Discover the Beautiful Cayuga Duck: A Guide to Your Friendly Farm Companion

Duck breeds have been cherished for centuries as beloved pets and valuable farm animals. Among these diverse duck breeds, one gem stands out for its unique appearance and versatile nature – the Cayuga duck.

Cayuga Duck in the wild

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the captivating Cayuga duck breed, exploring its history, physical characteristics, temperament, practical uses, care, breeding, preservation efforts, and the bright future it holds in agriculture.

Cayuga Duck
Beginner Friendly: Yes.
Lifespan: 8-12 years.
Weight: Hen (6-7lb) and Drake (7-8lb).
Color: Black with iridescent hues of green, blue, and violet.
Egg Production: 2-3 per week.
Egg Color: Black to Gray.
Known For Broodiness: Yes.
Good With Children: Yes.
Cost of Ducklings: $9-$15.

History and Origins

The Cayuga duck breed has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. It is believed to have originated in New York’s Cayuga Lake region, hence its name. However, other sources suggest that the breed came from a black species of duck found in Lancashire, UK. If you are a history lover like me, you can read more about the Cayuga’s history on The Livestock Conservancy website.

Initially, it was popular for its ornamental qualities and graced ponds and lakes in estates and public parks. Gradually, its versatility was recognized, and it made its way into small-scale farming and homesteading, becoming a cherished breed in the United States.

Physical Characteristics

Close up detail of age related grey feathers on the face of a Cayuga duck.

Size

Cayuga ducks are elegant, making them an instant favorite among duck enthusiasts. They are medium-sized ducks with a streamlined body and a weight ranging from 6 to 8 pounds. They tend to be short with broad breasts.

Plumage and Legs

Their most distinctive feature is their lustrous, green-black plumage that shimmers iridescently in the sunlight. Interestingly, the feathers of young Cayugas appear as a beautiful shade of blue-gray, gradually darkening as they mature. Their plumage can become spotted with white as they age, which is normal! Cayuga ducks have black legs. Sometimes the drakes have black legs with touches of orange. If you want to tell males from females, look for the prominent tail feather curl, which means you have a drake.

Temperament and Behavior

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, Cayuga ducks are known for their calm and friendly disposition. They are friendly birds that thrive in the company of humans and other ducks, making them ideal for families and small farms. With proper handling and care, Cayuga ducks can become quite affectionate and form strong bonds with their owners. It is important to note that they can be combative when broody!

As for noise levels, they tend to be a quiet breed. This makes them a good choice for more crowded/urban or suburban areas.

Practical Uses

Cayuga Ducklings

Pest Control

Whether you’re seeking a charming addition to your backyard flock or a valuable asset on your farm, the Cayuga duck won’t disappoint. As pets, they’ll delight you with their gentle nature and striking appearance. On the farm, they are excellent foragers. These ducks eagerly gobble up insects, snails, and other pests, contributing to natural pest control.

Eggs

Additionally, their eggs are of superb quality, large and flavorful, making them a favorite among egg enthusiasts and bakers! Each Cayuga duck can lay between 100-150 eggs per year. So they are valuable layers! Their eggs are black but change from black to gray or white throughout the year. They generally begin laying eggs around 5-6 months of age. And the Cayuga Duck’s life span is generally 8-12 years.

Meat

Some people also keep them as a meat source and compare their taste to the taste of choice cuts of beef. They are great dual-purpose birds!

Care and Maintenance

wooden duck house by a pond in the country

Caring for Cayuga ducks is relatively straightforward. They have a hearty appetite and require a well-balanced diet of grains, leafy greens, and clean water. These ducks are cold-hardy and can tolerate cooler temperatures. In fact, they prefer cooler climates. But providing shelter and protection from harsh weather is still essential. Read here for Chickens & More guide to duck houses.

Keeping their living space clean and well-maintained will improve their health and happiness. They need areas to wander and forage and access to water. If you don’t have a pond, don’t worry. Get creative! A water trough or even a kiddie pool will do!

Do you already have chickens but want to add ducks to the mix? (And who wouldn’t be tempted to add a few after learning about these beautiful ducks?) If you want to learn more raising chickens and ducks together, please read 7 Tips For Raising Ducks with Chickens.

Breeding and Reproduction

Breeding Cayuga ducks can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful consideration. Ensuring a diverse gene pool is vital to maintaining the breed’s health and vitality. Proper incubation and brooding conditions must be provided when breeding to ensure healthy offspring.

Preservation Efforts and Future Outlook

Cayuga Ducks in the wild

Like many heritage breeds, the Cayuga duck breed faces the risk of declining populations and potential extinction. Fortunately, various organizations and breeders are actively working to preserve and promote this remarkable breed. By raising awareness about the breed’s unique qualities and advocating for its preservation, we can contribute to securing a bright future for the Cayuga duck in modern agriculture. Two places you can learn more about livestock conservation are The Livestock Conservancy in the US and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK. Let’s keep these beauties flourishing!

Conclusion

The Cayuga duck breed is a true heritage gem, combining stunning looks, a delightful temperament, and practical utility. Whether you’re considering them as pets, natural pest control on your farm, or simply appreciating their historical significance, the Cayuga duck offers something for everyone.

You can find ducklings by mail at some of these hatcheries. By supporting preservation efforts and spreading awareness about this exceptional breed, we can ensure that the Cayuga duck continues to grace our ponds and enrich our lives for generations to come.

As always, please comment below to share your thoughts on this beautiful breed!

Also, sign up for the Chickens & More newsletter if you’d like to be featured with your flock and you’ll get to read about other flocks in our little chicken loving community.

Chris Lesley Bio Picture
Chris Lesley has been Raising Chickens for over 20 years and is a fourth generation chicken keeper. She can remember being a young child when her grandad first taught her how to hold and care for chickens. She also holds a certificate in Animal Behavior and Welfare and is interested in backyard chicken health and care.

1 Comment

  1. Saw our first Cayuga yesterday, on a Mere in Shropshire UK. Stunning bird, happily feeding with the resident flock of mallards, greylags, canadas, and hybrids. Absolutely beautiful duck, resplendent in the Spring sunshine. Happily gobbled up our offering of mixed seeds and grains (specially formulated for birds). xxx

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