Aside from beef, poultry such as chicken and turkey are the go-to sources of meat that we can easily get at the farm or market. When you ask around, people primarily use these two birds in their cooking, especially during festive seasons.
However, if you’re thinking of refining your palate and are looking for something different, you can always switch to duck meat.
Similar to chickens, ducks can be raised both for their meat and eggs. There are many species of ducks that are much bigger than chickens that could yield a large amount of meat per bird.
In this article, we will explore some of the best meat duck breeds and identify which breeds are considered the best meat producers.
One of the most popular duck breeds in Europe, this medium to large-sized breed was developed in 1835 by breeders and farmers in Pomerania, now a region in Sweden.
A few years later they were brought to North America and the American Standard of Perfection recognized them as a breed in 1904.
Today, these ducks are being monitored and conserved due to the decline in their population which is estimated to be just around 5,000 birds that exist in the world.
Swedish ducks come in different colors including black, blue, chocolate, and silver. They weigh between six and eight pounds, and the females are usually much lighter than drakes.
These ducks are recognized by the white plumage around their neck shaped like a bib, their bluish-green bills, and their brownish-red feet.
Due to their calm and laid-back personality, these ducks can also be raised as pets. Swedish ducks usually produce between 130 and 180 eggs per year.
They also love to forage for food, including insects, and small critters. It’s best to have a large space for these birds to roam freely.
Although they are slow growers, the wait is worth it because these ducks can produce delicious meat.
Pekin ducks are native to Southeast Asia, specifically China. They were developed from the China mallard ducks before being imported to the United States in 1873.
These ducks are also known as White Pekin, American Pekin, and Long Island Pekin.
Unlike other breeds, Pekin ducks are only white, but when they’re young, their feathers are yellow. These ducks also have full-breasted large bodies, fluffy plumage, and bright orange bills.
Pekin ducks weigh between 8 and 9 pounds. However, the Jumbo variety is much heavier and could weigh up to 12 pounds per bird.
One thing to note about Jumbo Pekin ducks is that they aren’t like the normal domesticated Pekins. This is because they are crossbred between large Pekin drakes with medium-sized females.
On average, domesticated Pekins could live up to 12 years. They are easy to handle, friendly, and can be a bit noisy.
Like most ducks, they love to forage for food on the ground and are extremely tolerant to changing seasons and avian diseases.
Rouen ducks hail from the city of the same name in France. They were bred and imported to the United States in 1850 before being recognized as a breed by the American Standard of Perfection in 1874.
During their early days, they were much smaller and resembled the size of the Mallard duck before further breeding was made to increase their size.
Drakes possess glossy, bright green heads, white feathers on their neck, and maroon or dark red chests.
Females have brown plumage with pale faces and dark stripes across their eyes and head.
On average, adult Rouen ducks weigh between 9 and 12 pounds while the domesticated ones are much lighter, which is between 6 and 8 pounds.
These ducks are mostly raised for their meat and as show ducks. They aren’t prolific layers and only produce up to 125 eggs per year.
Muscovy ducks are one of the many breeds that originated in South America. They can also be found in Europe, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.
Back in the old days, Native Americans also bred and raised these ducks as their source of meat and eggs.
These medium to large-sized ducks generally weigh between 6 and 12 pounds. Since drakes are much bigger and heavier than females, they can’t fly or jump to high places.
These ducks can also be recognized by their bright caruncles, yellowish brown eyes, reddish brown head, black feet, wide and flat tails, and feathers that come in different colors including black, brown, pied, bronze, green, and white.
On average, Muscovy ducks can lay up to 200 eggs per year, which is around 3 to 4 eggs per week.
Farmers and breeders raise them mostly for their flavorful and healthy meat that contains the least amount of fat out of all duck breeds.
These ducks are great foragers, resilient to many avian diseases, and much quieter than other breeds. If you keep them healthy, they can even live up to 20 years.
Mulard ducks are categorized as a hybrid species that are presumed to originate from France.
They were developed from a crossbreeding process between Muscovy drakes and Pekin female ducks. Some people also called them mule ducks or Moulard ducks.
The only way to repopulate and breed this duck is through in-vitro fertilization.
These large-sized ducks can be found in many places around the world including Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States.
Mulard ducks generally weigh between 12 and 15 pounds. They are distinguished by their fluffy white plumage, brown, eyes, light pink beaks, and red wattles around their faces.
Being a dabbling species, they prefer wet and aquatic areas such as swamps, lakes, and calm bodies of water.
Due to their large size and meaty breasts, Mulard ducks are primarily raised for their meat.
They also have large livers that are used in making a famous French delicacy, foie gras.
Like most ducks, they are great foragers and feed on different foods including insects, fish, bugs, small critters, and common poultry feed.
These domesticated ducks might look similar to other popular breeds like Pekins but they aren’t related to one another.
Aylesbury ducks hail from the place they were named after, Aylesbury, England.
This breed came into existence after the crossbreeding process between the extinct species Toulouse, and the wild Mallard duck. Back in the old days, they were also known as the English ducks.
Aylesbury ducks typically weigh between 10 and 12 pounds. Due to their large size, farmers and breeders mainly raise these ducks for their meat.
Aylesbury ducks can be characterized by their soft white plumage, pinkish bills, dark eyes, and orange feet. With their friendly, calm, and easy-going nature, you can also raise them as pets.
However, they can be quite noisy and require a large space to roam freely.
These ducks also don’t produce as many eggs as other breeds. So, it is best for you to avoid this breed if you’re looking for prolific layers.
Orpington ducks or Buff Orpington ducks are other breeds that are indigenous to England.
They were developed from a mix of three distinct breeds: Aylesbury, Roeun, and Indian Runner.
These ducks mainly come in three major varieties including Black, Blue, and Buff.
Of those three, the Buff variety is considered the most famous. They were developed by crossing the three previous breeds with another duck, the Cayuga.
They arrived in the United States in 1908 and were included in the American Standard of Perfection in 1914.
Buff Orpington ducks can be distinguished by buff-colored plumage, brown eyes, brownish orange bills, and feet.
On average, adult drakes could weigh up to 8 pounds while the females usually weigh around 7 pounds.
These medium-sized ducks are a dual-purpose breed that could produce both delicious meat and eggs.
Female ducks could produce between 150 and 220 whitish-gray eggs per year. Healthy Buff Orpingtons generally live between 8 and 12 years.
Some people also keep these ducks as pets or for exhibition purposes.
Silver Appleyard ducks are native to the United Kingdom. They were developed by a man named Reginald Appleyard from Ixworth, England, in the 1930s.
In the 1960s, these ducks were brought to the United States and were included in the American Standard of Perfection in 2000.
There are two types of Silver Appleyard ducks; the standard and the bantam varieties. Silver Appleyard ducks weigh between 8 and 9 pounds.
Drakes possess dark green heads, yellow bills, silvery feathers around the necks, and a mix of brown and silver plumage on their bodies.
Meanwhile, female ducks are slightly duller in color with whitish gray heads and necks, orange bills, and pale brown plumage.
However, the miniature or bantam version is more suitable to be raised for ornamental purposes or as pets.
On average, hens can produce between 100 and 270 white-colored eggs per year. These ducks are also calm, friendly, and easy to handle.
Saxony ducks were developed in 1930 by a German man from Saxony named Albert Franz.
He crossed a few different breeds, including the German Pekin, Blue Pomeranian, and Rouen, to create this breed.
These ducks were imported to the United States in 1985 and then included in the American Standard of Perfection in 2000.
These medium-sized ducks generally weigh between 8 and 9 pounds.
Saxony ducks are recognized by their chestnut plumage, oval-shaped brown heads, stocky bodies, yellowish-orange bills, and reddish-brown feet.
Drakes are usually larger and heavier than females. They also have a distinctive white collar or ring around their necks.
Farmers and breeders choose to raise Saxony ducks for their meat and eggs. On average, you can expect female ducks to produce between 190 and 240 white-colored eggs per year.
Although these ducks don’t grow as fast as other breeds, their meat is tasty and flavorful, which makes it worth it for you to keep them until they mature.
Which Duck Breeds are Best for Meat?
From the information gathered above, birds that yield a delicious and great amount of meat are large and heavy breeds like Aylesbury, Muscovy, and Pekin, especially Jumbo Pekin.
Furthermore, these breeds are easy to handle and have been raised by many people solely as meat ducks.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that a dual-purpose duck couldn’t yield a good amount of meat, but you can’t expect large or heavy carcasses from small or light breeds.
You can still raise the smaller breeds for meat and possibly their eggs if you choose to.
Raising and keeping ducks for their meat is similar to raising any type of poultry. They need a liveable environment, clean water, and food, as well as regular veterinary checks from time to time.
However, the most important thing to consider is their body size and weight. Go for larger breeds and constantly feed these birds food that is protein rich.