Ducks are raised primarily for meat. Although most breeds used are relatively poor layers, the flock should be managed to save the eggs produced for food purposes or hatching. The commercial duck industry is built around the Pekin breed. Pekins reach market weight early and are fairly good egg producers, but they are poor setters and seldom raise a brood.
The Rouen is a popular farm flock breed. It is slower growing than the Pekin, but it reaches the same weight over the 5 to 6 month period of feeding and foraging under farm flock conditions. Its slower growth and colored plumage make it undesirable for commercial production.
The Muscovy, a breed unrelated to other domestic ducks, is also used to some extent in farm flocks. They are good foragers and make good setters. Muscovy males are much larger than the females at market age.
Meat production is generally of primary importance in selecting a breed, but egg production for propagation, brooding tendency, and the white plumage that produces an attractive dressed carcass should also be considered.
Keeping small, ornamental varieties of ducks, sometimes called bantam ducks, for exhibition or hobby purposes is increasing. Included in this grouping are White and Gray Calls, Black East Indias, Wood Ducks, Mandarins, and sometimes Teal. Most general poultry shows and some special bantam shows offer classes for these ducks.