Breed: Saxony Duck
Cost: from $25
Lifespan: 6 years+
Recommended for: Backyarders, hobbyists
Appearance: The Saxony duck is a stylish bird, weighing about 3-4kg (7-9lb). Drakes are rusty red with silver lacing, while the head and neck are blue with a white neck ring. Ducks are buff-coloured on the head, neck and breast with a white eye line. Wing bars and tail are light blue. Both have a yellow bill, dark brown eyes and dark yellow feet.
Temperament: The Saxony duck is said to be a calm, placid type of duck, not flighty or aggressive towards children.
Useful qualities: Owners say they will forage for slugs, snails and spiders but won’t scratch up the lawn like chooks. They are said to be a good eating bird but in Australia most are kept as pets. They are good layers, producing 100 or more eggs annually.
Space & housing: This breed is suitable as a backyard duck but check with your local council to see if you are permitted to keep waterfowl: many councils won’t allow ducks in suburban backyards.
The ducks will need clean, dry shelter which will also give protection from predators such as foxes. Straw is ideal but it should be changed every few days.
Water is essential for paddling and drinking and containers such as a baby’s bath will suffice. It will need to be regularly emptied and filled daily with fresh water if you have three or more ducks. The container needs to be at least deep enough for a duck to submerge its nostrils and eyes to keep them clean, otherwise they can develop sticky eyes.
Vegetable gardens must be ‘duck-proofed’ as ducks have been known to demolish prize gardens. Ducks especially enjoy lettuce, cabbages, cauliflowers, and tomatoes.
Feeding: Commercial duck pellets are available from produce stores and are available in a range of mixes: starter, grower and breeder pellets. Ducks also eat vegetables (see above).
Breeding: Saxony ducks are said to be fairly good sitters but most hobbyists will incubate their eggs. The difficulty in breeding Saxony ducks usually lies in getting the colours right for exhibition purposes. If allowed to sit naturally 50 or more ducklings per pair may be produced annually.
Dry bedding is important to avoid foot infections such as bumble foot;
Diarrhoea may indicate worms or coxyliosis. Vets will diagnose and treat both conditions but if ignored, it can be fatal; worm annually.
The requirements of poultry and waterfowl seem to attract rodents so a good hint is to put rat baits in lengths of piping where the rats can get in but the ducks can’t.
History: This is a relatively new breed of duck, being exhibited for the first time in 1934 at the Saxony County Show in Germany.
Hawkesbury Valley Waterfowl Club
PO Box 1048
Phone: (02) 4587 8225
Victorian Waterfowl Association
Secretary: Dr Hamish Russell
21 Sunnyslopes Road,
Phone: (03) 9752 0262
Waterfowl and Turkey Improvement Society
Phone: (08) 9881 1343