Cayuga Ducks as Pets
Cayuga ducks, an owners manual, pros and cons, care, housing, diet and health.
The Cayuga Duck is named after the native Cayuga people in its home country of the US, the breed was first mentioned in 1809.
Like many poultry breeds there are differing tales about its origins. Some maintain it is descended from the American Black duck though there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Mr Teebay of Fulwood Lancashire, in Lewis Wright’s The Book of Poultry published in 1885, states that the Cayuga Duck was identical to a black duck breed from Lancashire in the 1860’s and he believed that Cayugas originated from this stock. The English black duck disappeared in the 1880’s after the introduction of the popular Aylesbury duck. The Cayuga duck was first standardised in the US in 1874 and in Britain in 1901.
The Cayuga started out as a commercial roasting bird in the US but lost favour when the Pekin duck took over. The meat is said to be of excellent taste and fine quality.
The fabulous beetle-green lustre on the black plumage has been much sought after and makes this duck a very attractive addition to a home flock. This stunning colour is caused by refraction of light on the structure of the feathers, on a sunny day the colours of the light reflecting from the feathers can be blue, purple, red and green!
This is also a breed that can gradually change colour as it ages developing white patches that gradually spread, this usually happens in the females with the drakes tending to retain their black plumage for longer.
The Cayuga is classified as a heavy breed with the drakes being 8lbs and the duck 7lbs
The body is long, deep and broad with short legs, a slightly elevated carriage and a graceful neck.
The Cayuga is said to be a calm and easy going breed and can be easily tamed if hand raised. My own Cayugas were bought as adults and are extremely wary of me, I am hoping that any offspring they produce will be a lot friendlier as I will be hatching and raising them myself.
They are also said to be a quiet breed, obviously mine did not read that memo! The girls will join in with the geese and guinea fowl with very loud and persistent quacks to warn me of imminent danger real or imagined, usually the postman is the person who suffers from the deafening chorus of feathered intruder alarms the most. The drake, like most, has a sound like a duck with a sore throat, more of a whispery raspy noise than a quack.
They’re excellent layers, and you can expect between 50 to 100 eggs per year when the ladies are in full lay.
Did you know that Cayugas can lay black eggs?
Early in the season they sometimes lay eggs with a black pigment on the shells. This washes off easily, and as the laying season progresses the pigment on the eggs becomes less intense.
The Cayuga can obtain a great amount of its diet from foraging when given enough appropriate space to explore for food. Foods are available specifically for ducks but mine get by just fine sharing a weekly cabbage head with the hens, foraging amongst the weeds for slugs and snails, digging up the garden for worms and launching raiding parties into the hen house and eating copious amounts of my hens layer pellets.
Recognized as one of the hardiest of the domestic ducks with no health issues to speak of and apart from worm treatments they are relatively maintenance free.
The Cayuga duck is a very hardy breed, the most important requirement is a predator proof living and sleeping area with some shelter from the worst of the weather.
Like all ducks they love nothing better than to swim. I love to watch them as they waddle on their short legs up to the stream on the edge of my land in single file and then dive in and spend ages washing, diving and splashing around all the while bobbing their heads in happiness.
A child’s paddling pool is ideal if you don’t have the real thing, easy to empty and refill when they make the water mud filled and filthy, which they will – within minutes!
If they do not get the opportunity to swim it is essential that they have a container of water that is deep enough for them to submerge their heads to clear out their nostrils, again this will need to be changed regularly.
In common with other ducks they can cause major damage to lawns and will dig impressively large holes with their beaks looking for worms and other goodies especially where there are any puddles.
The cayuga duck is a very attractive bird to have around the place, it’s stunning good looks and general duck antics mean it will always have a place in my little flock.