Monday, May 30, 2016

Breed Spotlight - Cayuga Duck

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

The Cayuga duck is an American breed of duck, originating from the state of New York. This breed is characterized by it's black feathers, which are iridescent  in the sun. They are among the oldest American duck breeds, and have been fairly popular since the mid 1800s. 

Traits of the Breed

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons
The Cayuga duck has black feathers, with a beetle green iridescence in the light. They are as close to solid black as it gets - their bill and legs are black, and their eyes should be very dark brown. This medium-sized breed weighs between 7 and 8 pounds, and are a dual purpose breed, once being the most popular duck for meat before the Pekin was imported to the US. One reason this breed is desired among backyard keepers is the eggs that they produce. High-quality ducks produce black eggs, although they slowly fade to light grey as the female's egg cycle progresses. Cayugas are known for being good foragers, but also being quieter than other breeds such as the Pekin, making them a good choice for the urban duck enthusiast. Male Cayugas are frequently mute!


The history of the Cayuga duck is fairly unclear. The breed originated in the state of New York and is named after Cayuga Lake, of the Finger Lakes region. One theory states that a miller in Duchess County found a pair of black ducks on his property, and bred them to get the Cayuga breed. Experts disagree, and say that there is no evidence to support this claim. A more likely theory is that the breed derives from the English black duck, which were once popular in England. These black ducks were then bred to mallard ducks, leading to the breed as we know it today. Although the origin is still unknown, it is most likely that the Cayuga originated from these domestic black ducks, rather than mutated wild populations. 

Cayuga ducks became less popular when the Pekin was imported from China, as their black feathers made their carcass less desirable on the table than the Pekin's soft white. The Cayuga is making a comeback as backyard enthusiast are often attracted to their beauty and novelty over the utility of other breeds. 

Where to get them

As Cayugas have become common among backyard farmers, they are available at most large hatcheries that sell ducks. For the best, show-quality and darkest eggs, you should buy them from a breeder with stock proven in shows, who will show you his/her birds' eggs before you buy the ducklings. 

Sources:"The Livestock Conservancy." The Livestock Conservancy. The Livestock Conservancy, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.

"Cayuga Duck." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016. <>.