If you’re on the lookout for a fun, friendly, and one-of-a-kind duck breed to keep, you might want to consider the Cayuga Duck.
With their unique feathers, laid-back personalities, and easygoing nature, these birds make for fantastic and rewarding feathered friends.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the following:
- what makes the Cayuga breed so special
- their history and characteristics
- the best way to care for these quirky birds
So, are you ready to meet the Cayuga duck?
Let’s get right to it, then!
What is the History of the Cayuga Duck Breed?
Exactly where the Cayuga duck came from is a story that seems to be shrouded in mystery.
While it is widely believed that this breed descended from Anas rubripes, also known as the American black duck, there is no scientific evidence to support this theory.
However, what we do know is that the Cayuga duck is a true black in color.
It’s said to result from a strange genetic mutation quite common in breeds derived from Anas platyrhynchos.
The curly “drake feather” in the tail, which only occurs in male ducks of the breed, is also present in the Cayuga breed.
The Cayuga duck breed emerged in the Finger Lakes region of New York State in the 1840s.
A man named John S. Clark brought ducks of this type to Cayuga County from Orange County, New York.
This breed’s moniker comes from the indigenous Cayuga people who inhabited the area.
This breed was originally raised for meat and was the principal duck breed consumed in the United States until the 19th century.
The Cayuga duck breed soon became a favorite ornament in many American households.
The first edition of the American Standard of Perfection, published in 1874, officially recognized the Cayuga duck breed.
What Does a Cayuga Duck Look Like?
As previously mentioned, the plumage of this breed is predominantly black with green that shimmers in certain lights.
While the coloring of their feathers is stunning, it can make it challenging to distinguish between male and female birds.
Males and females look quite similar in their juvenile years when hatched.
However, once mature, males are typically more prominent and larger than females.
They have rounder heads, thicker necks, and bulkier bodies than their female counterparts.
You can also often tell the difference between male and female Cayugas based on the sound of their quack.
Female Cayugas have an unmistakable loud and shrill quack, while males have a much quieter and softer quack.
Cayuga ducks have distinct features, such as their unique dark bills, legs, and feet that are black in color.
The eyes of the Cayuga duck are a deep brown, which blends in perfectly with the rest of their black plumage.
During the breeding season, males have a slight crest on their heads, and the base of their bill is a yellow color.
What is the Temperament of a Cayuga Duck?
Cayuga ducks are well-known for being calm and docile birds.
They are friendly toward people and enjoy being around them.
If you are looking for a duck that will enjoy human interaction, then the Cayuga duck is an excellent choice.
However, this doesn’t mean that they are lap ducks.
Cayuga ducks are independent, and they can happily entertain themselves for hours without human interaction.
They enjoy swimming and foraging for food, making them active, curious little birds.
One of the unique traits of Cayuga ducks is their problem-solving abilities.
They are intelligent and quick to learn, making them an interesting animal to interact with.
They enjoy exploring their environment and will show curiosity toward new additions to their space.
So, if you have an item that intrigues them, they will not rest until they have figured out its function.
Cayuga ducks are also known to be relatively quiet pets.
They make soft quacking sounds, which is an added benefit for people living in urban environments.
If you live in an apartment or a townhouse where noise can be a problem, the Cayuga duck is a great choice for pets as it won’t disrupt your neighbors with loud noises like some other duck breeds you might find.
What Is a Cayuga Duck Raised For?
As mentioned earlier, Cayuga ducks are predominantly meat-type ducks.
In fact, during the late 1800s, they were the main breed of duck reared for meat in the United States.
However, they eventually began to be displaced by the American Pekin, which was easier to pluck and clean for sale.
Despite this, Cayuga ducks are still raised for their meat to this day.
In addition to their meat, Cayuga ducks also lay eggs, making them a great choice for backyard flocks.
While Cayuga ducks may still be raised for meat and eggs, they’re more commonly kept for their ornamental appeal.
Their striking black plumage and small size make them a popular choice for backyard flocks.
Many people enjoy keeping Cayuga ducks as a hobby, and they’re known to be quite social and friendly towards their owners.
Last but certainly not least, the feathers of Cayuga ducks are highly prized for the tying of fishing flies.
The iridescent black feathers are often used in lieu of black ostrich feathers, and are highly sought after by anglers and fly-tiers alike.
This makes Cayuga ducks a great choice for anyone looking to start their own fly-tying business or hobby.
Is a Cayuga Duck Good for Eggs?
While Cayuga ducks are primarily raised for meat, that doesn’t mean you can’t also take advantage of their delicious eggs.
Here’s what you need to know.
How Many Eggs Do Cayuga Ducks Lay?
Let’s start with the burning question – how many eggs do Cayuga ducks lay?
On average, these ducks can lay between 100-150 large eggs every year.
While this may not be as many eggs as a chicken can produce, it’s still a respectable amount considering the other benefits of keeping Cayuga ducks.
When your Cayuga ducks first start laying, you’ll notice that the eggs are dark and almost black in color, but they gradually lighten to a pale greenish-blue or even white by the end of the season.
When Do Cayuga Ducks Start Laying Eggs?
Another question that often arises is when do Cayuga ducks start laying eggs?
These ducks typically start laying between 5 and 6 months of age.
This, of course, can vary depending on each individual duck’s development and environmental factors.
But as a general rule of thumb, you can expect eggs from your Cayuga ducks in the early spring.
Raising Cayuga Ducks for Meat
The meat from Cayuga ducks is highly sought after, thanks to its exceptional taste and texture.
The carcass is on the smaller side, weighing in at around 7-8 lbs, making it perfect for smaller gatherings or family meals.
However, plucking the dark feathers from the duck can be tricky, so some opt to skin the birds instead.
The meat is best when it’s allowed to mature a bit.
So we recommend that your ducks be butchered at around 12 weeks old for the best results.
Does a Cayuga Duck Make Good Pets?
Cayuga ducks make excellent pets, as they are friendly and enjoy being around humans (as well as other breeds of ducks, if you already have some).
Of course, you’ll have to put some thought into how you raise these animals, particularly when it comes to the water.
Cayuga ducks are excellent swimmers and love to spend time in the water.
Make sure to provide them with access to a clean, safe, and spacious pond or pool, and monitor them closely to make sure they don’t get into any dangerous situations.
You can also provide them with shallow water dishes for splashing and grooming.
Remember that owning a pet duck requires a certain level of commitment and responsibility.
They require daily care and attention, including feeding, cleaning, and providing a safe and comfortable living environment.
Before bringing a Cayuga duck into your home, make sure you have the time, resources, and dedication to provide it with the care and love it deserves.
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Do Cayuga Ducks Like to Be Held?
Cayuga ducks are generally friendly.
But whether or not they like to be held will depend on each individual duck’s personality.
Some are more outgoing and affectionate, while others are more independent and aloof.
With proper socialization and training, however, most Cayuga ducks can become accustomed to human touch and even enjoy it.
It’s important to approach the duck slowly and gently, speak in a calm and soothing voice, and make sure it feels comfortable and at ease before attempting to pick it up.
Training your Cayuga duck to enjoy being held will require some patience and consistency.
Start by offering your hand to your duck so it can sniff and inspect it.
If it shows signs of interest and trust (such as approaching your hand or nuzzling it), you can move on to gently lifting it and holding it close to your chest.
Make sure to provide plenty of treats and positive reinforcement throughout the training process, and don’t force the duck to do anything it doesn’t want to do.
In addition to training, it’s important to provide your Cayuga duck with plenty of social interaction and mental stimulation.
Ducks are social animals and thrive in groups, so consider getting two or more ducks to keep each other company and prevent boredom.
You can also provide them with toys, puzzles, and games to keep their minds active and engaged.
Pros and Cons of a Cayuga Duck
So what are the pros and cons of raising Cayuga ducks?
First and foremost, Cayuga ducks are known for their hardiness.
They can tolerate cold weather and are great for those living in colder climates.
Not to mention they are easily tamed if hand raised, making them a great choice for families and homesteaders alike.
They are also known for being relatively quiet, which is a major bonus for those living in urban or suburban areas with close neighbors.
Another advantage of Cayuga ducks is that they are great for flocking.
They will stick together and can be herded with ease.
This has made them popular in various dog herding trials, but it can also be useful for farmers looking to keep a close eye on their flock.
That said, there are some disadvantages to be aware of, too.
While Cayuga ducks are known for their hardiness, they are not immune to health concerns.
These ducks can be prone to respiratory issues, especially if they are not kept in a clean and dry environment.
They also need access to shade in hot weather, which can be a challenge in some environments.
Another potential con is their inability to fly well.
This can be a pro for those looking to keep their ducks contained, but it can also put the flock at risk if predators are present.
It’s important to take proper precautions to keep your Cayuga ducks safe and secure.
Lastly, while Cayuga ducks are generally known for being quiet, hens are typically louder than drakes.
This means that there is still a potential for noise if you are raising females.
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How Long Do Cayuga Ducks Live?
If cared for properly, Cayugas can live 7-10 years.
They are also known for their hardiness and adaptability and can do well in various climates.
However, there are some common health issues that can affect ducks, such as respiratory infections, parasites, and injuries.
If you notice any signs of illness or injury in your ducks, it’s important to seek veterinary care right away.
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Is the Cayuga Duck Right for You?
The Cayuga duck is an attractive and reliable breed that, with a little care and attention, can be a valuable addition to any backyard flock.
Whether you’re keeping ducks for eggs or just for their personality and charm, Cayugas are sure to impress with their unique feathers, social nature, and hardy constitution.
With proper care and attention, a Cayuga could become an integral part of your backyard – and even your family!
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