This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy for details.

All About Cayuga Ducks

in ,
Cayuga ducks are solid black and the only domestic duck breed that lays black eggs. 

Cayuga ducks are very striking with their black feathers that have an iridescent teal, emerald green or purple sheen in the sun. Solid black bills and feet complete their "goth" look.

But the really unique thing about Cayuga ducks is that they lay black or charcoal gray eggs. They are the only domestic duck breed to lay eggs that color. All the other duck breeds lay either white or cream-colored eggs or greenish-blue eggs.

All About Cayuga Ducks

We got our Cayuga duck, Kiwi, as a day old duckling from Metzer Farms. She's been a nice addition to our flock of assorted duck breeds, adding a really cool-looking egg to our duck egg basket. (Our friends at Meyer Hatchery also sell Cayuga ducklings.)

The History of Cayuga Ducks

Cayugas are one of the few breeds of ducks that originated in the United States. 

They are thought to have been developed around 1840 using a black wild duck breed that lived in the Fingerlakes region of upstate New York and named after the Cayuga Indian tribe that had lived in that area.

The breed was introduced to the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1847 and included in the first APA Standard of Perfection that year. 

They're one of the medium-sized breeds of ducks, with females weighing in between 5 to 6 pounds and drakes up to 8 pounds. Like most other domestic breeds of ducks, they can't fly (wrong body weight/wingspan ratio!)

Cayugas were originally used commercially as meat ducks, but the Pekin soon became more popular as a meat duck, due to its lighter-colored skin and feathers and larger size, around 1900. 

But Cayugas remain popular as dual-purpose or pet ducks for their unique egg color, or as show ducks for their ornamental appearance.

The Appearance of Cayuga Ducks

Cayuga ducklings are solid black with black bills and feet and brown eyes. As the Cayuga matures, the males will start to get a greenish sheen around their head and neck. 

Cayuga drakes will also grow the curled tail feather that signals a male duck when they're around 3 months old. And like drakes of other breeds, they don't quack.

The Cayuga ducks will reach their full size around the same time, 12 weeks old or so, but the females won't start laying until they are around 5 months old.

When a duck is healthy and eating a good-quality diet, when the sunlight hits their feathers just right, they'll shine in iridescent shades of teal, blue and purple. 

Both males and females will begin to turn white in color as they get older, with the females showing more white feathers than the males at a younger age. As they age, their bill and feet might start to turn orange from black as well.

Kiwi is about six years old and is about half white at this point. 

The Temperament of Cayuga Ducks

Cayugas can be a bit shy or skittish, more so than the other larger duck breeds, but they're fairly quiet and friendly. They're good foragers and very hardy, but not great moms though.  

Kiwi tends to stay by herself, or hang out with our Silver Appleyard duck, Ginger or Custard, our Saxony duck.  She's not a fan of racing around the yard with our Runners, Magpie and Ancona.

They're not only younger than she is, but they're smaller, lighter ducks and they move a lot faster than she does! 

Because of this, she's very vulnerable to predators - even more so than some of the other ducks - so I make sure to keep a close eye when everyone is out free ranging.

Cayugas as Egg Layers

Cayugas are good layers, managing to produce between 130 and 180 eggs per year.  

At the beginning of each laying season, Kiwi will lay a couple of black eggs, which will quickly fade to a charcoal gray and then a light gray or even white for the remainder of the laying season. 

This is very common for the breed. Your darkest eggs will be collected at the start of each spring. Then the following spring, she'll lay another few dark eggs, then lighter gray all summer. 

Like all eggs, both chicken and duck, the Cayuga eggs start out with white shells, then the duck applies a black pigment to the shell just before she lays her egg. 

You'll notice that some of the pigment often gets scraped off as the egg rubs against the nesting material. 

Cayuga eggs, like other duck eggs, take 28 days of incubation to hatch. And like other duck eggs, they're about 30% larger than a typical chicken egg.

Ducks can easily live to be 8 to 10 years old, and some will lay almost that long. Kiwi still lays eggs almost daily throughout the spring and summer, with the color of her eggs going from black to charcoal to light gray in the matter of a few weeks.

Livestock Conservancy Status

Cayugas are considered a "heritage" duck breed. They are currently on The Livestock Conservancy Watch List. This means that it's estimated that there are less than 10,000 birds worldwide (less than 5,000 in the United States).

Pin This! 

@fresheggsdaily at Instagram 
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Subscribe 
©2023 by Fresh Eggs Daily, Inc. All rights reserved