Ducks are great for the garden as they will clear it of slugs and snails. They are very messy if kept in small areas and may reduce your garden to mud if it is too small. A guideline is a minimum run of 2m x 3m for two Campbell ducks. Ducks are social birds and need to be kept in pairs, trios or small groups. Two ducks or two ducks and one drake are the ideal number for gardens. To reduce mess rotate the areas of garden that the ducks are allowed on every few days and hose down regularly. Most breeds do not need a large pond to keep healthy, but they enjoy a good splash. A child's plastic pool, baby bath or large shallow tub will be fine if you do not have a pond. It is easy to waste hours watching them splashing about. Here are some popular duck breeds that are ideal for the back garden. I have chosen a mixture of light, medium and heavy breeds. The larger the duck, the less likely they are to fly off, but they also require more garden space.
This is Jemima Puddle-duck! Aylesbury ducks only come in a pure snow-white colour. They are a very large breed duck, have short legs and heavyset bodies with pink bills and orange webs. Those with orange bills and webs are crossbred with another duck breed. Aylesbury ducks lay 35-100 large white eggs per year, starting from November. Females weigh about 4.1 to 5 kg and drakes weigh 4.5 to 5.4 kg. They have a loud quack and need more space due to their size so you would need a larger garden for this heavy breed. They are ideal as garden ducks, because they seldom fly - they are too heavy to lift off the ground.
This is a bantam breed of duck with stunning, beetle green glossy plumage. This breed is ideal if you have a small garden, but keep their wings clipped as they may fly off when spooked. They lay 40 to 100 eggs a year. Drakes weigh 900g and ducks weigh 700 - 800g.
Campbell ducks were bred to be friendly garden ducks. Mrs Adelle Campbell, from Gloucestershire, introduced Campbell ducks in 1901. She wanted to create a breed that laid tasty eggs, would not fly away, did not get broody and were calm and friendly like chickens. They were bred from Runner ducks, Mallard and the Rouen. Campbell ducks are a medium sized breed. Drakes weigh up to 3kg and females from 2kg to 2.5kg. They lay approximately 300 to 350 white eggs a year. Choose from khaki Campbell ducks, white with orange bills and webs, apricot, dark, blue, magpie and fawn colours. They are designed to live alongside chickens and are happy to splash around in a washing up bowl. These great foragers eat slugs, snails and worms.
Calls ducks descend from mallards and originate from Holland. They were bred to call wild ducks to traps for hunters. They make great garden pets, because they are tiny and do not cause as much damage to the garden as larger duck breeds. They are lively, friendly, and do not need as much space as medium breeds. Call ducks are small bodied with short bills. They have a high-pitched call and can be very noisy, therefore only choose call ducks if you do not have close neighbours and don't mind constant quacking. Some call duck owners say that their call ducks are not as noisy as their chickens. Call ducks need small bowls to swim in. The drake weighs approximately 550 to 700g and the duck is only about 450 to 600g. Call ducks lay about 100 small eggs per year. Choose from mallard, mallard pied or white, yellow belly, dusky, blue fawn, blue silver, apricot silver, chocolate, magpie and bibbed, blue apricot and khaki colours.
Miniature Appleyard ducks are an attractive garden duck due to their small size and their pretty silver and brown flecked plumage. They are about the same size as a call duck, but lay 60 to 160 eggs per year. These friendly ducks have great characters and are easy to tame. Drakes weigh 1.5 kg and ducks weigh only 1.1 kg.
This heavy breed duck originated from China in the 1800s and then spread throughout the world. Pekins are calm, friendly ducks and make great pets for the larger garden. They fly like a large fowl chicken - up and straight down again! They have a waddling walk and are quite chatty. They are smaller and chubbier than Indian runner ducks, but have a similar upright stance. Their deep orange bills, orange legs, webs and white feathers make them popular pets. Plumage is soft and fluffy with a slight yellow tinge. Pekins are busy ducks and like to dabble and explore. Females lay 80 to 140 white eggs a year. Ducks weigh 4.1 kg and females weigh 3.6 kg. As their feathering is not as tight as other breeds, they need more frequent changes of bedding, less mud and regular mite checks.
Indian runner ducks originate from the East Indies. They are an extremely popular garden breed, because they are tame and comical to watch. Runners would be happy with a bucket to dunk in their heads. They look like wine bottles or penguins and were originally called penguin ducks. Due to their upright stance, they are known as wine bottle ducks. They need a taller duck house due to their height. Runner ducks are good egg layers and produce about 200 eggs a year. They are best kept in pairs or trios. They are a medium sized duck; Drakes weigh 2 to 2.3kg and ducks weigh in at 1.4 to 2kg. Choose from black, fawn, chocolate, apricot, trout, fawn, fawn and white, mallard, silver, white and blue.
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