When you picture a flock of backyard ducks, you likely picture the large, white Pekin ducks, or the smaller, active brown-colored Mallards, but there are many more duck breeds that are great fun to raise, and whose numbers are dwindling.
That’s why this duck breed spotlight will focus on several breeds that I raise that are on the Livestock Conservancy critical lists, meaning there are limited numbers in the United States. Keeping a flock of these duck breeds can help to preserve the breed for future generations. Three of my favorite duck breeds include the Khaki Campbell, Saxony, and Ancona.
Khaki Campbell Ducks
Khaki Campbell ducks are one of the more popular duck breeds for backyard flocks because of their superior egg production. Pretty khaki-brown colored ducks, a good layer can lay near daily – year round. Easily the best layers of the domestic duck breeds, the Khaki Campbell breed was created in the late 1800s in the UK by Mrs. Adele Campbell. While she would never reveal the exact lineage of the new duck breed, it’s believed she crossed Indian Runners with Rouen and Mallards.
The breed came into favor during the Boer War in which the British troops wore khaki-colored uniforms, and speculation is that Mrs. Campbell attached “khaki” to her own name when she named the breed as a patriotic nod, as well as a descriptive one. One of the medium-sized breeds, Khaki Campbells are active, friendly ducks who don’t tend to go broody (sit on a nest of eggs to try to hatch them).
The breed was admitted to the American Poultry Association in 1941.
Egg color: white to cream
Lay rate: 250-340 eggs per year
Weight: 3.5 – 4 pounds
The Saxony duck was developed in Germany in the 1930s by crossing the German Pekin and Rouen breeds with Blue Pomeranians. Sadly, nearly all the Saxony stock was lost during World War II, but breeder Alfred Franz managed to start a new breeding program and recover the breed by 1957. Some Saxonies were imported to the United States in 1984 by David Holderread. Despite best efforts to establish larger numbers of Saxonies, the breed is still considered endangered and on the critical list of The Livestock Conservancy.
Saxonies are curious, active ducks. Like the Khaki Campbells, they are not especially broody but are good foragers. The females are a pretty salmon or peach color, while the males retain some of the Rouen coloring, with darker, mostly slate gray heads, burgundy chests and gray and white bodies.
The breed was admitted to the American Poultry Association in 2000.
Egg color: white, blue or green
Lay rate: 190-240 eggs per year
Weight: 6-8 pounds
The Ancona duck breed was developed in the UK in the early 1900s and most likely originated from the Runner and an old Belgian duck breed. Closely related to the Magpie duck, the Ancona is a small, active breed of duck which is white with splotches of color. The Ancona comes in Black and White, Blue and White, Chocolate and White, Lavender and White, Silver and White, Tricolored and solid White. Like their spotted bodies, their bills and feet often have random patches of color on the orange background.
Anconas are excellent foragers and very good layers of white or tinted eggs. While not recognized by the American Poultry Association, they have been shown by breeders here in the US since the 1980s. The breed is also on the Livestock Conservancy critical list.
Egg color: white, cream, blue or green
Lay rate: 210-280 eggs per year
Weight: 5-6 pounds
If you already raise ducks and are considering adding to your flock, or are brand new and learning how to raise ducks in your backyard, why not consider some of these different and rare breeds? They are all beautiful, funny, energetic animals who will lay you dozens and dozens of wonderfully fresh, rich eggs.