What Is a Domestic Duck?
Table of Contents
- Definition and Classification
- Domestic Ducks as Pets
- Domestic Duck Farming
- Top Domestic Egg Laying Ducks
- Top Domestic Meat Ducks
- Caring for a Domestic Duck
Definition and Classification
Domestic ducks are ducks that are cared for and/or raised by people. People typically raise ducks for pets, eggs, meat, and show. Domesticated ducks rely on people for food and shelter, and because ducks are so reliant on humans, they don't last long in the wild on their own.
By classification, domestic ducks, with the exception of the Muscovy, are any descendant of the mallard duck. Southeast Asia was the first known area to start farming and domesticating mallards over 4,000 years ago! This practice has continued through Egyptian, Roman, and current times.
These ducks became polygamous after domestication. Mallards typically mate with one partner at a time, but maybe being in a confined space changed that mentality? Domestication provided the ability to have more influence over reproduction and served to secure a predictable resource from the ducks. Domestication also made ducks less aggressive and easier to handle than wild ducks.
Domestic Ducks as Pets
Domestic ducks often make great pets and companions. No, they don't need a pond, just enough water to dip their heads into and clean out their beaks. They are resilient to extreme weather and easy to care for. Ducks only need enough water for cleaning out their nostrils by dunking their heads, so a bowl will do. Ducks are friendly, curious little creatures, and each one comes with its own unique personality.
Domestic ducks are great in the garden and enjoyable to have in the yard. They are also great around children because their bites don't typically hurt. Ducks do need to be protected from common predators such as hawks or the neighbor's pet dog, and any standard chicken tractor or pen to lock them up at night will do. Some breeds of domestic duck are raised purely for show. These show ducks display beautiful crests, striking plumage, and decorative tufts. Buff Orpington, Silver Appleyard, Rouen, Saxony, and Faun Runners are amongst my favorite show birds.
Domestic ducks have been a part of society and culture for many years. Evidence suggests that Egyptians believed the duck to be a symbol of fertility.
Domestic Duck Farming
Ducks, like chickens, have been farmed for thousands of years. Ducks can be penned up, kept in batteries, or allowed to free roam. They are pretty resilient creatures that are capable of surviving harsh conditions. The domestic duck is farmed for a variety of reasons including down, meat, eggs, oil, pets foie gras, and even their blood! In the Western Hemisphere, domestic duck farming is not as popular as chicken farming because chickens are easier to keep confined and produce more meat per bird. The overall lower cost of care makes chickens more desirable.
With the exception of the Muscovy duck, most domestic ducks are horrible egg sitters. Ducks don’t usually sit on their eggs, so their eggs must be incubated in order to hatch. This factor, again, raises the costs of duck farming.
Overall, ducks are healthier for you to consume. The eggs are typically 30% bigger than chicken eggs, and duck eggs provide more of the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Top Domestic Egg Laying Ducks
Eggs per year
% Bluish egg
200 / yr
210 / yr
170 / yr
Top Domestic Meat Ducks
9 - 12 pounds
7 - 8 weeks
10 - 15 pounds
10 - 20 weeks
6 - 9 pounds
15 - 20 weeks
Caring for a Domestic Duck
If you have ever raised any type of poultry, caring for a domestic duck is fairly straightforward. As ducklings, they should be kept away from deep water. Ducks are not typically with their mothers at an early age, and the babies do not have their preen oil yet. Ducklings can easily drown if they get too wet. Ducks do not require water to swim, they just need enough water to dunk their heads and clean their bills.
Raising a domestic duck is similar to raising any other type of poultry. Ducks need to be brooded through their younger age and fed the same types of foods as chickens throughout the stages of their lives. Ducks are more resilient, but they also have the same health problems as other poultry.
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