The magpie duck is quite a lovely breed. Although not as popular as the Pekin, its distinctive black-and-white plumage makes it a true head-turner. Its docile temperament also makes it great to be around humans.
That’s why it’s quite surprising that it’s not one of the popular duck breeds. Fortunately, you’ll learn all about the magpie duck in this article.
A magpie duck is a domestic duck breed originating from the United Kingdom. It is so named because it shares a similar black-and-white pattern with the European magpie. This duck breed is most notable for its eggs having a blue or green hue to them.
But there’s more to the magpie than just being a pretty duck with stunning eggs. It’s a calm breed that isn’t noisy, making it a suitable pet. If you’re interested to know more about the magpie duck, then read on for more information.
Magpie Duck History
The exact origin of the magpie duck is still a mystery, but the first known records of its breeding date back to the early 1920s in Wales. It is believed that the breed came to be through the efforts of two farm owners – Mr. Oliver Drake and Mr. Gower-Williams.
Also, it is likewise believed that the magpie duck descended from two duck breeds: the Indian runner duck and the huttegen duck. It has a similar upright carry to the Indian runner, although the magpie duck is notably shorter. Concerning the huttegem duck, the magpie duck shares similar black and white markings.
By 1926, the breed was recognized and standardized in England. And more than 50 years later, the breed was finally recognized by the American Poultry Association.
Magpie Duck Identification
What Do Magpie Ducks Look Like?
The magpie duck is a medium-sized long-bodied duck breed. It is best known for the black and white markings all over its body – much like the Magpie bird that its name is derived from. Its base feather color is white and has a notable plumage of black feathers on its wings, tail, and at the top of its head.
It has a long neck, generally yellow bill, and yellow legs and feet. It has an upright carry similar to the Pekin duck.
How Long Does a Magpie Duck Live?
On average, a magpie duck lives for around eight to twelve years. The average duck lifespan is around five to ten years. This shows how hardy the magpie truly is because this duck breed is tolerant of all climates.
What Do Magpie Ducks Eat?
Magpie ducks are omnivores who eat a variety of food items ranging from plant matter to meat. But since they are foragers, they mostly eat grass and seeds, as well as garden pests like worms and insects. They are also known to eat insect larvae, tadpoles, and slugs whenever they forage near bodies of water.
How Big Do Magpie Ducks Grow?
Magpie ducks are medium-sized ducks. They can grow up to two feet tall and weigh up to six pounds.
Are Magpie Ducks a Heavy Breed?
Magpie ducks are not considered a heavy breed. This duck breed falls within the lightweight category, often weighing between 4.5 to 6 pounds.
Magpie Duck Wingspan
The exact wingspan size of the magpie duck is unknown. However, they have smaller wings compared to other duck breeds. This gives them limited flight capacity – only enough to help them fly over fences to escape.
What Is Magpie Duck Known For?
The magpie duck is best known as a dual-purpose breed. This breed is a great egg layer that can produce around 200 to 300 eggs per laying cycle. Its carcass also produces gourmet-quality poultry, making it highly demanded its meat.
Where Do Magpie Ducks Originate?
While the magpie duck is bred from the Indian funner duck and the belgian huttegem duck, it is a duck breed that finds its origins in the United Kingdom. Particularly, the breed traces its origins in Wales in the years following the first world war.
What Are the Distinct Characteristics of a Magpie Duck?
There are two distinct characteristics of the magpie duck: the first is its black and white plumage, and the second is its unique body carriage.
- Black and white plumage. Like the magpie, the magpie duck shares the same black and white patterns all over its body. Most notably, the black markings appear on its wings, its neck, and its chest. Some magpie ducks also have a black plumage on its head that appears like a cap.
- Unique body carriage. Most duck breeds have a horizontal body carriage. Interestingly, the magpie duck has a body carriage of around 35 degrees above the horizontal line. This gives them a more upright appearance compared to other common duck breeds.
- Strong legs. Because of its small wings, the magpie duck only has limited flight capacity. As a result, they have adapted to life as mainly ground birds that can run faster than the average duck.
Magpie Ducks Temperament
Magpie ducks are best known for their docile and calm environment. While magpie drakes are known to be territorial, they are not as aggressive as other breeds. Also, they make great pets since they are not known to attack humans and other animals.
However, magpie ducks tend to be easily startled, which makes them panicky. Fortunately, they often calm down fast enough and do not produce as much noise even when they are startled.
When Do Magpie Ducks Lay Eggs?
The magpie hen starts laying eggs once it reaches 25 or 30 weeks old. At this age, the hen is capable of laying around six eggs per week.
How Often Do Magpie Ducks Lay Eggs?
On average, the magpie duck can lay around four to six large eggs per week. Because of its egg size and impressive egg-laying numbers, this duck breed is highly regarded as an egg layer.
What Color Are Magpie Duck Eggs?
Aside from their beautiful black-and-white plumage, magpie ducks are also known for their beautiful eggs. Unlike most eggs that are either white or brown, magpie eggs are white with either a blue or green hue to them. Their eggs are also quite large, so it certainly stands out when placed next to other eggs.
How Many Eggs Do Magpie Ducks Lay?
On average, an adult magpie hen can lay around 300 eggs per laying cycle. This is why magpie ducks are considered excellent egg-layers.
At What Age Do Khaki Magpie Ducks Start Laying Eggs?
The Khaki Campbell, often referred to as the Khaki Magpie, starts laying eggs once it reaches around five to seven months old. But unlike the magpie hen, which can produce around 300 eggs per laying cycle, the khaki magpie hen can only lay around 180 to 250 eggs per laying cycle.
Magpie Ducks Care Tips
Give them enough space to forage. Like most ducks, magpie ducks are foragers by nature. As such, they get their food while they freely roam around your farm. With that said, you should give them enough space to forage. The ratio to be observed is that you give at least 15 square meters for each duck.
Shelter them. Aside from having enough space to roam around, you should also give your magpie ducks a coop to shelter them. This will keep them safe from harsh weather, as well as a place where they can get some rest at night.
Give them access to clean water. Bear in mind that the magpie duck is a waterfowl. As such, it needs access to clean water where it can drink and take a bath – which is part of its grooming process. So aside from the big foraging space, make sure that you also have a pond where your magpie ducks can swim in.
Breeding Magpie Ducks
Breeding ratio. To maximize the drake’s active libido, the recommended breeding ratio for the magpie duck is five hens for every drake.
Give them enough space. A healthy magpie duck is sure to breed better. As such, make sure that it has enough space to roam around. A space of 15 square feet per duck is advised.
Check the hens. To determine if the hen will be a good breeder, the best sign is usually whether it is a good egg layer or not. So if your hens can produce four to six eggs per week, then know that it is likewise a good breeder. And in most instances, its ducklings will likewise grow into good breeders.
Can Magpie Ducks Fly?
Magpie ducks can fly. They are known for being ground foragers, so they are not always seen in flight. However, if there is a need to escape a threat, these ducks are lightweight enough to fly to a safer place.
But even then, they can only lift about a foot off the ground and move around three to five feet away. This will be enough to help them get over fences to escape.
Do Magpie Ducks Go Broody?
Magpie ducks are not generally broody. However, it has been observed that some magpie hens tend to be broody after laying eggs. But this is more of an exception than the norm.
Is Magpie Duck Good to Eat?
The magpie duck is safe to eat. In fact, their meat is considered gourmet quality, which is why they are bred for that purpose. Each magpie duck also has a good yield that can feed up to three people.
Are Magpie Ducks Loud?
Magpie ducks are not loud. This duck breed is highly favored as a pet because of its friendly and quiet nature. Even when they do quack and socialize, the noise they make is quite minimal and is not loud enough to cause annoyance or disturbance to your neighbors.
Are Magpie Ducks Endangered?
Magpie ducks are currently listed as Threatened. As earlier discussed, this breed is considered rare and was once even listed by the American Livestock Breed Conservatory as Critically Endangered. Through conservation efforts, it has now improved to Threatened status.
Are Magpie Ducks Good Pets?
Magpie ducks make great pets. They are quite docile, so they are not known to attack at random. They are also quite friendly, making them great around kids and other animals. Additionally, they are also great if you have neighbors living close by since they are not noisy.
How to Tell Male From Female Magpie Ducks?
At first glance, it’s hard to tell the magpie drake from the magpie hen. But if you see them stand close to each other, the first thing you’ll notice is that the drake is slightly taller and bulkier than the female. Males are also known to have distinctive curled tail feathers, as opposed to the female’s straight tail feathers.
For your reference, here is a table for your quick comparison:
|Magpie Drake||Magpie Hen|
|Weight||Up to 6 pounds||Up to 5.5 pounds|
|Bill Color||Often appears yellow with green spots||Often appears grayish-green|
|Plumage||Feathers on the wings, chest, and neck appear iridescent||Feathers do not appear iridescent|
|Temperament||Territorial||Protective of their young|
The Magpie Duck is a rare duck breed that deserves more attention. It is a dual-purpose breed that produces large-sized eggs and gourmet-quality meat, which is enough to justify why there should be more of this breed. It’s also quite friendly and calm, which makes it an excellent pet.