Where to buy ducklings or ducks for your backyard or small farm

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There are both practical and ethical considerations to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide where to buy ducklings or mature ducks. Depending on your location and needs, there might not be a perfect answer to the question “where’s the best place to get ducklings or ducks?”

However, to help you make the best decision possible, let’s take a deeper dive into the available options…

Ducklings and mother duck - Welsh Harlequin breed.

One of our momma Welsh Harlequin ducks wondering where she can get more ducklings.

5 ways to purchase ducklings or ducks

For starters, here are the five basic choices (listed from largest to smallest operations) where you can purchase ducklings or ducks:

  1. Large/national breeders,
  2. Farm supply stores,
  3. Small local/regional breeders and farms,
  4. Waterfowl/wildlife rescue operations,
  5. Individuals in your area (backyard poultry keepers).

Now let’s dive a bit deeper into the pros and cons of the various choices:

Option 1: Large/national breeders and hatcheries

Metzer Farms and Murray McMurray Hatchery are probably the two most well-known, large-scale duck breeding operations in the US. (Holderread’s used to be the gold standard for duck breeding work in the U.S., but they’ve largely shut down after the founders transitioned into retirement.)

Here we should also mention an excellent breeder/hatchery that’s a small operation, but one that will still ship ducklings and ducks: Sand Hill Preservation Center

Ducklings enjoying a sunny day at Tyrant Farms.

Ducklings enjoying a sunny day at Tyrant Farms.

Over the years, we’ve ordered two rounds of ducklings from Metzer Farms and have had only good experiences to report, but there is an inherent risk any time you order live animals to be shipped by mail. (See below.)


  • Wide variety of breeds to choose from;
  • You can order sexed runs (examples: all females, all males, 4 females and 1 male).


  • Since mail-order hatcheries ship just-hatched ducklings in the mail (albeit with grow-gel and a heat pack), there’s no guarantee that the ducklings will be alive by the time they reach your local post office. All it takes is one mistake along the way for things to go terribly wrong. We have read horror stories of people receiving a box of dead ducklings due to USPS mishaps and shipping delays.

You can also opt to order fertilized duck eggs from the same operations in order to eliminate the risk of “death by mail,” but you won’t be able to get a sexed run since eggs do not have genitalia. (Ha.)

Ducking hatching from egg.

This egg produced Pippa, one of our female ducks.

Option 2: Farm supply stores

Please do not source ducklings from a farm supply store. This practice encourages impulse purchases and/or Easter duckling purchases for kids, both of which are highly irresponsible. Your purchase will financially incentivize the store to continue this practice. (In fact, you may want to politely bring this up with the manager if you see them selling ducklings.)

Ducks require a lot of specialized knowledge, predator-proof infrastructure, and care. Thus, they should not be purchased on a whim or impulse. Doing so leads to a very high probability that the ducks will suffer and die because the buyers will not be adequately prepared to raise them.

Yes, ducklings are adorable. But they should be bought with forethought and planning, not as an impulse purchase.

Yes, ducklings are adorable. But they should be bought with forethought and planning, not as an impulse purchase.

We avoid going to nearby parks with ponds in early summer due to the number of tame, domestic ducks who have been dumped there by people who impulse bought ducklings in the spring. We simply can’t bear it.

Once the buyers’ kids have lost interest in the animals and/or the human adults realize they’ve bitten off more than they want to chew, the animals are “set free” in the wild. This is akin to letting your pet chihuahua free in a forest. Neither animal will meet a good fate. And in the case of dumped domestic ducks, they might also end up mating with wild Mallards causing genetic pollution (example: hybrid offspring that can’t fly).


  • None… Other than the fact that the ducklings are not shipped through the mail.


  • Incentivizes stores to aid consumer impulse purchases of domestic ducks;
  • You don’t usually know what breed you’re getting;
  • You don’t know what sex you’re getting.

Option 3: Small local/regional breeders and farms

If possible, we highly recommend sourcing fertilized eggs, ducklings, or adult ducks from smaller local/regional breeders, hatcheries, and farms near you instead of larger mail-order operations. This approach not only helps support local food systems, it also helps encourage genetic diversity and resilience in available breeding stock.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of “going local” is the ability to drive to the operation to pick up your new ducklings or ducks rather than having them shipped in the mail, thus eliminating the risk of animals dying in transit. In addition to search engines, a good way to find a duck breeder near you is The Flock Directory, created by Liz Palmer. Each listing contains available breeds plus the operation’s location and contact information.

Want to be a good duck parent? Avoid mail-order ducklings if you have other alternatives.

Want to be a good duck parent? Avoid mail-order ducklings if you have other alternatives.


  • You can drive to pick up your animals to eliminate the chance of them dying during shipping.
  • Support local farms and breeding operations;
  • Help increase genetic diversity and resilience in domestic duck breeding stock.


  • There may not be a breeding operation/hatchery near you.
  • There may be fewer breeds to choose from, or the breeds you want may not be available.
  • You may not be able to get sexed runs, or you might have to do the sexing yourself to get the sex ratios you want.

Related read: How to sex ducklings or ducks

Option 4: Waterfowl/wildlife rescue operations

If at all possible, we’d highly recommend you get ducks from waterfowl/wildlife rescue operations. For instance, in our area, Carolina Waterfowl Rescue (CWR) often has ducklings and mature domestic ducks that need a permanent home.

Rescue operations perform heroic work on shoestring budgets, so donating and adopting from them is extremely helpful. We’re connected to plenty of people who have rescued tame, sweet-tempered ducks from rescues around the country. (You have to wonder about the humans who could abandon such animals, leaving them to fend for themselves in the wild or in public parks.)

We’ve also adopted six ducks from CWR and have nothing but positive things to say about the experience (or the ducks we adopted). Take a deeper dive here: Why you should get rescue ducks instead of buying from breeders or farm stores.  


  • You can drive to pick up your ducklings or ducks;
  • Support local animal rescue operations.


  • There may not be a rescue operation near you.
  • There may be fewer breeds to choose from, or the breeds you want may not be available.

Option 5: Individuals in your area (backyard poultry keepers)

True story: Our very first ducklings came from another local backyard duck breeder in our area. In hindsight, we’re not sure which of us knew less about ducks at that point in time.

Weeks after our purchase, our ducklings started to develop their sex-linked vocalizations. That was when we realized we’d mistakenly gone home with three males and one female. Oops.

In case you don’t know, this is the very opposite of the ideal ratio you’d want in a backyard flock, assuming you want any males at all. (See: Should I get male or female ducks or both?)

Thankfully, a friend with a nearby farm adopted two of our drakes. The remaining drake, Sir Winston Duckbill, has been a steadfast member of our home flock for over a decade since. Yes, “Winnie the Screw,” as we affectionately call him, requires a separate coop and run for much of the year when his hormones are running hot, but we still love him.

Moral of the story: Local backyard breeders can be an excellent source for your ducks. If you go this route, you’ll want to also inquire about the breeding practices. For instance, are there any guards/systems in place to prevent inbreeding? Are breeds kept separate — assuming you want a heritage breed and not a hybrid?

And for reasons detailed above, be sure you or the breeder knows how to sex recently hatched ducklings or mature ducks of the breed if you want to get a sexed run. 


  • Support hyper-local duck breeding;
  • No mail shipping required;
  • Possibly make long-term connections with other duck people in your area.


  • There may be fewer breeds to choose from, or the breeds you want may not be available.
  • Breeding practices and/or genetic diversity may not be comparable in quality compared to larger operations with more animals and professional standards.


Now that you know where to buy ducklings or mature ducks plus the pros and cons of each option, you can make the decision that is best for you. Regardless of which option you choose, be sure you’re prepared to raise happy, healthy ducks from day one and for years to come!

When it comes to raising healthy ducklings and keeping them safe from predators, you've got their whole world in your hands.

When it comes to raising healthy ducklings and keeping them safe from predators, you’ve got their whole world in your hands, starting with where and how you decide to buy them.



More helpful articles about raising ducks: 

… or browse the latest and greatest duck articles on Tyrant Farms!

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  • Reply
    Darrell Newman
    March 3, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    I have a question: I want a self sustaining flock of ducks. Should I order males and females from different hatcheries to broaden the NDA gene pool, is this important for a healthy flock?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 3, 2023 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Darrell! Great question. Here are my duck breeding suggestions if you want to have a really robust, sustainable flock:
      1. Get all female ducks your first year. That way you can get acclimated to raising ducks without the extra hassle of having a mixed-sex flock. If you have multiple drakes, they’ll start aggressively fighting each other, potentially requiring separate coops/runs. Even if you have only one drake, it will start aggressively mating your females, potentially requiring a separate coop/run.
      2. Don’t even start considering breeding your female ducks until they’ve made it through two laying seasons. You’re likely to have some females with congenital health/reproductive problems and you don’t want to carry those genetics forward. Instead, you only want to breed your healthiest, most robust females. Those individuals will become more evident with time.
      3. In Year 2 or 3, get however many drakes you need based on the total number of females you have, the infrastructure you have in place to support them, and the scale of the breeding program you want to develop. Yes, I’d recommend getting your drakes from a different reputable breeder from your females to reduce the likelihood of inbreeding depression.
      4. Rinse and repeat. Also, you may want to tag and name/number your ducks to keep good records on lineage as you move forward.

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