Ancona Duck – Breed Profile & Facts

Ancona ducks are among the rarest and most beautiful birds raised in the backyard. These poultry birds have unique, attractive, and broken-colored feathering patterns. For that reason, they are easy to identify in addition to being fascinating to watch.

Photo by RobinzRabbit CC BY-SA 2.0

Ancona ducks have been classified among multi-purpose or simply dual-purpose breeds. This should clearly tell you that they are raised for meat and eggs. Besides, their friendly personality and exceptional beauty have made them a perfect choice of ducks for farm pets among homesteaders and backyard keepers.

These ducks are mainly of medium-weight breeds. They tend to be intelligent and calm. Ancona ducks are considered second to Pekin ducks in terms of free-range training. Their average lifespan is about 10 years or more in captivity. Read on to understand the history, characteristics, and how to care about Ancona ducks.

History of Ancona Duck

In 2015 Ancona duck breed was declared critically endangered. However, the history of this duck breed has a few twists here and there. Until a few years ago, the Ancona duck breed was believed to have been developed in Britain before being introduced into the US.

But according to the 1913 article published in Water Fowl Club America Year Book, the Ancona duck breed was created by a farmer known as W.J. Wirt of Ridge-View Farms from New York’s Knowlesville town. The report further stated that the farmer bred several types of standard duck breeds in the US to create the Ancona duck.

Years later, the Ancona ducks would be winning blue ribbons in Boston’s Willdum Duckery of Rowley show. For that reason, the Ancona duck is now considered an American breed.

As a heritage breed, the Ancona duck is simply a traditional kind of breed selected carefully for its specific characteristics and trains. Typically, this type of breed selection takes generations of vastly extended periods without distorting some traits.

Most heritage breeds such as the Ancona duck are incredibly unique in many ways. In particular, these heritage breeds are hardy enough to survive on their own and in their native environment without human intervention. They can also thrive in such a setup without the need for modern agricultural practices tailored towards specific livestock.

Specific traits are usually associated with these heritage breeds. Most of them are based on their physical and mental ability to adapt to different situations.

They may include:

  • Excellent material instincts
  • Ease of mating
  • Parasite resistance
  • Disease resistance
  • Quality fertility
  • Longevity
  • Foraging prowess

The Ancona duck breed is a perfect example of top-quality heritage breeds of ducks with a fast growth rate.

Ancona Duck Characteristics

When it comes to physical attributes, Ancona ducks stand out from the rest. The plumage on this bird is quite spectacular. It is almost similar in appearance to that of Holstein cows. It features a mixture of colors although white is universally accepted by breed associations and show judges. This white color is usually visible on the ducks’ underbelly, sides, back, and head.

The neck is solid white while the bills range from yellow to green and often feature some black spotting to give these birds their distinctive appearance. The feet and legs are orange in color with some brown and black markings appearing as the bird ages.

In general, color variations on these birds include chocolate and white, black and white, lavender and white, silver and white, white and blue, and tricolored.

– Size  and Weight

Ancona duck breed is in the category of medium side class. The average size of these ducks ranges from 2.72 to 2.95 kg  (6 to 6.5 lbs). They are a bit stockier than their mallard-derived close relative, the Magpie ducks.

These ducks have oval and medium-sized heads. Their necks are bent a little bit forward to achieve balance while walking or running around. They boast strong, medium-length bills that appear concave when viewed from the top line.

– Temperament

Ancona ducks are unique both in their physical appearance and temperament. Speaking of temperature, these poultry birds are friendly, social, and calm. Their calm nature makes them good for pets. If handled well from a young age, Ancona ducks can become affectionate and friendly.

– Lifespan

Approximately 10 years is the average lifespan of Ancona ducks. This means that they can live longer than that when given the utmost good care.

– Egg Production

Ancona duck hens are excellent layers. On average, one duck can lay between 210 and 280 eggs in a year. These eggs are usually large. Their color may vary from cream to white all the way to blue.

Unlike most poultry birds, Ancona hens don’t go broody so easily. They lack that desire to sit on their eggs to hatch them. So, an incubator should come in handy to help you hatch new baby Ancona ducklings.

The number of incubators to purchase must go hand in hand with the total number of your Ancona ducks in the backyard. This is due to the fact that most duck breeds lay eggs between dawn and dusk. As such, it is easier to collect and place them in the incubator than chicken eggs.

Ancona ducks are known to lay consistently for a period ranging from five to eight years. During the first three years, your Ancona ducks will lay the most eggs. But as they age, the rate of egg production slows down gradually.

Compared to other duck breeds, the Ancona eggs are fairly large and can weigh up to 70grams (0.15 lbs). They are excellent layers across the year including the wintertime when other poultry birds stop to lay. Generally, the Ancona breed of ducks is a happy, hardy, and adaptable dual-purpose quacker.

– Meat Production

Ancona ducks are prone to rapid growth, making them ideal for meat production. As a matter of fact, their meat is quite flavorful in addition to being less fatty than that for Pekin ducks. The meat also averages about 1.82kg (4 lbs) in terms of dressed weight.

Ancona Duck Care

The best thing about raising Ancona ducks in your backyard is that they are easy to look after. This is due to the fact that there are no breed-specific husbandry tips set aside for the Ancona duck breed. What this means is that Ancona ducks can be handled and cared for just in the same way as other domestic duck breeds.

In this case, these poultry birds need feeding and proper nutrition to grow healthy, strong, and productive. They also deserve better housing to keep themselves warm, safe, and secure from intruders such as predators. Here are some of the factors that you need to consider when raising drakes and ducks belonging to the Ancona duck breed:

– Feeding and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for the survival of your farm animals. The same case applies to keeping the Ancona duck breed. They also deserve a well-balanced diet that meets their dietary needs all the time. For that reason, you must ensure that they get their daily commercial feed without fail.

On top of that, provide them with tasty treats to help supplement their diet. Growing a few greens, veggies, and fruits in their run can help them access fresh treats almost daily. Also, the presence of vegetables and greens in the yard will certainly stimulate them to forage while on a free-range.

Another advantage of growing some veggies and greens for your poultry is that they will help offset feed costs in addition to acting as a healthy alternative feed.

On the other hand, a substantial amount of grain can keep your Ancona ducks healthy and active throughout the day.

Bear in mind that ducks need to be provided with food once every morning and once again in the evening. Their feed should contain adequate nutrients such as minerals, proteins, and vitamins.

Another thing to remember is that the consumption levels of Ancona ducks vary depending on individual size. Obviously, the larger ones will require more food than the smaller varieties. On average, these birds can consume between 0.38 to 0.44lbs of feed daily. This amount of food translates roughly to 170 to 200 grams every day.

The amount of food that your Ancona ducks need may depend on the purpose of raising them. Since this breed of ducks is kept for the production of meat and eggs, their diet should contain enough protein and grains. An unbalanced diet can ultimately affect their health and productivity.

Recommended food for your Ancona ducks includes formulated duck pellets as well as crushed grains. Foods to avoid consist of those that contain coccidiostats and medicated feeds (meant for other poultry birds). Oyster shells should also not be given to non-laying ducks and drakes because they can cause renal disease.

Always remember to feed quality and refrain from giving your birds feed containing weed seeds, molds, and dirt. Water is also a basic need for these birds. In this sense, ensure that your Ancona ducks have constant access to clean, fresh drinking water. Ducks need clean water to keep themselves well-hydrated and cool especially in hot summer months.

– Housing

The shelter is another basic need for all farm animals including your Ancona ducks. Given that the Ancona ducks are of medium to heavy-sized ducks, they will require relatively more space. At least 4 square feet of space per duck in their living quarter is recommended to keep every bird comfortable.

It is also advisable to ensure that your Ancona duck house or coop is as large as possible to accommodate the number of birds under your care. Their run must be large enough since they prefer to forage in territories that look familiar to them.

A litter system inside your Ancona ducks’ coop is highly recommended. Plus, their bedding should be changed most of the time to prevent mildew, mold, or bacteria from growing in it. You may use the straw if your Ancona ducks will be spending most of their time inside the coop.

– Health Problems

Ancona ducks are no exception to health problems that affect domesticated birds. This calls for finding the best way to keep them healthy. The most effective way, however, is to keep the disease outbreak in check. With that being said, the most common diseases and other health problems that affect Ancona ducks are as follows:

  • Duck virus hepatitis
  • Duck plague or duck virus enteritis
  • Rimeneralla anatipestifer infections
  • Avian cholera
  • Aspergillosis
  • Toxins
  • Botulism
  • Castor bean poisoning
  • Rapeseed meal
  • Incidecides
  • Rodenticides

In case you notice anything wrong with your Ancona ducks, the first step should be to contact a local veterinarian. The vet will most likely help diagnose the problem and even administer the most appropriate treatment to prevent morbidity and mortality among your ducks.

Another way you can keep your Ancona ducks healthy and safe from diseases is to set up and maintain an effective biosecurity program that prevents the spread of diseases among your livestock. Immunization against infectious diseases and minimizing environmental stresses can help keep your birds safe and healthy throughout.

Can Ancona Ducks Fly?

Just like most domesticated duck breeds, Anconas cannot fly. This could be the main reason why these birds do not migrate to warmer places in the winter months. However, these birds are able to get a few inches off the ground when moving forward while flapping their wings before their brief flight comes to a sudden halt.

How Much do Ancona Ducks Cost?

The cost for Ancona ducks may vary from location to location and from one hatchery or breeder to another. Also, the minimum quantity one can order determines the cost. For instance, a set of 10 one-day-old ducklings can cost you an average of $11.70.

Are Ancona Ducks Loud?

Compared to other breeds of domesticated ducks, Ancona ducks are considered to be among the quietest and calmest. Regardless of this wonderful trait, females tend to make loud quacks when alarmed.


Ancona duck is a heritage breed. It was selectively bred to generate the much-needed traits that vanished over generations. This solidification of those specific trains led to a line of purebred Anconas without distorting their desired attributes.

Just like any other heritage breed, Ancona ducks are exceptionally hardy. They require minimum human intervention to survive. Besides adding more beauty to your backyard. Anconas can bolster disease resistance and hardiness to your future duckling hatches.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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