First let me say that I truly believe that ducks are the best animal for a family farm. That is based on a number of different metrics. In my experience they are far more hardy than chickens. They eat less feed than chickens, as ducks are much better foragers. They actually prefer to forage than eat feed alone. On average even the egg laying breeds of duck will put as much meat on the table as will a chicken. My welsh harlequin ducks will lay more eggs on average per duck over a longer period than my chickens. A couple of my dicks have been laying for 9 months solid, about 5 eggs per week. They are however more messy and do require more space for foraging.
When you want to raise ducks you need to know which right breed to look for. Domestic ducks are good for eggs, meat, and for a smaller group for down feathers. Keeping ducks has helped me realize they are equally good it not better than other fowl in keeping down the level of insects. They eat snails, slugs, and an assortment of beetles. Before I started raising ducks on my, took a bit of time to evaluate what breeds of duck I wanted to accomplish my goals. I chose the welsh harlequin duck for its superior egg laying ability. Unknown to many is that the wild Mallard is the origin of all domestic breeds of ducks with the exception of Muscovy.
Ducks are divided much the same as chickens, bantam, light and heavy breeds. The heavy breeds are good for meat while the lightweight are excellent when looking for high layers. The light group has ducks like the Indian Runner, Campbell, and Welsh Harlequin. The heavy breeds include Pekin, Magpie, and Muscovy. There is vast information on the web on different breeds and with a bit of time and effort can can most breeds available.
I have not yet tried but it is hard to imagine that raising duck commercially can’t be profitable on a small scale. Though as just a meat and egg bird I would say it is unparalleled. Ducks are also fun and quirky with the added benefit that they can be more friendly than chickens. Some people even keep ducks as pets. If you are just starting out building a hobby farm you should most definitely check into raising ducks.