Silver Appleyard Ducks {The Best Dual-Purpose Duck Breed?}

Silver Appleyard ducks are one of the best, most practical, dual-purpose duck breeds you could add to your homestead or backyard flock. These beautiful heavyweight ducks are active foragers that lay lots of big white eggs, while also providing a good deal of meat. And their calm temperaments make them great for families with children and for keeping them as pets if you wish.

The Silver Appleyard is a combination of beauty and utility that makes them a top dual-purpose duck breed choice.

They are one of the best layers amongst all duck breeds and their meat is plentiful and flavorful with large, wide breasts.

Thrifty and crafty people may even opt to save their plentiful down and feathers for making pillows, down comforters, or stuffed animals and dolls.

And this breed is a popular choice for exhibition shows as well.

If you’re searching for the perfect duck breed for your homestead or backyard flock — Silver Appleyards should be seriously considered.

On our homestead, we are adding a flock of Silver Appleyards to join our growing duck populations of Muscovies, Saxony ducks, Cayugas, and Welsh Harlequins.

a female silver appleyard duck stands in profile in grassy field

Silver Appleyard Quick Facts

  • Primary use: Dual-Purpose (Meat & Eggs)
  • Body Type: Heavy
  • Size (Drakes): 8 – 10 lbs
  • Size (Females): 7 – 8 lbs
  • Egg production (Annual): 200 – 265
  • Starts Laying: Around 26 weeks (6 months)
  • Egg size: Large to Extra Large (2.5–3.7 oz.)
  • Egg colour: White
  • Origin: England
  • Conservation Status: Threatened
A female Silver Appleyard duck preens her feathers.
A female Silver Appleyard duck preens her feathers.Cleaning Time” by Pinti 1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Top Reasons To Choose The Silver Appleyard Duck

  • A phenomenal and productive dual-purpose breed that will provide you with plenty of meat and eggs
  • A source of down and feathers for pillows and comforters
  • They will lay up to 260 LARGE eggs annually and will continue to lay throughout the winter
  • Docile temperament
  • A hardy, healthy breed that does well in numerous climates
  • Very cold hardy
  • Excellent foragers that will actively seek out their own food
  • A heritage breed that is considered threatened, you can help ensure their survival and success by keeping a flock

Cons

As for cons, like all chickens and ducks, laying productivity will wane as the years go by — though less drastically so with breeds like this.

Because of their size, they will also cost more to feed than smaller breeds during the colder winter months as foraging opportunities will not be as plentiful.

all ducks are noisy to an extent as the Silver Appleyard is no different.

Silver Appleyard’s History & Origins

Silver Appleyard ducks arose from one man’s noble quest to produce the best all-around utility and farmyard duck table breed.

That quest was highly successful, and as a result, this is one of the best dual-purpose duck breeds you could choose.

The Silver Appleyard is a British breed of domestic duck developed by expert breeder, Reginald Appleyard, in the 1930s at Priory Waterfowl Farm near Ixworth, in Suffolk.

(He was also the man responsible for developing the Ixworth chicken breed.)

Appleyard started crossing Pekin, Rouen, and Aylesbury duck breeds until his ideal dual purpose duck was finally achieved.

He also developed the miniature Silver Appleyard version by crossing Khaki Campbell ducks with Call Ducks.

But before he could submit a breed standard to officially declare Silver Appleyards a distinct duck breed, he passed away and his original line passed into obscurity too.

Thus the he Silver Appleyard was never standardized as a breed until interest by the late Tom Bartlett, who rescued the Appleyard from obscurity and sure extinction.

Bartlett recreated the original Silver Appleyard from writings and paintings done by E.G. Wippell. He found ducks at market with desired traits and then selectively bred them until he was satisfied.

The modern Silver Appleyard duck was finally standardized in 1982 and accepted by the British Waterfowl Association — but it had already reached American shores in the 1960s.

The American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection (SOP) finally accepted the standard version of the Silver Appleyard in 1998.

Silver Appleyard Appearance & Breed Standard (Photos & Videos)

Silver Appleyards are very similar in appearance to Mallard ducks, but it is quite obvious how to tell them apart. This breed is stocky and sturdy, with a strong and compact body and only a slightly erect posture. Keep reading for descriptions and photos.

A silver Appleyard duck female stands in mud at the water's edge
A female Silver Appleyard duck.
two silver appleyard drakes standing in their duck run infront of fence
Silver Appleyard drake (male).

Drake (Male) Silver Appleyard Duck Appearance

The Silver Appleyard drake is a heavy body type of duck. They are large and sturdy, weighing in between 8 to 9 lbs.

The drake’s bill is greenish or yellow with a black tip, his eyes are brown and his head and neck are greenish-black. With age, his neck may exhibit some striping.

The breast, sides, shoulders, and flank on a drake are reddish-brown in color with white frosting and lacing. His underbody is creamy-white or silvery-white.

The wings will be gray and white with a bright blue cross-stripe. The tail is black and bronze, and the feet are orange.

Female Silver Appleyard Duck Appearance

The female’s bill is yellow or orange with a black bean and her eyes are brown.

Her plumage is creamy-whitish with grey, brown, fawn, and buff markings. Her wing has a blue cross-stripe.

The feet are orange.

The Miniature Silver Appleyard Variety

Alongside the heavy standard Silver Appleyard duck are two miniature or bantam sized versions of the breed.

A Silver Appleyard Bantam was bred by the breed creator (Reginald Appleyard) in the 1940s. He cross-bred the Khaki Campbell duck breed with the small Call duck breed; it therefore had a similar/same appearance but not the same genetic origins as the heavier bird.

That version was lost after Appleyard’s death.

Another Miniature Silver Appleyard was also created by Tom Bartlett of Folly Farm much later on. This miniature version was not recognized until 1997.

As it is only a third of the size of the larger bird, it is not small enough to be termed a bantam which is why this variety is called a miniature instead.

The bantam and miniature versions are not as suited to egg or meat production but rather ornamental, exhibition, and pet purposes.

a silver appleyard female duck flaps her wings in a small pond of water
All ducks love water!

Silver Appleyard’s Personality & Temperament

The Silver Appleyard duck is known for being docile and calm. They are well suited to families with children.

They may be friendly if hand-raised from hatchlings, but it takes time and patience to make ducks hand-tame and not flighty.

In general I find all ducks to be much less temperamental than chickens, and this goes for both the males and females.

For instance, I have never had to concern myself with my drakes getting too close to my toddler or hurting him. They keep a wary distance or come up to him in curiosity looking for food.

My Bresse roosters on the other hand? Not trustworthy at all.

Your Silver Appleyard ducks will forage all day if allowed too and they will love to swim and splash in puddles.

Silver Appleyard’s As A Dual-Purpose Meat and Egg Breed

This breed will rival any duck for its ability to lay an abundant number of eggs consistently, and in providing a meaty carcass if raised or meat too.

Egg Production

Although they are not used in commercial farms, the Silver Appleyard might make a great addition to a smaller homestead or hobby farm looking to make some profit in selling specialty duck eggs from a rare breed.

How many eggs do Silver Appleyard ducks lay?

The Silver Appleyard duck will lay up to 260 large to extra large eggs annually.

But you need to know that the productivity can vary greatly and this is one of the reasons why sourcing great genetics is so important. Some lines may only lay 100 eggs annually.

Find a reputable breeder and ask questions.

Duck eggs are phenomenal, especially if you love the yolk which is double the size compared to chickens.

Duck eggs also have a thicker eggshell and membrane which means the eggs will stay fresher longer and preserve more of those incredible nutrients too.

The Appleyard should continue to lay throughout the winter season too, although they may slow down or stop until spring. Either scenario is normal.

Egg laying productivity will taper of gradually off each year in the same way it does for chickens though the drop-off will be less drastic, especially in heritage breeds like these.

You can expect up to 5 years of solid production after a stellar first and second year.

a female silver appleyard duck flps her wings outside on a grassy field, standing in profile

Meat Production

The silver Appleyard is an excellent source for meat too.

They have white skin and delicious meat that can be prepared in numerous ways.

I much prefer duck to chicken when it coms to meat although I raise and enjoy both.

Duck fat is also one of the greatest pleasures in life. It is much more expensive than lard or tallow so we love having it on hand in our home — especially from our free-range and pastured soy-free ducks.

See Also

Duck Down

Duck feathers, and especially the down, is very valuable and useful.

Although not quite as warm or insulating as goose down, it is still an incredible material that can be used to stuff your own pillows, duvets, or stuffed animals and dolls.

You can also sell down easily online to other crafters.

Silver Appleyard Ducks Are Cold Hardy

One of the other advantages of being covered in water-proof and insulating down — cold-hardiness.

Ducks are very cold hardy.

And as they do not have the wattles or combs that chickens do, they are way less prone to frost-bite.

I watched my ducks this past winter spending considerably more time in the cold and snow than my chicken flock that kept confined to their coop or run for most of the winter.

The ducks even happily bathed in the pond every chance they got when the weather was freezing.

Free Range

Ducks are incredible at free-ranging and hunting for their food.

Much more so than chickens.

In my first year with ducks I watched in amazement as they barely touched their feed, preferring to stay out until dusk to eat the various plants and bugs they found.

You can even plant your lawn with varieties of grasses that ducks will love and drastically cut down on your feed costs during the warmer months.

Your lawn will look great and this type of lawn management is so much better for the environment than a useless monoculture.

See Also: How To Safely Free-Range Poultry on Pasture {4 Methods}

Raising Silver Appleyard Ducks (Everything You Need To Know)

Silver Appleyard ducks, like all ducks, require feed, water, and shelter. And ducks are very easy to raise. Let’s look at what they need from duckling to adult.

Duck Housing

a muddy spring day with a toddler on a farm standing in front of three ducks. A wooden shed is in the distance along with trees and blue skies. The ground is extremely muddy.
An example of a simple shed on our property converted into a dual-purpose chicken coop and duck house.

Housing for ducks is easy.

They need a simple shelter to keep them safe from predators and to protect them from the elements.

Unlike chickens, ducks do not need roosts and prefer to sleep on the ground together.

We use converted wooden sheds coupled with the deep litter system and plenty of extra bedding as ducks are wet creatures and they like to build nests in the ground to lay their eggs and sleep.

To combat humidity, which can be quite detrimental in the winter, it is important that whatever shelter you use for ducks is draft-free but has plenty of ventilation at the top (of the shelter/house) to allow extra humidity to escape.

Our ducks and also chickens live together and you can read more about housing ducks and chickens together here.

Feeding Ducklings & Ducks

Feeding ducklings and ducks can be as simple as buying specialty feed formulated for them, feeding them chicken feed (with some caveats), or doing a combination of the two.

I recommend fermenting whatever feed you do decide to use and you can find out exactly how and why in my guide: Why & How To Ferment Feed.

The most important part of feeding ducklings and ducks is making sure they have access to water at all times.

Ducks require a water source deep enough to dunk their entire heads into to drink, moisten their feed, and also to clear out their nostrils.

If you serve your ducks dry feed and the water runs out, it poses a choking hazard to ducklings.

Ducklings

You have options with what and how to feed your ducklings.

You can buy specialty formulated unmedicated starter feed for ducklings — and yes you can ferment it as well.

It is imperative you do NOT feed medicated chicken starter feed to your ducklings.

And if you do not ferment your feed, it is recommended you moisten it into a mash to avoid choking.

What do I personally do?

I feed my ducklings the same way I feed my adult ducks, my baby chicks, chickens, layers, meat birds etc.

Everyone gets the exact same feed from the day they’re hatched: fermented soy-free chicken grower feed at 18% protein from a local farm here in Ontario.

I also grind up the whole grain feed I use in my blender for the first week when they’re very tiny to make it easier to eat and digest.

However, ducklings have additional protein and niacin needs so I also give them weekly scrambled eggs with additional nutritious food like flaxmeal, kelp, and black oil sunflower seeds (best sourced from your local feed store).

You can also add Brewer’s Yeast for additional niacin if you don’t want to go that route.

Another great brand of chicken grower feed that is certified organic, soy-free, and corn-free is from Scratch And Peck.

Adult Ducks

Adult birds can be fed the same as I do mentioned above for ducklings.

You can also buy specialty formulated waterfowl feed too.

If you have a mixed flock of ducks, geese, chickens etc., you can still do as I do above, or you can consider something called an ‘all-flock feed’ which should meet the nutritional purposes of everyone.

Ducks are amazing foragers and you will save money by letting them forage on pasture for their food.

A lot of my tips from the article Saving Money On Chicken Feed Costs can be equally applied to ducks.

And check out my article on feeding ducklings too.

It’s pretty cool seeing what they will catch and eat too.

Flock Instinct

Never raise a single duck. Even if you have other poultry like chickens or geese, ducks need other ducks, at least one.

It is very cruel to raise a duck without another companion of its own species.

Mixing breeds is perfectly fine.

Male Duck To Female Duck Ratio

Never raise more drakes (male ducks) than your females can handle.

It is unbearably cruel to the female ducks who can be over-mated to the point of severe injury or death.

For the Silver Appleyard breed, a ratio of 1 drake to a minimum of 4 females is fine.

More is even better. For breeding purposes a ratio of 1 drake to 8-10 females is ideal.

Exercise

Ducks are ACTIVE.

They are not like chickens who will be content to stick close to their food dish if given the opportunity. Ducks love to explore and roam!

One of the best forms of exercise is to provide them with water to swim in.

Even a shallow plastic kiddie pool will make them happy.

Where To Buy Appleyard Ducklings

If you are a breeder with a website and wish to be added to this list, please send me an email.

I recommend going to dedicated breeders who are passionate about this breed and breeding strong and true genetics.

Shipping live baby ducklings is possible, just keep in mind that this can be stressful to the animal and even cause death.

Great genetics and breeding practices will influence the size, health, temperament, and laying capabilities of your ducks.

USA

Canada

Rosehill Farms

Where To Buy MINIATURE Silver Appleyard Ducks

Holderread Farm

Breeding Silver Appleyard Ducks

If you have a drake, this is relatively easy and you just have to let nature take its course while providing adequate shelter.

Your ducks will lay their eggs in a clutch (this can get up to 30 eggs or more) and then one or two females will “go broody” and take turns laying o the eggs until they hatch in 28 days.

You can also collect the eggs and incubate them yourself.

Are Silver Appleyard ducks broody?

Yes, the females are known to go broody and hatch out eggs.

They will raise the young themselves if allowed.

Silver Appleyard Ducks FAQ

Are Silver Appleyard Ducks Noisy?

Silver Appleyard ducks are not particularly noisy and they generally reserve their quacking for times of great excitement or fear. They may get very worked up when they see you coming with their feed or treats too.

How Long Do Silver Appleyard Ducks Lay For?

Silver Appleyard ducks will lay up to 260 large to extra large eggs starting at about 6-months of age. They are most productive in their first and second years and then will start to gradually taper off. You can expect a steady supply of eggs for 3-5 years before a more drastic decline but they will continue laying until about 8-9 years old.

Are Silver Appleyard Ducks Friendly?

Silver Appleyard ducks are calm and docile ducks and can be quite friendly if raised from hatching or a very young age. The more time and patience you show any duck, the friendlier they will be towards you.

Can Silver Appleyard Ducks Fly?

Silver Appleyard ducks are a heavier class of duck and they are very poor flyers. They may get a bit of lift off from the ground, but that rarely amounts to anything comparable to actual flying.

How Long Do Silver Appleyard Ducks Live?

Barring deasease, bad genetics, illness, or predation, you can expect your Silver Appleyard ducks to live as long as 9 years old.

Are Silver Appleyard Ducks Endangered?

Yes. According to the FAO (Food & Agriculture United Nations) the Silver Appleyard duck breed is Critically Endangered. According to the Livestock Conservatory, they are classified as Threatened. Either way, they are a very breed of duck.

Do Silver Appleyard Ducks Go Broody?

Yes, the Silver Appleyard female duck will go broody and will hatch a clutch of eggs. They generally make great mothers that will raise and protect their ducklings.

when do silver appleyard ducks start laying?

Like most ducks, your Silver Appleyard ducks will start laying around 6 months of age. If they have not started laying by autumn, chances are they won’t begin until spring.

Final Thoughts

The Silver Appleyard duck is a fantastic addition to your homestead and a threatened breed well worth the effort to keep going.

Alongside larger breeds like the Saxony which also provide an abundance of eggs, and Cayuga ducks which provide less but still plentiful, they are a worthy addition to any flock.

If you’re looking for a steady and abundant supply eggs and/or a great table bird — you cannot go wrong with the Silver Appleyard duck breed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 Comments

  1. Hi Jana
    I have 4 female silver Appleyard ducks. My drake got taken by a fox a year ago. Since, my 2 year old ladies have not been paying much and have not laid an egg for a few months now. Could it be because they don’t have their drake? I’m looking to add a drake for them but have been have a difficult time finding one.

    1. I had something similar happen but with my Saxony sucks. Basically, they’re traumatized by the incident and that stops them laying for a while. Mine started again but it took over a month.

      I’m sorry you went through that.

  2. Cackle Hatchery has them, I suggest you order them in January and check their availability charts for hatching dates. They have lovely healthy birds.

  3. What breeders sell minature Silver Appleyard ducks or minature Australian Spotted ducks?
    I am looking for 2 for pets but can’t find a seller. Your help would be appreciated.
    David Moellenkamp
    4192079056

    1. If I can find that information I will update this post and email you. So far I have not found anything.