I need your help! I hinted the other day that our backyard flock of chickens may be getting some new neighbors. We are adding ducks to our modern homestead and we need to decide on a breed.

These cute little creatures are becoming increasingly popular as a backyard livestock option. They are docile creatures and light-weight breeds are generally poor flyers with high egg production. Their eggs are about 25% larger than a chicken egg and the best layers produce more eggs per year than chickens.

Photo by Bjoern Clauss

Some of the most popular backyard options are Khaki Campbell and Indian Runners, although there are over twenty breeds of domestic ducks being raised in the US. We have been planning on getting a small flock of Runners, also called Bottlenecks, this month to raise from ducklings. We love their quirky look and they are excellent backyard layers.

Our plan hit a speed bump though as I called local farms to find a duckling source. I stumbled upon a critically endangered breed called Ancona being raised by a local farm in the Eugene area, called Boondockers Farm.

I did some sleuthing and by all accounts they seem to be the perfect backyard duck option for the Pacific NW. I talked to Evan from the farm about this rare breed. How does he feel about people raising them for eggs, rather than breeding? They are a dual purpose breed that you cannot buy sexed, meaning we will probably eat half of them. Is he okay with people eating this uncommon breed?

The answer to everything was yes, he’s cool with it. They want to see the breed become more common in every way – for breeding, eggs, meat production, etc.

So now I am left with a tough decision that I want you to weigh in on. Do I choose Runners with a graceful, quirky appearance in the backyard? Or do I choose the Ancona duck to help promote this breed in the backyard?

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