Popular as a pet, the domestic duck is descended from the green-headed mallard (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos) and belongs to a large group of dabbling ducks that filter feed close to, or on, the water surface and also graze on grass shoots and seeds. Unlike the mallard, the Muscovy duck is in the tribe Anatini and has its origins in South and Central America. The two breeds are not closely related. The adult male can be distinguished from the female by its curled up tail.
The American Poultry Association (APA) has four classifications for ducks:
Waterfowl are certain wildfowl of the order Anseriformes, especially members of the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese and swans. They are strong swimmers with medium to large bodies. They have historically been an important food source, and continue to be hunted as game, or raised as poultry for meat and eggs.
The Appleyard duck (also called the Silver Appleyard) breed originated in England. They are characterised by their multi-colouring, and known for their flavourful meat and great egg-laying ability (100 to 180 eggs/year).
The Aylesbury duck breed was developed around the early 18th century and became a cottage industry in Aylesbury in southern England
The Campbell is an excellent egg layer duck with a blue-green (male) and greenish-black (female) bill in the khaki variety. White Campbells have blue eyes, whereas, khakis have dark brown eyes.
The Cayuga is a hardy, quiet, docile and dual-purpose breed (they are also used for ornamental purposes). They have a black bill and black plumage which, in the correct light, appears an iridescent beetle green.
The Crested is classified as medium by the American Poultry Association. It displays some breeding problems with about 25% of embryos dying. The Crested is an ornamental breed.
The Khaki Campbell is a mixture of the Indian Runner, Mallard, and Rouen breeds which has made it a very efficient egg producer (it can average up to 300 eggs per year).
The Indian Runner is an excitable duck breed, however they can easily be trained. This breed is an exceptional egg layer (over 300 eggs a year) and can produce enough meat for up to two people.
The mallard is 56–65 centimetres long, has a wingspan of 81–98 centimetres , and weighs 0.9–1.2 kilograms. The breeding male is unmistakable, with a bright green head, black rear end and a yellowish orange (can also contain some red) bill tipped with black (as opposed to the dark brown bill in females).
The Muscovy have wart-like ‘caruncles’ on their face that develop with age. This is especially the case with the males. As they are perching ducks, they have sharp toenails on their web feet.
The Orpington originates from Great Britain and is a good dual purpose bird. Orpington is considered a good layer, capable of laying more than 220 eggs per year.
Pekin ducks are fast growers and efficient layers and are the most popular commercial duck breed, and are particularly popular in China.
The Rouen produces a high-quality meat and are known to be good foragers. The Rouen strongly resembles a Mallard as they have a green head, white collar, deep claret breast and blue speculum feathers.
The Saxony as the name implies originates from Germany. It has a yellow bill and orange legs and is a dual purpose good layer and sitter.
The bill of drake is yellowish-green and that of the duck greenish-black. Legs and feet are orange and dark brown respectively. Slightly upright and not unlike Khaki Campbells. Good layers, sitters and mothers. Welsh Harlequins can produce 160-190 white to greenish eggs per year.