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.