I am sure we all have seen the famous Afflac duck. This is the Pekin duck, better known as the white domesticated duck. My fascination started a long time ago when I found a duck on a pound that had bumble foot problems.
Many years down the road, I worked in a daycare that had a fenced-in pond across from the facility that was owned by the owners of the daycare. They thought it would be great to have the white feathered friends on the pond for the children to see and feed. So my quest began to find some baby ducks that would grow up on the pound and let the children observe the process.
I located some new baby ducks still with their yellow down at a local farmers market. I learned a lot from the farmer who was selling them; one was how to tell if they are male or female. It is usually hard to tell if a young duckling is male or female. All I can say is this old timer seemed to know what he was talking about. He showed me how he could tell if the babies were male or female when they were so young. I haven’t been able to find scientific proof, but his method proved correct at least for the baby ducks I got. He also told me the way to tell if he was correct when they become adults, even gave me his name and number in case he was wrong. I will say he was right on all accounts.
Old time farmer’s method of sexing baby pekin/white ducklings
First, his method of sexing young ducklings seemed a little far stretched for me to even believe. I would love to know if any reading this has found this true from their experience.
Fact or fiction
He said that when he picks up a male duckling he makes no chirping/peeping sound, and when he would pickup a female she was chirp/peep. I informed him I wanted 2 males and 4 females. He proceeded to pick out the different sexes following his above method.
Still not totally believing his method was truth, I knew time would tell if he was correct.
Farmer’s information on sexing adult pekin/white ducks
Once he had picked out my 6 ducklings; 2 males and four females, he proceeded to inform me on how to know if he was correct 6-12 months from the time of purchase.
Female adult duck/hen
He told me of several ways to pick out the male and female, thus proving his earlier choosing was correct. First he said the adult female will have a very unique loud quack that she will use to collect her baby ducklings. A female duck will have loud repetitive quacks “quack, quack, quack” a pause and consecutive quacks again until she has all her baby’s near her, she can do this also if in distress mode.
Once the female duckling has grown into an adult hen (duck) her tail feathers will be straight.
During the molting season, which takes place twice a year, it may be a little harder to tell if your duck is male or female since feather are missing. The female also may have missing feather around the back of her neck during mating season because of pecking activity from the male duck (drake).
You can also check underneath your duck and examine the vent where you can check the genital, but this can be dangerous, can harm the duck, and should only be done by a professional, this is not recommended for the average person to do.
Male adult duck/drake
The adult male duck known as a drake will have a much softer, quieter quack, may sound more throaty or gruff, and lower than the female.
The tail feathers of the male are curly at the end and appear to be thicker. Again during the molting seasons it may be a little hard to tell a drake from a hen.
The male may have one black feather underneath his white wing feathers. If checking this be careful not to harm your duck’s wings.
It is suggested that the average person not check the genitals of the duck for the safety of the duck. If you really must know find a professional like a vet or someone who is experienced in fowl to help.
Old time farmer knew what he was talking about
Ten months later we had some awesome grown ducks and true to his word, I had 2 males and 4 females. After following his suggestions mentioned above his method proved to me he knew what he was talking about. Within 2 years we had around 15 ducks; 6 males and 9 females along with the original 6. The kids loved picking out the different genders. It was a great science lesson.
- A female baby duckling may peep and fuss when picked up (not a fact, just from experience).
- When females are grown they will have a long straight tail.
- The adult female duck will have a much louder, consecutive quack when calling her babies or when in distress.
- The adult male known as a drake will have a softer, lower quack.
- When a baby the male most often will be silent when picked up (not a fact, just from experience).
- When grown a male duck will have curly tail feathers.
- The adult make will have one black feather under its white wings. (take care in looking for this, don’t damage your ducks wings) not suggested