How to Tell the Sex of a Pekin Duck

Pekin ducks make wonderful additions to your home flock. They're beautiful, friendly, and fairly easy to find. In order to start a successful flock or keep your flock balanced, you'll need to know how many males and females you're bringing home with you. Sexing Pekins can be done in a few ways, though the different methods also have different levels of accuracy.

American Pekin Duck swimming
How to Tell the Sex of a Pekin Duck
credit: Adria  Photography/Moment/GettyImages

Vent sexing ducklings

It's particularly difficult to tell the sex of ducklings because they all look and act alike when they're young. When you're working with young ducklings, vent sexing can help you to tell the males from the females. According to Homegrown, you can start using this method on the day the ducklings hatch.

To vent sex a duckling, you need to hold the duckling upside down in order to see its vent or cloaca. Gently expose the vent with your thumb and forefinger. Females have a smaller, cone-shaped vent. Males have a longer, pointier vent.

You shouldn't try vent sexing on your own since it's possible to injure a duckling using this technique. Instead, be sure to learn the technique from an experienced sexer, or hire one to sex your ducks for you. Keep in mind that vent sexing isn't always a terribly accurate method, and much of its success depends on the knowledge of the person who is doing the sexing.

Tail feathers

If you can be patient and wait for your Pekin duck to mature, then you can look for the emergence of a tail feather to identify your male Pekin ducks. My Pet Chicken explains that male ducks develop one or more curly tail feathers as they mature. Looking for a curled tail feather isn't a surefire way to determine that you have a drake, though. According to the Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, in some instances female ducks may develop curly tail feathers, usually when there are no drakes in the flock. Drakes will molt their tail feathers once each year, so be sure to check regularly, and don't use the presence or lack of a tail feather as your sole sexing method.

Voice sexing a Pekin duck

You can also tell male and female ducks apart by the sound of their voice once they've matured. The Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary notes that once your ducks reach about 10 weeks of age their quacks will give away their sex if you know what to listen for. Voice sexing ducks during the latter part of the American Pekin lifespan tends to be the most reliable way to tell how many males and how many females are in your flock.

Male ducks develop voices that are soft and whispery. Sometimes they sound like they're whistling until they're fully mature. Females, on the other hand, develop a much louder, clearly defined quack.

When you're working with a flock of ducks, it can be a challenge to tell which one is making each noise. Try separating the ducks into smaller groups of one or two, and then offer them some of their favorite treats to get them excited and talking. Then, sit back and listen. Recording the ducks on video can help since you can replay the quacks and listen closely.

A definite answer

You're much more likely to get an accurate answer on the sex of your Pekin ducks if you wait until they mature before sexing them. If you're getting your first ducks, then you may want to buy from a breeder who can give you a definite determination on their sex. A reputable breeder will also be able to advise you on the right combination of males and females for your flock and situation. With the right combination of ducks, you can establish a flock that will bring you years of enjoyment.