The Smallest Duck Breeds | Bantam Ducks

Although, the popularity of the ducks kept in the backyards across the US has dwindled in recent ten to twenty years, there are still many farmers and backyard ducks enthusiasts that enjoy raising these beautiful birds. We’ve looked at the world’s smallest chicken breeds, and now it’s time to explore the smallest duck breeds in the world (some of them known as bantam ducks).

While none of these small or bantam ducks are going to be fantastic for meat raising, some of them are going to be good egg layers.

However, they will certainly be an outstanding decor for your backyard. On this page we are going to take a look at the bantam ducks and the smallest duck breeds.

Are Bantam Ducks Suitable for Backyard Keeping?

Yes, bantam ducks are often preferred for backyard settings due to their smaller size and charming nature. They require less space and can be easier to manage compared to larger ducks.

Smallest Duck Breeds (Bantam Ducks)

There are nine small duck breeds officially recognized by the American Bantam Association and the American Poultry Association:

  1. Call duck
  2. East Indian duck
  3. Mallard bantam
  4. Mandarin
  5. Carolina Wood Duck
  6. Khaki Campbell
  7. Magpie
  8. Runner
  9. Welsh Harlequin

1. Call Duck

small bantam duck

With an appearance of a kid’s toy, next on the list of the smallest duck breeds is the Call duck. Unofficially, it is the cutest duck in the world and we think that many will agree on that.

No one actually knows when and how this breed was developed, and what duck breeds were used during the process. However, many historians think that it was developed in Europe from ducks imported from Japan or China.

Weighing between 20 and 26 ounces (570 – 740 g) when fully grown, this is definitely one of the smallest duck breed in the world.

This small duck is very friendly and quite active. But, unlike the quiet East Indian duck, the Call duck is one of the noisiest ducks you will ever see. so, if you have close neighbors, it is good to be aware of this, before bringing one in your flock.

Do Bantam Ducks Require Ponds or Water Bodies?

While access to water is important for ducks, bantam ducks can thrive in smaller water features like kiddie pools or shallow ponds. However, their water requirements are typically less demanding compared to larger ducks.

2. Black East Indian Duck

smallest duck breeds

Among all of the smallest duck breeds, this is the oldest one, recognized back in 1874. You would think that it was developed somewhere in southeastern Asia, right? Well, no.

Just like many other ducks or chicken breeds it was developed in the United Kingdom in the middle of the 19th century, and later imported and redefined in the US.

The Black East Indian duck usually weighing between 1 and 2 lb (450 – 900 g).

They have very similar coloring like the Cayuga ducks, but with a body similar to that of the Mallard duck.

These bantam ducks are known for being very quiet and extremely good pets for backyards. But, they are particularly good at flying so keep this in mind if you want to introduce an East Indian duck to your backyard flock.

This means that a coop with a top is a must. Unless, of course, you want to clip a couple of wing feathers once or twice a year.

3. Mallard bantam

smallest duck breeds

Third on the list of the smallest duck breeds is the Mallard bantam duck. At 12 to 15 weeks females and males weigh 1.6 -2.5 lbs respectively. When fully grown they can weigh up to 3.5 lb.

Recognized by APA in 1961, this is one of the most common wild duck breeds in North America. This small duck breed is an ancestor of the most of our domestic breeds today.

One interesting fact about the Mallards is that they are generally monogamous while our domestic ducks are mostly polygamous. 

This small duck breed is one of the most common ducks hunted as a sport due to the large population size in US and Canada.

4. Mandarin

smallest duck breeds - bantam ducks

Weighing around 18 to 22 ounces (520-630g) this is one of the smallest duck breeds in the world. Originating from China and Japan, the Mandarin duck is widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful ducks.

If you want to have Mandarin ducks in your backyard be aware that they are extremely good flyers, able to fly long distances. On the other hand, you need to check if it is legal to own a Mandarin duck in your area.

This is very quiet duck and female mandarins don’t quack. They can make a variety of clucking calls when they see a predator, such as a fox.

If you’re interested, see our guide to where to buy mandarin ducks for more information.

5. Carolina Wood Duck

smallest duck breeds

These stunning beauties with colorful patterns can be found on the west coast of the US and Mexico.

As a result of unregulated hunting, both for meat and feathers, these small ducks were on the edge of extinction in the late 19th century.

However, with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 there was an end of the unregulated hunting and measures were taking to protect remaining habitat, and so the wood duck populations began to rebound.

Smallest Duck Breeds

Just for clarification, there are only five recognized small duck breeds that come under the bantam banner in the US. Unlike tens of bantam chicken breeds recognized by the same organization, for example.

However, there are also four other small duck breeds that are not in the above listing simply because they are not considered to be bantam ducks.

They are recognized by the American Poultry Association as small ducks (size class ‘Light Ducks’). Those are the following:

6. Campbell

smallest duck breeds
Khaki Campbell duck (photo by Heather Paul)

Weighing around 4.4 lb – 5.5 lb, this small duck breed was developed in England in the late 1800s by Mrs. Campbell.

She used three duck breeds in the development of her duck: Runner, Rouen duck and Mallard. As a result of this mix, she was able to develop a duck that is able to pump up as many as 340 eggs per year.

Read more in depth about the khaki Campbell duck.

7. Magpie

bantam ducks

The Magpie duck was recognized by APA in 1977, however, it has appeared in small quantities in the United States. Sadly, this is a duck breed that is likely to die out in the next decade or so. It is regarded as critically endangered.

Males weigh around 6 lb on average,females around 5.5 lb. This makes the Magpie one of the smaller duck breeds, but it is still regularly raised for meat. While you are not going to be able to get a whopping big dinner out of it, the Magpie Duck does taste delicious.

This duck breed will lay large white eggs. They tend to come out pretty frequently too. Most people report that their ducks are able to lay around 250 eggs per year but also up to a whopping 300 eggs per year.

8. Runner

bantam ducks

The Runner duck is a small duck breed that stand erect like penguins. They have a tall, thin and upright stature and rather than waddling, they actually run. They are excellent show ducks and extremely good pets too.

These small ducks vary in weight between 3.1 and 5.1 lb.

The females usually lay an impressive number of eggs, they can go up to 300 to 350 eggs per year.

9. Welsh Harlequin

small duck
Welsh Harlequin (Photo by Swedg)

The Welsh Harlequin duck, as the name suggests, comes from Wales. It has been developed from several different breeds.

One of the reasons why these ducks are used in commercial operations (apart from their egg-laying ability) is that they are a sex linked duck. Within just a few days, you should be able to tell exactly what gender of duck you have.

When fully grown, the duck should weight around 4.4 lb (2 kg). Their feather colors are nice and bright, with the females having a touch of white thrown onto the brown.

Bantam Duck and Chicken Friends

What Are Some Popular Bantam Duck Breeds?

Popular bantam duck breeds include the Call Duck, the Miniature Crested Duck, and the Bantam Swedish Duck

Related article: All duck breeds in the US

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