Appearance, History, and Care of the Crested Duck Breed
One of the most unusual birds you’ll ever see is the crested duck. The skull of a crested duck is shaped differently, which has caused a large tuft of feathers to protrude from the back of the head.
These birds are difficult to breed, but they are manageable for beginners. They can produce good eggs and meat, but some people keep them solely for their appearance.
The Origins of the Crested Duck
The crested duck’s exact history is unknown, but it has most likely been around since the 1600s. Dutch painters created artwork resembling this unique duck breed back in the 17th century.
A genetic mutation linked to a skull deformity is what caused the crests. When this happens, the embryo of the duck develops a gap in the skull, resulting in the crest. The space is filled with fatty tissue.
People think that crested ducks came from the East Indies and then made their way to Europe. They quickly became popular livestock for European farmers, but it took some time for these birds to be recognized as an official breed.
In 1874, the crested duck was added to the American Standard of Perfection. It was then accepted into the British Standard of Perfection in 1910. In 1997, the crested miniature became a member of the American Poultry Association (APA).
Crested ducks are still popular today, but some keepers only raise them for decoration. Keepers can raise them for eggs or meat, though, if they are looking for something practical.
The large, afro-like crests on top of Crested Ducks’ heads are the source of their common name. The trait first showed up in mallard ducks as a mutation, but through careful breeding, it has become a consistent trait of this breed.
The duck crest isn’t the only thing that draws people to these birds.
Crested Ducks Egg Color
Crested ducks lay eggs that are either medium to large and white or blue in color. The color of the eggshell can vary depending on the parents’ appearance.
Crested ducks are more likely to lay white eggs if their feathers are crested. If they have feathers that are blue-ish, one should anticipate blue eggshells. Some ducks may lay eggs that are a mix of the two colors.
Appearance of the Crested Duckling
Crested ducklings resemble other young ducks in that they are fuzzy and yellow, but they frequently have a crest on their heads that is similar to that of an adult.
Some crested ducklings will not have crests, and you’ll know whether they do or not when they hatch.
Crests are a gene that they inherit at birth, so if a duckling does not have one, one will not develop over time.
Appearance of the Adult Crested Ducks
White, black, gray, blue, or buff feathers are all available in Crested ducks. Almost all crested ducks have afros, but some will not inherit the crest. The most common is a white crested duck.
They have a tall, upright posture, similar to Indian Runner ducks. They have beaks and feet that are light orange.
Male and female ducks have nearly identical appearances, but males have larger crests. Males, like other duck breeds, have curled tails, whereas females have straight tails. Male ducks make raspy noises, whereas female ducks quack.
Size and Weight of Crested Ducks
Male adults weigh two to seven pounds, while females weigh two to six pounds. The smaller ducks are known as miniatures or bantams.
Crested ducks can be friendly, but in unfamiliar situations, they are shy and nervous. So, while your duck gets used to their enclosure, they might be easy to scare.
If you interact with them frequently enough, they will become calm and easygoing.
They enjoy exploring, like most ducks, so having time to roam freely will make them the happiest. A pool of water is an excellent addition because they also enjoy swimming.
Because crested ducks rarely go broody, you can expect to raise fertile eggs yourself. They will not incubate eggs after laying them, even if there is an embryo inside.
These birds are less noisy than most duck breeds. They typically make noise only when looking for a mate, so they won’t bother your neighbors.
Can They Get Along With Other Birds?
Crested ducks like to live in groups because they are social creatures. These groups of birds could be made up of other birds of the same species or different duck breeds. Before keeping this breed of ducks, make sure they have easygoing temperaments and will not pick on your crested ducks.
Conditions of Care
Even beginners can handle these ducks because they require similar care to other types of ducks. Even so, before purchasing any kind of ducks, it’s a good idea to do lots of research.
When they are ducklings, crested ducks, like other poultry birds, require a high-protein, high-calorie diet. A special duckling feed will give them the nutrients they require to support their rapid growth.
Most duckling starter feeds contain 18 to 29 percent protein, which the young ducks should consume for three weeks. Then you can switch them to adult feed.
Since their growth has slowed or stopped, older ducklings and adults still require protein, but not as much. Adult feed should contain about 14% protein.
They also require calcium for bone health and zinc for overall performance. Vitamins such as B12 and niacin are also necessary additions.
Your ducks should always have access to feed and fresh water, but they can also get extra nutrition by free-ranging. They may eat plants, seeds, and small critters while roaming to improve their health while also controlling pests on the property.
The more space they have to explore, the more nutrients they will find.
Nutrition and Feeding
Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining the health of crested ducks.
Regardless of age or size, all Crested ducks need the proper nutrition for optimal growth. Every Crested duck keeper should take nutrition into account when designing a diet for these birds.
For example, ducklings and young ducks grow quickly and need to eat a lot of calories and proteins. During the first three weeks of their lives, ducklings need a starter food with 18–29% protein.
Because they are small enough for these tiny birds, protein-rich starter pellets are ideal for ducklings. In order to help their bones grow stronger, ducklings require high calcium levels in their diet in addition to protein.
Younger ducks require protein as well, though not as much as ducklings.
For younger Crested ducks, a feed containing about 14% protein is ideal. In the same way, because their bones are still growing, they need a moderate amount of feed that is high in calcium.
In their regular feed, both ducklings and younger Crested ducks require zinc. Zinc is essential for the structural, regulatory, and catalytic functions of Crested ducks, including young ducks and ducklings.
Many vitamins, including vitamin B3 and Niacin, should be included in the feed you give your Crested ducklings and younger Crested ducks. With the help of these two vitamins, ducklings and young Crested ducks can develop strong bones.
Drakes and non-laying Crested ducks require a maintenance feed containing approximately 14% protein.
If you can’t find duck feed with protein for your drakes and non-laying Crested hens, try natural protein sources like soybeans, pumpkin seeds, snails, small fish, and shellfish.
Zinc is vital for these birds, even though drakes and non-laying Crested ducks do not require a zinc-rich diet.
A lack of zinc can cause your drakes and other birds that don’t lay eggs to lose weight, have weak bones, and have problems with their immune systems.
To make sure your birds get enough zinc over time, sprinkle zinc supplements on their food on a regular basis.
Non-laying drakes and drakes Crested ducklings and young crested ducks require more vitamins than adult crested ducks. Vitamins boost the immune systems of non-laying ducks and drakes.
Ducks and drakes that don’t lay eggs can get a lot of vitamins from pumpkin, sweet potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, and kale.
Due to the fact that they lay so many large eggs, laying Crested ducks have much higher calcium and protein needs than other Crested ducks. Crested hens require breeder or layer feed that contains at least 20% protein and calcium.
Proteins for laying Crested ducks can be found in fishmeal, bugs, seeds, and soybeans. You can also buy commercial feed for laying Crested ducks, but make sure it has a high protein and calcium content.
Water is just as important for Crested ducks as it is for other duck breeds, in addition to nutrition. Crested ducks require clean water for preening.
In order to maintain a normal body temperature, Crested ducks also need water. Your Crested ducks will grow healthy if you establish a feeding schedule.
Ducklings should eat three times per day, while adults Crested ducks should eat twice per day, preferably in the morning and evening.
The housing requirements of crested ducks are not extravagant. They sleep on the floor because they are not perching birds, but unlike chickens, they need a cage that is made for them.
Crested hens will make nests on the floor of their coop, so nest boxes are not necessarily necessary. Ducks, on the other hand, require comfortable flooring in their coop, which you can create with straw.
In contrast to heavyweight duck breeds, Crested ducks, due to their medium size, do not require a large coop. A four-square-foot wide and three-foot-high coop is comfortable for these ducks. If you keep several Crested ducks, the coop should be wider.
Ventilation is vital for indoor ducks because it keeps the air in the coop fresh. Last but not least, check the coop for any gaps that could allow predators to enter and harm your Crested ducks.
Each duck requires at least four to five square feet in the coop. Feel free to give them more if you are able. They don’t require perches because they will sleep on the coop floor.
Additionally, crested ducks do not require nesting boxes. They will make nests on the coop’s floor as long as the bedding on the ground is comfortable enough.
To protect them throughout the year, the coop should be properly ventilated. To keep the ducks safe from predators at night, consider installing an automatic coop door.
The ducks should be comfortable in the coop, but the space outside the coop is equally important. If you don’t feel comfortable allowing these ducks to roam, make sure they have at least 15 square feet per duck in the run.
Most ducks enjoy playing in the water during the day. If there isn’t a pond nearby, you can keep them entertained with a small pool.
Ideal Temperature for Crested Ducks
Crested ducks can be raised in any climate because they are temperature tolerant. While some birds stop laying eggs in the winter, crested ducks do so all year.
Despite the fact that these birds are heat- and cold-hardy, keepers must take precautions during extreme temperatures. Ducks must always have access to fresh water, regardless of the temperature. Lots of shaded areas should be available in the summer.
You should think about getting a coop heater to protect the ducks at night if you live somewhere that gets very cold in the winter.
Concerns with Health
Crested ducks are usually healthy, but they can get diseases like avian cholera, hepatitis, and duck plague, which are common among ducks. Some of these diseases are preventable through vaccination.
Toxins in the environment can also expose your ducks. If parasites or dangerous materials get into the duck enclosure, the ducks could become ill quickly. Keep the coop clean and replace the food and water on a regular basis.
Despite being tough, Crested ducks are not tough enough to withstand the various health issues that affect ducks.
Your Crested ducks benefit from vaccination against the various diseases they are likely to contract throughout their lives. Duck plague, duck virus, hepatitis, and Avian cholera are a few of the most common health issues in Crested ducks.
In Crested ducks, toxins can also be harmful to their health. As a result, be cautious not to feed your Crested ducks any toxic substances.
Furthermore, make certain that your ducks are not exposed to any lethal toxins. Another health issue for Crested ducks is botulism. Ducks who forage for food in stagnant ponds and other filthy areas are affected by this condition.
If you have any concerns about the health of one of your ducks, remove them from the flock and consult a veterinarian.
Egg Production of Crested Ducks
Crested ducks are dependable layers for anyone keeping these ducks for their eggs. Each year, these adorable ducks lay between 100 and 130 eggs. Their egg productivity is hampered by freezing in the winter.
Crested ducks reach sexual maturity at a young age. Crested duck hens typically begin laying around the age of five to six months.
They are dependable layers because they can lay for several years after sexual maturity. Crested ducks lay larger eggs despite their medium size. Their eggs are the size of heavyweight duck eggs.
The color of these ducks’ eggs varies according to their variety of crested ducks. The white Crested duck lays blue eggs, whereas the blue Crested duck lays white eggs.
They lay nine to thirteen eggs before sitting on them. It also takes about 28 days for their eggs to hatch.
Compared to other duck eggs, crested duck eggs are larger. Because these eggs have more yolk, they are suitable for baking.
Their eggs are more flavorful than most duck eggs, which encourages duck keepers to keep them for egg production.
These eggs are an excellent source of nutrition. The dark yellow yolk of the eggs suggests that they are high in antioxidants, have 50% more vitamins than regular duck eggs, and are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Their eggs also have nearly twice as much protein as a regular duck egg. As a result, these eggs are ideal for those looking to gain lean muscle mass.
The fact that they are kept for egg production and their eggs contain more minerals than eggs from other duck species is another advantage.
Crested duck eggs, for instance, contain large amounts of selenium, zinc, and magnesium. The three minerals are beneficial to mental health.
In comparison to other breeds of ducks, crested ducks have average egg production. They can lay between 120 and 200 eggs per year. Their clutches contain 9 to 13 eggs, which are considered large for the size of the duck.
These ducks are dependable layers that may continue to lay even during the winter. Most ducks begin laying eggs at five to six months of age, and crested ducks will continue to lay for several years after sexual maturity. The eggs hatch in about 28 days.
Because these eggs are large, they have a larger yolk, making them ideal for baking. Keepers claim they are more nutritious and richer than duck eggs from comparable breeds. They’re said to have nearly twice the protein of a regular duck egg.
Their eggs are also rich in zinc, selenium, and magnesium, all of which are beneficial to mental health. They’re also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. As a result, most keepers prefer these ducks for egg production over meat production.
Despite the fact that chickens lay eggs more frequently than ducks, many keepers prefer ducks because their eggs are larger and have a richer flavor.
If you’re having a hard time deciding, you should weigh all of the benefits and drawbacks of duck eggs vs. chicken eggs. You can also sell duck eggs for more money.
These ducks are a medium-sized duck breed, but they can produce meat of excellent quality. They do not produce large quantities of duck meat, unlike heavyweight duck breeds.
But their meat is much better for you and has more vitamins and minerals than most chicken eggs.
Crested duck meat is leaner than regular duck meat. Because the meat contains almost no fat, this breed is ideal for people who are trying to lose weight. Large amounts of nutrients are found in Crested duck meat.
For example, the meat contains more iron and protein than meat from other duck breeds. Crested duck meat also contains more essential minerals like selenium and niacin. It’s also surprisingly tender and tasty.
Crested ducks are kept for meat production because their meat can be used in a wide variety of recipes.
The meat from these ducks provides numerous opportunities to experiment with delicious meals. Also, the meat has a strong flavor that goes well with a lot of different things.
Crested ducks mature quickly, which means they are ready to eat at a young age.
As a result, if you keep these ducks solely for meat production, you won’t have to spend a fortune on large quantities of duck feed.
The most significant difference is that Crested ducks do not eat a lot of food, unlike the majority of duck species that duck keepers keep for meat production.
Breeding Crested Ducks
Breeding these ducks is not recommended for novice keepers. When mating two of these breeds, you have to be very careful because it could lead to a dangerous gene pattern.
As a result, approximately 25% of crested duck embryos never fully develop. If offspring with those genes develop and hatch, they are more likely to have health problems. Some people are born with twisted necks.
Furthermore, breeding two crested ducks does not ensure that the ducklings will have crests. As a result, most breeders prefer to breed a duck with a crest with a duck without a crest because the risks to the offspring are reduced.
Even if one of the parents lacks a crest, many of the ducklings will.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Prices of Crested Ducks?
Depending on the size of the ducklings, crested ducklings can cost between $5 and $7. Depending on the variety, Drakes cost between $10 and $15.
For instance, White Crested drakes are more expensive than Black Crested drakes. Hens range in price from $15 to $25, depending on the variety.
Can Crested Ducks Be Used With Other Breeds?
Other ducks can have crests, but they are less common and do not look as exaggerated as they do on this breed. Some ducks, such as Mallards, may hatch with crests on their heads, but this is uncommon.
Can Crested Ducks Fly?
Crested ducks can fly, even though they may appear to be poor fliers. These ducks do not weigh as much as heavyweight duck species. They also have strong wings that allow them to fly for short distances.
The maximum speed at which Wild Crested ducks can fly is 95 km/h. Crested ducks tend to fly, especially in life-threatening situations, because they are overly nervous birds.
They do not fly frequently in captivity, but they will fly briefly to avoid danger. It is uncommon to see them fly long distances. They won’t fly away from the coop as long as you give them all of their basic needs.
How Long Do Crested Ducks Live?
Domestic Crested ducks can live for 8 to 12 years due to their adaptability. Still, these ducks in the wild can’t live this long because they don’t get the same care as ducks in captivity.
Also, many animals that eat wild Crested ducks in the wild live much shorter lives than they used to. If given the proper care, domestic ducks can live for nearly two decades.
Are Crested Ducks a Good Breed for You?
Raising these ducks may be for you if you want eggs, meat, or just something pretty to look at. As long as you’ve done plenty of research, they’re an easy breed to care for.
Because these ducks prefer to be in groups, you’ll need to buy several of them to keep them happy, and don’t be afraid to give them more space than they require. However, when it comes to breeding, leave it to the experts.