When you are looking for poultry, you’ll want friendly birds, especially if you have kids. The most popular poultry for new people to start with are chickens or ducks. Which one is a better choice if you want a friendlier bird?
Overall, ducks are friendlier than chickens, however there are individuals of either species that can be unusually friendly or unusually unfriendly. The friendliness of a specific duck is an inherent characteristic of the breed in combination with other factors like how the ducks are raised and their daily care.
16 Breeds of Ducks For Eggs And Meat will give you a more in depth look at each duck breed and their characteristics.
Ducks are friendlier than chickens
Ducks are more in person friendly than chickens. Chickens want fed, but seem to keep their distance, at least ours do! Ducks, when it’s time to eat, come right on over. They don’t have a flight zone when there is feed involved.
Now, when our ducks are done eating, they all of a sudden remember that they really are not liking being this close to me after all. But while they are hungry, those ducks will crowd right in a practically stand on my feet.
Ducks are more likely to enjoy being hand fed
Ducks are more likely to enjoy hand feeding than chickens, especially if you have new people coming around. Most chickens will skedaddle when a new person shows up, even if that new person is trying to be nice to the hens.
Ducks, however, are more likely to give a new to them person a chance, especially if there is food involved!
There is a restaurant in our area that has a big pond and a nice outdoor area with benches a swing set for kids and a whole flock of domestic ducks. The main attraction for this restaurant, at least for kids, is the ducks.
These ducks come right on over and will eat grain or bits of bread that visitors bring. The crazy part here, at least to me, is that these ducks don’t know the visitors!
The eaters at the restaurant would be different everyday, yet the ducks are still open to coming up for snacks. These are friendly ducks!
What Is In Duck Feed? is an article I wrote to give you the scoop on your duck feed options.
If you are thinking about getting ducklings, read How Much Feed Do Ducklings Need?
Ducks are nicer to their peers than chickens
For the most part, ducks are much nicer to their peers than chickens. So this is really are ducks friendlier than chickens if you were to compare it from a bird point of view.
Ducks will chase and sometimes can get pretty loud and flappy when they fight, but usually it ends when one or the other gives up. Chickens, not so.
I have seen chickens near kill the other or do serious, permanent damage to the bird being fought with. To be fair, this is usually roosters, but I never see this type of brutality with the ducks.
However, it must be said: Muscovy drakes can get out of hand. The males fight, but normally one gives up and leaves the “winner” alone.
Usually when there is a problem with the Muscovy ducks, they are harassing a female. The big deal here is that the female Muscovy is so much smaller than the male.
The fix here is to have multiple females per male or just pen up the male when you feel that the females are nesting, since as the females nest the available females for breeding gets less and less.
This creates a high competition environment for the males. Pen them up if they can’t behave, remembering that Muscovy drakes and ducks can fly, so your drake pen needs a top, as well.
Ducks more kid friendly than chickens
Ducks are more of a family or kid friendly bird than ducks. I can say that I have never had a duck aggressively come after a kid, or me for that matter!
However, we have had multiple chickens, all roosters, that would “ambush” me or the kids (or anyone else) from behind as you walked by where they were standing.
To be fair, unfriendliness or skittishness on the part of a laying hen involves her keeping her distance, not trying to whap you from behind, like the roosters would.
Ducks just don’t do that sort of thing.
Of course, a duck hen will defend her ducklings when you get too close, but in normal situations, ducks are just plain easier to get along with, especially when you are talking about getting along with kids.
Ducks are more fence friendly than chickens
Where ducks really shine compared to chickens is that ducks are so much easier to fence! Ducks will stay in a fence that you can step over, where as chickens will laugh at you and hop on over it!
Once again, I have to mention the Muscovy duck as an exception. Muscovy ducks can fly and roost, meaning that your fence that normally will easily hold ducks will not keep in your Muscovys.
Breeds of ducks that are known for being friendly
The duck breeds that we have noticed are the friendliest are Saxony, Pekin, Swedish and Muscovy.
Pekins are a great all round duck
Let me qualify that answer a bit (the friendly part) and say that the Pekin is a nervous and vocal duck. Some folks think of friendly and calm as the same thing, Pekins are friendly but not calm.
I like them, they grow great, are wonderful layers of big, beautiful white eggs and Pekins are the best eating duck, by far, however they are talkers.
Pekins seem to be very food motivated, so training them to come into a pen at night for food is easy.
Saxony ducks are beautiful and friendly
Saxony ducks are lovely, both the males and the females, and pretty good growers, too. They won’t out perform a Pekin, growth wise, but they will definitely grow well and produce a bigger, meaty bird.
They are nice ducks to have around and are calm. Saxony ducks are also a bit more unusual than most duck breeds, making them an interesting breed to raise.
Swedish ducks are more of a foraging duck
Swedish ducks are a bit smaller than these other breeds, so they can do a better job fending for themselves, as far as getting their own food goes.
The Swedish ducks we had were pretty friendly, but not as calm as the Saxony.
You may have seen the Swedish ducks listed as Blue Swedish, this is a color that will not breed true if you let the ducks hatch their own babies. These ducks will hatch their own babies, a big plus for the Swedish.
The color variety is not a problem, I actually like the colors you’ll get, just know that the babies from a blue mom and a blue dad will not all be blue.
Muscovy ducks are unusual ducks
Muscovy ducks are very different than the other ducks you’ll see. People either love them or hate them, there is very little in between.
A big plus for Muscovy ducks is they are great at setting and hatching ducklings, ours have multiple hatches per year. They are also a quiet duck, mostly because they hiss rather than quack.
The down side of the Muscovy is they are slow growers, they seemingly take forever to get to adult size.
Smaller breed ducks seem to be less friendly than larger breed ducks
From what I have seen, the smaller ducks seem to be more active and less friendly than the heavier breed ducks.
I have occasionally had a smaller breed duck, for instance, we got a white runner in a group of Pekins I ordered, but we have never had an entire flock of them.
Here’s an interesting article that has a number of duck flock owners rate the calmness of their ducks.