Cayuga Duck – Breed Profile and Facts
Ducks are among the most popular poultry for backyards both in urban and rural setups. This is attributed to the fact that ducks are hardy, easy to keep, and extremely productive in terms of meat and egg production.
Some duck breeds are also kept for ornamental purposes because of their appearance, disposition, and adaptability to different climatic conditions.
Most importantly, some keepers prefer ducks to help them control pests in their homesteads, farms, and ranches due to their exceptional foraging skills.
Aside from that, their natural manure is an excellent addition of vital nutrients to the soil. In this article, you are going to learn more about the Cayuga breed of ducks, their history, characteristics, and general care.
What is a Cayuga Duck?
Apparently, Cayugas are among the most popular breeds of ducks for backyard poultry in different places across the world. Cayugas are raised mostly for their delicious meat and nutritious eggs. Some are kept as pets.
Cayuga ducks shot into fame in 1840. Their exact origin is not yet known although some hold onto the belief that they are somehow related to the English black duck breed. Quite a few individuals think that Cayugas are descendants of wild ducks in the US.
Even during those years, Cayugas were raised mainly for their meat. However, it is worth knowing that in 1840, Cayuga ducklings were introduced to the Finger Lakes Region of New York State by John S. Clark.
These lovely birds got their name from the Cayuga people living around the Finger Lakes Region.
Unfortunately, Cayugas faced stiff competition from the American Pekin ducks which were top meat producers in the United States.
As a result, their popularity and population dwindled drastically. Today, the Cayuga breed of ducks is classified under the “critically threatened” breeds by the Livestock Conservancy.
Another version of the story states that Cayuga ducks were developed from a pair of wild ducks caught by a miller in Dutchess County, New York.
Sadly, experts dispute this allegation. But a twist to this story comes from Lancashire, United Kingdom.
The story states that Cayuga ducks were identical to or resemble an English black duck breed commonly found in Lancashire in the mid-1800s.
Most historians and breeders believe that Cayugas might have originated from the English black duck breeds.
Cayuga Duck Characteristics
The Cayuga ducks are classified under medium-sized to heavy duck breeds. They have a close resemblance in terms of size and shape to yet another breed of domesticated ducks known as Aylesbury.
These birds are further characterized by their long heads with slightly flattened bills with long, top lines. They also have medium-length necks that are slightly arched.
The Cayugas have a broad and prominent breast with large, short thighs. Not to mention deep, long, and broad body structure.
Their feet are uniquely characterized by webbing and long toes. Their plumage is usually stiff and hard with black and iridescent green/purple/blue sheen in the light.
In most cases, these birds develop mottling as they grow old with drakes having well-curled feathers.
Cayugas are simply an upright breed of ducks with brown eyes. Their legs are black while their feet are tinged in different shades of orange, especially in drakes as they age.
The bills are black but may become olive as they mature. Below are additional characteristics unique to the Cayuga breed of ducks:
– Size and Weight
In terms of size and weight, mature Cayuga ducks average between 3.20kg pounds and 3.63kg.
Drakes or male Cayugas weigh an average of about 3.8kg while females (ducks) weigh an average of 3.4kg. Young Cayuga ducks can weigh up to 2.72kg on average.
The Cayuga ducks make quiet quacks. Both drakes and ducks are friendly, docile, and easily tamed. For that reason, some people find Cayugas to be good ornamental birds.
Plus, their exceptional disposition makes them a good choice of backyard ducks for beginners.
The Cayuga breed of ducks is among the hardy backyard poultry. These ducks can withstand different climatic conditions hence their growing popularity among poultry farmers.
They are also skillful foragers, making them the ideal choice of free-range ducks in your backyard. As such, they have a lifespan of up to 12 years under good care.
– Egg Production
As mentioned earlier, the Cayugas are kept for their eggs and meat. Therefore, they are dual-purpose breeds for backyard flocks. On average, each duck can produce100 to 150 eggs annually. Their egg color varies depending on the season of the year.
Typically, these birds produce murky green-colored eggs at the start of the season. In Autumn, their eggs appear paler with shades of gray to gray-blue. Sometimes the eggs appear green or completely white.
Their eggs are also large compared to those of other duck breeds and can weigh between 75 grams and 90 grams.
In general, Cayuga ducks’ egg productivity is lower than other breeds of ducks. However, their eggs contain essential nutrients that can promote good health among your family members.
– Meat Production
Since Cayuga ducks obtain most of their nutrients from foraging, their meat is usually delicious with essential nutrients. The meat is reputed to have an excellent taste in addition to being tender with fine quality.
In most cases, Cayugas are butchered as early as two months although the best results may come when they are three months old.
Cayuga Duck Care
Just like all other types of poultry, Cayuga ducks need care in the form of a nutritionally balanced diet, housing, and healthcare.
As a matter of fact, Cayugas are among the threatened breeds of domesticated ducks by predators. Here are possible ways to take care of your Cayuga ducks in the backyard:
– Feeding & Nutrition
Proper nutrition is essential for the survival of your Cayuga ducks. A well-balanced diet plays a significant role in making ducks or other backyard flocks productive, healthy, and active.
In this sense, you can provide your Cayuga ducks with enough space in your backyard for foraging since they are excellent foragers for their own food.
Make sure to provide at least ¼ acre of space in the backyard for every five ducks to promote free-ranging among your flock.
In case you have limited space in your backyard for free-ranging, you should look for commercial duck feed. On top of that, provide your ducks with small portions of course sand or gravel to help in the digestion of their food.
Water is a very important part of your ducks’ diet. Provide them with fresh clean water daily to help quench their thirst.
Besides, give them a wading pool with clean water to swim and cool their bodies during the hot summer months.
The security of your Cayuga ducks is out of the question. These birds need to be kept safe at all times since they are already a threatened breed. That is why they pose a big challenge when it comes to protecting them against predators.
Common predators that attack Cayuga ducks are cats, weasels, mink, and owls among others. They also deserve protection against the hot sun or extreme weather conditions outside.
For that reason, they should be provided with shade, especially when the temperature outdoors is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Make sure to bring your ducks inside a well-protected building during the night. If you are keeping them in a pen, provide a tight cover to keep them inside while keeping predators like raccoons away.
Most importantly, provide a ½ inch wire fence with a bottom of about 30 inches to keep your backyard secure throughout.
– Health Problems
One thing you need to know about raising Cayuga ducks is that they do not have genetic predispositions linked to any specific ailments or diseases.
Despite all that, you should provide the necessary care to your Cayugas to keep them healthy and productive.
Keep them isolated from other backyard poultry and animals suspected to be carrying diseases.
Also, keep new ducks under quarantine for a few weeks to ensure they are all healthy before allowing them to mix with your old flock.
Watch out for the following common duck diseases that may affect your Cayugas from time to time:
- Avian cholera
- Duck virus enteritis
- Duck virus hepatitis
- Riamella anatipestifer infection
Once you notice that one of your Cayuga ducks is sick, isolate it and seek medical intervention from your local vet.
How Much Does a Cayuga Duck Cost?
The cost of Cayuga ducks varies depending on various factors. Key among them are their sizes, weight, and gender. A Cayuga duck can cost an average of $13.15 while the male one can go for $7.31.
The unsexed Cayuga can cost as much as $9.56. Take note that the cost of Cayuga ducks is subject to challenges due to the region, demand, and availability.
Are Cayuga Ducks Good for Beginners?
Yes. Cayuga ducks are a great choice for those starting to keep ducks. This is because Cayugas are quite friendly, docile, and easy to handle.
They are also cheap to maintain in terms of feeds since they prefer spending hours foraging in the field.
Are Cayuga Ducks Hardy?
Yes. Cayugas are among the breeds of ducks that are hardy. They can withstand different climatic conditions and still remain productive.
For instance, Cayuga ducks will lay relatively large quantities of eggs in cold weather conditions and brood them.
Can Cayuga Duck Fly?
Cayuga ducks rarely fly because they are a heavy breed of ducks. They also do not stray far from home. That is why they are often preferred in dog herding trials.
Tips on Keeping Cayuga Ducks
Here are helpful tips on raising Cayuga ducks:
- Provide them with a nutritionally balanced diet
- Supply them with fresh clean drinking water daily
- Occasionally have your local vet check them to ensure they are healthy
Today, the Cayuga breed of ducks is highly beneficial for meat and egg production. The breed is also excellent in pest control and the production of organic manure for kitchen farming at home.
Those who keep Cayuga ducks enjoy their company since these birds are friendly and easy to get along with well than most backyard poultry.
Above all, they are beautiful, pleasant, and sweet backyard ducks that don’t get themselves into a lot of trouble.
So, if you are investing in ducks for the first time, consider Cayugas as your first choice.