Cayuga Duck: History, features, egg laying and uses….

Black eggs are a tale to many and very few will believe that no any bird species can lay such eggs. But believe me, there are black eggs laid by the Cayuga duck.

Cayugas were once the most common meat ducks in the United States. In almost every hotel and restaurant the available duck meat was from the Cayuga ducks.

However, these birds did not enjoy dominance for long after the American Pekin was introduced making Cayuga’s ran out of favor.

Although these rare ducks are still common in a few isolated cases, they are now kept for showing and as pets because of their calm temperament.

In this article, we are going to talk more about the Cayuga ducks.

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History of the Cayuga duck

The Cayuga duck breed traces its ancestral origin in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Here, a duck enthusiast by the name John. S. brought with him these birds.

Although Cayuga ducks have a crowded history that lack a clear record to substantiate it, they are believed to have been bred from some black wild ducks.

Unlike other domestic ducks that are known to be bred from mallard ducks, Cayuga ducks and Muscovy duck breed are exempted.

In the 19th century, Cayuga ducks were very popular for meat. This saw many duck keepers raise these birds in large numbers and almost every restaurant served them.

However, they were not to enjoy this privilege for long after they were displaced and replaced by the American pekin.

Cayuga’s carcass had black pin feathers that were easily notable when the bird was plucked. On the other hand, the Pekins did not have these pin feathers and the carcass they produced was much cleaner and of high quality.

These birds are now listed as threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. Even though they are listed in the watch list, there is hope as many dick enthusiasts are now raising them and their numbers may regenerate in the coming years.

Features of the Cayuga duck

The Cayuga duck wears a black plumage. They have iridescent feathers that will reflect a beetle green light under the sun.

They are medium in size and do not grow as big as other domestic ducks do. A mature Cayuga drake weighs 3.4kgs while a female goes for only 3kgs. Their black plumage turns to whiten and the black color fades away as these birds age and molt.

Their legs, feet and bills are black in color. Cayuga ducks a unique curled tail feather that makes it easy to distinguish them from other common ducks.

A Cayuga duck will have a black bill, legs and feet but as it grows older, these parts will turn to an orange hue. Eye color will also vary from black to bay depending on the age.

Temperament and Hardiness

The Cayuga duck breed is sweet calm and very docile. Both the Cayuga hens and drakes are easy to tame especially if they are hand raised.

Their docile nature makes these birds good pets because they are easy to handle and pose no threat to kids and other poultry birds. They will make good friends and get used to you.

Cayuga ducks are very cold hardy. They tolerate extreme temperatures and will do well even during the winter weather.

Call your Cayuga’s sweet duck names and they come to you running for treats like grapes. They are good in mixed flocks because they are not aggressive towards other duck breeds.

However, they will adapt and still do fairly well in hot climatic zones. In short, Cayuga ducks are hardy, tolerant and will do very well when allowed to range because they know how to take care of themselves.

Just like other duck breeds, your Cayuga ducks will need a duck pools to freshen up and preen their body plumage. Ducks drink a lot and will need water to help clear their nostrils and keep their fluffy bodies cool during summer.

These birds are easy to keep because they will tolerate confinement as well as free range. Allowing these birds to forage is very good because they will eat insects, worms and seeds bringing the cost of feeding them down. They can be raised together with chickens and fed on commercial feeds plus any tasty treats to help supplement their diets.

However, it is important you keep in mind that male Cayuga ducks can be very aggressive towards other drakes especially during the mating season. This rowdiness can sometimes extend to pecking ducklings and serious fights with other male ducks.

Have isolation pens to confine any rowdy duck in the flock. Additionally, maintain the collect male to female ratio during the mating season to avoid chaos.

Egg laying and uses

Cayuga ducks are very unique because they will lay black eggs. In a year, these ducks will lay a clutch of 100-150 eggs if well tendered.

However, the eggs are black at the beginning of the laying season but gradually turn pale green and finally whitish ate the end of the laying season.

These birds are also raised for meat by a few. The meat they offer is not of good quality because their feathers do not pluck clean and leave notable black pin feathers.

However, many say that Cayuga duck meat is so tender and full of tad flavors just like quail meat is. But because, of their small body size, they do not offer much meat to feed a big family.

Cayuga ducks are good for showing, as pets and are also kept as ornamental birds. Using Cayuga ducks as ornamental birds has some limitations because their feathers will turn into whiten as they age.

Broodiness and free ranging

Cayuga hens are fairly broody and they will incubate their clutch of eggs for 28 days. After the incubation period is over, small black and fluffy ducklings are hatched.

The baby ducks resembles tiny black balls and are covered in downy feathers. Cayuga ducklings are very alert and active feeding on anything that seems like duck food to them.

These birds do well on free range and also confinement. They love to roam the back yard where they collect snails, slugs and small weeds.

They are not flightily so do not be worried whether they are going to fly away and never come back. These ducks are not noisy and it is hard to hear them quack. However, this may differ with individual bird with some being very calm while others turning to be relatively noisy.

Giving them an opportunity to graze will help them supplement their diet of crumbles and pellets that you serve in duck feeders. Additionally, they will help control the number of insect pest and notorious weeds in your garden.

Have someone herd them or else ensure they are confined in closed portable duck pens during the day. In and around your compound, there may be predators like possums and wolves stalking on them.

How long can a Cayuga duck live?

In the wild, ducks have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years. This period is the common lifespan for breeds like Mallard that spend their entire lives on the wild.

However, most domestic ducks can live up to 10 years or more depending on the kind of care they receive.

Small and medium duck breeds will have a longer lifespan than large breeds of ducks. So, in this case, Cayuga’s, Runners and Blue Swedish ducks will have three or four additional years. (Source).

Cayuga ducks will live between 10-14 years when well taken care of. However factors like hunger, stress, disease and predators can shorten their lifespans.

Laying ducks may not live for long because they will be pushed to lay much. This suppresses their health exhausting their body organs thus shortening their lifespans.

Cayuga ducks kept as pets may live longer until they succumb to old age. Ducks raised for meat are likely to get butchered as soon as they attain the right market weight living only for a few months.

Health Issues

Cayuga ducks are very hardy and will do well even in those areas that experience long winters seasons because they are tolerant o cold.

Old Cayuga ducks may have several health issues because their immune response is low. Common lice and mites are likely to infest your duck flock damaging the feathers and sucking blood from the host.

Infested birds will lay fewer eggs or stop to lay at all and lose weight. If not controlled, these parasites can cause other illnesses and even death.

Ducks like other poultry are infested by internal parasites like thread worms. These internal parasites live in the intestines where they feed and multiply.

Seek advice from a qualified bird vet to know the right dewormer for ducks to administer. You can also feed them with pumpkin seeds and cilantro because they are believed to be food natural dewomers for poultry birds.


Cayuga ducks are truly a good breed to include in your flock. These birds are calm and docile a characteristic of good pets. Their quiet nature makes them good backyard birds that will not litter the neighborhood with their quacking sound.

They are cold hardy and will do very well in cold weather. Having Cayuga ducks in your compound, will help take good care of your left overs and other kitchen scrap that could end as compost.

These webbed pals will eat slugs, snail’s insects and some notorious weeds they get in the backyard. Expect an array of egg colors from black, pale green and even white if you keep them.

Do you have Cayuga’s? Talk to me in the comment section.

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Related search: Florida ducks.


  1. I have a pair of Cayuga ducks that I raised. They are extremely picky eaters any suggestions ?
    Also hatched 4 ducklings from the pair. When can I let them be together with parents ? They are currently 5 weeks old and fenced near them where all can safely see each other. I say safely because Daddy duck seems very aggressive towards the ducklings. He is super nice to baby chicks but excitable around ducklings. Maybe I’m reading him wrong ?
    Thank you for any advice you may have.

    • Thanks Shelly for your question. Ducks can sometimes be picky eaters depending on what they are used to eat. This is especially common if these birds are used to tasty treats and sweet foods which makes them develop a particular taste which can sometimes pose a challenge when you try to adjust. Male Cayuga ducks are very dorminant and will try to remain at the top of the pecking order. They will not entertain any chicks especially males around them because they want to retain control and mating rights exclusively for themselves.

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