Pekins are the most common domestic duck - the adults are pure white and the ducklings are a cute yellow. You ask someone to picture a duck and they will normally envision a Pekin. The Aflac duck often seen on TV advertisements is a Pekin (we supplied them with the initial ducklings that eventually grew into the famous Aflac duck).
They are a large, hardy breed with excellent egg production if managed properly. Selection by breeders over the years has produced a duck that can often be processed by 40 days of age at a live weight of seven pounds. Though their feed efficiency does not match that of chickens, they can still produce one pound of live weight from 2.5 pounds or less of feed. They do not fly and do not normally hatch and raise their own young.
This breed has been farmed since at least 2500 BC in the Beijing (formerly called Pekin) area of China. They were introduced into America in the 1870s by Mr. McGrath who saw them in the city of Beijing. He hatched 15 eggs under a chicken in Beijing and after the ducklings were started, entrusted them to a Mr. Palmer for the journey to New York who was to receive half the ducklings upon their arrival. Six ducks and three drakes made the journey and half were sent to the McGrath family in New York. Unfortunately they never made the journey as they were eaten before they ever made it to the McGrath Farm. Fortunately Mr. Palmer cared for his ducks and they constituted the first Pekin flock in America.
More were eventually imported from China and they quickly became the most popular meat duck in North America.
Pekin ducks in North America are fairly horizontal in stature. Pekins in Europe, however, are very vertical in shape almost Runner in carriage with very short necks. If fed a diet high in corn or alfalfa, the beak and legs in Pekins can become very bright orange in color. As the hen lays, though, she begins to lose that orange color as it is used in the coloration of the yolk of her eggs. Oftentimes you can determine which of your Pekins are laying the best as they will have the lighter, more yellow colored bills. As time goes on, Pekins will often get black splotches on their bill. This is of no harm to the ducks.