A Fowl Battle: Ducks vs Chickens

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Ducks vs chickens: which are the best poultry to get for your backyard flock? Knowing the pros and cons of both types of fowl BEFORE you decide can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.

One day years ago, The Tyrant proclaimed that it was time for us to get some egg layers.

We love eggs and eat quite a few of them each week. However, we’re pretty careful about what we eat. We don’t eat standard factory-farmed eggs, because we don’t really want to eat arsenic and pharmaceuticals. Plus, not surprisingly, truly free-ranging birds produce eggs that are healthier for people.

Many people also say that truly free-range eggs taste better than standard factory-farmed eggs too.

Sure, we care deeply about animal welfare issues as well, but you can be totally self-centered and still see how it makes sense to only eat eggs from healthy outdoor-living animals. 

Lucinda: The Secret Ingredient

Notice that we haven’t said “chicken eggs” yet? Well, there’s a reason for that. Typically, when someone hears the word “egg” they immediately get a mental image of a chicken. We used to think egg=chicken too… until we went to our friend Andrea’s house and ate the best creme brulee we’ve ever had in our lives.

“What’s the secret ingredient,” asked The Tyrant. “Petunia,” said Andrea. “Petunia, the duck.”

As it turned out, Andrea had a backyard duck that produced one big, beautiful egg every day that summer.

Duck eggs? You can eat them? Do they taste good? “Yes” is the answer to all three questions.

Our belief that chickens were the only viable option for producing healthy, delicious eggs had been shattered. Thankfully, the nearby SwampRabbit Cafe & Grocery also carries healthy, local duck eggs so we were able to continue feeding our newfound duck egg addiction.

Ducks vs Chickens: Which Are Better?

Soon after our duck egg creme brulee experience, we started reading up on ducks. After all, we had to make a fowl decision: chickens or ducks? Which critter would be the better option for us at Tyrant Farms?

Beyond the online resources like, we dug into Dave Holderread’s Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks and The Ultimate Pet Duck Guide Book.

To be clear, it’s impossible to make a sweeping generalization about either chickens or ducks, just as it is impossible to say “cars are better than trucks.” It depends on your needs and it also depends on the specific breed of duck or chicken you’re referencing. Some breeds are bred for meat production, some for egg production, and some for sociability or beauty.

We wanted prolific-laying, hardy, disease & parasite-resistant, low maintenance, long-lived birds that wouldn’t destroy our garden when foraging. After doing some research, spending time with our friends’ chickens, and (now) having raised multiple generations of heritage breed Welsh Harlequin ducks, we’ve come to realize that we’re decidedly in the “ducks are better than chickens” camp ā€” at least for our backyard system here in wet, humid South Carolina.

Putting it all together in a single chart, here’s why we decided to get ducks vs chickens:backyard ducks vs chickens comparison chart, by Tyrant Farms

What about duck eggs vs chicken eggs?

Yes, there’s quite a difference between duck eggs and chicken eggs as well. You can read all about the differences between the two types of eggs hereScared chicken

One More Reason To Get Ducks…

Have you ever seen cuddly chickens? No? Neither have we. Although a few people have told us they occasionally have a friendly, lovable chicken.

If you raise certain breeds of sociable ducks from day-one (like Welsh Harlequins), you won’t just have great egglayers, you’ll have loving pets too!

Here are some adorable duck photos that are 100% guaranteed to make you smile and yearn for your own backyard (or farmyard) ducks:

Two day old ducklings at Tyrant Farms.

Two day old ducklings at Tyrant Farms.

Duckling's first outdoor adventure at Tyrant Farms.

Duckling’s first outdoor adventure at Tyrant Farms.

Ducklings sleeping on their makeshift nest (a thyme plant).

Ducklings sleeping on their makeshift nest (a thyme plant).

Month old ducklings getting ready for movie night on the sofa at Tyrant Farms.

Month-old ducklings getting ready for movie night on the sofa at Tyrant Farms.

Six week old duckling enjoying a nap and belly rub.

Six week old duckling enjoying a nap and belly rub on The Tyrant’s lap.

Ducks vs chickens: what do you think?

If you’ve tried both chicken and duck eggs, which do you like better? If you’ve raised both types of birds, which do you prefer? We’d love to hear what you think about ducks vs chickens!

Please make sure your comments are fowl-mouthed. šŸ˜‰



Be sure to check out our other posts about raising ducks!

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