry and are less susceptible to catching diseases or becoming ill.
In addition to this, ducks are excellent garden helpers. Unlike chickens, they do not scratch or destroy garden beds. They will consume slugs and snails and aerate the space as they mill the soil for additional bugs and minerals.
Ducks are also independent. They do not seek a lot of attention, are less needy than chickens, and when given a chance, prefer to free-range before consuming a commercial feed.
It is such a shame that many more individuals do not consume duck eggs. Duck eggs have a much larger, richer yolk, a higher concentration of nutrients, and more protein than chicken eggs. When it comes to the flavor, duck eggs are much more flavorful than chicken eggs. In comparison to chicken eggs, duck eggs are larger, and the shell is also much thicker.
Duck eggs have a similar nutritional profile to chicken eggs; however, there are a few additional benefits to consuming duck eggs. The eggs from ducks are significantly higher in cholesterol and fat, but they are also higher in protein. Individuals who consume a paleo diet appreciate duck eggs due to the higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.
Prized by chefs worldwide, duck eggs are incredible to cook with, especially when it comes to baked goods. The whites of duck eggs have more protein than chicken eggs, which causes the eggs to whip up higher when beaten, creating a lighter and higher baked good. Typically, recipes calling for eggs are written using chicken eggs in mind; the egg ratio is different with duck eggs. When substituting duck eggs for chicken, the ratio is one duck egg for every two large chicken eggs.
A delicious old-fashioned egg custard pie recipe using duck eggs is a great example of how fantastic duck eggs are in baked goods.
Selecting the Best Ducks for Eggs
I have raised many duck breeds over the years, seeking the perfect breed for our homestead. A dual-purpose breed that was prolific in egg production and substantial in size for meat consumption. In addition to this, we sought breeds that would consume a large percentage of their diet from free-ranging. What we sought was a true homesteading heritage duck breed.
Regardless of the duck breed you select, there is one thing for sure, you will enjoy the daily antics and the eggs they lay.
Here is a list of the best egg laying ducks:
Runner – This breed originates from Malaysia, a great garden helper, and a duck breed filled with personality. Their unique posture differentiates them from other duck breeds due to their ability to stand tall. Runner ducks are capable of laying close to 300 eggs per year.
Khaki Campbell – This breed originates from England and is known to be a peaceful and docile breed, making this breed ideal for children or those new to raising ducks. Khaki Campbell ducks will lay between 250 to 340 eggs per year.
Buff – Another calm breed that originates from England. Buffs are also known as Orpingtons, though they should not be confused with the Buff Orpington chicken breed. Buff ducks will lay between 150 to 220 eggs per year.
Welsh Harlequin – This majestic and docile breed originates from Wales and has a similar feather pattern as the Silver Appleyards. Of all the breeds we have raised, I find that Welsh Harlequin ducks will consume 80% of their diet through their ability to free-range. They will lay between 240 to 330 eggs per year.
Magpie – The Magpie’s history has this breed originating from Wales. Individuals who raise Magpies have stated this duck breed has a sweet disposition making it an excellent breed for novice duck keepers and those who seek to raise ducks with children. Magpies lay eggs in multiple hues and can lay between 240 to 290 eggs per year.
Ancona – The Ancona duck breed originates from England and is an excellent breed to raise alongside children. Their desire to free-range produces an incredibly flavorful yolk due to the amounts of greens and bugs they consume daily. Ancona ducks will lay between 210 to 280 colorful eggs per year.
Silver Appleyard – A larger dual-purpose, docile breed that originates from England. Because of their gentle, independent nature, they are an ideal duck breed for novice duck keepers or those with children. The Silver Appleyard duck breed lays between 220 to 265 eggs per year.
Saxony – Originating from Germany, Saxony ducks are one of the largest dual-purpose breeds. Much like the Welsh Harlequin and Ancona, this breed prefers to forage before consuming a commercial feed. The Saxony duck breed lays roughly 190 to 240 eggs per year, with the shell color ranging between cream and shades of blue/grey.
Pekin – This ancient breed originates from China and has been documented for being around for over 2,000 years. Because of its white feather and size, the Pekin is a dual-purpose breed and is often raised as a broiler breed for industrial purposes. Pekin ducks will lay up to 200 extra-large eggs per year.
In addition to the breeds listed here, many hatcheries offer what is known as a hybrid breed. This breed is created through crossbreeding various breeds which are prolific layers.
The breeds listed are ideal for selecting the best ducks for eggs. With a high egg production, it is necessary to learn how to store eggs long-term. The water glassing preserving method provides eggs during the months when your duck hens are not laying.
Do you raise ducks? What is your favorite thing about raising ducks? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Originally published in the June/July 2021 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.