All About Ducks With An Afro: Here’s What To Know

Seeing a duck with an afro is quite a sight to behold. 

The tuft of hair on the top of the duck’s head is not something you see every day. 

If you happen to encounter one on a farm or in the wild, you may wonder what type of duck breed it is and how it came to be.  

Ducks with afros are called Crested Ducks. The breed originated from a deformity resulting in a tuft of hair resembling an afro. Under the fluffy feathers of the afro is a fatty body resulting from a gap in the skull. The deformity causes a myriad of health challenges for the bird. 

Crested Ducks are an official breed of duck appearing in paintings as early as 2,000 years ago. 

Despite the health issues, ducks with afros are still novel today. 

We’ll let you know all about ducks with an afro. 

ducks with afros
Ducks with afros look cool, but they often have health issues.

What Type Of Duck Has An Afro Or Mohawk?

Ducks with an afro are most likely Crested Ducks; a breed bred for the deformity which results in a fatty mass covered in a tuft of feathers resembling an afro. There are a few types of ducks with mohawks, but the most common is the Merganser. This breed has rusty brown feathers resembling a mohawk.

More often than not, a duck with an afro is a Crested Duck breed. 

The American Standard Of Perfection recognized the breed in 1874 and the United Kingdom in 1910. 

It is the result of deformity. 

Today, you’ll see crested ducks in the wild, on farms, kept as pets, and in exhibitions. 

Some people find the continuation of this type of duck through breeding to be inhumane for the duck as many suffer from neurological problems and seizures. 

Since the skull of Crested Ducks does not form completely, the birds are vulnerable to serious injury and death. 

On the other hand, Mergansers are waterfowl with feathers resembling mohawks on top of their heads. 

The Common Merganser features rusty brown feathers in a row on their heads. 

These are large waterfowl known for producing many offspring. 

Another type of duck with a mohawk is the Hooded Merganser. 

The dramatic comb on these birds resembles a sleek mohawk. 

The feathers are not always raised, but it creates a dramatic effect on these beautiful waterfowl when they do fluff out. 

Unlike the Crested Ducks, the unique hairstyle of the Mergansers is not due to deformity and poses no health risks to the ducks. 

How Do Ducks Get Crested?

Ducks get crested due to a deformity in the development of their skull. The skull does not fully form and creates an opening where a fatty body forms. When the fatty body is covered with feathers, it results in a tuft resembling an afro on the duck’s head. 

As you may imagine, the deformity causes serious health concerns for the duck. 

Many do not survive hatching. 

Those who survive to maturity often experience various health issues like neurological issues and seizures.

Many crested ducks have a significantly shorter life span than other breeds. 

They also tend to form more body fat than other breeds, making walking and flying more difficult. 

Can Crested Ducks Fly?

Crested Ducks are not considered great flyers. They have wing strength and hollow bones for flying but often have too much body fat to successfully take off and fly. They fly short distances like most other domesticated breeds of duck. 

Domesticated duck breeds differ from the wild waterfowl we see in lakes and ponds out in nature. 

During the breeding process, many wild traits like flying fade become replaced with other characteristics like more fat and meat. 

While domesticated breeds like the Crested Duck breed still possess the anatomy for flying, they often have more body fat and weight, keeping them from flying well. 

Are Crested Ducks Male Or Female?

Both male and female ducks are born with crests on their heads. It is not a sex-specific trait. The male Crested Ducks are called drakes. The drakes are more commonly used for breeding other Crested Ducks as females are more vulnerable to injury and death during aggressive pecking during mating. 

While there are certain characteristics specific to the sex of a duck, the crest is not one of them. 

You’ll see the crest on both males and females. 

Mergansers are waterfowl with naturally occurring crests, and females tend to have a smaller crest than males. 

Since the crest of Crested Ducks tends to vary during the breeding process, size usually does not indicate the sex of the bird. 

Crested Ducks As Show Birds

The unique appearance of Crested Ducks makes them excellent show birds. Most countries only recognize white Crested Ducks in shows, but black varieties are also common in shows. Most Crested Ducks are kept as pets and show birds. 

Crested Ducks are not the easiest duck to breed. 

They are also susceptible to head injuries due to the gap in the skull. 

Because of this, these types of ducks are not usually bred for laying or meat purposes. 

Most people keep them as pets or for a show as they add a unique appearance to homesteads and farms. 

Crested Afro Duck As A Meat Bird

Crested Ducks with afros produce good quality meat, although they are not primarily kept for this purpose. Crested Ducks are difficult to raise compared to other types bred for meat. While they provide good meat, it is often more trouble than it’s worth to raise them for meat.

Like other domesticated breeds of duck, the Crested Ducks tend to reach good weights for meat. 

The meat of domesticated ducks tends to be well-developed and tender. 

Crested Ducks are no different. 

The breed is also considered to grow and mature quickly, which is good for meat production. 

However, this type of duck is difficult to raise due to the health issues caused by its deformity. 

It is not the most efficient or easy breed to keep as a meat bird. 

Crested Duck For Eggs

crested duck with afro swimming
The Crested Duck’s afro is a result of a skull deformity passed on through breeding.

Crested Ducks are known for laying a lot of large eggs. While they are primarily kept as ornamental birds and pets, Crested Ducks are considered good layers. They produce large, off-white eggs (or slightly blue in hue) weighing 80-90 grams. 

Some people keep Crested Ducks for egg-laying, but this is not their most common purpose. 

The afro on this duck makes it more likely to be kept as a pet or for ornamental purposes. 

Breeding Ducks With Afros

Breeding ducks with afros are a tricky business. Most breeding consists of a male Crested drake bred with a female of a different duck breed. Usually, half of the fertilized eggs hatch with Crested ducklings, and some are likely to die before or during the hatching process. 

Since the crest results from a deformity, the breeding process is often difficult. 

Male crested drakes are responsible for passing on the gene in most cases. 

This is to prevent injury to female Crested Ducks during mating as males tend to peck at the back of the female’s head. 

Since Crested Ducks have gaps in their skull, this pecking easily leads to serious injury and death for the female. 

Crested duck breeders expect about half of the fertilized eggs to hatch with crested ducklings. 

It is not uncommon for ducklings to die during the hatching process when breeding Crested Ducks. 

Most fertilized eggs from Crested Duck breeding carry the following results. 

  • 50% Crested
  • 25% Non-Crested
  • 25% Die In Shell  

While they can breed across the species, ducks can’t breed with chickens or other birds.

Learn more about why at the link to our article.

Raising The Crested Duck

Raising Crested Ducks requires a safe and supervised environment to keep the ducklings safe. The crest on their heads keeps them vulnerable to attacks, fights, and predators. We recommend keeping your crested ducklings separate from other breeds and larger ducks to keep them safe. 

In general, it is not recommended to raise or breed Crested Ducks unless you are very experienced in this area. 

Some crests form differently than others in both size and location. 

Sometimes Crested Ducks require their tufts to be trimmed to better their quality of life. 

This happens if the crest is too large, and the weight affects the duck’s ability to eat and move freely. 

Another instance where trimming is required is if the tuft affects the bird’s sight by covering its eyes. 

Crested Ducks are not your average breed and require special treatment and expertise when raising them. 

Make sure you are fully equipped and experienced before breeding Crested Ducks or raising them yourself. 

Are Crested Ducks Friendly?

Crested Ducks are generally a friendly breed. They tend to be quiet and calm once they get to know their owners and their environment. In nature, Crested Ducks are also observed to have very calm and gentle demeanors. 

While some backyard fowl tend to be aggressive and loud, Crested Ducks are the complete opposite. 

They tend to be very quiet and calm. Since most people keep this type of duck for ornamental purposes or as pets, they don’t experience much of the stressors of other backyard fowl. 

Stress usually makes fowl loud and cantankerous. 

Keeping your Crested Duck in a peaceful environment will help bring out their friendly, quiet, and calm demeanor. 

Do Crested Ducks Make Good Pets?

Crested Ducks make great pets. Their friendly demeanor makes them a great addition to a homestead. They were originally kept for meat production and egg-laying, but most people keep Crested Ducks as pets or for ornamental purposes nowadays. 

Crested Ducks sometimes suffer from mobility issues. 

The weight of the crest may cause mobility issues, and some of these birds suffer neurological issues due to genetics. 

Many people who keep Crested Ducks as pets have a pond for them to swim in as these types of ducks tend to have an easier time swimming in water than walking on the ground. 

Compared to other breeds, the Crested Duck is very quiet and good-natured. 

This demeanor has made them very popular among duck-owners. 

Combining their personality with their unique afro makes these ducks make great pets. 

Is A Crested Duck Rare?

Crested Ducks are quite common. While you may not find them at every farm store, most hatcheries will have Crested Ducks for sale. White Crested Ducks are the most common variety, while different colors tend to be more rare or difficult to find. 

The most common varieties of domesticated crested ducks are the white and black varieties. 

Some are bred to have more unique colorings, including blue feathers. 

Crested Ducks are more difficult to breed than other types of ducks. 

This makes them rarer than other duck breeds. 

However, you’ll still find crested ducks in many places. 

What Are Crested Miniatures Ducks?

The Crested Miniatures are smaller varieties of the larger breed. Miniature drakes tend to weigh about 2.5 lbs compared to the larger Crested drakes, which weigh about 7 lbs. The variety is considered a bantam duck breed and originated in the United Kingdom during the 1980s. 

Crested Ducks are thought to have originated in the 1600s. 

Miniature varieties of the breed are relatively new. 

The breeding of the smaller variety took place in the United Kingdom. 

Breeders took Crested Ducks and crossed them into miniature breeds like the Miniature Appleyards and Calls. 

The result kept the crest on a much smaller fowl.

In 1997, the Crested Miniature was added to the Poultry Club Of Great Britain. 

If you love small duck breeds, check out our list with pictures at the link.

Are Crested Ducks Deformed?

The crest on the top of ducks with afros results from a deformity. Crested Ducks have incomplete skulls with a crack or gap. This makes them difficult to breed and causes many health issues, including mobility problems, seizures, and more. 

The origin of the Crested Duck began with breeding to intentionally accentuate the deformity causing the afro-like tuft. 

This deformity makes the duck difficult to breed, with only 50% of each batch of fertilized eggs featuring a crest and 25% of the hatchlings dying in the shell. 

Many Crested Ducks have a notable way of walking; they tend to teeter and wobble as they walk and are not as graceful as other breeds. 

Sometimes this causes the birds to fall over, and many have difficulty getting back up. 

This is often attributed to the excess fat common for Crested Ducks. 

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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