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111 Facts About Sheep: Beginner friendly basics

black ewe with a white lamb

Want to know more about sheep, but are not sure where to start? I’ve got you covered.

We’ll go over all the terminology and production ideas related to sheep, starting with the very basics!

Sheep are ruminants.

Sheep have a special design to their stomach that allows them to eat and grow well on grass and other forages.

They can eat and digest things an animal with a simple stomach could not digest.

How Many Bales Of Hay Do Sheep Need? goes over how to figure up the winter hay needs for your flock.

The stomach of a sheep has four compartments.

Sheep like other ruminants have one stomach that is divided into four sections. Each section has a special function.

Understanding The Ruminant Animal Digestive System is an article from Mississippi State University Extension goes over the specifics of why ruminants are different digestively than animals with a simple stomach, like pigs or people.

Sheep have many small organisms in their stomachs.

Oddly enough, so do you! These small organisms help you and the sheep digest food.

When you take probiotics you are reseeding your gut with these digestive organisms.

The word sheep is used for many animals or just one animal.

Similar to the word deer, when speaking of sheep it is the same word whether you mean many sheep or just one.

sheep grazing, ewes with lambs
Some of our sheep. This is the main flock of ewes with their lambs.

Sheep eat grass.

One of the main food sources for sheep is grass. Since grass can grow nearly anywhere, sheep that eat the grass can be nearly anywhere.

How To Select A Grass Based Sheep Flock gives you tips on getting started with pastured sheep.

Sheep also eat other forages.

Forages are plants that an animal would eat. This could be hay, clover, alfalfa, and many others including weeds, in addition to the grass.

Sheep being fed hay on pasture. The round bale of hay is unrolled behind a tractor.
Sheep eating hay in the winter.

Sheep can travel long distances looking for food.

Since a sheep is mobile, it can travel to get the day’s food. This is exactly how large herds of other grazing animals like buffalo get their food.

Sheep turn grass into meat and wool.

Sheep and other grass eating livestock enable people to use areas of land to feed and clothe ourselves.

Grazing sheep on land improves fertility of the area.

Many areas are fragile and have limited nutrients. When carefully grazed with sheep these areas will improve in fertility and grow more grass or other forages the next year.

Sheep can be used to manage the grass in orchards.

Rather than mowing around all the trees, some orchard owners prefer to use sheep to eat the grass in between the trees.

This will control grass growth in the pathways. add fertility (manure) and keep down weeds.

Do Sheep Eat Fruit Trees? shows you the times when sheep are safe around trees and when they are not!

In wildfire prone areas, sheep are used to eat down weeds.

In Utah, flocks of sheep are used to eat weeds that are likely to fuel a fire in a fire prone area.

Less to burn equals a lessened likelihood of the fire spreading as quickly.

Poorly managed grazing sheep can reduce fertility.

Livestock must be looked after and moved to a new area when the grass they are on is eaten.

It is the job of the shepherd to monitor the grass and land in order to move the flock appropriately.

Do Sheep Ruin Pastures? goes much more deeply into this subject.

A group of sheep is called a flock.

Most sheep are kept together in a group called a flock. Sheep like to be with other sheep.

Flock size can vary considerably.

Some flocks are small farm or hobby flocks with just a few sheep. Other flocks like in the western U.S. or at the sheep stations in Australia are enormous with huge numbers of sheep.

The largest sheep flocks in the U.S. are California.

This flock was originally from Washington state but moved to California to use the sheep for wildfire control.

The largest number of sheep in the world are in China.

The country with the most total sheep is China. Next in total head of sheep is Australia, followed by India, Sudan and Iran.

Sheep like to be in a flock.

Being in the group helps them feel secure. Sheep like to follow other sheep around.

Being in a flock also helps protect the sheep from predation. A sheep by herself is easy to catch for hungry predators.

Some breeds flock together better than other breeds.

Certain breeds of sheep like Merinos will flock together well. This makes them easier to move and helps them stay safe from predators.

Range sheep tend to flock together well.

Sheep like to follow other sheep.

It is the basic nature of the sheep to want to follow other sheep. It makes them feel safe to be with a group.

In a group only one sheep needs to spot a predator and all will be alerted to run.

An adult female sheep is called a ewe.

Sheep are adults when they turn one to two years old. Once a ewe lamb has a baby she is considered to be a ewe.

Ewes out on the pasture in the winter. There isn't much grass now so they get plenty of hay as well.

An adult male sheep is called a ram.

Rams are the breeding male sheep kept with the ewes. Rams tend to be bigger than ewes.

A castrated male is called a wether.

Wethers are generally kept only as market lambs. However, breeds that have very valuable fleeces sometimes keep wethers in the flock as fiber producers.

Sheep will be pregnant for 5 months.

Pregnancy is called gestation. The gestation length in sheep is 5 months or 152 days.

A ewe can have multiple lambs.

Number of lambs depends upon the breed of sheep and the condition of the ewe at breeding. Normally, most shepherds want their ewes to have twins.

Breeds like Finnsheep and Romanov are famous for having many lambs at once.

Some breeds like Finnsheep and Romanov are famous for having a litter of lambs-meaning four up to nine lambs at one birth.

Sheep are mammals.

Female mammals produce milk for their babies once the baby is born. Sheep are mammals as are humans, dogs, cattle and many other animals.

Ewes produce milk for their lambs.

Until the lambs are born the ewe will not produce any milk. This makes sense because the milk is for the baby. When the lambs are born the milk starts filling the udder.

Some farmers milk a flock of sheep.

There are sheep dairies in the world that milk many sheep just like cow dairies milk many cows.

Sheep milk is used for cheese.

Roquefort cheese is a famous cheese from France that is traditionally made from sheep milk.

Sheep dairies are not common in the U.S.

Now sheep dairies are very uncommon in the U.S. There is at least one that I am aware of in New York state.

A ewe knows which lambs in the flock are hers.

A ewe can tell which lambs are hers out of all the lambs in the flock. She smells her lambs when they come up to her.

She can also tell the voice of her lambs from the voices of others.

Only the ewe will parent the lambs.

The ewe is the only parent the lambs will have. Rams do not help with care of the lambs.

She will only let her babies nurse.

Ewes only let her lambs nurse. Sometimes other lambs, usually older lambs, realize that all ewes have an udder that they can steal milk from.

She keeps other lambs away so there is plenty of milk for her babies.

A lamb without a mom to take care of it is called an orphan.

Sometimes a lamb is not taken care of by it’s mom or the mom dies. Lambs without a mom to take care of them are called orphans.

Some ewes will decide to take care of a baby that is not hers.

Sometimes a ewe will want a lamb that is not hers. This is why most sheep raisers will put the new born lambs into a small pen with their mom.

The small pen for new lambs and their mom is called a lambing jug.

A lambing jug is a small pen with hay and water for the ewe. There is no food for the lambs because new born lambs only drink milk from the ewe.

The new family comes out of the jug in 24-48 hours.

The time spent in the jug allows the lambs to bond with their mom. Lambs and their moms will be let out 24-48 hours later, as soon as they are strong enough to keep up with the rest of the group.

New lambs are wobbly.

A new lamb needs a few days to get the hang of working it’s legs.

At first they are very unsteady but in a day or two they can run pretty fast. At least fast enough that they are hard to catch!

Sometimes the lamb will die.

Sometimes a ewe has a lamb that dies. This is a sad thing and upsets the ewe. She wants a lamb and will search to find it.

Some ewes will take care of another lamb.

Shepherds can give her a new lamb by penning her up with a lamb that is not her own and seeing if she will take care of it.

Some ewes will do this others will not, in fact some ewes are mean to the lamb.

Getting a ewe to take care of a lamb that is not hers is called grafting.

If the ewe takes the lamb as her own the lamb has been grafted to a new mom.

Grafting an orphan lamb to a ewe without a lamb is the best way to help the ewe and the lamb.

A lamb that is not successfully grafted will be a bottle baby.

Lambs that are not able to be grafted will be fed milk with a bottle. This requires feeding them around the clock just like a human baby.

Bottle lambs end up being very friendly since they have learned that people coming means food.

Bottle lambs are fed milk replacer.

Milk replacer is a powdered milk substitute that is used for orphan lambs, Just like formula for babies. Lambs can also be fed cow’s milk in their bottle.

Lambs need to be with their moms for two months.

Lambs need their moms for two months at least. While they are drinking milk from the ewe they are also picking around at the food they see her and the other sheep eating.

Lambs need time for their digestive system to work well enough so they can get all of their nutrients from normal sheep food like grass.

A lamb that doesn’t need milk from it’s mom anymore is referred to as being weaned.

Weaning is a natural process that happens with all animals that need parents to provide food for them.

When an animal can eat enough calories to grow without milk from a parent the animal is weaned. Weaning happens for all mammals, including humans.

A sheep is called a lamb until it is 12 months old.

Once a sheep reaches one year of age it is officially no longer a lamb.

If you see a sheep at an event, like the state fair, or for sale online or at an auction and it is called a lamb it is under one year old.

Sheep only have teeth on the bottom jaw.

Sheep have one row of teeth on the bottom jaw. The top jaw has no teeth.

The age of the sheep can be determined by looking at the teeth.

Sheep teeth come in at certain ages. The front two teeth grow in then every year another set of two grows in.

Sheep replace baby teeth just like people do.

Lambs can grow to full size on grass and mom’s milk.

Lambs can grow to full size eating just grass and milk from mom. Lambs love a snack of grain or really nice hay but they don’t need it to live.

Sheep should have a salt block.

Salt blocks help the sheep to regulate her own salt intake. Sometimes she needs more than she is getting from her diet so she can choose to get more by licking the salt block.

Sheep need water all the time.

Even though sheep live in places all over the world that are very dry, they still need to have water available all of the time.

Sheep can eat snow to instead of drinking water.

If your sheep are in an area with snow they can eat the snow instead of drinking water.

Our sheep have access to a creek for water but sometimes they choose stay up closer to the barn for a few days and eat snow instead.

Lambs that are fed supplemental grain will grow faster.

Some shepherds choose to feed their lambs some grain or really nice hay to help them grow faster. This extra grain is called supplemental grain.

If no grain is fed the lambs will still grow it will just take longer.

Lambs are fed in a creep feeder.

Lambs and ewes both like to eat the special feed, but only the lambs should be getting it. So how are the ewes kept away from the extra feed?

A creep feeder is used to let the smaller animals in (lambs) but keep out the bigger ones (ewes). The creep feeder can be a gate to a small area or a self contained pen.

Sheep can live in many areas.

Sheep can and do live in many different areas all over the world.

Sheep live in cold places like Iceland and they live in hot places like the Australia. Some sheep live in flat landscapes others in areas that are very rugged like mountains.

Sheep can become friendly.

When sheep are used to people they can become friendly. Most sheep will never be as friendly as a dog though.

They can tell the difference between their normal caretaker and someone new and are always leery of the new person.

Some sheep breeds are more nervous than other breeds.

Just like any other animal, some sheep are more friendly than others. It follows then that some individuals have a more nervous temperament.

Generally, sheep that have had to fend for themselves are less calm around people. This is just a natural trait since the more wary sheep were more likely to survive.

Sheep startle easily.

As a normal part of growing up in a flock one sheep alerts others to danger. When a ewe sees something suspicious she will run first and think later.

Sheep breeds easily cross.

Any breed of sheep can be mated with any other breed of sheep. The lambs born from this cross will not be purebred. They will be a hybrid.

A cross of two or more breeds is called a hybrid.

Crossing two or more breeds of sheep or other animals together results in the offspring being a hybrid. This means they are a genetic mix.

Cross bred sheep are very common.

Cross breeding sheep is a common way to put the ideal traits of each parent into the baby.

A cross bred lamb performs better, hardier and faster growing, than a purebred lamb of either of the parent breeds.

The famous Mule sheep of Great Britain are cross bred ewes.

Some sheep can breed year round.

Multiple sheep breeds will breed and therefore lamb year round. Dorset sheep are popular in the U.S. specifically because they will lamb year round.

Year round breeding capability of sheep spreads out the income for the farmer.

When the sheep can breed year round it also means there are lambs year round to sell.

This makes better use of the barn space and allows the farmer to spend more time with the new moms and babies to make sure they do well.

Other sheep are seasonal breeders.

Most sheep breeds are seasonal breeders. This means they will all come into heat at the same time of year so they will lamb in the nicer weather.

Having lambs only in the spring means that the lambs will all be at a bigger size at the start of winter, so they will be able to take care of themselves in the harsh weather.

Seasonal breeding is common in wildlife for example the whitetail deer are seasonal breeders.

Texas is the state with the most sheep.

Texas has more sheep than any other state with 740,000 head.

Second in total sheep numbers is California, then Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Iowa.

A sheep ranch will often hire full time shepherds.

The larger ranches need shepherds to work with the sheep full time.

Professional shepherds live with the sheep.

Some ranches are so big the shepherds follow the flock around on the range, basically living right along side the sheep and work on horseback.

These shepherds grew up with sheep.

Many of these nomadic shepherds grew up in another country where they learned to live and work with sheep.

Sheep breeds primarily kept for meat production are called meat breeds.

Meat breeds have fast growing meaty lambs. These are the type of sheep that you would see at a market lamb show during the fair.

Most meat breeds have wool, it is just not as nice as the wool from wool breed sheep.

The most popular meat breed in the U.S. is the Suffolk.

The Suffolk sheep is a stylish meat breed that has a black head and legs. This is the lamb most commonly seen in market lamb classes at the fairs.

The most popular meat breed in the world is the Merino.

While Merino is not considered a meat breed of sheep it is the most popular breed of sheep in the world so it will also be the breed most eaten.

Wool breeds were kept primarily for their wool production.

Wool production was the main focus of breeds like Merino.

Wool breeds are not as chunky as meat breeds but tend to be better in harsher environments.

Wool sheep take less feed to maintain their bodies and grow slower so they can range for calories.

Keeping sheep just to sell the wool will not pay well in the U.S.

Wool was a very valuable commodity around 200 years ago. Fortunes were made selling wool.

At the end of WW II wool started to be replaced by other options. Now there are multiple other raw material choices from which to make fabric.

In harsh areas wool sheep would still provide income.

In harsh areas or places where people move with the flocks sheep wool and meat will give them a way to provide an income for their families and provide for themselves at the same time.

The most popular wool breed in the U.S. is the Rambouillet.

The Rambouillet is the most common commercial sheep in the U.S. It is used as a range sheep since it lives for a long time and has a strong flocking instinct.

The most popular wool breed in the world is the Merino.

Merino sheep make up more than half of the world’s sheep population. Merino’s have fine wool, are adaptable, good foragers and have a strong flocking instinct.

Sheep kept for both meat and wool are called dual purpose breeds.

Dual purpose breeds are not extreme in wool production or carcass, but do both reasonably well.

Dual purpose sheep are very popular for the small farm or a person just getting started with sheep since these are generally easy care animals.

The most popular dual purpose sheep in the U.S. is the Dorset.

Dorsets are the most popular white faced sheep breed in the U.S. Dorsets are known for prolific lambing, good meatiness, and are normally polled (no horns).

Most sheep in the U.S. are kept for meat.

In the U.S. most people are keeping sheep for meat purposes, generally to produce and sell market lambs.

Occasionally, shepherds in the U.S. keep certain sheep for the fleece.

There are a few farms in the U.S. that sell specialty fleeces to handspinners and crafters.

These are sheep with a unique fleece that is prized by the hand crafting fiber artist.

Worldwide, sheep are commonly kept for wool.

Over the rest of the world sheep are kept for wool. Sheep are popular in places that are not easily to farm for field crops so sheep provide a way for people in these areas to grow their own fiber and meat.

Wool characteristics are inherited.

Just like you inherited the color of your eyes from your parents you also inherited the color and texture of your hair. The same goes for sheep.

A lamb who’s parents had soft wool will have soft wool also. If the lamb’s parents have natural colored wool so will the lamb.

Some sheep are natural colored.

Natural colored means that the wool of the sheep is naturally a color other than white. Or it could be a mix of colors.

There are many different wool colors, like an earth toned rainbow.

Non white wool is discouraged against for commercial wool production.

Wanting to purchase only white wool makes sense, since only white wool has the most options for the end user especially since it can be reliably dyed.

Natural colored wool is popular with crafters and handspinner and weavers.

Naturally colored wool sells at a high price to people looking for a special color or texture of wool for creating handmade items.

Wool is graded.

Wool is separated off into catagories based on the thickness of the individual fibers of wool. Each thickness range is called a grade.

Wool thickness is measured in microns.

A fiber of wool is measured to determine the thickness in microns. This will tell the best uses of the fleece.

Wool is graded into fine, medium and coarse.

Each grade of wool has a different purpose that it will be best suited to.

Fine wools are soft.

Fine wools are used to make fabrics that can be worn next to the skin, like baby clothes or a delicate sweater.

Medium wools are versatile.

Medium wools are the workhorse class of wool. They are easier to work with and used to everyday wear like hats and sweaters.

Coarse wools are very durable.

Course wools are also called carpet wools. These wools are tough and can handle tons of abuse so are used in weaving rugs or other heavy duty items.

Some sheep have an in between wool grade.

Some sheep have wool that is firmly in between grades so it is called medium-fine or medium-course.

Most sheep need shorn once per year.

Most sheep in the U.S. are shorn one time per year. If you are looking for more information on shearing sheep consider reading my article Why Do Sheep Need Shearing.

Some sheep need shearing twice per year.

If the sheep has very fast growing long fibered fleeces then it will be shorn twice per year.

Cotswold and Wensleydale sheep are examples of sheep with incrediably long fleeces. The fleece will grow for the whole year but it will not be as valuable to the end user in anything less than top condition.

Shearing sheep requires clippers.

Shearing sheep is done with a set of clippers made like the clippers used to cut hair at the barber shop just much bigger.

Some people use hand shears that operate like scissors to trim up show sheep but these hand shears are rarely used to shear an entire sheep.

Farmers can shear their own sheep.

Plenty of sheep farmers will shear their own sheep. We shear ours in the spring every year.

Many sheep farmers hire a crew to shear their sheep.

Many farmers who have a large flock of sheep, or just would rather hire some one else, pay a crew of professional shearers to come each year and shear their sheep.

A shearing crew will travel all around the country.

Shearing crews travel the country to shear all the big flocks of sheep. The crew moves from one farm to the next quickly since all the sheep need shorn before summer.

Hair sheep do not need shearing.

Hair sheep do not have wool, instead they have hair like a goat.

Hair sheep are becoming more popular because in some areas of the country it is hard to find someone to shear sheep for you.

Hair sheep do grow a small amount of wool.

In the winter, hair sheep will grow a small amount of wool to help insulate their bodies from the harsh weather.

Once spring comes the sheep will naturally shed the winter coat, short wool and all.

Wild sheep do not need shearing.

Just like domestic hair sheep wild sheep do not need shearing. Their hair naturally falls out at the changes of the season like a dog shedding it’s hair.

Sheep sleep laying down.

When a ewe wants to rest for the night she lays down to go to sleep. The flock will all sleep together at night, even if they were spread out to graze during the day.

A sheep will eat all she needs then rest.

Since a sheep is a ruminant, she will eat a bunch of forage at one time then when she is full she will lay down to rest.

A sheep will chew her cud while resting.

While relaxing the sheep will chew her cud. Since she ate the forage so fast earlier it needs more chewing now that she has the time.

Chewing her cud is one of the keys to her being able to eat and digest food we could not digest.

Chewing her cud helps her digest her food.

Cud is a little bolus of grass that the sheep brings back up from her stomach to her mouth to thoroughly chew.

This will break down the fibers of the forage so her digestive system will have access to all the nutrients in the food.

Sheep need some room.

While sheep are not a large animal they do need some room to walk around in.

Sheep need buddies.

A sheep does not like to be by herself. She is a flock animal so she needs a few friends to live with her.

Sheep do not potty train.

Sheep are super cute, especially lambs! They are a poor choice as an indoor pet since they do not potty train and as listed above need to be with friends.

Sheep can be purchased at a livestock auction.

Weekly livestock auctions sell sheep year round. Purchasing a few sheep at the auction is an option. Auctions are fun.

We enjoy going to them and sell nearly all of our sheep through the auction market.

However, auctions are buyer beware. This is not the best option for a beginner.

Sheep to start your flock should be purchased at a farm.

If you are new to sheep it is best to buy them directly from a farm instead.

Direct on farm purchase of your livestock is the best way to get animals that will work well for you.

Additionally, buying from a sheep farmer gives you someone to call when you have questions, and when you are new you’ll probably have a ton of questions.

Related Questions

Are sheep the only animal that needs yearly shearing?

All fiber animals need to be shorn at least once per year, in addition to sheep this would include Angora goats and alpacas as examples.

Are most sheep male or female?

Sheep flocks are mostly females. The lambs are born male or female in equal numbers but generally the male lambs are all sold, while some of the female lambs are kept to join the flock as adults.

100+ Breeds Of Sheep Wool: A Chart For Handspinners

Jacob sheep ram, notice the four horns and the spotted coat

Looking into getting a new fleece to spin or felt?

Maybe you’ve just seen a fleece that catches your eye and you’re wondering what you could craft with it? You’ve come to the right place!

The uses of a fleece depend upon micron count, staple length, crimp, felting ability, ease of handling, ease of dyeing and the natural color of the wool.

What Is A Sheep And Wool Festival? walks you through what you’ll see if you decide to attend, you should!

That’s it for the wordy part of this article, the rest is a huge chart, jam packed with information. Enjoy!

Lengths are listed in inches. Weights are listed in pounds.

durable, dyes well
bold, uniform crimp
white, brown, black
and multicolored
variable fleeces, dyes
well, luster and dye
brilliance will vary
sturdy, firm textured
great for durable
items that need to be
hard wearing
all dark grey fibers
takes abuse
dyes well
crisp yarn
easy to prepare
solid black
easy to spin
lofty and durable
Bleu du
spins woolen or
easy to prepare
very versatile
next to skin soft
dyes well
white, brown, gray
black; soft, elastic
next to skin soft
can spin from lock
versatile, crisp, has
luster, dyes well
white, tan, gray,
fleeces vary widely
nock Hill
dense, slight luster
finest wool Cheviot
many natural colors
great weaving yarn
pleasant to use; dyes
well with clarity
durable and soft
has stitch definition
great for weaving
low 30’s
matte finish to dyes
best spun woolen
fleece is always white
hard to find as yarn
light to medium
reddish brown color
spin woolen for more
elasticity, general
purpose textiles
pleasure to spin
always white, dense
versatile, dyes well
pleasure to spin
springy yarn
always white
multipurpose wool
knit, weave, crochet
crisp has loft
lofty, crisp, versatile
spin using any style
dyes well and clearly
easy to spin, crisp
stitch definition,
dyes clearly
elastic and fluffy
spin finely, stiches
soft with definition
pleasure to use
easy to spin; white
grey, brown, black
lustrous, wavy locks
dyes beautifully
nice lace if spun fine
very durable
dyes well
can spin from locks
for the textile
dyes well, lustrous
as above
same as above
felts easily, tight
crimp, dyes well
elastic and resilient
spin fine and ply
elastic, dyes well
great for felting
easy to draft and spin
good loft, resilient
dyes well, versatile
sleek and strong
great as heavy warp
high luster, dyes well
crisp, lofty, full body
easy and fast to spin
light luster dyes well
versatile, resilient
dyes well, white
not easy to felt

variable crimp
can spin from staple
reluctant to felt
crisp with good body
variable crimp
reluctant to felt
crisp and light yarn
woolen or worsted
dyes well
Est a
15-30up to
lightweight, delicate
variable microns
dyes well, matte
crisp and springy
easy to spin, white
shows texture well
white, black, gray,
many browns
use carded undercoat
for sweaters
easy to work with
dyes well, easy to felt
next to skin soft
crisp, superior stitch
definition, dyes well
easy to draft
long and lusterous
easier to spin fine
felts easily
lofty, bouncy yarn
versatile, dyes well
spin from lock
variable, generally
pleasant to use
great felting choice
Gute or
many natural colors
coats spun together
great for felting
springy, very elastic
dyes well, garments
wash easy non felting
dark brown or black
durable, lustrous
fleeces are variable
mix of colors and
textures, undercoat
only used for hats
blankets, sweaters
crisp, dense, dyes
clear with matte
finish, comb or card
white or black
card or comb fibers
some fleeces softer
versatile, dyes well
crochet, spin woolen
Ile de
yarn is soft, good
stitch definition, lots
of bounce, dyes well
fiber length, texture
vary in colored areas
fleeces vary widely
eager to felt, hard
wearing, lustrous
open, low grease
great warp or weft
pleasure to use, soft
durable, subtle shine
lofty, dyes clearly
great to dye, lustrous
versatile, yarns for
lace through to rugs
lustrous, dyes well
doll wigs, fleece rugs
white, gray, black
smooth, pleasant to
spin, lustrous, dyes
very well, only white
day or
spin worsted, muted
luster, dyes well
good stitch definition
easy to spin, durable
matte finish, dyes
clear with soft effect
warm brown color
woolen for bounce
worsted for durable
varies from ultrafine
white dyes well, ply
for thicker yarns
crisp, lofty, shows
textures well, dyes
well, a few are black
durable, dyes well
very low grease, lots
of colors, will felt
fiber fineness varies
versatile, easy to spin
dyes cleanly, can be
combed or carded
pleasure to spin, easy
to work with, bouncy
dyes well and clearly
fleeces are mixed
undercoat is next to
skin fine, felts easily
many colors, will felt
can separate coats or
spin together
dense and resilient
lofty, springy, dyes
well, not easy to felt
famous for felting
grays to nearly black
lusterous, durable
pleasant and easy to
spin, lofty, bouncy
dyes well, variable
elastic, resilient, lofty
drapes well, delight
to work with
supple, durable, soft
use in color patterns
comb prep, dyes well
all purpose, pleasant
to spin, some fleeces
are next to skin soft
soft, elastic, use for
next to skin fabrics
felts easily, dyes well
used for
both coats are the
same length, will be
hard to separate
spin them together
black ages to gray
dale and
21-253″-6″6-15next to
lively, lofty, elastic
comfortable to spin
many colors, will felt
versatile and lustrous
course for outerwear
finer for sweaters
Rouge de
next to
fine yet crisp, white
card for fiber prep
clearly dyes, spin fine
durable and resilient
separate fibers, hold
base of lock, pull hair
white, black, gray,
and brown fleeces
excellent for rugs
used for traditional
rya rugs

great spun woolen
light, lofty, elastic
durable yarn worsted
be 2-4

next to
dyes well, easy to felt
white, brown, nearly
black, very elastic
exceptionally strong
fabrics will be crisp
with body, dyes well

huge fleece and color
variety, light weight
durable, easy to felt
finer fleeces are next
to skin soft, dyes well
use moderate twist
.75-2next to
up to
incredable variety
try to spin finely
will dye but most use
natural colors
finer fleeces next to
skin soft, natural loft
springy, dyes well
mainly white colored
felts very well
dyes well, luster will
vary, great for fine
art weaving and
tapestries, durable
well known for
felting and tapestries
lustrous outercoat
22 for
29 for
famous natural grays
lustrous, drapes well
subtle gleam fabrics
pleasant, versatile
finer fleeces next to
skin soft, dyes well
great choice for
durable hard
wearing items
lofty and elastic yarn
soft, fine, lively and
supple, comb or card
dyes well, will felt

spin from locks or
use as is in weaving
very lustrous, dyes
with brilliance
durable, not stiff or
scratchy, drapes well
springy, easy to spin
low luster, dyes
clearly, versatle
versatile, friendly
gives stitch definition
dyes well, warm tone
next to
spins into soft yarn
adds touch of luxury
to every day wear
easy to process and
spin, drafts smoothly
pleasant, versatile
dyes clear with luster
and South
sturdy yarn, South
Wales more kempy,
white fibers dye
well, match fleece to
project, variable
exceptional for
weaving, dyes well
with luster, drapes
hard to find, varies
from medium to
coarse, durable
dyes well, will felt
easy to handle, has
bounce, resilient
shows stitches well
always black

If you are looking for a more basic chart, this one is pretty extensive, consider reading Handspinning Wool on The Joy Of Handspinning.

Resource: The Field Guide To Fleece by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius

10 Turkey Breeds For Raising Your Own Meat

Bourbon Red turkey

Raising your own turkeys is a fun and easy way to get a lot of flavorful meat for your family.

I love how much more meat you get per bird when you raise a turkey! Now the big question-what breed to choose?

Broad Breasted White Turkeys (the standard commercial turkey) reach butchering weight in 16 weeks.  Heritage breeds will take 24 weeks or more and have a less meaty carcass, but more flavor.

Turkeys are easy to butcher. Why most folks don’t mention this is beyond me! Turkeys are just as easy as broilers to process and you get so much more meat!

Since turkeys have a bigger body cavity, they are easier to eviscerate. Turkeys also seem to have less feathers to pluck than a chicken, so plucking goes faster.

The Broad Breasted White turkey will reach butchering weight the fastest, generally in 16 weeks. The more traditional breeds will take longer, more towards 24 weeks.

Is Raising Turkeys For Meat Worth It? is an article I wrote giving you the costs to raise your poults. If you are wondering what to feed your poults, click here.

Each breed has desirable traits, so picking the best breed for you depends upon your preferences and your area available for the turkeys.

Turkey breeds you can raise have different characteristics

  • Broad Breasted White (Giant White)
  • Broad Breasted Bronze
  • Bourbon Red
  • Chocolate
  • White Holland
  • Midget White
  • Narragansett
  • Royal Palm
  • Blue Slate
  • Black Spanish
BreedMature weight (in pounds)Known for
Broad Breasted WhiteToms: 45
Hens: 25
fast growth and size
all white in color
Broad Breasted BronzeToms: 45
Hens: 25
fast growth and size
brown feathers
Bourbon RedToms: 23
Hens: 14
beautiful red color
popular small flock choice
ChocolateToms: 30
Hens: 18
easy going birds
poults have white mask
White HollandToms: 25
Hens: 16
classic white turkey look
all white feathers
Midget WhiteToms: 20
Hens: 12
friendly, smaller birds
often kept as pets
NarragansettToms: 23
Hens: 14
calm birds
good foragers
Royal PalmToms: 16
Hens: 10
active birds that can fly
kept for attractive looks
Blue SlateToms: 23
Hens: 14
good foragers
Black SpanishToms: 23
Hens: 14
active birds
good foragers
If you are raising turkeys for meat, white birds will pluck more cleanly. Broad Breasted turkeys need to be bred by A.I. they can not breed naturally. If you want to raise poults, get a heritage (not broad breasted) breed.

Broad Breasted White is also called the Giant White

The Broad Breasted White is the standard turkey that is raised commercially throughout the U.S. and the world.

The B.B. White’s popularity is well earned, because if you want a fast growing turkey to have meat as soon as you can (ready to butcher in 16 weeks!) these are the first choice by far.

No other breed can grow as fast or as big.

As you may have guessed, all that growth and massive body structure comes at a cost.

Their extreme size and weight makes them not able to take care of themselves at all, while they will forage some they must have plenty of feed.

B.B. Whites are not a good choice for any one who wants to hatch poults from their birds, since most can not breed naturally.

B.B. Whites are strictly for meat production.

Toms will weigh up to 45 pounds and hens up to 25 pounds. These are the turkeys you will see in the market turkey classes at the county and state fairs.

Broad Breasted Bronze are fast growers

The Broad Breasted Bronze turkey is the less popular but original colorful version of the Broad Breasted White.

If you are looking for a super fast growing bird for your freezer, but like a little more color in your pasture these might be for you.

The B.B. Bronze will grow just as big as the B.B. White, but it will have the potential for dark pin feathers to deal with.

The B.B. Bronze is colored like a wild turkey but much bigger in size, definitely impressive looking while roaming around.

Bourbon Red are great backyard turkeys

burbon red tom turkey

The Bourbon Red is a rich, chestnut red turkey that has pure white wing tips and tail feathers. They are originally from the Kentucky Bluegrass region and were first called Bourbon Butternuts.

Bourbon Red toms weigh 23 pounds and hens weigh in at 14 pounds.

We have a small flock of these birds and they are truly lovely. Ours roam all over foraging for bugs and grass. They are very capable and can get in trees and up on vehicles as well.

Bourbon Reds will hatch out their own poults and do a good job of it, too.

Where things fall apart is the hen will take off through the grass and come back with a few less babies everytime until she has one or none left!

Turkey poults don’t peep like chicks when they are lost so the mom doesn’t know they are missing. We always took away the poults and put them in a brooder so the babies would live to maturity.

The hen won’t stay with the poults in the brooder pen. Being in the pen freaks her out, so we let her leave so she doesn’t hurt the poults while she is upset.

These are our Bourbon Red turkeys just pecking around on a nice November day.

Bourbon Reds are an active turkey that loves to forage around and tastes wonderful. We roast ours plain, no additions at all, super easy and they taste great!

Chocolate turkey poults have a white face

The Chocolate turkey is a breed that is named for it’s completely brown plumage.

They were a popular turkey in the southern U.S. before the Civil War. Now they are uncommon, but becoming more popular.

Chocolates are genetically a black bird that has slight change in the genes that determine color of the feathers. Interestingly, the poults have a white masked face when they hatch that fades to brown as they grow.

Chocolate turkeys are generally easy going birds. Toms weigh 30 pounds hens weigh 18 pounds.

White Holland turkeys are completely white

The White Holland turkey was the most popular turkey raised in America. These turkeys were officially recognized as a breed in 1874.

White Hollands were popular as a commercial turkey because they matured early and a white bird always plucks cleaner.

In the 1950’s White Hollands were crossed with the Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys to create the modern industrial white turkey so common today.

Most White Holland turkeys are used as show birds today. As meat producers they are rare.

These turkeys are always completely white in color. The weight of toms is 25 pounds and hens are 16 pounds.

Midget White turkeys are friendly

The Midget White turkey is a smaller breed of pure white turkeys, with the toms weighing 20 pounds and the hens weighing 12 pounds.

Midget Whites were developed in the 1950’s by Bob Smyth, by crossing Royal Palm and commercial Whites. Midget Whites are known for being very friendly and are frequently kept as pets.

Hens are naturally broody, and since they are a lighter breed they can naturally breed and hatch out their own poults.

Sometimes the Midget Whites are confused with the Beltsville Small White turkey, but they are completely separate breeds.

The Beltsville Small White is an exceedingly rare all white turkey that is the size of a larger breed chicken, whereas the Midget Whites are definitely a full size turkey.

Narragansett turkeys are good foragers

The Narragansett turkey is named after the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, which is where these birds originated. Narragnansetts were the main meat turkey raised in the New England states, as early as the 1700’s.

Narragansett turkeys are known for having a calm disposition, excellent meat quality, being good moms, and great foraging ability.

Toms will weigh 23 pounds and hens will weigh 14 pounds.

The color of a Narragansett is predominantly white and black, like a barred rock chicken. The feathers also have small amounts of grey and tan.

Narragansett turkeys are able to breed and hatch poults on their own (unlike commercial white turkeys). The eggs will be large with and light to medium brown with speckles.

Royal Palm turkeys are black and white

The Royal Palm turkey is a small, attractive bird. It is white with black edges to the feathers, black over the back and a black ring around the tail feathers.

Royal Palms are an active turkey. This means they can fly and are good foragers. Toms weigh 16 pounds and hens weigh 10 pounds.

The Royal Palms were selected for looks alone, which is why they are smaller than most and generally not considered a production breed.

Meaning if you want a small, easy care turkey Royal Palms are a great choice.

If you want a breed to raise for meat production you will probably be happier with a larger breed that has more meat.

Blue Slate turkeys are light grey

The Blue Slate or just Slate turkey is named for the coloring of the feathers.

They can have black flecks on the feathers, but otherwise Slate turkeys are solid colored. Hens will be lighter in color than toms.

Slate turkey toms will weigh 23 pounds at maturity and hens will weigh 14 pounds.

There has been a renewed interest in Slate turkeys since they do so well on pasture. Slate turkeys are known for great tasting meat, foraging ability and hardiness.

Black Spanish turkeys have a green tint

The Black Spanish turkey, also called Black or Norfolk Black turkey, is completely black in color with a green tinge to the feathers.

Toms weigh 23 pounds and hens weigh 14 pounds. These turkeys can be variable in weight since they have not been selected as a production breed.

Along with the other heritage breed turkeys, the Black has seen a renewed interest from turkey enthusiasts, both raisers and eaters alike.

People want healthy turkeys to raise and eat. Blacks are hardy, active turkeys with wonderful flavor.

You’ll need a brooder for your poults!

All baby poultry, turkeys included, will need a brooder.

A brooder is an area where they are kept warm, easily fed and watered and is safe from predators.

Anything that is a meat eater, including domestics like dogs and cats, love to snatch up a turkey poult (baby turkey)!

Have a space set up to keep your poults warm and safe. How To Get Turkey Poults To Eat And Drink will show you a few tricks to get your poults off to a great start!

For a look at a nice selection of turkey poults to raise, visit Meyer Hatchery. This is a link to their turkey page, you’ll choose the breed from here. Remember to order early, these poults sell out pretty fast.

If you are interested in the history of the breeds, look at The Livestock Conservancy for the full background on the heritage turkey breeds.

Resources: The Livestock Conservancy website; the Meyer Hatchery catalog; and the Murray McMurray Hatchery catalog

Related Questions

Do heritage breed turkeys taste better?

Heritage breed turkeys will have a more flavorful meat than a commercially raised turkeys if the heritage turkeys are raised with access to grass and are well taken care of.

What breed of turkey makes the best pet?

Consider the Midget White turkey if you want a very friendly turkey to have in your yard.

Are all turkeys white?

There are many different colors of turkeys in the U.S. Some breeds like the Midget White and the Broad Breasted White are always pure white.

Other breeds like Bourbon Red have some white feathers with a darker body color, and a few breeds like Blue Slate have no white feathers at all.

16 Duck Breeds For Eggs and Meat

Muscovy ducks. These are chocolate and white females.

Will ducks take over as the classic backyard bird?

Ducks have a lot to offer the small scale producer wanting to raise meat and eggs and, in some instances, will perform better than a chicken!

Ducks can be raised for eggs, meat or both. Choose the breed based on your primary purpose for raising the ducks.

Duck BreedPrimary UseAvailability
AnconaDual PurposeSome Hatcheries
AylesburyMeatLow Availability
BuffDual PurposeMost Hatcheries
CayugaDual PurposeMost Hatcheries
Hybrid Egg LayerEggsSome Hatcheries
Indian RunnerEggsMost Hatcheries
Jumbo PekinMeatMost Hatcheries
Khaki CampbellEggsMost Hatcheries
MagpieDual PurposeLow Availability
MuscovyMeatSome Hatcheries
PekinDual PurposeMost Hatcheries
RouenMeatMost Hatcheries
SaxonyDual PurposeSome Hatcheries
Silver AppleyardDual PurposeSome Hatcheries
Swedish, Blue or BlackMeatMost Hatcheries
Welsh HarlequinEggsMost Hatcheries

Chickens have long been the common choice for backyard poultry, but word is getting out and many poultry enthusiasts are raising ducks, instead.

If you are looking into ducks for meat read my article Easiest Duck To Raise For Meat.

Generally speaking, ducks will be either an egg laying breed or a meat breed.

All duck breeds produce eggs and all duck breeds can be used for meat, but most breeds specialize in one or the other.

Any duck that is equally good at both is listed as dual purpose.

4 duck breeds for kept for eggs

  • Khaki Campbell
  • Welsh Harlequin
  • Hybrid Egg Layer
  • Indian Runner

Pros and Cons of Eating Duck Eggs vs. Chicken Eggs is a Mother Earth News article that may be of interest to you, if you want more information on the nutritional value of duck eggs.

Khaki Campbell is the most popular purebred duck breed for eggs

The Khaki Campbell ducks are a breed that was selected from Indian Runner females crossed with a Rouen drake.

Mrs. Adele Campbell, of England, wanted a duck that provided plenty of eggs and was a good table bird since her husband and son both loved to eat duck.

Mrs. Campbell was amazingly successful with her idea. Khaki Campbells are still the most popular purebred duck raised for eggs.

Hens will lay over 300 white eggs per year.

Campbells are tan in color, hence the khaki part of the name, and are a hardy duck.

Brooding Ducklings: Tips for beginners will help you figure out what you need to brood your ducklings and how to set up the brooder area.

Welsh Harlequin ducks came from Khaki Campbells

The Welsh Harlequin is from Khaki Campbell breeding stock that were hatched in a differing color pattern in 1949 at the farm of Leslie Bonnet, of Cricceith, Wales.

Just like the original stock, Welsh Harlequins are great foragers and prolific egg layers, producing five or more eggs per week.

Welsh Harlequin drakes will weigh 5.5 pounds and hens will weigh 4.5 pounds and are known for being docile but while still being active foragers.

Hens will lay 240 plus white eggs per year and although they have colored feathers tend to pluck almost as cleanly as a light feathered bird.

Hybrid Egg Layer produce the most eggs per duck

The Hybrid Egg Layers are the ducks to get if you want the most eggs.

This will be a lighter bodied duck so she will need less feed to maintain production.

These ducks are not a purebred, they are a hybrid. Hybrid means they are a cross made from two or more separate lines or breeds of ducks.

Hybrids will combine the best traits of the parent lines into one animal, but will not breed true if used as parents themselves, since they are a mix.

Hybrid egg layers are specifically bred for getting lots of duck eggs from the hens while keeping feed costs low, making them an economical producer.

Commonly available hybrid egg layer ducks are the White Star Hybrid Layer and the Gold Star (or Golden) Hybrid Layer.

How Much Do Ducklings Need? goes over the feed needs, both amount and feed type, for your ducklings.

Indian Runner ducks are good layers

The Indian Runner duck is a small, very upright duck originally from the East Indies (Malaysia and China).

Indian Runners, usually just called Runners, were selected over centuries as herding ducks that could walk well since they were taken out every day to weed the fields and rice patties.

Runners come in many different colors and are known for being great egg layers, with some hens laying over 250 white eggs per year.

These ducks are the most active foragers compared to other duck breeds.

A runner duck will weigh 3.5-4 pounds.

Although it is a lighter duck breed, it can not fly, but can make it over a short fence that would be adequate for a heavier bird.

Runners are docile and active. They are super easy to tell from other ducks because of the way they stand.

Other ducks are much more horizontal in their body carriage, while Runners tend to look like they are standing upright.

Additionally, any Runner duck we have had has been a great mom. One of our most prolific duckling raisers is a Runner, she’s a hatching machine!

Here’s a short video of one of our Pekin drakes.

Duck Breeds for Meat have heavier carcasses

  • Jumbo Pekin
  • Rouen
  • Swedish
  • Muscovy
  • Aylesbury

Jumbo Pekin is a fast growing all white duck

The Jumbo Pekin are a larger framed, but still fast growing strain of the Pekin duck. The Jumbo Pekin will finish at 10-11 pounds.

These ducks are calm and very heavy, finishing out at higher weights than the regular Pekin.

Rouen ducks are a traditional meat breed

The Rouen is a duck breed originally from France.

These ducks look like a Mallard (wild duck) in coloring, with a brown penciled body color in hens and a shiny green head and purple and brown chest in drakes.

Rouens are a big framed duck weighing 9 pounds for males and 7 pounds for females. The Rouen is a very hefty duck that tends to be slow to mature.

Rouens are calm and gentle ducks that like to forage. They are beautiful birds that will look great in your backyard or pasture.

Swedish ducks are an active meat breed

The Swedish ducks are calm, very hardy and love to forage.

Drakes weigh 8 pounds and hens weigh 7 pounds. Swedish ducks look like they have on a suit, with a dark body color and a white chest.

We have a few of these ducks left over from the original flock we got ten years or so ago.

These are great easy care ducks that will sometimes set and raise ducklings for you.

These ducks are commonly called Blue Swedish but not all of the ducks will be blue.

The color blue comes from crossing a white parent to a black parent to get the blue (grey) ducklings.

Those blue ducklings if used as breeding stock will produce ducklings that are black, white and sometimes a mix of both colors.

Muscovy ducks are quiet and can fly

chocolate and white Muscovy duck
One of our chocolate and white Muscovy ducks. The drakes have significantly more red around their eyes and at the top of the bill. Note the claws on her feet!

The Muscovy duck is an interesting bird. They are not related to all the other duck species at all.

Muscovy ducks are known for being good brooders of ducklings and the ones we have are dedicated moms.

Here’s an example from our farm: To keep them safe from predators, I put a brood of Muscovy ducklings and their mom in a pasture type shelter.

The mom flew out, but stayed by the edge of the pen for more than a month while the babies grew big enough to be let out.

When I let them out, she treated them like she had kept them with her the whole time!

Muscovy ducks are easily recognized by the red skin bumps on the side of the face and top of the bill. These bumps are called caruncles.

The males will have more caruncles than the females.

A Muscovy has a completely different shaped body than most other ducks, very long and horizontally carried.

The drakes are heavy birds that can raise a little feather mohawk on the top of their heads when they get riled up!

Another very non duck trait of the Muscovy is that they can fly, not well enough to leave the area but definitely well enough to get up into trees to roost.

While they are known for being quiet ducks, they actually “talk” quite a bit.

Since they make a hissing sound rather than quacking, they are quieter to have around than most other ducks.

Aylesbury ducks are famous in England

The Aylesbury duck is the famous pure white meat duck from England, where it is still the preferred duck meat today.

Aylesburys are a very deep bodied, white duck known for meat production.

Young ducks will reach butchering weight of 5 pounds in 7-9 weeks! Drakes weigh 10 pounds and hens weigh 9 pounds.

Aylesburys have a pink and feet, and white skin. The pink colored bill is an easy way to tell an Aylesbury duck from a Pekin duck.

These ducks are calm, not much into foraging (meaning easy to contain) and very tame.

The Aylesbury is one of the most endangered duck breeds in the U.S. today, having less than 500 breeding birds in the country.

There is a critical need for more duck lovers to consider adding Aylesbury ducks to their lives.

Dual Purpose (meat and eggs) Ducks

  • Pekin
  • Ancona
  • Magpie
  • Buff
  • Cayuga
  • Saxony
  • Silver Appleyard

Pekin ducks are great layers

The Pekin ducks are wonderful layers and grow to harvesting size quickly, 7-8 weeks, making them the ideal dual purpose duck.

Pekins are a more nervous, talkative duck than most other breeds and are always white.

We have a flock of Pekins for eggs. They are reliable producers of big white eggs. The hens learn to come when feed very quickly.

It might be a surprise to find the Pekin listed as dual purpose, instead of just as a meat duck, as is commonly thought. Give Pekins a try.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well they perform as both a layer and full flavored, meaty carcass they will provide for your table.

Do You Have Enough Room To Raise Ducks? will help you figure up how much space you need to give to your ducks to keep them happy.

Ancona ducks are becoming more popular

The Ancona ducks are an active breed that lays well, producing 120 eggs per year. Ancona eggs are often speckled with blue or black spots.

These birds will weigh 6-6.5 pounds live and 4-6 pounds dressed.

Anconas can come in any white and color spotted combination as long as the areas of color are broken along the head, back, sides and underbelly.

These are a hardy, all purpose duck that grows quickly for a purebred.

Many eaters prefer Ancona meat to the commercial ducks, which are normally Pekin, due to Ancona being more flavorful and less fatty.

Ancona ducks are a rare breed that could use more farms and yards to call home.

Since they are an excellent layer, provide flavorful meat and have a calm disposition the Ancona is a great choice of duck breed for backyard poultry enthusiasts.

Magpies are colorful dual purpose ducks

The Magpie is an attractively marked duck that is mostly white with a dark patch on the back of the head and on the back.

The dark back makes the Magpie look like it is wearing a cape.

Magpies are a very active bird that can gather much of it’s own feed if allowed out to pasture.

These ducks are good layers, producing 220 plus eggs and weighing 4-5 pounds.

While Magpies can not fly they are capable of getting over a low fence or wall. These ducks are very active and can be high strung.

Magpies are another duck breed that could use a second look, since they are a productive duck and need more people to raise them, as they are listed as threatened on The Conservation Priority List for livestock.

Buff ducks are a dual purpose, fawn colored

The Buff  is also called the Buff Orpington, which originated in England. It is a calm bird that likes to forage.

As you may have guessed, the Buff duck is fawn brown in color.

Buff Orpington ducks are calm yet still active foragers. The hens will lay 150-200 eggs per year.

These birds gain weight well and has light pin feathers making the carcass easy to pluck.

Buff drakes will weigh 8 pounds and hens will weigh 7 pounds.

As a dressed bird, the carcass has a buttery color and is very meaty for a medium sized duck.

The Buff duck is a rare breed with only 11 farms raising these birds as of the 2015. Only five of these flocks have more than 50 birds each.

There is a need in America for more Buff Orpington duck breeders and fanciers. These useful ducks would do well in your backyard flock.

Cayuga is an American duck breed

The Cayuga is an American breed from Lake Cayuga in New York. Cayugas are a medium sized duck that are blue or most commonly black with a shiny green luster to the feathers.

Cayuga drakes weigh 6.5 pounds and hens weigh 5.5 pounds.

Egg color can range from white to dark green to violet black, normally darker earlier in the laying season.

Cayugas are a calm, friendly duck that is hardy but not well suited to confinement. They have a meaty carcass with dark skin.

These ducks are good foragers and tend to have easy to raise ducklings.

Saxony ducks are large sized and patterned

group of Saxony ducks and one Saxony drake
These are some Saxony ducks that we have on our farm. I love their beautiful coloring! The blonde ducks are female and the one with the grey head is a drake.

The Saxony duck was originally developed in Germany in the 1930’s.

Young Saxony ducks grow fast and reach market weight in 10 weeks. Drakes weigh 7.75 pounds and hens weigh 6.5 pounds.

Saxony ducks are a sturdy breed that is also a good layer. They have a tan body and a light colored stripe above the eye.

Drakes have a grey blue head above a white neck ring, with the chest and shoulders rust colored.

We bought a Saxony duck breeding trio, one drake and two hens, a few years ago and they have done well for us.

These are beautiful fawn colored birds that can take care of themselves.

Saxony hens will occasionally try to brood and hatch her own ducklings but this is rarely successful.

Since she is such a large bird, she can be too heavy for the nest.

If you want Saxony ducklings put the eggs under a broody chicken or in an incubator. A broody chicken, choose a larger breed hen, will hatch duck eggs just fine.

Silver Appleyard ducks are colorful and calm

The Silver Appleyard  ducks are named after Reginald Appleyard of Bury St. Edmund, England who developed these ducks in the 1940’s.

He wanted a duck that combined size, egg laying ability and meatiness together in one attractive package.

Silver Appleyards are a sturdy, blocky shaped duck that weighs 8-9 pounds.

They have a Rouen type coloring but are much better layers, producing 220 plus white eggs per year.

Silver Appleyard ducks are calm, colorful and great foragers. The dressed bird will weigh 4-6 pounds.

Order your ducklings early

While all of these ducks are available in the U.S., not all are commonly available. Order early in the year.

Any breed listed in the table at the beginning of the article as low availability will need to be ordered early in the season.

Have your order placed around the first part of January (or whenever the new catalog comes out).

These ducklings will have a very limited supply and will sell out quickly.

Do a quick search online. If you are lucky, ducklings can be picked up from a breeder in your area!

To be clear, I am telling you to place your duckling order early.

You can have the ducklings shipped later in the season, if that suits you better. Just have your order placed as early as you can.

Ducklings at chick days in farm stores

We have multiple stores in our area that have “chick days” in the spring that are now also regularly including ducklings.

Good news for you, ducklings are quick growers that will become much more difficult to keep perfect looking in the store as they age.

This is an opportunity for you. I see two week old ducklings marked down to half price or less every year.

Usually these ducklings are Pekins, but you can’t be too picky when you get them half price!

Pekins make great all round ducks. They lay beautiful large eggs and are great for meat, as well.

The down side is you may not get the ducklings. The upside is that if you get them they will be a bargain.

If you want a specific breed, don’t count on getting them at the bargain price in the farm store, you’ll have to order these specifically.

Metzer Farms is a wonderful source of duck information

If you are looking for a great all round site for duck (and goose) information, make sure you check out Metzer Farms. This is a link to their blog page, which has a ton of information and they also sell day old poultry, as well.

I frequently double check my numbers with Metzer Farms, since they are a commercial farm in addition to a hatchery. This means they give you production numbers and information, not just overviews.

Resources: Home Farm Handbook by Peter Ford; The New Duck Handbook by Heintz-Sigurd Raethel; Meyer Hatchery Catalog; and The Livestock Conservancy website

Related Questions

What is a group of ducks called?

A group of domestic ducks is called a flock. Wild ducks are called a flock if they are flying but a raft, team or paddling of ducks if they are on the water.

Are duck eggs good?

We use duck eggs and chicken eggs interchangeably for our family. Duck eggs are richer than chicken eggs making duck eggs popular with bakers. Some people who are allergic to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs.

14 Common Goat Breeds In America

goats in a pasture

Goats are becoming more popular in America for people looking to raise fun, smaller sized livestock that will comfortably fit in a backyard.

It’s no wonder goat numbers are on the rise! What are the common breeds that aspiring goat owners can choose from?

There are 14 common goat breeds in America: Alpine, LaMancha, Nubian, Oberhasli, Saanen, Sable, Toggenburg, Nigerian Dwarf, Boer, Myotonic (2 types), Angora, Crossbred and Pygmy. 

We live in Ohio and goats are very popular here. Many homeowners who are looking to do a little homesteading in the backyard have included goats in their lives.

Goats are also selling very well at the livestock auctions, from bottle babies up to breeding animals.

What’s The Current Selling Price For Goats? will show you how to find and read a market report to know the selling prices for goats in your area.

Goats come in three main types: dairy, meat and fiber.

All of these goats can be raised on smaller sized land areas and all will provide meat and milk, it’s just a matter of the main purpose you want the goat to fulfill.

As always when looking to purchase livestock, you get what you pay for.

High quality animals will be more efficient to raise and will perform to a higher standard than a poor quality “bargain” animal.

BreedPrimarily Raised For
CrossbredVariety of uses based on specific cross
(very different genetics than the pet type)
(very different from the meat type)
Nigerian DwarfMilking, also popular as pets
PygmyPets, actually a meat goat

There are 8 Common Dairy Goat Breeds

  • Alpine
  • LaMancha
  • Nubian
  • Oberhasli
  • Saanen
  • Sable
  • Toggenburg
  • Nigerian Dwarf
An overview of what you are looking for in a dairy goat. This is a great explanation of what you are looking for in a dairy goat, specifically a milking doe, of any breed!

Alpine goats are popular with small farmers

The Alpine dairy goat is originally from the Alps, first coming to the U.S. in 1920. Alpine goats have upright ears and a dished face.

Bucks weigh 180 pounds and does weigh 135 pounds.

These goats come in many colors, generally with dark markings and a light head and neck or a black stripe down the back.

Milk production for Alpines averages 1,500-1,600 pounds per year.

Milk is always listed in pounds for dairy goats (and dairy cows). There are 8 pounds per gallon of milk and a lactation (milking) period of 305 days.

To get the milk per day average: 1,600 pounds of milk divided by 8 pounds per gallon=200 gallons divided by 305 days milking =.66 gallons of milk per day.

In reality, milk production will increase up to be the highest amount two months after birth and begin to taper off from there.

Getting Started With Dairy Goats is an easy to read article from the American Dairy Goat Association. Look around the site, of course they handle registrations, but they also have tons of informational articles, as well.

LaMancha goats are an American breed

A LaMancha dairy goat, notice the really small ears
A beautiful LaMancha doe, easily identified by her short ears.

The LaMancha is an American breed of dairy goat started in the 1930’s by Eula F. Frey of Oregon. We had a few of these gals. The first thing you notice is no ears!

LaManchas can hear just fine, they just do not have the outer ear we are used to seeing on most animals.

As the saying goes “you don’t milk the ears” so no ears, no problem. LaMancha goats are known for being very docile.

Ours were certainly friendly.

LaManchas can come in any color and are known for having a high butterfat percentage milk.

Nubian goats are the most popular breed

The Nubian goat is the most popular breed of dairy goat in the U.S.

Nubians are easy to recognize because of their long floppy ears and roman nose. These goats are normally polled and come in a huge variety of colors, I always like the ones with spots the best.

Nubians first came to the U.S. in 1909, imported to Lakeside, California.

Nubian bucks weigh 180 pounds and does weigh 135 pounds.

These goats are know for having a higher percent of butterfat in the milk than other breeds of goats, meaning the milk is richer.

Nubians average milk production is 1,300-1,500 pounds per year.

Oberhasli are a beautiful red bay with black

The Oberhasli, formerly called Swiss Alpine, are a dairy goat developed in Bern, Switzerland.

Oberhasli goats are a beautiful color-a red bay body with black face stripes, ears, back, belly, udder and black legs below the knees and hocks (the bend in the rear legs).

Saanen are the highest milk producers

The Saanen is the second most popular dairy goat breed in the U.S. They are originally from the Saan Valley in Switzerland and came to the U.S. in 1904.

Worldwide, Saanens are the most popular dairy goat, surely do to them being the highest in milk production of any goat breed.

Saanens are also easy to recognize since they are a bigger goat that is always solid white or solid cream colored and have an attractive dished face. Both the bucks and the does have a beard and are normally polled.

Bucks weigh 185 pounds or more and does weigh 135 pounds or more.

Average milk production for Saanens is 1,800-2,000 pounds per year.

Sable goats are colored Saanens

The Sable breed are the purebred colored Saanens that split off of the Saanen breed in the 1980’s.

Prior to this split, darker colored Saanens were not registerable and considered undesirable as breeding stock.

However, some breeders recognized that the color does not determine dairy suitability and formed their own association.

Sables are not cross bred goats, they are just goats that happened to be born with a recessive gene from both parents giving them a color other than white or cream.

Toggenburg are the oldest breed

Toggenburg does, these are a wonderful dairy goat breed
A pair of Toggenburg does, relaxing in their pen.

The Toggenburg is the oldest registered breed of any animal in the world.

The first Toggenburgs were listed in the herd book in Switzerland in the 1600’s! These goats have been popular in the U.S. since being imported in 1893.

Toggenburgs are always the same color patten, a mousy light to dark brown with a light colored stripe down each side of the face, down the underside of the tail and on the inside of each leg.

Toggenburg bucks weigh 150-175 pounds and does weigh 100-135 pounds. Milk production averages 1,500-1,600 pounds per year.

Nigerian Dwarf are a dairy goat

The Nigerian Dwarf is a new comer to the American goat milking scene. (This is the breed of goat shown in the video above.)

Nigerian Dwarf goats are a good choice for someone wanting a dairy animal in a very small package.

These small goats look like a short version of a full size dairy goat. (A dwarf goat that is stocky is a meat breed called a Pygmy goat, not a Nigerian Dwarf.)

A well bred Nigerian Dwarf will give about one quart of milk per day.

These goats weigh 75 pounds and are 17-20 inches tall, with bucks on the taller end and does usually on the shorter side. They also will breed year round.

I have a great article on Nigerian Dwarf goats, check it out!

A word of caution-since these are small goats many people keep them as pets. That’s super, unless you want a dairy animal!

If you want to milk your Nigerian Dwarf be sure to get her from a farm that selects for milking ability and actually milks the goats they have.

There are 3 Common Meat Goat Breeds

  • Boer
  • Myotonic or Tennessee Fainting
  • Savanna

The American Goat Association is another organization that promotes raising goats, click around the site and see what you can find. I looked under the marketing section and found some great resources.

newborn baby Boer goat with dapple coloring
This is my new baby goat! She is a dapple Boer. Her mom is a 94% Boer. Despite the nanny being registered and the baby able to be registered, neither one has normal Boer coloring.

Boer goats are the most popular meat breed

The Boer is a goat breed from South Africa. Boer goats were introduced to the U.S. in 1993. These are the most popular meat goats in the U.S.

Boers are so popular because they gain weight easily, have good conformation, high fertility and have a meaty carcass.

Boer goats have a long breeding season allowing for three kiddings in two years is managed correctly.

This is a video I took of the goats for sale at Danville in the fall of 2019. It is mainly a Boer sale, but other breeds always show up on a big sale day.

Boer goats are white bodied with a red head and have a white blaze running down the front of the face. These goats are normally horned and have a roman nose.

Boer goats are used frequently to cross with dairy breed females to get a meatier kid. These are also a larger breed of goat with males weighing 260 pounds and females weighing 215 pounds.

pen of Boer does
This is a nice pen of Boer does.

Myotonic or Tennessee Fainting have muscle

The Myotonic or Tennessee Fainting goats have recently become popular. Just look on the internet for videos.

They are called fainting goats because when they get overexcited their muscles tense up and they fall over. The fainting doesn’t hurt them.

The Tennessee Fainting goat is native to the U.S. They are a well muscled breed, and a bit smaller than other meat breeds.

The fainting aspect of these goats is actually a misnomer, they do not really faint! Their muscles tense up and they fall over.

Myotonic goats “fainting” will make them easier for you to catch and less likely to jump out of your fence, unfortunately, this also makes them an easier target for predators.

A note on myotonic goats: there are two different sized goats both called myotonic. The smaller sized myotoincs are more of a pet type goat. The larger sized myotonics are a meat goat.

In my area, any goat I have seen advertised as myotonic is the pet type goat, see the Pet Goat section for more information.

If you are looking for the meat production goat, be sure to get the larger sized animal from a producer focused on meat production.

If you are reading an ad, meat focused myotonic goat raisers will be talking muscling and growth.

Meat Goat Production And Management by Penn State Extension is a quick tour through different breeds of goats and the basics of meat goat care.

Savanna goats are a rising meat breed

three Savanna bucks
Pen of Bucks for sale at the Danville Auction Savanna and Kiko Goat Sale in August, 2020.

Savanna goats are a relatively new meat goat on the scene, at least in the U.S. New or otherwise, Savanna goats are coming on strong for people who want to raise goats that are meaty, but do not want to raise Boers.

I have seen these beauties popping up at sales lately and they are really looking good. Not only are they wonderfully marked, black skin under white hair, they are super meaty!

The only downside is that right now they are pretty pricey, even for a percentage animal.

three Savanna doelings
Beautiful group of three doelings that sold at the Danville Auction Savanna and Kiko Goat Sale in August, 2020. These are sharp looking gals!

You should know that the Savanna goat registries have an interesting way of wording their registration certificates. There is purebred and full blood.

Here’s a link to the Savanna Goat Guide for the full explanation.

Purebred is a Savanna goat that has been bred up from a non Savanna parent. This allows you to grade up your herd.

Crossing your goats to Savanna will make them eligible as grade ups at 15/16 or 5 generations for does and 31/32 or 6 generations for bucks.

Full blood is the designation for goats that are 100% South African Savanna blood. You can not grade up to full blood.

To have a full blood herd, you must have full blood bucks and full blood does and only use full blood genetics for future breeding stock purchases.

Angora is the most common fiber goat

Angora is a fiber producing goat

The Angora goat is the most common fiber goat in the U.S. They are concentrated mostly in south-central Texas (95% of the U.S. Angora goat population is here) and produce 60% of the world mohair crop.

Angora goats do best in dry climates. They can be kept with range cattle or sheep since the goats prefer to browse (eat twigs and brushy plants) while sheep and cattle like the grasses.

The fiber produced by an Angora goat is a white and curly and is called Mohair. Mohair has a long fiber that is smooth and silky, growing 1 inch per month!

Goats with a more dense fleece are more valuable fiber animals. Mohair is used for weaving and spinning, just like wool.

Both male and female Angora goats have horns and long droopy ears. Large flocks of these goats are kept in Texas, but they can be found nearly anywhere in the country.

Saanen doelings at the fair
Two Saanen doelings at the fair.

2 Common Pet Goat Breeds

  • Myotonic (smaller sized)
  • Pygmy

Myotonic or “fainting” goats are pets

The pet type myotonic goats are by far the most popular pet goats in my area, I see them all over! It’s easy to understand why people like them, lots of colors and markings and a smaller, easier to keep size.

Even though this smaller sized myotonic is also a meat goat, they are being selected and raised primarily as pets.

An easy way to tell which one you are looking at if you are reading an ad is to look for descriptions like blue eyes or good fainter, that one I have actually seen!

These are from ads listing pet type goats, for sure. If you are more interested in a meat goat, you need to read the Myotonic section above in Meat Goats.

Pygmy goats are popular pets

The Pygmy has become incredibly popular in the last 25 years. Pygmys are very small goats that are kept as pets. These goats can come in nearly any color and are originally from the French Camaroons area of Africa.

Pygmy goats can be easily identified by their short, stocky build. They can come in any color.

a pen of pygmy goats at the fair
Two Pygmy goats at the fair.

Crossbred goats are hardy

Crossbred goats are incredibly popular! While they are not actually a breed, I included them because of their potential to fit a goat to nearly any need.

The other bonus of crossbreeding is it allows you to take the genetics you have and “grade up” (see below) your goats, rather then buying all new stock.

It is amazing the options you will have when you consider cross breeding goats to select your own specific, custom made for you and your situation goat!

The beauty of a crossbred is that you are taking advantage of hybrid vigor, meaning the crosses are more hardy and faster growing than the purebreds.

goats at the fair
Goats at the fair, just messing around.

Be aware that cross breeding will always lower the ability of the top producing breed.

What do I mean? Here’s an example: no matter what breed you cross your high quality Saanen with, you will be likely to lower the potential milk production of her kids.

Saanen is the highest milk producing breed. Any breed you cross to will make production go down.

The same thing happens with a meat breed, crossing to a dairy type goat will make the kids more dairy and less meat type in build.

The reverse is true as well, if you want meatier kids from your dairy does, breed them to a meat type buck.

Crossbred goats are a wonderful option for a new goat raiser! You’ll get a hardier animal that will likely be less expensive.

Additionally, grading up is also crossbreeding. Grading up is breeding your goat of unknown parentage to a specific breed to get 50% documented parentage kids.

The next cross to the same breed will get 75% known parentage and so on. The idea being that eventually you’ll get to nearly 100% and your goats are purebred.

Most breed associations allow grading up to get your initial goat herd turned into “purebreds” over the course of about 6 generations. The percentage needed to register as purebred depends upon the association.

If you are interested in turning your happy mix breed goats into more specific genetics, up grading to a chosen breed will get you there.

Resources: Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats by Jerry Belanger, Modern Livestock and Poultry Production by James R. Gillespie, The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Raising Small Animals by Carlotta Cooper

Related Questions

Which goats are the friendliest?

Any goat we have had has been friendly. The breed most known for being friendly is the LaMancha dairy goat.

How long does a goat give milk?

A dairy goat will produce milk for 9-10 months. A meat goat will produce milk as long as her kids are nursing, normally a few months.

Backyard Eggs: An Easy Start To Being More Self Sufficient

Chicken eggs on the left and duck eggs on the right. Notice how much bigger the duck eggs are and the variety of colors of the chicken eggs.

Interested in raising eggs yourself for your family and maybe having a few extra dozen a week for friends?

Or maybe you just want to know where your food comes from? Consider raising some poultry for eggs!

The most adaptable and easiest birds to raise as backyard egg producers are chickens and ducks. Chickens and ducks are easy to care for, available in many areas and are easy to find feed and supplies for.

Backyard eggs are an easy way to get started with taking care of yourself and your family. Poultry is simple to take care of and very family friendly.

Is Raising Chickens For Eggs Worth It? goes over your budget for raising and keeping hens for your egg supply.

Not to mention, no one can produce eggs that look and taste better than yours. That is not an exaggeration.

Treat your birds well and give them access to the yard for bugs and plants and your eggs will be the best around.

Normally, when people say backyard eggs, the chicken egg comes to mind. If chickens are where you want to start your self sufficiency journey then dive in, chickens are a great choice for eggs!

When you get your own chickens, you’ll need to know about pullet eggs. Here’s the scoop.

If chickens aren’t your thing (or are prohibited where you live) never fear, there are other options for eggs like ducks and quail.

Throughout this article I refer to birds, sometimes specifically writing chicken. Any information regarding the eggs themselves will apply to all backyard egg laying birds, not just chickens!

Backyard eggs are safe to eat

The safety of the eggs is completely determined by the way the birds are taken care of, specifically the environment they live in.

Any egg contamination comes from outside of the egg shell and works it’s way inside, usually through cracks in the shell.

Are Chickens Or Ducks Friendlier? goes over some things to consider when you are trying to choose your backyard egg producer.

Poor nest box management causes dirty eggs

Poor management of the nest boxes, meaning not enough bedding material and/or neglecting to completely clean out any broken eggs, are going to be the two main problems that result in dirty eggs.

Dirty eggs are the eggs that will have possible bacterial contamination. Since the shell of the egg is porous, the bacteria can work their way inside the egg.

Given sufficient time and a bit of heat, this bacteria will spoil the egg.

Is possible contamination a reason to avoid raising your own eggs? No, not at all.

Clean eggs come from well bedded nest boxes

It is a reminder that you control the environment of the egg, therefore, you control the condition of the egg.

A well cared for bird raised in a clean environment will lay beautiful healthy eggs for you and your family.

Keep the coop clean, have plenty of bedding in the nest boxes and frequently gather eggs. It’s that easy.

Backyard eggs are healthier

hens drinking extra milk
These are some of our hens drinking a bit of extra milk. These gals run around and find all kinds of snacks, which makes them happy and gives the yolks a rich orange color.

Just like you are what you eat, so are your birds and any eggs from them.

Backyard eggs, generally speaking, are going to be healthier for you because of the way the birds are raised and their access to the yard.

Eggs laid by chickens that are in a low stress environment and are able to roam about the yard or garden eating bugs and tender plants will have a higher nutritional value than eggs from a chicken that never gets outside or has a higher stress life.

The nutrients available to the chicken to take care of herself and then put into her eggs can only come from whatever she is eating.

“Compared to eggs of the commercial hens, eggs from pastured hens eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, more than double the total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids”

Just like your body runs off of the foods you eat. The more varied her diet the more she nutrients she can put into the eggs.

Pastured Eggs is a Penn State Extension article that goes over the research findings of the nutritional values of pastured eggs.

Fresh eggs do not need to be washed

Fresh eggs do not need to be washed. This is assuming that the shells of the eggs are clean when you gather them.

Once again, clean shells are result of the nest boxes being clean. If you don’t like washing dirty eggs then keep more bedding in the nest boxes.

If you do have dirty eggs (it definitely happens), then just wash off the shells with a cloth and some lukewarm water. Then let them dry on a towel before putting them in a carton.

I have read that some people use fine grit sand paper to sand off the dirty spots on the eggs but I have not tried it. We just use water and rub the shell with a cloth.

Backyard eggs are not vegan

My understanding of a vegan diet is that people who chose to eat vegan do not want any animal products in their diet at all.

Since vegans do not eat anything from an animal, no matter how the animal was raised, vegans would not chose to eat any eggs, backyard or otherwise.

We know a few people that are mainly vegan but chose to occasionally supplement their diet with eggs or responsibly raised meat.

If this is the case then backyard eggs would be a wonderful nutritious addition to a mostly vegan diet.

Choose hearty layers for backyard eggs

Chickens are the most popular bird for backyard egg production and a great bird to start with. There are tons of choices of chicken breeds to raise.

Chickens come in a huge variety of colors, temperaments and body sizes. The eggs also come in a variety of colors and sizes.

Generally, chickens are divided into groups by body size and egg color. As mentioned above, there are hundreds of varieties of chickens.

The breeds listed below are just examples to give you an idea of what you are looking for when you start your search.

Light Breed Chickens need less feed

  • White Leghorn
  • Polish
  • Lakenvelder
  • Hamburg
  • Campine
  • Buttercup

Light Breed chickens are smaller breeds of chickens in that they have a slimmer body, but will still lay a good size egg.

Generally, light breed chickens are more active and good at foraging.

Grit For Chickens will help you decide which grit to give your hens, if they even need it, to help your hens perform at their best.

hens scratching in old hay
Hens scratching through a bale of old hay.

Heavy Breeds of Chickens lay brown eggs

  • Wyandotte
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Australorp
  • Orpington

Heavy breeds of chickens are birds that are more robust and hearty in build, will lay well and tend to be a calmer bird.

Heavy breeds are also called dual purpose since they can be kept for both meat and eggs. Take a look at my article 20 Of The Calmest Chicken Breeds.

While they are not exclusively heavy chickens the majority of the birds on the list are heavy breeds.

Colorful Egg Layers make egg gathering fun

  • Americuana (blue or green shell)
  • Welsummer (very dark brown shell)
  • Maran (chocolate brown colored shell)

With backyard chickens being popular now, most hatcheries are also including a section on colorful egg layers.

These are chickens that will lay an egg that has a unusually colored shell like blue or speckled.

pair of Pekin ducks
A pair of Pekins on a wet spring day. Pekins are great egg producers.

Ducks are great for backyard eggs

Interested in raising ducks for eggs? Consider my article 16 Breeds Of Ducks For Eggs And Meat.

Raising ducks for backyard eggs is becoming more popular. We love our ducks and the eggs we get, even in colder weather when the chickens stop laying.

Duck eggs are bigger than chicken eggs and are prized for baking. I use ours when making homemade noodles.

Duck hens are reliable eggs layers. As a bonus, ducks normally lay their eggs in the morning (compared with chickens that lay throughout the day).

You can collect eggs during morning chores and know how many eggs you have for the day.

Duck breeds that are good egg layers

  • Pekin
  • Indian Runner
  • Khaki Campbell
  • Hybrid layers like Gold Star and White Star

Duck eggs can be used any where chicken eggs would be used. They are great fried and can be used in all of your recipes where you would normally use chicken eggs.

Some cooks substitute two duck eggs for every three chicken eggs in a recipe, others just use the number of eggs listed whether using duck or chicken eggs.

It’s your call on if and how you adjust your cooking. I tend to take a middle ground approach-if the duck eggs are big I use less of them, if they are smaller I just use the number of eggs in the directions.

The main difference with a duck egg that I notice is the duck egg shell is so much harder than the shell of a chicken egg.

Other than the harder shell, I do not notice much of a difference between duck eggs and chicken eggs in the cooked food.

One of our Saxony ducks. I love their beautiful tan coloring.

Quail can be raised for backyard eggs

Many people who want to raise their own eggs but are in an area that restricts backyard animals still have some options. For urban eggs, consider Cournix quail.

Quail are small so they don’t need a large cage or shed area to keep them in. They are also very quiet.

Most urban restrictions seem to be to prevent noise, since quail are quiet birds they should easily fit into your yard and keep the neighborhood peaceful.

We have bobwhite quail, but I would suggest Cournix quail for eggs and meat.

Cournix quail are fast growers-full size and laying eggs at five weeks old. These quail don’t fly so they are easier to pen.

Related Questions

Do green eggs really exist?

Yes, there are breeds of chickens that lay naturally green shelled eggs including Araucana and Whiting True Green.

Do hens lay different colored eggs?

Every chicken breed lays a specific color of egg. Chickens eggs can have a white, brown, blue, green or tinted shell color. The hen can not choose or change the color of the egg shell. Egg shell color is genetic.