Four Reasons to Get a Duck

Raising ducks in your backyard can benefit you a lot more than you might think.

By Jean Nick


Convinced you need ducks? Here's what you need to get your brood started:

Plan on a pair. Ducks are social creatures, and one will be very lonely unless it gets to pad around with you all day (which can get old, even if you are home). You probably don't want more than four, as too many ducks in too small an area can result in smelly poop slicks in their favorite places. Start with two and see how it goes.

Know your breeds. There are at least a dozen breeds of domestic ducks in the U.S. My favorites are called Runners, so named because they are a long, skinny and stand up almost like bowling pins when they run. Runners are smallish birds and come in a variety of colors: fawn and white, chocolate, blue (gray), and black. They lay white or bluish eggs. I love them because they look really cool and are terrific workers. My second choice is the Khaki Campbells, medium-brown ducks that are a little larger than Runners with have a more typical duck shape. They almost always lay white eggs and are among the most prolific layers in the duck world, laying more than most heritage breed chickens.

Find a breeder. Metzer Farms in California ships ducklings all over the country and has a great duck breed comparison chart on it website so you can learn all about the different types. This particular hatchery will ship you as few as two ducklings—just be prepared to spend extra on a special shipping carton and heat pack to keep the wee birdies comfy on their way to you—but in most cases, minimum shipping numbers are usually in the 10 to 15 duckling range. So you'll need to team up with a few friends or sell the extras. You can also find local breeders willing to sell you ducklings or even adult ducks through the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. And if those places fail you, there's always Craigslist!