Magpie Duck: Care Guide, Eggs and More…

Magpie Ducks are a rare and beautiful breed.

These ducks are dual purpose and are best known for laying stunning green or blue eggs.

As you might have guessed from their name, this duck’s color matches the black and white of a European Magpie.

They are eye-catching and have a very gentle and peaceful temperament.

If you too would like to join in on the conservation effort by welcoming some beautiful Magpie Ducks into your garden, then this is what you need to know…

Magpie Duck

Magpie Duck Overview

The Magpie Duck is a dual purpose breed that is best known for their incredible versatility.

They are excellent foragers and love to hunt for bugs. These ducks will hunt down any pests that may be plaguing your yard and get some great protein in the process.

Magpie ducks are beginner friendly ducks that have sweet dispositions.

They are not known for broodiness and will lay 200-300 eggs per year (roughly 5 per week). These eggs come in a variety of colors, including, white, blue, or green.

These ducks are classed as a light breed with drakes weighing around 6lbs and hens 5.5lbs. They come in black and white, blue and white, lavender and white, and dun and white, although only the black and blue varieties are recognized by the American Poultry Association.

On a homestead, Magpie Ducks would make a wonderful addition.

They are very friendly ducks that can be placed with other poultry and other ducks breeds as long as they are slowly introduced. They make a great bird for the family as well and love to interact with both adults and children.

Expect to pay around $15 per duckling as they are rare.

Magpie Duck
Beginner Friendly: Yes.
Lifespan: 9-12 years.
Weight: Hen (5.5lb) and Drake (6lb).
Color: Black and White.
Egg Production: 3-4 per week.
Egg Color: White, Blue, Green.
Known For Broodiness: No.
Good With Children: Yes.
Cost of Chicken: $15 per duckling.

Magpie Hen and Drake

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • A rare and beautiful heritage breed
  • Friendly with other poultry
  • Good with children
  • Strong foragers that will eat garden pests

Cons:

  • Can get bullied for their gentle nature
  • Breeding correct markings can be challenging

Appearance

As their name suggests, the Magpie Duck looks quite like a European Magpie.

This is mainly because the two birds share the same black and white color.

However, Magpie Ducks are much bigger than Magpies.

They have long bodies and broad faces, similar to an Indian Runner Duck. This lets them hold themselves up in a similar manner. Bills can be anywhere on the yellow to orange spectrum, but legs and feet must be orange.

A key part of their appearance is their colored “hat” or splotch on their heads. This is the only part of their body that is not white and this color will stretch from shoulder to tail.

Drakes will have curled tail feathers while hens should have straight tail feathers.

Size and Weight

Magpies as categorized as a light duck.

Drakes are bigger than hens and will reach around 6lbs. Hens should be closer to 5½lbs on average.

They are smaller than the Indian Runner Duck, which grows to be 25 inches tall. So expect any Magpies you own to be under 25 inches.

Color Varieties

This breed only has two color varieties recognized by the American Poultry Association.

  1. Black with White
  2. Blue with White

Their white patches never change and are a key marker.

Other color varieties include dun and lavender. However, because Magpies are threatened, these colors are much harder to find.

What Is It Like To Own A Magpie Duck?

The Magpie Duck is an active breed that loves to spend their time foraging.

You will hear them chattering as they talk to each other but they are no louder than any other Duck you would hear by a pond.

Although they love to forage they are content to be confined when necessary. Just make sure that they have access to a pond or pool as much as possible to keep them healthy. Ponds are also a great way for them to properly use their energy.

They are friendly ducks that get along with just about anyone given time. They are great for homesteads and can blend right in with mixed flocks or other livestock.

Magpie Duck Eating

Personality

The Magpie Duck is a curious and kind breed.

They are very social and will fit in with any other poultry as long as they are given a slow introduction. Like any flock integration, this process should be done delicately by placing new ducks in your duck house at night to reduce bullying as much as possible.

Magpie hens also do great with chickens and may be curious about them at first. They will end up keeping your chickens company while they are out free ranging.

As great as they are in mixed breed flocks, Magpie Ducks do just as well with members of their own breed. They are known to be happy in each other’s company and will often forage together. If you are purchasing a Magpie Duck, get at least two. This way any Magpies you purchase will not feel isolated.

When it comes to family interactions, the Magpie Duck is a lovely breed to keep around your garden. Although they are curious foragers and often very alert, they are docile and gentle with children and sociable with people.

They rarely fly too, so if you are a beginner they are a great way to start raising ducks.

Egg Production

These ducks are loved for their beautiful white, blue and even green colored eggs. What color egg you get depends on what color eggs their parent lays.

Magpie Ducks lay 200-300 eggs per year, which is around 4-6 eggs every week.

Like most duck eggs, these eggs are large and will certainly add some color to your egg carton!

They will start laying eggs at anywhere from 25 to 30 weeks of age.

Breeding Magpie hens rarely get broody, but do make good mothers when they are broody. It is truly a matter of getting to know your Magpie ducks individually to decide if they are capable of raising their own ducklings. If not, then it is recommended that you incubate any eggs you want to hatch.

Egg Production
Eggs Per Week: 4-6 Eggs.
Color: White, Blue, or Green.
Size: Large.

Noise Levels

The Magpie breed is an average noise level.

They are not extraordinarily loud or chatty, but they are not quiet either.

Magpie Ducks chat with you and their flock, but are happy to hang around unless there is a threat they are alarm calling for. This makes them good for more urban areas and rural homesteads.

Magpie Duck Care Guide

The Magpie breed requires the same basic care that other ducks do.

This includes a coop where they can seek shelter from the weather, access to water at all times, feed, and a place to free range whenever possible.

You will need to make sure they have access to a pond, pool, or body of water to swim in. This is where ducks will do most of their foraging and where they can express the most natural behaviors. Without a pond or pool access, bullying and illness will quickly arise in your flock.

Health Issues

As for health problems, they have no underlying genetic issues to watch out for.

They are easy to care for and live for 9-12 years on average.

Feeding

When it comes to feed, Magpie Ducks are very efficient.

Any kind of poultry or waterfowl feed is acceptable to give them with the exception of medicated feeds, as these are often meant solely for chickens and could cause illness to your ducks.

It is recommended to feed them layer feed during warmer months and broiler feed during colder months.

The warmer months are when your ducks will be laying most often, so they will need the extra calcium, but are able to forage for protein. In colder months they will lay less but also be unable to forage, which is why a good broiler feed comes in handy. The best way to feed your ducks is free access, they will eat as needed and forage the rest.

Coop Setup and Roaming

Magpie Ducks are classed as a light breed.

This means they need 4 square feet per duck inside a duck house or shelter. No nest boxes or perches are needed, as ducks will not perch and tend to do all their egg laying on the ground.

Magpie ducks are foragers at heart.

This means they need lots of space to forage. They each should have at least 10 square feet of space, but the more the better.

If they need to stay in a run, make sure they are entertained so they do not get restless.

As for the pond, even a small kiddie pool will help your ducks feel more at home. However, the more natural and larger the pond, the happier your ducks will be. Make sure there is enough space in the water for all your ducks to fit comfortably.

Breed History

The Magpie Duck was first bred in the early 19th century thanks to Oliver Drake and M.C. Gower-Williams.

These two men, who owned farms in Yorkshire (England) and Wales respectively, wanted to create a new breed of dual purpose duck.

Unfortunately their crossbreeding methods are lost to time which makes the ancestry of the Magpie Duck shrouded in mystery.

Many believe an Indian Runner duck was involved in the process. There is ongoing speculation over the possibility of a Belgian Huttegem being involved in the breeding process as well. This is due to the popularity of Belgian Huttegems in England at the time of the Magpie Duck’s creation.

What we do know is that this breed was first listed as standardized in England in 1926 and was mentioned in print in a duck keeping book by Charles Roscoe in 1941.

As the breed grew in popularity, it was brought over to the United States around 1963 and was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1977.

Sadly, the breed never truly gained popularity in the United States, making them rare to see on farms and homesteads.

Now they are considered a rare or threatened heritage breed and are in need of conserving.

Summary

The Magpie Duck is an elegant and peaceful breed. Some of the best things about these ducks are:

  • Magpies are great foragers and are known to eat a variety of garden pests.
  • They are very gentle with children and are social with both people and other poultry.
  • The two most common and accepted colors are black and blue.
  • Drakes will have a curled tail while hens will have straight tail feathers.
  • They lay 200-300 large eggs per year that come in either white, green, or blue.

Do you keep these ducks?

Let us know in the comments section below…

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and is interested in backyard chicken health and care.

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