What is the Best Swan Breed for Me?
Swans are a fabulous addition to any avian collection, and the presence of swans do something else to the atmosphere of the environment they reside in. Swans exude an elegance and create a sense of romance, gracefulness, and opulence.
But actually having a swan and taking care of and maintaining a swan involves much more than the poetic imaginings and visions of grace. Swans are large birds with specific husbandry requirements and sometimes legal restrictions as well. The romantic image of beautiful floating swans is dependant on providing your swans with proper and responsible care.
Although you may see wild swans living with no human care on lakes in your area, it is a different story when you decide to own a swan.
First of all, swans can live up to 35 years, so be ready for the commitment. You will also need at least two swans. Swans mate for life and live in pairs. If you want more than two, make a plan as to how you might separate them during breeding season when they may get aggressive with one another. If you lose one, you will need to find a replacement as soon as possible.
Swans also need a large body of water that doesn’t freeze solid in winter and a shelter on the land that can protect them in winter. A bubbler can be placed in the water to prevent freezing, at least in a portion of the water. Fencing is a good idea to keep swans contained and safe from predators.
Swans will need an adequate food supply. A 13%-20% protein waterfowl pellet feed works well. They will also eat aquatic vegetation, greens, seeds, and other forage. You can supplement with cracked corn, rice, spinach, and other vegetables as well.
The most popular swan species is the Mute Swan, which is the classic white swan, with black knob/facial markings and a bright orange bill. They are hardy in colder climates and usually get along very well with humans. Mute Swans are less noisy than other swans, but can still be loud. Some states regulate ownership of Mute Swans as they can become rather invasive and compete with native waterfowl species. You may be required to keep your Mute Swans penned or under netting. If you are not allowed to have Mute Swans, we recommend Trumpeter Swans as a good replacement.
Trumpeter Swans are more expensive than Mute, but they are a native swan, and they are in need of repopulation efforts. They are also the largest native waterfowl in North America, with males weighing up to 35 pounds. These are beautiful white birds with pure black bills.
Australian Black Swans are the second most popular choice of swan. Black Swans do better in places with less harsh winters as they are not as cold hardy as other swan species. They are gorgeous birds with shiny black feathers and striking red bills. Of all the swan species, Black swans are considered the most aggressive of the swan species, and they can be quite territorial.
For people living in colder climates with harsh winters and who want to try a rarer swan species, consider the Bewick’s Swan or Whooper Swan. Whooper Swans are native to Europe and have yellow and black bills and all white feathers. Bewick’s Swans have the same yellow and black bills with white feathers as the Whooper, but are about half the size.
If you are in a warmer location, you can also consider the very fancy and rare Coscoroba Swans or Black Necked Swans. These are truly striking and unusual swans to see. The Coscoroba Swan is smaller than most other swans and is white with pinkish red bill and feet. The Black Necked Swan is mostly white, with a black neck. Their bills are bluish in color with a red knob or caruncle. Both of these species will need to be sheltered in cold weather.
For more information on raising swans, please refer to our Swan Care Sheet.