Cayuga Duck: Profile, Facts, Traits, Care, Diet, Ecology, Eggs

Cayuga duck

Legend has it that the Cayuga duck, a distinctive breed renowned for its iridescent plumage and gentle demeanor, traces its origins to a captivating tale steeped in native lore. According to this enchanting narrative, the breed emerged from humble beginnings, purportedly descending from a pair of wild geese ensnared by a miller in Dutchess County, New York, circa 1809. In this article, I am going to talk about Cayuga duck eggs, female, baby, egg color, size, facts, lifespan, etc. Keep reading.

However, upon closer scrutiny, this account reveals itself to be a charming but historically dubious fabrication. In truth, the origins of the Cayuga duck find their roots in a different avian tale—one chronicled in the annals of ornithological history by none other than John J. Audubon in his seminal work, “Birds of America,” published in 1843.

Cayuga Duck: Profile, Facts, Traits, Care, Diet, Ecology, Eggs

The narrative surrounding the purported genesis of the Cayuga duck serves as a captivating example of folklore intertwining with historical records. While the tale of the untamed geese captured on a mill pond captures the imagination, it lacks factual substantiation. Instead, Audubon’s meticulous observations provide a more accurate portrayal of the Cayuga duck’s ancestry.

Within the pages of “Birds of America,” Audubon documents the Gadwall duck—a species known for its subtle beauty and understated elegance—whose characteristics align more closely with those attributed to the Cayuga duck. Thus, the mythic origins of the Cayuga duck fade into obscurity, yielding to the authoritative accounts preserved within the annals of ornithological literature.

Cayuga Duck: Profile and Facts

Weights: Hens typically weigh around 7 lbs, while drakes reach approximately 8 lbs.

Purpose and Type: Cayuga ducks are primarily bred for egg-laying and exhibition purposes.

Egg Color: Eggs start as black and gradually lighten to white as the season progresses.

Egg Production: Known for their good egg production.

Egg Size: Cayuga duck eggs range from large to extra-large in size.

Temperament: They are characterized as docile and calm.

Gender Accuracy: Exhibits a high gender accuracy rate of 100%.

Fertility Percentage: Typically ranges from 60% to 75%.

Broody Behavior: Cayuga ducks are known to exhibit broody behavior and serve as setters.

Mating Ratio: Ideal mating ratio is 7 females to 1 male.

Roost Height: They prefer roosting on the floor rather than elevated structures.

Country of Origin: Originating from the United States, specifically New York.

Origin of the Cayuga Duck

Historical lore in New York suggests that the Cayuga duck traces its lineage back to the wild geese inhabiting the region, although concrete evidence validating this hypothesis remains elusive. The name “Cayuga” itself pays homage to Lake Cayuga in New York, underscoring the deep-rooted connection between the breed and its place of origin. Notably, the Cayuga Duck stands as one of the few duck breeds that can proudly claim American origins, embodying a legacy intertwined with the landscapes and traditions of its homeland.

Namesake: A Tribute to Tradition

The etymology of the Cayuga duck’s name traces back to its erstwhile popularity in the vicinity of Cayuga Lake, nestled within the verdant landscapes of New York State. This geographical connection serves as a poignant reminder of the breed’s historical roots and enduring legacy within its native region.


Mystery Surrounding Origins: The Cayuga duck’s history is veiled in uncertainty, with several theories attempting to elucidate its beginnings. One narrative suggests that it emerged from wild black ducks captured near Cayuga Lake in New York. Another theory posits its descent from a black duck breed in Lancashire, England.

Acceptance into Standard of Perfection: Recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874, the Cayuga duck experienced a period of popularity until the ascendancy of Pekin ducks in the 1890s. Despite this decline, its unique coloration continues to distinguish it from other breeds.

Endearing Temperament: Traits of Resilience and Serenity

Renowned for their tranquil disposition, Cayuga ducks exude a sense of quiet resilience and hardiness that sets them apart. Their serene nature makes them a beloved choice among duck enthusiasts, while their remarkable adaptability ensures their survival even in challenging environments. However, it is their striking beetle-green coloring that truly distinguishes Cayugas, casting a captivating sheen that adds to their allure and charm.

Physical Characteristics: Size and Egg Production

Cayuga ducks exhibit a modest size, with hens typically weighing around 4-5 pounds, while males tend to be slightly larger, averaging about six pounds. Despite their unassuming stature, Cayugas boasts a noteworthy egg-laying prowess, with hens producing eggs in shades of light blue or grey. This impressive feat, coupled with their manageable size, makes Cayuga ducks a practical choice for backyard poultry enthusiasts seeking both beauty and utility in their flock.

The Allure of Ducklings: A Promise of Potential

In their infancy, Cayuga ducklings captivate with their endearing appearance, characterized by black toes and bills, along with downy plumage in shades of deepest black. Occasional hints of yellow on their breast add a touch of whimsy to their otherwise monochromatic palette, hinting at the vibrant personalities that will emerge as they mature. As they embark on their journey from hatchling to fully-fledged duck, Cayuga ducklings symbolize the promise of potential and the enduring legacy of a beloved breed.

Unraveling the Mystique of the Cayuga Duck

Despite the discrepancy between legend and reality, the allure of the Cayuga duck remains undiminished. Revered for its striking black plumage that shimmers with iridescent hues, this breed captivates enthusiasts and breeders alike with its unique charm. Whether gliding serenely across still waters or foraging amidst lush wetlands, the Cayuga duck embodies a sense of timeless grace that transcends its enigmatic origins.

While the specifics of its ancestry may elude definitive explanation, the Cayuga duck’s place in avian history is secure, symbolizing the enduring fascination humanity holds for the natural world and the narratives we weave to make sense of it.

Embracing the Legacy of Avian Lore

In the saga of the Cayuga duck, we find echoes of a broader human impulse—to imbue the natural world with mythic significance and imbibe it with narratives that reflect our desires and aspirations. As we unravel the threads of myth and reality, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate tapestry of avian heritage.

While the origins of the Cayuga duck may remain shrouded in ambiguity, its legacy endures as a testament to the enduring bond between humanity and the feathered denizens of our shared planet. In celebrating the rich tapestry of avian lore, we honor not only the birds themselves but also the enduring human quest to connect with the mysteries of the natural world.

Versatile Utility: The Cayuga Duck in Agriculture

Renowned for its dual-purpose capabilities, the Cayuga duck occupies a prominent role in both meat and egg production sectors of agriculture. Its robust constitution and admirable performance make it a favored choice among poultry enthusiasts and farmers alike. Additionally, the Cayuga’s impressive attributes extend to the realm of poultry exhibitions, where its distinct qualities often earn accolades and recognition.


Distinct Coloration: Cayuga ducks are renowned for their striking black plumage, which exhibits a glossy beetle-green sheen. This distinct coloration extends to their bills, legs, and feet, occasionally featuring an olive tint in the bill.

Age-Related Changes: As Cayugas age, their plumage may undergo a gradual transition akin to greying, while their feet may take on a more orange hue. These subtle changes add to the breed’s allure and character.

Population Status: Classified as “Threatened” by the Livestock Conservancy due to fewer than 1000 breeding birds, the Cayuga duck nonetheless holds potential for rapid population growth. Availability through large poultry hatcheries contributes to its resilience.

Physical Attributes

Medium-sized Frame: Cayuga ducks exhibit a medium-sized build with a prominent breast, reflecting their robust stature. Adult males typically weigh around 8 lbs, while adult females weigh approximately 7 lbs. Young males and females weigh slightly less, at 7 lbs and 6 lbs, respectively.

Classification: The Cayuga duck falls under the American Poultry Association’s Medium Duck class, further emphasizing its status as a distinct and noteworthy breed in the realm of poultry.

The Enchantment of Iridescent Plumage

A hallmark feature of the Cayuga duck is its captivating iridescent beetle green coloration, derived from the interplay of light with its lustrous black feathers. In the right illumination, this mesmerizing hue casts a spellbinding glow, captivating onlookers and earning the breed admiration and acclaim.

Revered Heritage: Embraced by the American Standard of Perfection

Since its official recognition and admission into the American Standard of Perfection in 1874, the Cayuga duck has emerged as a stalwart of the poultry exhibition circuit. Its adherence to breed standards and consistent excellence in both form and function have solidified its status as one of the most esteemed and sought-after duck breeds for showcasing.

Natural Foraging Instincts: A Beneficial Trait

In addition to its prowess in agricultural pursuits, the Cayuga duck boasts a natural inclination towards foraging, demonstrating a keen appetite for snails, slugs, and other detrimental insects. This proactive approach to pest control not only enhances agricultural productivity but also underscores the breed’s valuable contributions to sustainable farming practices.

Aesthetic Splendor and Enigmatic Charm

With its resplendent beetle green plumage and enigmatic origins, the Cayuga duck epitomizes beauty intertwined with mystery. Few avian species rival its striking appearance or evoke a sense of wonder quite like the Cayuga, captivating hearts and minds with its alluring allure and timeless elegance.

The Cayuga Duck’s Mysterious Origins

Legend and lore intertwine around the genesis of the Cayuga duck breed, weaving tales of untamed geese captured by a miller in Duchess County, New York, back in 1809. This captivating narrative, however, proves to be more fiction than fact, a romanticized account of the breed’s beginnings.

Cayuga duck

A Speculative Origin Story

While some speculate that the Cayuga may trace its lineage back to flocks of wild geese, concrete evidence to substantiate this theory remains elusive. The murky depths of history leave room for conjecture, but definitive proof remains a distant prospect.

An Alternate Account

In the annals of poultry history, another narrative emerges, as recounted by Mr. R. Teebay of Fulwood, Preston, Lancashire, UK, in the pages of the 1885 publication, The Book of Poultry by Lewis Wright. Teebay’s tale paints a picture of the Cayuga’s resemblance to an English black duck breed prevalent in Lancashire during the 1860s.

Tracing Lineage

Teebay posits a connection between the Cayuga and this English black duck stock, suggesting a potential ancestral link. He surmises that the Cayuga may have sprung forth from this lineage, a notion steeped in the complexities of selective breeding and regional avian populations.

Fading Echoes

The once-prominent English black duck of Lancashire, Teebay laments, has faded into obscurity, supplanted by the burgeoning popularity of the Aylesbury duck by the 1880s. The passage of time has cast a shroud over this erstwhile breed, leaving behind scant traces of its existence.

Hunter’s Insight

Adding weight to Teebay’s assertions is the testimony of an unnamed acquaintance, a seasoned hunter and trapper familiar with the environs of Cayuga. Armed with intimate knowledge of both domestic and wild avian species, this expert corroborates the notion that the Cayuga’s roots lie not in local wild populations but rather in the now-vanished English black duck of Lancashire.

John S. Clark’s Avian Migration

In a pioneering endeavor circa 1840, John S. Clark undertook a remarkable journey, relocating geese from Orange County, NY, to the picturesque landscape of Cayuga County within the Finger Lakes region of New York. This audacious feat marked the inception of the Cayuga duck’s presence in the fertile soils of the Finger Lakes.

The Curious Case of the “High Knot”

Clark’s geese bore a distinctive feature—a peculiar “high knot” adorning their heads—a trait that garnered attention and fascination among contemporaries. This noteworthy characteristic became synonymous with the breed, adding to its allure and mystique.

Luther Tucker’s Testimony

Luther Tucker, esteemed editor of The Cultivator, lent credence to the emergence of the Cayuga breed, documenting its nomenclature in 1851. These geese, he attests, were christened “Cayuga” in homage to the indigenous peoples inhabiting the surrounding territory.

Eggstravagant Offerings of the Cayuga

Amidst the verdant landscapes of Cayuga County, the industrious Cayuga geese unfurl a bounty of eggs, ranging from 100 to 150 per annum, a veritable cornucopia for culinary endeavors and baking escapades alike.

A Chromatic Metamorphosis

Behold the marvel of nature as Cayuga eggs emerge, cloaked in obsidian hues at the outset, only to undergo a gradual transformation as the seasons wane. With the passage of time, the once-dark shells metamorphose into pristine whiteness, a testament to the ephemeral beauty of nature’s handiwork.

The Resplendent Plumage

Adorned in a resplendent cloak of uniformly greenish-black plumage, Cayuga ducks exude an air of regal elegance. Yet, as the march of time bestows its grace upon them, their feathers may acquire a charming mottling of white, a visual testament to the passage of years.

A Name Rooted in Heritage

Echoes of history reverberate in the designation bestowed upon these ducks, as they bear the mantle of “Cayuga” in homage to the indigenous inhabitants of their ancestral domain. This venerable moniker serves as a poignant reminder of the symbiotic relationship between man and fowl, etched into the annals of time.

A Heritage in Peril

Despite their erstwhile ubiquity on New York’s duck farms, the Cayuga duck faces an uncertain future, relegated to the status of “threatened” on The Livestock Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List. In a bid to stave off extinction, advocates rally to the cause, seeking to forge connections between the breed and ardent preservationists.

Culinary Delights and Practical Quandaries

The culinary allure of Cayuga meat remains unparalleled, esteemed for its exquisite flavor and unrivaled quality. Yet, the journey from farm to table presents a formidable challenge, as the inky plumage of these ducks renders carcass cleaning a daunting task, a testament to the sacrifices borne in pursuit of gastronomic excellence.

An Ovum Odyssey

Embark upon an eggsciting odyssey with the Cayuga’s distinctive ovular offerings. Revel in the culinary prowess of these eggs, their whites boasting a firmness unmatched by their avian counterparts, lending a decadent touch to a plethora of delectable desserts. Yet, it is their enigmatic hue that truly captivates, as the eggs transition from obsidian depths to ethereal shades of blue and green, a chromatic symphony orchestrated by the whims of nature.

Rise to Prominence

By the dawn of 1874, the Cayuga duck had ascended to acclaim, earning recognition in the esteemed ranks of the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection. Thriving in the lush environs of New York’s duck farms, the breed flourished until the encroachment of the Pekin duck on the bustling urban markets of the 1890s.

Selecting Birds for Your Farm

When choosing avian additions to your farm, meticulous selection is paramount. It is advisable to steer clear of Cayugas of a diminutive stature. Opt instead for medium-sized ducks, with males boasting a robust weight of 8 kilograms and females exhibiting a commendable 7 kilograms upon reaching maturity. This judicious choice ensures that your avian companions possess the requisite size and robustness for farm life, facilitating their integration into your agricultural milieu.

The distinctive beetle green hue, so emblematic of the Cayuga breed, captivates most prominently in youthful specimens. However, as these avians mature, an intriguing transformation occurs. White plumage gradually infiltrates their once uniform coloring, especially notable after their inaugural breeding season. This evolution in appearance adds a dynamic visual element to your flock, showcasing the lifecycle of these remarkable creatures in vivid detail.

Adaptability to Varied Climates

A remarkable attribute of the Cayuga breed is its unparalleled adaptability to diverse climatic conditions. Regardless of whether your farm is nestled amidst the arid expanse of the desert or enveloped by the frosty embrace of wintry landscapes, these ducks thrive with unwavering resilience. Such versatility renders them an invaluable asset to farmers worldwide, capable of flourishing in virtually any environment, irrespective of geographical peculiarities.

Production Potential

For those seeking avian companions that offer both utility and culinary delight, the Cayuga emerges as a compelling choice. Renowned for their multifaceted contributions, these ducks epitomize the concept of dual-purpose breeds. Not only do they grace your table with delectable meat, but they also grace your coop with a steady supply of eggs. With an impressive annual output ranging from 130 to 180 eggs per annum, coupled with a mature weight of 5 to 6 kilograms, the Cayuga epitomizes efficiency and productivity in avian agriculture.

Unique Egg Characteristics

One of the most intriguing aspects of Cayuga egg production lies in its distinctive seasonal variations. At the onset of the laying season, these ducks bestow upon us eggs of a profound black hue, reminiscent of the darkest midnight skies. Health books, guides, exercises, habits, Diets, and more

However, as the season progresses and the days wane, a subtle metamorphosis unfolds. The once ebony shells gradually fade, yielding to a paler palette until come autumn, the eggs exude a pristine white sheen. Such chromatic diversity adds a whimsical charm to your egg collection, transforming each harvest into a veritable treasure trove of hues.

Resilient and Hardy Breed

In addition to their prodigious productivity, Cayugas are celebrated for their resilience and robust constitution. Among the myriad duck breeds, they stand out as paragons of endurance, capable of withstanding the rigors of farm life with aplomb. Their innate hardiness renders them an ideal choice for small-scale farmers and backyard flock enthusiasts alike, providing peace of mind amidst the challenges of agricultural stewardship.

Docile and Amiable Dispositions

Beyond their practical utility, Cayugas endear themselves to owners with their affable nature and tranquil demeanor. Exhibiting a docility seldom matched among their avian counterparts, these ducks exude an aura of serenity and tranquility. Their gentle disposition makes them ideal companions for farmers seeking not only productivity but also companionship and camaraderie in their feathered charges. Whether roaming the paddocks or waddling through the barnyard, Cayugas epitomize the epitome of avian amicability, enriching the farmstead with their genial presence.

Endurance and Adaptability

Renowned for their resilience, Cayuga ducks rank among the hardiest of domestic fowl, weathering the harsh winters of the northeast with fortitude. Their ability to thrive in adverse conditions, coupled with their prolific breeding, underscores their enduring appeal to poultry enthusiasts. Bird accessories on Amazon

Gastronomic Delights

Weighing in at a modest 7-8 pounds on average, the Cayuga duck boasts a palate-pleasing meat renowned for its exquisite flavor and superior quality. However, the task of preparing these delectable morsels presents a challenge, as the dark plumage of the Cayuga renders carcass cleaning a laborious endeavor.

Practical Solutions

To circumvent the arduous task of plucking, some aficionados opt for the expedient route of skinning the ducks—a pragmatic solution to the quandary posed by their inky feathers. Despite this minor inconvenience, the culinary rewards of indulging in Cayuga duck fare remain unparalleled, a testament to the breed’s enduring legacy of excellence.

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