Everything You Need to Know About Pekin Ducks

Updated on April 14, 2020
DuckHatch profile image

Raising ducks is a hobby that fulfills a lifetime passion and is hard to let go of. Our family loves and cares for a small flock of Pekins.

Pekin ducks are beautiful, hearty birds that make great pets and show birds but are also prized for their meat and eggs.
Pekin ducks are beautiful, hearty birds that make great pets and show birds but are also prized for their meat and eggs. | Source

Pekin ducks are a type of large-breed, white-feathered, dabbling duck that was domesticated over 2000 years ago. Although the location of their origin is often disputed, most agree it was probably somewhere in Southeast Asia. Due to selective breeding, these birds produce larger eggs and more meat than most other ducks and have a visual appearance that pleases the eye. Over the years, Pekins have become one of the most common production ducks in the world.

Most Pekins are large and white with orange beaks. These hearty, friendly birds were bred specifically for meat and egg production and have become almost synonymous with the word duck today. They are calm-natured and a little bit skittish, but they make excellent pets due to their unique personalities and overall durability. Raising Pekins is easier than raising most other breeds of domestic duck because of their strong immune systems and ability to survive in extreme conditions.

Pekin Basics Covered in This Article

  • Diet
  • Habitat
  • Breeding
  • Sexing
  • Breed Varieties

Celebrity Pekins

Both the Aflac duck and Donald Duck are Pekins! As you may have noticed, both have white feathers and orange beaks.

Pekin ducks' white feathers and orange beaks give them a classic and easily recognizable appearance.
Pekin ducks' white feathers and orange beaks give them a classic and easily recognizable appearance.

What Do They Eat?

Ducks are scavengers, and they will eat just about anything that will fit into their mouths. Pekins are dabbling ducks, which means they get their food from land and the water's surface rather than by diving underwater. To get the maximum lifespan from this feathered creature, it's important to help it eat healthily. Although ducks will not overeat, they will devour unhealthy junk food. So, what do ducks eat?

The Wild Diet

In the wild, depending on the time of year and location, ducks eat a wide variety of things. So many, in fact, that any list would just be too long. Instead, here are a few random healthier items to help you get an idea of how broad a wild duck's typical diet can be. In the wild, ducks eat many aquatic organisms like fish, frogs, and algae. They also forage for nuts, berries, and seeds. Worms, crickets, flies, and mosquitos are also on the menu.

The Domestic Diet

A domestic duck can usually roam free on a farm and find most of its food on its own. That said, a healthy duck's diet still needs to be supplemented with traditional poultry feed. Poultry feed is usually cheap and readily available at any pet or feed store. To determine the type of feed that you will need, you will have to decide what your duck's purpose is.

For Good Eggs: If you want healthy eggs, the girls need a "layer feed." Layer feed is rich in calcium and the vitamins poultry need to produce beautiful eggs. Boys, on the other hand, need a healthy, protein-rich diet with intermittent calcium supplements to ensure fertile eggs.

For Pet Ducks: Pets are a bit different. Free-ranging ducks are great at finding food, so supplementing meals with chicken scratch or corn is usually sufficient. Be careful with corn, however. If too much is consumed, ducks can become overweight. Corn and protein are better for the winter months. Corn helps add an extra layer of fat, while protein provides the energy to stay warm.

For Babies: Baby ducks need a type of food referred to as "chick starter." Chick starter provides the protein and vitamins babies need to live strong, healthy lives. Avoid medicated food for ducklings; ducks have strong immune systems, and the extra medicine could weaken them.

With a solid coop, a flock of hearty Pekins can easily withstand harsh temperatures.
With a solid coop, a flock of hearty Pekins can easily withstand harsh temperatures.

How Do I Set Up Their Pen?

Whether you want to keep Pekins as pets, for eggs, for meat, or for some other purpose, you'll need to make sure their living environment is suited to their needs.

Temperature and Enclosure

Ducks are hardy creatures and can survive extreme hot and cold temperatures. In the winter, they need a draft-free shelter with hay on the floor. In the summer, they need shade and extra water.

Water and Swimming

Contrary to popular belief, ducks do not need water to swim in; they only need water deep enough to clean out their bills. Most ducks do love to swim, so providing a place for them to do so is definitely a good idea—it just isn't technically necessary. Cleanliness and predators are the main things you need to watch out for.

Cleanliness and Sanitization

Ducks poop! Pens can get messy fast, so keeping the coop and pen clean is of utmost importance to avoid sickness outbreaks and keep healthy ducks. I can't stress how important it is to keep the feed containers, pen, and coop clean. A healthy duck is a happy duck.

Predator Safety

To keep the coop free from predators, you have to understand what predators you might encounter. For instance, protecting your Pekins from the neighbors' dog or a raccoon is different than protecting the coop from a bear or a pack of coyotes. Know the predators in your area and adjust accordingly.

For ducks, the breeding process isn't very pleasant for the females, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of harm.
For ducks, the breeding process isn't very pleasant for the females, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of harm.

How to Breed Pekins

Pekins rarely sit on their eggs, so an alternative incubation method is usually required. Often, an incubator or broody hen will get the job done. Pekin eggs, like those of most descendants of the mallard, take approximately 28 days to hatch and require consistent temperature and humidity as well as the tedious turning of the egg throughout the day. This is why an automatic incubator is often the preferred choice for Pekin eggs.

The mating ritual of a breeding duck can be hard to watch. It helps to make sure the girls are happy. Five girls should be assigned to one boy. Too many boys can make for a situation where the males get aggressive and hurt the hens. A small pool of water makes this experience much more desirable for the little ladies.

Since Pekins are descendants of the mallard duck, they can breed with just about any domestic duck in the world. I love watching baby ducks run around the yard and am always excited to see what new type of birds or eggs I will get! If you intend to breed show-quality birds, keep in mind that you must be prepared to cull the flock of the young ducks at an early age.

Is My Duck Male or Female?

Baby ducks are nearly impossible to sex before eight weeks of age. There is a method called sex venting that can be done within the first 24 hours, but it is often misunderstood and can hurt or kill a baby duck if done improperly.

The easiest way to tell if your Pekin duck is a male or female is by its quack. Girls have a loud honk, and boys have a quieter quack. Male ducks also have a drake feather, which is a curled feather at the end of the tail. This alone, however, isn't enough information for accurate sexing. Watch the video below for a more in-depth explanation.

The Different Varieties of Pekin Explained

Although some of these ducks are not technically Pekins, they are often confused with Pekins and have nearly identical features and traits. Refer to the included images for a visual reference to these varieties.

A Typical American Pekin
A Typical American Pekin

American Pekin

The American Pekin is a large, hearty bird that doesn't feel as fragile as other common domestic ducks. They were introduced to America from China in 1873 by James E. Palmer, who started the American flock with six hens and three drakes. Palmer loaded fifteen birds on the ship, and only nine made the trip across the pond. Over half of America's commercial ducks today are Pekins!

These ducks are seen throughout the U.S. at ponds, commercial farms, and backyard farms. They also exist as pets, and some even live independently in parks. The American Pekin duck lays about 200 eggs per year and is rarely broody; the eggs generally need to be incubated by keepers. Sexing is often difficult until maturity. Drakes do possess a drake feather, which is a single curled feather on the tail. The female has a much louder quack than the drake.

Typical Aylesbury Pekins
Typical Aylesbury Pekins


Aylesbury ducks, although extremely similar in appearance, aren’t actually Pekins. These ducks get their name from the town they originated in—Aylesbury, England. Since at least the 1690s, Aylesbury and the surrounding areas have bred ducks. Given the similarities, this breed seems to have been inspired by the Chinese Pekin.

Originally, the preferred duck was a hearty white meat bird with clean feathers. This led to selective breeding, and by the early 1800s, Aylesbury ducks were a sought-after meat bird being shipped throughout England (including London) regularly. Aylesbury ducks were considered more flavorful and less fatty than Pekin ducks. An abundance of inbreeding combined with the World Wars led to the Aylesbury's decline. There is only one major flock left in England today.

Typical German Pekins
Typical German Pekins | Source

German Pekin

The German Pekin is the result of Chinese Pekins being bred with upright Japanese ducks from Dutch ships. This gave the German Pekin an upright stance, much like an Indian Runner Duck but with a much stockier appearance.

Pekin ducks arrived in Germany from France and the UK shortly after they were imported by Walter Steward in 1872, and the German version of Pekin was born. The Pekin duck didn't make it back to the United Kingdom until 1970. Aylesbury is the preferred duck meat choice in the UK to this day.

Germany has not farmed the German Pekin commercially since the Second World War, and it is now listed on the critically endangered species list. Today, these birds are primarily kept as pets and displayed in shows.

Typical Jumbo Pekins
Typical Jumbo Pekins | Source

Jumbo Pekin

Jumbo Pekins are bred by crossing a meaty strain Pekin drake with a medium-sized Pekin hen. These birds are the largest Pekins you can get, and they are often a preferred choice for meat birds because of their size and fertility rates. Because these ducks grow so fast, their legs aren't built to hold their own weight, which reduces their life cycle and productivity. People do not usually keep them as pets for this reason.

A Typical White Crested Duck
A Typical White Crested Duck

White Crested Duck

A domestic White Crested Duck looks nearly identical to a Pekin duck, but it's not exactly a Pekin. Domestic Crested Ducks most likely originated in the East Indies. They were depicted in paintings there over 2000 years ago.

So, how do these guys get their cute little hairdos? It's a deformity of the skull caused by a genetic mutation called "hemizygous." This gene causes a sharp decrease in hatchability rates; one-third of the ducklings that survive incubation do not have a crested head. Please note that there is a difference between wild and domestic crested ducks. Wild crested ducks don't have that cute little fluff ball on their heads.

Typical Grimaud Hybrid Pekins
Typical Grimaud Hybrid Pekins | Source

Grimaud Hybrid Pekins

These ducks have an American Pekin-like appearance and are created in France by a man named Grimaud Freres. Grimaud ducks are genetically modified to be fertile, high-output egg-layers with an improved feed conversion ratio as meat birds. Due to the proprietary nature, little is known about this breed other than what's posted on Mr. Freres' website.

Egg and Weight Comparison by Breed Variety

Weight is measured in pounds. Egg size is measured in grams.
Weight is measured in pounds. Egg size is measured in grams.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2018 Drake Runner


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 hours ago

      Can adult 5 week old pekin ducks live in the same duck house as adult pekin ducks?

    • profile image


      4 weeks ago

      i only have one duck in reading these and i feel cruel :(

    • profile image


      5 weeks ago

      If you are going to get a pekin, or any duck for that matter PLEASE get them another duck. If they are by themselves, they can get very depressed easily for not having another mate to play with. Most ducks are very social animals and don't like being alone, so I recommend getting at least 2 ducks. Hope this helps! I own 3 pekins as my pet and they are very attached to each other and whenever I take one away from the other when I put them away for bed, they go crazy (don't worry they sleep together they just get put away one at a time) My ducks are Raini, Nugget and Daisy, but nugget got bit by my dog as a duckling and I was very sad but we went to the vet multiple times and now nugget is a happy and healthy duck. He is a little bit smaller then his playmates because I think he was a late developer (could be from the injury) but he is growing and he is very happy and healthy now, but while he was a bit smaller, my other ducks looked after him and treated him like a child. I hope you enjoyed this and I hope you follow my advice about getting ducks!C:

    • profile image

      I love ducks 

      6 weeks ago

      I stIll can’t tell what gender my 2 Pekin ducks are. One is bigger, feistier, and has a really loud quack and the other is smaller, calmer and has the same quack.

    • profile image


      6 weeks ago

      is it possible to breed a pekin duck with another duck

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      is it a good idea to get just a male crested pekin duck?

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Will a drake mount another drake?

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Can I keep one Pekin duck by itself, if not what will happen?

    • profile image

      Aubree (-^-) 

      2 months ago

      I'm doing resreach about pekin ducks :)

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Duck are awesome

    • profile image

      Kathleen Hargiss 

      6 months ago

      When I put in the new baby ducks with the two-year old pekins?

    • profile image


      7 months ago

      just for the record i grew up in pekin illinois. until 1980 our controversial school mascot was the pekin chinks... i voted to get the name changed to ducks, but alas... we became the dragons. just imagine growing up thinking that chink was an okay and funny thing to call someone. jeesh.

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      My ducks have a weird looking thing on there backs just above there tail do anyone know what it is please

    • profile image


      13 months ago


    • profile image


      20 months ago

      We aren't scavengers, we're foragers.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)