While chickens might be your first thought when it comes to egg-laying birds, ducks and geese can also provide a farm with tasty eggs for the kitchen or the market.
Quality of Eggs
Duck eggs are similar to chicken eggs in many ways, but they have some distinct qualities. Duck eggs contain more omega-3 fatty acids, more vitamin D, and more of other important vitamins and minerals than their chicken counterparts. With a harder outside shell, their egg whites are thicker and the egg overall is more flavorful.
A goose egg has more in common with a duck egg than a chicken egg. Just like duck eggs, those of geese have higher amounts of many important nutrients and a thick egg white that is perfect for mixing in batters. They have a very thick and sometimes hard-to-crack shell, and the yolk is very large compared with the white of the egg.
Market Value of Duck and Goose Eggs
These unusual qualities make duck and goose eggs marketable. Chefs desire them for baking and making pasta, and many curious home chefs are excited to try them. Unfortunately, goose eggs are highly seasonal; geese usually lay from February through May. However, ducks lay year round, and they are often more reliable as layers than chickens. If you sell your farm’s products, because they are unusual, duck and goose eggs can fetch double what a dozen chicken eggs would cost, depending on your area and the demand.
Breeds and Needs
Ducklings start laying around five or six months old. Breed selection is important with ducks, where some birds are primarily for meat and do not lay as well. For eggs, Khaki Campbells are the stars of the show, but Runner ducks also lay well and consistently. (Here are six duck breeds to consider for laying.)
Because geese are not usually raised only for eggs, selecting among goose breeds is somewhat less important. However, selecting a good breed of goose for your lifestyle is important—Chinese geese are notoriously loud, while Sebastopols are the most calm and good with people.
All egg-laying birds need access to plenty of nutritious food, fresh water, a comfortable living space with enough room to stretch their wings and a good ratio of males to females. (I recommend one male to six females for ducks, and one to four for geese).
Geese and ducks like a private, safe space on the ground to lay, with plenty of bedding. They usually lay in their coop as long as they feel safe there. However, sometimes duck require a good old fashioned egg hunt—you can try to monitor the female to see whether she disappears every day and keep track of where she goes to find her nest.
Easy to raise and extra nutritious—duck and goose eggs are the perfect addition to any small farm. Try adding them to your diet or marketing them at your farm stand or farmers market, and you might be surprised and how delicious and popular they are.