Pekin Duck: Breed Information, Pictures & Facts

White Pekin duck in the farm

The Pekin duck is a popular commercial duck breed, known not only for its pristine, creamy-white feathers but also for its versatile utility in both meat and egg production.

These ducks have been domesticated for over 2,000 years, and they are now a common sight in both agricultural and residential settings all over the world.

Whether you’re an aspiring duck owner or a seasoned poultry enthusiast, this guide aims to answer all your questions about these charming birds. So, read on to find out what makes the Pekin duck a truly special breed.

Breed Overview

Purpose:Dual-purpose (meat and eggs)
Adult Size:Males: 9–10 pounds; 
Females: 8–9 pounds
Lifespan:8–12 years
Colors:White or creamy white
Temperament:Docile, affectionate, friendly
Egg Production:200–300 large eggs per year 
Egg Color:White
Noise Level:Moderate

What Is a Pekin Duck?

Group of Pekin ducks near the river

The Pekin duck, also known as the American Pekin, is a domestic duck breed known for its creamy white plumage and dual-purpose utility. Originating from China, it was brought to the United States in the 19th century and has since become a popular choice for commercial meat production.

Pekin ducks are versatile birds, raised both for their meat and eggs. Their meat stands out for its flavorful taste without the typical greasiness of other duck meats.

In addition to their use in the meat industry, Pekin ducks are prolific egg layers, producing a significant number of eggs annually, which are highly valued in various cuisines for their rich taste and texture.

But their significance isn’t limited to just utility. Pekin ducks are beloved for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them not only ideal for commercial farming but also as pets or backyard birds.

Pekin Duck Origin and Habitat

The Pekin duck has its roots in China, where it was meticulously developed before making its way to Great Britain in 1872. Not long after, around 1873, the first Pekin ducks were introduced to the United States.

The breed soon became the most popular commercial duck in America because of its long, broad, and big-breasted body, which enables it to pack a lot of meat.

Since then, Pekin ducks have become a common sight throughout the country. Their docile nature and adaptability have even made them beloved pets in some households.

They can be found in various settings, from commercial farms producing meat and eggs to serene backyard farms.

Beyond farms, it’s not uncommon to spot Pekin ducks in public ponds and parks, where some live independently, mingling with local wildlife and enjoying the attention and generosity of park-goers.

Whether they are kept as pets, used for meat and egg production, or live independently in public areas, these ducks have shown that they thrive in many different environments.

Pekin Duck Appearance

Pekin duck walking in the backyard

Renowned for its iconic appearance, the Pekin duck is the perfect example of what people imagine when they think of a standard duck. These birds have a slightly chubby build paired with an upright stance.

As ducklings, they sport a bright yellow color, which transforms into a beautiful white plumage as they mature. This creamy white hue covers their entire body, giving them a pristine and uniform look.

These white ducks also have yellowish-orange legs and feet, which provide a stunning contrast to their creamy white bodies.

Notably, they sport a short, almost perfectly straight yellow beak. As they age, this beak may develop black speckles, adding to their unique charm.

You might find it challenging to differentiate between male and female Pekin ducks at first glance, given their similar appearances.

However, the key to telling them apart lies in their distinct vocalizations. Curious to hear the difference? Check out this video for a clear demonstration:

Quickly Identify Pekin Duck Gender - Super Easy!

Pekin Duck Size and Weight

Pekin ducks are known for their large size and sturdy build. Males typically weigh between 9 and 10 pounds, while females are a bit lighter, weighing around 8 to 9 pounds.

There is also a larger variant known as Jumbo Pekins, which can weigh anywhere from 9 to 13 pounds.

This breed grows rapidly, reaching about 90% of its adult weight by the age of just seven weeks. However, they only reach full maturity once they are between 16 and 28 weeks old.

When fully grown, these ducks stand tall at an average height of around 20 inches.

Their substantial size and rapid growth rate not only make them a preferred choice for meat production but also a delightful addition to any backyard where they can be properly cared for and enjoyed.

Pekin Duck Temperament and Behavior

Pekin duck stretching its wings

Despite their large size, Pekin ducks have a friendly temperament, making them a popular choice for a variety of uses, including as pets.

Their sociable demeanor means they can get along harmoniously with other animals, including chickens.

However, despite their calm nature, they can sometimes be a tad nervous, especially around rowdy children. Nonetheless, there’s no need to worry about them taking off as these ducks are too heavy to fly.

In addition to being friendly toward people, Pekin ducks are known to be inquisitive. If left unsupervised, their curiosity can occasionally lead them into minor mischief.

They love to waddle around, play in the water, and forage when they’re not exploring. If you’re lucky enough to bond closely with a Pekin duck, they might even approach you for treats and enjoy being hand-fed.

Overall, Pekin ducks are a delightful blend of gentle temperament and playful behavior, making them a favorite choice for many poultry enthusiasts.

Whether you’re raising them for their utility or simply for companionship, their endearing nature is sure to win your heart.

Noise Levels of Pekin Ducks

Pekin ducks have a reputation for being quite vocal. While they aren’t the loudest of all duck breeds, they certainly know how to express themselves. 

During my time raising Pekin ducks, I noticed that the hens were notably more vocal than drakes. Their quacks can be frequent and varied, especially when they’re communicating with fellow ducks, signaling distress, or simply expressing curiosity.

My mornings were filled with their gentle quacking, creating a lively and joyful atmosphere in my backyard.

The reasons for their vocalizations can range from alerting the flock of potential dangers to seeking the attention of their keepers.

For those considering Pekin ducks in urban areas, it’s essential to be mindful of their noise levels. While many people find their quacks endearing, nearby neighbors might not always agree.

How to Take Care of Your Pekin Duck

Pekin duck swimming in the blue water

Raising a Pekin duck can be a rewarding experience, but just like any other type of duck, they have specific needs to ensure their well-being.

Here are some key aspects of looking after these delightful birds, ensuring they thrive under your care:

Lifespan and Health Issues

Pekin ducks are renowned for their hardiness and resilience. On average, a healthy Pekin duck can live around 8 to 12 years.

Their strong immune system contributes to their longevity, making them less susceptible to common poultry diseases. However, like all animals, they’re not entirely free from health concerns.

Because of their heavy weight, Pekin ducks can be particularly prone to bumblefoot. This bacterial infection affects the foot, especially when these ducks are kept on hard or rough surfaces.

To ensure their longevity and health, regular health check-ups, vaccinations, and maintaining a clean living environment are crucial.

Diet and Nutrition

Taking care of your Pekin duck’s dietary needs is essential for its overall health. For the first two weeks after hatching, ducklings should be fed a diet containing 20% protein.

After this initial period, the protein level can be reduced to 17% until they reach their market age. While high-protein diets can accelerate growth, they might also lead to excessive fat buildup, so moderation is key.

Moreover, since grains make up the bulk of their meals, it’s important to supplement their diet with riboflavin and niacin to ensure proper growth and development.

However, a word of caution: avoid adding salt, especially for younger ducklings, as it can lead to watery droppings.

Monitoring their diet and making necessary adjustments ensures they receive the right nutrients for optimal health.

Coop Setup and Roaming

Caring for your Pekin duck requires a well-thought-out living space. Firstly, a duck’s coop should be spacious and safe.

Each duck needs a minimum of 4 square feet inside the coop. Ensure it’s predator-proof, especially at night when threats are more active.

During the day, ducks like spending time outdoors. Thus, having a run, which is an enclosed outdoor area, is essential.

Ideally, this space should have at least 10 square feet per duck, allowing them to roam, forage, and play. However, more space is always better.

If possible, rotate them between multiple runs to let the ground recover, preventing it from turning into a muddy mess.

Further, while Pekins aren’t great fliers, a fence of at least 2 to 3 feet should suffice to keep them contained.

Make sure there’s a shaded area in their run where they can go out of the sun and away from any potential aerial predators.

Pekin Duck Egg Laying and Meat Production

Renowned for their dual-purpose nature, Pekin ducks excel in both egg production and meat yield. Typically, a Pekin hen starts its egg-laying journey at around 5 to 6 months old.

It lays between 200 and 300 extra-large white eggs annually. These eggs are not only large but also have a rich taste, making them a sought-after ingredient in many culinary dishes.

When it comes to meat production, Pekin ducks are a top choice. Their meat is distinct, offering a rich flavor without the typical greasiness found in some duck meats.

Compared to chicken and turkey, the Pekin duck has much leaner meat, making it a healthier choice.

Remarkably, these ducks can reach market weight at the young age of just six weeks, making them suitable for butchering.

In essence, whether you’re looking for a reliable source of eggs or meat, Pekin ducks are an efficient and rewarding choice for both endeavors.

Is the Pekin Duck Breed Right for You?

Pekin duck isolated in the river

Pekin ducks are among the most popular and versatile duck breeds. Their friendly nature, combined with their hardiness, makes them a top choice for many enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for a reliable egg layer, Pekins won’t disappoint, laying a generous amount of extra-large white eggs annually.

Moreover, they’re known to coexist peacefully with chickens, making them a fitting addition to mixed poultry flocks.

Nevertheless, there are things to consider before committing to this breed. Firstly, you need to take their size into account. These ducks can grow to be rather large, so make sure you have enough space to accommodate them.

While their rapid growth rate makes them a prime source of meat, it also means they require proper care and nutrition to thrive.

Also, keep in mind that Pekin ducks are moderately noisy, which may not suit settings where noise can be an issue.

Overall, if you’re prepared to meet their needs and have the space, Pekin ducks can be a delightful addition to your backyard, providing fresh eggs and delicious meat while adding charm to your flock.

Frequently Asked Questions

Two Pekin ducks in a farm

Do Pekin Ducks Need a Friend?

Pekin ducks are inherently social creatures. These ducks thrive best when in the company of their kind. Being alone can lead to feelings of loneliness and even depression for these birds.

Most ducks, including Pekins, form strong bonds with their companions; they are often seen waddling, foraging, and swimming together.

So, if you’re considering keeping a Pekin duck, having at least two is highly recommended, ensuring they have a mate to interact with and keep them company.

Do Pekin Ducks Need a Pond?

Like many waterfowl, Pekin ducks feel at home in the water. While they don’t necessarily need a large pond, they do enjoy having a place to swim and play in the water.

Providing them with a kiddie pool or other small body of water will do. Having access to such bodies of water helps them clean their feathers and indulge in their natural behaviors.

Are Pekin Ducks Hard to Take Care Of?

Taking care of Pekin ducks is generally considered easier compared to other duck breeds. They are known for their strong immune systems, which allow them to thrive in various conditions.

This hardiness means they are less prone to illnesses, making them a relatively low-maintenance breed. Hence, as long as you’re able to meet their basic needs, keeping Pekin ducks healthy and happy should be easy.

Can Pekin Ducks Be Aggressive?

Pekin ducks are known for their calm and friendly nature, which makes them relatively docile most of the time.

However, like any other animal, these ducks have their moments. Male Pekin ducks can sometimes assume an alpha role, especially in a larger flock, and exhibit aggressive behavior towards other animals.

Nonetheless, it is rare for Pekin ducks to be aggressive towards humans. While they can exhibit aggressive behavior in specific situations, Pekin ducks are typically gentle and easy-going.

Can Pekin Ducks Survive Winter?

Pekin ducks are hardy birds that can withstand cold temperatures. Their thick layer of body fat and fluffy down beneath their waterproof feathers provide insulation against the cold.

Healthy ducks can endure temperatures as low as -15 °F. As long as they have access to proper shelter and plenty of food, Pekin ducks can thrive even in the coldest conditions.

Final Thoughts

Exploring the world of Pekin ducks reveals a rich history and a variety of characteristics that make this breed truly remarkable.

Whether you’re drawn to their friendly nature, their role in meat and egg production, or simply their iconic appearance, there’s much to admire about Pekin ducks.

If you’re looking to own one, remember that while Pekin ducks are tough birds, understanding their needs is crucial for their well-being. The key to their happiness and longevity lies in your knowledge and commitment.

Do you have a Pekin duck story to share? Feel free to comment below, and let’s continue the conversation about these fascinating birds.

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