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Cayuga Duck Breed Profile

The Cayuga is a prolific duck and can lay 100-150 eggs per year. They are known for their flavorful meat, ideal in dishes such as duck confit.

Cayuga Duck Breed Profile
© Courtesy ALBC


The Cayuga is a prolific duck and can lay 100-150 eggs per year. Eggs are initially black in color, but as the season progresses egg color lightens to light gray, and then to white by the end of the season. They are known for their flavorful meat, ideal in dishes such as duck confit

The Cayuga duck breed was developed from a pair of wild black ducks that a miller in Duchess County, New York, caught on his millpond in 1809. The birds were pinioned to prevent them from flying away, and afterward promptly settled in to life on the miller’s pond. The pair raised large broods, providing the miller’s family with flavorful meat. Some of the decedents of these birds were brought to the Finger Lakes region of New York in 1840. These ducks became popular in northern New York and were named “Cayuga” after the native people of that area. By 1874 the Cayuga duck was accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection.
Conformation (characteristics, appearance)
A Cayuga’s bill is black with occasional olive tips and the feet are black to dusky black that may acquire orange shading later in life. The plumage of the Cayuga is uniformly greenish black and may become mottled with white as they mature. The meat of these birds is of fine quality, but the carcass can be difficult to clean because of their dark feathering. Some resolve this problem by skinning the ducks rather than plucking.

Special Care/Notes
The Cayuga, to this day, is recognized as one of the hardiest of the domestic ducks and are easily tamed if hand-raised. They tolerate the harsh winters of the northeast and can produce many offspring. The Cayuga averages 7-8 lbs. and has the ability to obtain much of its diet from foraging, when given appropriate areas to explore for food. ALBC’s 2000 census of domestic waterfowl in North America found 1,013 breeding Cayuga.

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Reader Comments
My cayugas follow me are very tame they free range in the yard during the day . In the afternoon I yell out bedtime and they all walk back down to there pen :)
Cheryl, International
Posted: 1/28/2014 7:20:32 PM
Wondering if anyone is missing one of their ducks? My kids and I visited the park by the old brewery in Tumwater WA today and there was one of these swimming with the mallards and a single white goose and a flock of canada geese. I'd never seen this kind of duck before and they are beautiful so I searched google and found your site. Curious because David commented from Tenino WA which is very close to Tumwater.
Andrea, Olympia, WA
Posted: 9/19/2013 1:10:57 AM
The Cayuga is truly a native breed and the only one from north America. That is not a myth but genetically verified. You can find very credible information about them at the Metzer Farms web site. The Old Mill Pond is just a theory / story but the did originate from the Finger Lakes area in New York and have always been black, although they turn more white as they age. Sarah the males only have a slightly brighter sheen than the females but all male ducks have a muted voice and do not quack as the females do, also they develop curly feathers at the top /base of their tails.
Brandon, of course they will poop everywhere, what did you think? And yes they will eat many tender green things, not sure what you mean by "that they aren't suppose to" , if you mean " that i don't want them to" yes, if you mean things that are bad for them, probably not unless you use nasty chemicals on your lawn and garden. But since you posted this last spring I would guess you figured this all out and hopefully your ducks survived!
Please research before you take on the responsibility of they wonderful animals.
Beca, Poulsbo, WA
Posted: 1/29/2013 11:54:34 AM
I have read several articles that debunk the myth about "Old guy caught them on a mill pond and bred them to white ducks" etc. Apparently they share few if any of the traits of black ducks and likely did not originate from them. What I cannot find is any genetic sourcing or info that definitively identifies what breed they actually are derived from. I guess people just like the Old Mill Pond story so it has become lore.
David, Tenino, WA
Posted: 12/8/2012 10:29:02 AM
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