Thinking about getting ducks for your backyard or homestead? Consider the rare and beautiful Saxony duck breed, which lays up to 240 eggs annually. The Saxony might be one of your best choices if you're looking for a heritage dual-purpose duck.
We breed this endangered duck and have hatched and raised numerous ducklings for meat and eggs. The Saxony has exceeded expectations in every way.
See the video below for a quick look at our Saxony ducks:
The Saxony duck breed is considered threatened according to The Livestock Conservancy, a nonprofit organization working to save and preserve different endangered breeds of livestock, of which The Peasant's Daughter is a member, as I am committed to breeding and raising numerous heritage breeds.
Saxony ducks are large multi-purpose birds that lay approximately 240 large, creamy-white eggs per year and offer flavorful meat. They also provide down and feathers, adding to their versatility.
They thrive when raised in free-range environments, benefiting both from and contributing to the health of the land they inhabit.
They're also very, very pretty:
Saxony Duck Quick Facts
- Primary use: Dual-Purpose (Meat & Eggs)
- Body Type: Heavy
- Size (Drakes): 9 lbs
- Size (Females): 8 lbs
- Egg production (Annual): 200-240
- Starts Laying: Around 26 weeks (6 months)
- Egg size: Large to Extra Large
- Egg color: White, Pale Blue-Green
- Origin: Saxony, Germany
- Conservation Status: Threatened
Top Reasons To Choose The Saxony Duck
- Dual-Purpose: Saxony ducks are excellent for those who want high-quality meat and eggs. They are robust producers, competing with the best egg-laying chicken breeds and the most productive ducks (like the Indian Runner) in terms of egg production.
- Down: If crafting your own pillows, duvets, or clothing appeals to you, these ducks offer an abundant supply of down and feathers.
- Gentle: Known for their excellent temperaments, they are a safe choice around young children.
- Pest Control Experts: These ducks excel in foraging, significantly reducing insect populations and larvae around your property.
- Garden Allies: Saxony ducks are a better choice than chickens when it comes to controlling weeds and pests in your garden or flower beds. Though ducks may consume young seedlings and other items that you might not want, they will still not cause damage to your garden or create the mess that chickens often do.
- Cold Resilient: They thrive in colder regions, displaying strong physical health and resilience.
- Conservation Efforts: By raising Saxony ducks, you contribute to preserving a rare and critically endangered breed, supporting heritage breed diversity.
- Noise: They can be louder than other duck breeds, particularly when anticipating food. That said, ducks are loud, the only exception being the Muscovy.
- Higher Feed Needs: As larger ducks, their appetite is bigger, especially noticeable in winter when foraging is limited. In the summer this is much less of a concern in a free-range system.
- Growth Rate: Being a heritage breed, they grow slower than commercial meat breeds, which could be a problem for you if you're raising ducks primarily for meat.
- Egg Laying Start: They begin laying a bit later than some, but on par with heritage chicken breeds, and like all poultry, their egg production declines with age.
- No Winter Eggs: While I'm not a proponent of forcing ducks and chickens to keep laying eggs during the winter months, Saxony ducks don't seem to respond to lights regardless in the experiments I have run. Mine stop in the fall and start back up before spring.
Like chickens, ducks' egg productivity decreases with age, but they are still more productive than commercial hybrid chickens.
History & Origins
The Saxony duck has an origin story rooted in resilience and innovation. Back in the 1930s in Germany, a breeder named Albert Franz from Chemnitz, in the Saxony region, set out to create a new kind of duck.
His goal was straightforward: breed a duck that was good for both meat and eggs, and that looked good enough to show off at poultry shows.
Franz mixed three different breeds: the German Pekin, known for its meat; the Blue Pomeranian, a standout for its unique color; and the Rouen, valued for its size and egg-laying abilities. After careful crossbreeding, the Saxony duck was born.
The first public appearance of the Saxony duck was in 1934, at a local show in Chemnitz-Altendorf. However, World War II hit soon after, and almost all the original Saxony ducks were lost. Despite this setback, Franz didn't give up. After the war, he started over with the few Saxony ducks that had survived.
By 1957, Germany recognized the Saxony duck as a distinct breed. It then started spreading across Europe, thanks to exports to England and beyond. The breed made its way to the United States in 1984, thanks to the Holderread Waterfowl Farm. The American Poultry Association officially recognized the Saxony duck in 2000.
Appearance & Breed Standards
Saxony ducks are very pretty.
They have a bucolic pastoral loveliness with their soft peachy-fawn and cream coloring and a gentle appearance that looks like something from an old painting.
I just love looking at them.
Males (Drakes): The drakes are easy to spot with their silvery-blue heads and distinctive "drake curl" at the base of their tails. They carry a unique color pattern that's different from other ducks. Their heads, backs, and wings are a cool blue-gray, while their chests are a warm chestnut-burgundy. The rest of their body is cream-colored, with a white ring around their neck.
Their legs and feet are orange or reddish-brown, and their bills are usually yellow or orange, sometimes with a hint of green.
Females: The females have a more muted look, mainly buff with creamy white highlights on their face, neck ring, and underbody. Their bills are orange, sometimes with a bit of brown, and their legs and feet are also in the orange to reddish-orange range.
Ducklings: Saxony ducklings are born yellow with traces of lines around their eyes. They will start to darken and then grow fawn-colored feathers shortly after.
At first, you may not be able to discern between males and females, but the males will shortly begin to develop their blue heads; you can see it happening in the video I shared above.
Both males and females share a special feature: a touch of lavender-blue silver on their wing tips, adding a bit of surprise to their appearance.
Personality & Temperament
From the get-go, my Saxony ducklings showed a boldness and curiosity that set them apart from other breeds. Right from their early days, they’d confidently approach me, clearly expecting a meal. It’s this blend of bravery and curiosity that makes them stand out.
Saxony ducks are full of life and energy and have quite a personality. You can tell how excited they are by how quickly their tails wag, especially when it's time to feed them. They're not afraid to make noise, often quacking loudly, but it's all because they can hardly wait to be fed.
These ducks are very sociable creatures and tend to stay close to you, often following you. They may even give you a gentle nip at your feet to get your attention and see if you have any snacks to share. Saxony ducks are extremely friendly and calm, showing no signs of aggression or nervousness.
This makes them a perfect choice for keeping as pets, even for children.
That said, if you want friendly pet ducks, you must put in the time, or they will want nothing to do with you.
Handle your ducks, hand-feed them, and spend time sitting quietly as they wander up to you, nipping your hands and heels, looking for treats.
Raising Saxony Ducks for Meat & Eggs
Your Saxony ducks will lay up to 240 eggs annually and will continue to lay for a long time. The eggs may be white or a pale bluish-green color. She will start laying between 5-6 months old and stop laying during the winter.
Saxony ducks make for wonderful and flavorful meat. I prefer to duck and goose meat to chicken or turkey.
Your Saxony ducks will be ready for slaughter at 20 weeks or about 5 months old. See my article on processing ducks for meat for more information.
The skin is white and very tasty. The fat is an incredible treat — roast your potatoes in it! Or make duck leg confit.
They take longer to reach market weight, so if that is a concern, you may want to add breeds like Muscovy or Pekin ducks in addition to or instead of.
You can even crossbreed Saxonies with other breeds like Muscovy and Pekin ducks. The result is a large, delicious, meaty duck that reaches slaughter weight faster.
Ducks are more difficult to process than chickens because they have so much more down and feathers.
Ducks also have pin feathers that can make the process more difficult if you slaughter your ducks at the wrong time when they are beginning or in the middle of a molt.
See my recipe for oven-roasted crispy whole duck.
Care & Feeding Considerations
An adult Saxony will about 6 ounces of feed per day, and they eat more during winter and less in the summer when they can forage.
If you get them as day-olds (or hatch them out yourself) in early spring, they can spend the entire season growing on lush pasture outdoors, cutting down on feed costs.
But if you're raising them for meat, you should note that the more your ducks forage, the stronger the meat will taste and the leaner it will be. Consider finishing them off in the final month in an enclosed run with extra feed and not letting them expend energy on wandering around in search of food.
We feed soy-free and corn-free 18% protein chicken grower feed to all of our poultry and supplement this with scrambled egg rations weekly as well as high-quality kitchen meat and vegetable scraps.
If your ducks are in a limited space, like a small backyard, you need to be extra careful that they are meeting their nutritional requirements, and there are several specialty-formulated duck feeds available on the market, too.
Water & Shelter
Ducks are aquatic birds that love water. They are happiest when they can swim and bathe in a small pond or pool.
It is important to provide ducks with access to both a swimming area and clean drinking water for self-cleaning.
Unlike chickens, ducks don't need roosts or nesting boxes, but they can be housed in coops meant for chickens and ducks can live with chickens too. Add extra litter on the ground and consider the deep litter method to make your life easier.
Suitability For Suburban Backyards
You can keep Saxony and other duck breeds happy in a suburban backyard.
One bonus with ducks is that you can keep drakes without any neighbor being the wiser! Roosters will always give themselves away — usually at 4 a.m. and repeatedly.
Although ducks love to wander, they’re also perfectly content to waddle about a backyard and play in the water of a kiddie pool or small artificial pond — and get fed regularly.
Just don’t keep them confined in tiny spaces or runs; they will not be happy and will get bored.
Where To Buy Saxony Ducklings
We breed and sell high-quality Saxony ducks available in limited quantities each spring/early summer. Stay tuned for more updates. And sign up for the newsletter below.
I recommend going to dedicated breeders passionate about this breed and breeding strong and true genetics.
Great genetics and breeding practices will influence your ducks' size, health, temperament, and laying capabilities.
Join online groups and start asking questions. This is a hard breed to find.
Saxony ducks make wonderful pet or companion animals besides being an incredible dual-purpose breed for meat and eggs (and feathers/down too!). They are docile, not aggressive, inquisitive, bolder, and more curious than some other breeds, and they have lively personalities. Young children can easily tend to Saxony ducks without fear.
Yes, Saxony ducks are (unfortunately) very rare, and finding good stock is difficult, though not impossible. They are listed as being "threatened" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Depending on the genetics and health of your Saxony duck, she will lay anywhere from 200 to 240 large to extra-large white eggs annually. She will continue to lay for a long time and may even lay throughout the winter without needing supplemental light.
Among all the duck and chicken breeds that are classed as layers or dual-purpose, the Saxony duck is among the best of layers. Your Saxony will provide you with abundant eggs.
Saxony ducks are a large, heavy breed of duck, and as such, they cannot fly. You may see them take of a few feet off the ground, but they are not capable of more than that and will rarely attempt it. They can waddle pretty fast!
All ducks have a natural affinity for water, and your Saxony duck is no exception. Providing her with a pond or pool to splash around in will keep her happy. Even a cheap plastic kiddie pool can serve this purpose. Though it is not mandatory, it is a kind gesture to offer your ducks a place to swim. If it's not possible to provide a small pool or pond, ensure that your ducks always have access to fresh water that they can dip their entire heads into for cleaning and eating purposes.
Like most ducks, Saxony ducks are very cold hardy and do well in northern climates throughout the winter. As ducks don't have combs and wattles like chickens do, the risk of frostbite is very low. Their feathers also protect them from the wet and cold.
I have raised and tested numerous duck breeds on our homestead. Very few stick around, but the Saxony is an example of a true dual-purpose breed that excels in every single way. I highly recommend them to anyone who values the excellent attributes of heritage breeds.