A few months ago we bought 15 Welsh Harlequin Ducks as day olds and have been raising them up. They are beautiful and are really getting big. This breed of duck weights up to 6 pounds when fully grown, while not quite there, they are getting pretty close. Originally they were in a smaller rabbit hutch I made when they were round. Then I tried to make a pen for them with a mostly open covering, and letting them out in the yard during the day. That proved to be an unworkable plan. They hated being penned up and every opportunity they had they looked for a way to escape. We have found raising them very easy except for that. I think ducks in general like being kept out doors and being able to freely move around. Similar to our chicken who are seen moving around over an acre or so all day. A few ducks were lost to predators and now we only have 9 left. That is sad but the ones that remain are the survivors. These have really figured a way to survive and now live almost entirely self sufficient. We have a large pond on our yard and they eat and sleep there, only coming up for food, usually every day for a few hours. It is really amazing how independent they are. Also our Welsh Harlequins, unlike our chickens stay very close to one another, literally feet from each other. They have been producing eggs throughout the winter. Raising ducks has really proven to be a very enjoyable experience. They are vocal, beautiful, friendly, and when you can catch one they are extremely soft. Other breeds of duck are more suited for meat since Welsh Harlequins are a smaller breed, but you could obviously eat them. You would get about the same amount of meat as you would from an average chicken, so you efforts wouldn’t be a complete loss. For those considering selling to local markets, both duck eggs and duck meat fetch a much higher price than chickens. As long as you are not dealing in large quantities I am sure you would be able to find buys. The issue would be that there may not be enough duck meat lovers to justify production of a large quantity without a high amount of marketing. Generally speaking I would consider duck to be a better all around small farm animal than chickens if you enjoy duck meat.
Let me give you some other information about Welsh Harlequin ducks. They originate from Wales and are a fairly new breed. They came from Khaki Campbell only about 60 years ago and were introduced in the US about 35 years ago. All male ducks are called drakes, and the Welsh Harlequin drakes have a very distinctive black neck with a yellow bill. The female has a greenish black bill and the head is white, like pretty much its entire body. They are said to be good foragers, which we have experienced first hand, and can produce 250 eggs per year. Given that they are much larger on average than a chicken egg, that means it really produces more egg by weight than even the most prolific chickens can produce. As we have also found, given that they are white they can be more easily spotted by birds of prey.