When Your Ducks Are Jerks

Ducks have different personalities.  I don’t care what anyone says, but you can’t mix certain ducks together, no matter if they were raised together.  We have or rather had, 4 different species of ducks.  Indian Runner ducks, Muscovies, Pekins and Appleyards.  And they are very, very, different…


Pekins (pure white ducks) and Appleyards, herded into a corner in our barn.  Note the hairy eyeball I got for doing that from the Appleyard male (green head). He was not amused.

Pekins, as far as I can determine, are labs of the duck world when it comes to food.  All they want to do is eat.  They will be at the front of the line, and will muscle in and try to snag whatever is available.  Personality wise though, unlike sweet labs, they are the top for domination in our small duck world here, since they seem to realize that they are the biggest ducks around.  And that’s where the problem really starts.  These Pekin ducks, or at least the strain we got, are jerks.  They tend to bully our other ducks.  Our Silver Appleyards were almost the same size, but didn’t have the personality to take them on, although they did travel together with the Pekins as a pack.  Maybe they know that hanging with the bullies is better then not.  Our Muscovies had decided that they won’t hang out with them at all, preferring more intellectual pursuits like having loud whispering and head-bobbing arguments in groups (since they are a quack-less duck) over politics of the day, usually by their water bucket.

Meanwhile, we had two little Indian Runner Ducks that were hysterical.  They were vocal little guys, cruising around the yard in their completely upright manner, talking back and forth about the weather.  Their conversations are a little more basic then the Muscovy’s:

“Do you think we’ll get rain tomorrow? I do think we’ll get rain.”

“Yes, I do in fact believe we will have rain tomorrow.  Look at that cloud.  No, that one!  That definitely looks like a rain cloud to me.  Definitely, definitely rain tomorrow.”

This banter was constant, and they generally kept to themselves, and were a lovely personality with delicate frames as they were bred for laying -certainly not a meat duck with that tiny frame!  This of course was a problem, as due to the Pekin’s size and bullying, I was concerned about their safety.  When a Pekin wants to assert that he’s top dog with a fragile petite duck, a lot a chasing and biting goes on, and no one seemed happy about the outcome.   So, sadly the Indian Runners had to go.


Muscovies with their red masks in front, letting the little Indian Runner duck hang out with them at the rear.

The Muscovies certainly are the easiest to manage, as they hunt for slugs on their own, and although they like to have some pelleted duck food, it’s not their top priority as they have been hunting and eating all day on their own.   We haven’t eaten a duck yet, but apparently their meat is less fatty then regular duck and delicious.  And their ability to reproduce easily… we decided they had to stay.  The slug count has been at an all time low since their arrival, and that was alone worth it!

So the Appleyards and Pekins went off to different farms – both farms were looking for some new males to add to their breeding lines of ducks and the ladies were bonuses.  For some reason, the Chef was delighted about that!  And admittedly, so was I!


How can you not want to hatch out more of these?

So we solved our duck jerk problem, to narrowing down what kind of duck worked for our farm.  Which was great… until I recognized I have a hatching addiction. Because before we sold the ducks, I gathered up the eggs and put them in our incubator.  Unfortunately, I had no idea what I had… since the Pekin, Appleyard and Muscovy eggs were all mixed in, so it’s been interesting seeing what has hatched in the last several weeks!  And yes, I realize they eventually won’t get along, and will undoubtably go off to other farms, but raising ducklings is so much fun!

So picking a breed of duck that works for your farm, and meshes well with your other animals is important.  And again, only discovered through trial and error.  And if you can’t help yourself by putting found eggs in the incubator, I totally understand.

Good luck to you on future duckling hatches!


The Shepherd



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