Campbell Ducks

Campbell Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus)

The Campbell Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus) were originally introduced to the public in 1898 by Mrs. Adelle Campbell of Uley, Gloucestershire. She bred them from wild Mallards, Fawns White Runners, and Rouens intending to create larger-bodied offspring that would lay well.

The original Campbells resembled poorly colored Mallards. To create a buff duck, Mrs. Campbell mated her original Campbells back to Penciled Runner ducks. The resulting color reminded Mrs. Campbell of British army uniforms, so she named these new ducks “Khaki Campbell.” (Holderread, 37)

Group of Campbell Ducks
Group of Campbell Ducks

The White Campbell was developed as a sport from the Khaki Campbell. The White Campbell was the standard and the Dark Campbell was developed by H. R. S. Humphreys in Devon to make sex linkage in ducks possible. It was admitted to the American Standard in 1941. The dark coloration was not very popular with breeders and its numbers declined to almost critical levels.

Their average lifespan is about nine years.

Description / Standard

The Campbell is a medium-sized duck that typically weighs ~4 to 4 1/2 pounds. It has a modestly long head, bill, neck, and body. The body should be full yet compact.

Its carriage is held slightly upright – although should be no more than 35 degrees (variations range from 20 to 40 degrees above horizontal), with the head held high. The plumage should be tight and sleek.

  • Head and Neck: slender; neat and refined with medium proportions
  • Wings: carried close and fairly high
  • Tail: short and slightly elevated
  • Legs: medium length, set well apart and not too far back


  • The Khaki Campbell: The Khaki coloration is the most common of all Campbells. The male (drake) has a green bronze head, neck, and rump (lower back). The rest of his plumage is an even warm shade of khaki with lighter shading on the lower part of the breast. His bill should be greenish blue (as dark as possible). He should have orange legs and brown eyes. The duck’s khaki plumage is penciled throughout, with the head and neck being less so and a slightly darker shade. The hen has a dark slate bill. She also has brown eyes and her legs and webs should be as close to the color of the plumage as possible.
  • The White Campbell’s plumage should be pure white with an orange to flesh-colored bill, legs and webs, and grey-blue eyes.
  • The Dark Campbell is a darker version of the Khaki. The male has a beetle-green head, neck and rump. The rest of the body is light brown with each feather penciled with dark grey brown. The tail dark is grey brown. The bill is bluish-green with a black bean, brown eyes, and right orange legs and webs. The duck’s plumage is mainly dark brown; a little lighter over the shoulders. The hen’s bill is slatey brown with a black bean. She has brown eyes and her legs should be as close to her body color as possible.
  • The Pied Campbell has fawn plumage.
    Campbell Ducks in The Meadow
    Campbell Ducks in The Meadow


Breed Selection / Care

Campbells are quite adaptable and have done well in environments ranging from arid deserts with temperatures of 100F. to humid tropical rainforests to cold Northern regions where temperatures can remain below 0F for weeks at a time.” (Holderread, 41) It is, however, important to give them time to acclimatize.

Breeders should be robust, active, and strong-legged birds, with a history of good laying and foraging abilities. It’s important to only acquire authentic Campbells – crossbreeds may have facial stripes or weigh above six pounds. Crossbreeds usually do not lay well.

Hens very seldom hatch out their own young. In this breed, brooding behavior has been sacrificed in exchange for prolific egg-laying ability. Egg incubators or broody chickens are typically used to hatch out ducklings. It takes approximately 28 days for Campbell ducklings to hatch.

Campbells are very energetic little ducks that should be provided plenty of space to move around. They may fly, and if this presents a problem, clipping one wing is usually the solution.

Even though they do not necessarily require water for swimming, they do enjoy it. They prefer shallow waters — if no pond is available, a shallow tray or even a bowl with bricks in it will do.

They are excellent foragers that keep gardens and ponds free of slugs, snails, and worms.

Campbells should not be kept in pairs. It is recommended that a male has 2 up to 10 females – depending on the drake’s energy levels. Flocks should consist of no more than 50 Campbell.

These ducks will rarely brood if the eggs are removed.


Egg Production

Mrs. Campbell’s goal when developing this breed was to produce an excellent egg-laying breed that was not broody and unlikely to fly off; in addition to providing a consistent supply of roast duckling. The efforts were successful and Campbells are said to have the best egg production of all ducks, laying anything from 50 up to 350 white eggs per annum. Khaki Campbells can produce up to 350 eggs per year; the White or Dark Campbells are generally less productive.

Each egg weighs about 2.5 ounces and has an excellent texture and flavor.

Most Campbells lay their first eggs when 5-7 months old and with an age staggered flock, one could have eggs year-round.

Diet / Feeding:

Ducks feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails, and crabs.

Instead of “teeth,” ducks have serrations (saw-like edges) on their bills that allow them to filter food out of the water.

Captive birds are often fed commercially prepared duck food pellets – if there are insufficient natural resources available to sustain them. As they feed on insects, they are very useful in ridding gardens or lawns of harmful bugs.

Khaki Campbell Ducks
Khaki Campbell Ducks

Feeding Ducks …

We all enjoy these beautiful birds and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around – and it works! Who doesn’t like an easy meal?

However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird – so it’s best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.

  • Foods that can be fed to Ducks, Geese, and Swans to survive cold winters and remain healthy when food is scarce in their environment.

Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves – providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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