Cayuga Duck: Breed Information and Owner’s Guide

cayuga duck guide

Are you interested in breeding ducks? Ducks are fascinating creatures owing to their peaceful nature, the high yield rate of eggs, and minimal upkeep. They will prove to be valuable as poultry and pets as they are attractive from a very young age.

In this guide, we take a look at an exciting breed of duck, the Cayuga duck.


Cayuga ducks are a breed that is under threat of extinction. The breed itself is known for flavorful meat and excellent egg production. They can also serve as great pets and have a quiet quack.

As such, they are the ideal choice for a backyard duck. If you provide them with the proper care, these ducks can live between 8 and 12 years. They can be kept for eggs and can also serve as beautiful pets.

Their green color is not visible until the light hits the ducks, and they are kept for ornament. Males also tend to be slightly larger than females, weighing between 8-12 pounds, and females weighing 5-8 pounds. The scientific name for the Cayuga duck is Anas platyrhynchos domesticus.

Breed History

In 2008, the status of the Cayuga was listed as “threatened,” which is a sign of the ducks being very rare. This is because it was mainly reared for meat in the early days but is now being used for egg production.

In 2020, the status of the Cayuga ducks was changed to “watch,” meaning that even though it is out of the danger zone, the breed still needs to be watched carefully. The conservation measures keep the duck out of harm’s way and ensure that it gets better care.

At present, there are only 1,000 breeding pairs of the duck breed that are left in the country.

What Do Cayuga Ducks Look Like?

The Cayuga duck is a medium-sized black or dark brown duck breed. Males are larger than females. They have webbed feet, shiny bills, and long tails relative to their body size.

The eyes are white to light yellow with orange-red splotches near the bill. Their plumage is black but happens to have unique and rare beetle green lights, which only appear visible when the light hits them.


In terms of body type, they are similar to other heavy breeds such as the Pekin or Welsh Harlequin. The most common color variations are black sheen or mottled ducklings along with whites, blues, blacks, browns, silvers, sables, and creams.

Blue sheen and whites, along with pure whites, are the most common color variations in adults. They also may come in solid white or solid black.

Size and Weight

Adult males usually weigh about 8 pounds on average, and females around 6-7 pounds. The common weight range for adult Cayugas is from 7 to 9 1/2 lbs. Females are generally slightly smaller than males.

Cayugas are the biggest variety of domestic duck, but they’re also very lean, so they look smaller than they are. They have a gaunt appearance with slender necks, long backs, small heads, and slim bills. The bill is greenish-black (with a white band, but it’s usually not visible). Their tall, upright tail has a wedge-like appearance.

Identifying male and female Cayuga ducks

Female Cayuga Ducks are smaller than males. They may have orange bills with varying degrees of black markings at their base. Females are generally darker, but coloration can vary greatly across subspecies and be affected by seasonal variations in sunlight exposure.

Their body shape is more slender than that of the male. Their necks are shorter and proportionally narrower. Their head may be as much as 50% smaller than the males.

The male Cayuga Duck has a larger body size, with a longer neck and bill. Their plumage is more varied in coloration. Bill color can range from almost black to orange, with varying degrees of white spotting at the base of the bill and near the pectoral region. Males also have a characteristic white eyering around their eyes.

Cayuga Duck Recognized Varieties

An important fact to remember is that the name Cayuga was taken from Cayuga Lake, where this breed became popular. Some people claim that the duck comes from Anas rubripes, pure American black ducks. They are also known to sit more and hatches more eggs than other domestic breeds of ducks.

The Cayuga was the result of breeding the Black East India and the Rouen. The development of the breed made them hardy and able to withstand very cold weather. Not many varieties of the duck are known as they all tend to possess similar features and the same characteristics.

What Is It Like To Own A Cayuga Duck?

Cayuga ducks have a quiet and tame temperament and make excellent pets when you raise them yourself. They do not have a loud squawk except for the females, who are vocal at times.

Noise Levels

As such, you should not expect constant loud noises from these ducks, and keeping them will be pretty peaceful. They also require protection from the hot sun, and you must provide them with a shade when the temperature rises to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


Cayugas are generally playful ducks that love human attention. They are fairly active but not particularly noisy. They are known for being easy to live with, and they will enjoy spending time in your yard with you.

Cayuga Ducks are excellent watch birds because they are alert, curious, and quiet if need be. The breed can be somewhat territorial, but they are friendly towards other ducks.

Egg Production

When they are appropriately reared, Cayuga ducks can produce between 100 and 200 eggs per year. These eggs are initially black, but they gradually change to gray, blue, green, and eventually white as the season progresses.

Despite cold temperatures, these ducks are hardy and can provide many eggs in a season. The first egg can be expected when the duck is between four and seven months old. Their low levels of noise is another interesting fact for anyone that is looking to rear Cayuga ducks.

Cayuga Care Guide

Taking care of your ducks is relatively simple, provided you have adequate space to rear them in. All they require is a safe place, room to forage in, and clean water. Cayuga ducks can do without a pond as a simple pan with fresh water is enough for them.

They require enough water to dip their heads in, and they will be happy. Enough space for them to roam freely and forage will be ideal since they can find their food.

Health Issues

Cayuga ducks are one of the hardiest duck breeds. They have a clean bill of health and generally live for 8-10 years. There is no major documented hereditary illness in this breed. Cayugas should be vaccinated against diseases such as Duck Plague, Avian Encephalomyelitis, and Gumboro Disease.


Adult Cayuga Ducks eat about 1/2 to 3/4 pounds of feed a day and grow to weigh 8-12 lbs. The amount they eat depends on how much water is available and the quality of their feed. They have been said to be fairly moderate eaters. Their feed requirements are above average, so owners may need to pay more for quality feeds.

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They can also eat snails, bugs, and other small insects. However, you must avoid feeding them medicated chick food or junk food, which is terrible for their health.

Water Requirements: Cayuga ducks love water and can be very messy in their water bowls. If they aren’t given a large enough bowl, they will make their own by tipping a smaller one or a pan. The larger the water bowl, the happier they will be. They like water with a lot of motion and will tip over most pans if there is not enough current.

Coop Setup

The coop of a Cayuga duck should be large enough to hold the ducks comfortably. Cayuga ducks are very hardy and easy to keep, so they can live in an enclosure, pen, or run (easier on the owner). They do not need a pond, but it is advisable to provide them with some form of water for swimming and bathing. It is best to keep them on dry land.

Cayuga ducks are mostly domesticated and will not fly away. However, they can jump and climb very well and often enjoy roosting on high surfaces. So it is more important that the coop has a strong floor and secure door than high walls.

Nesting Boxes: Cayuga ducks will probably not need nesting boxes, but it is better to have them than get eggs all over the coop or garage. If nests are provided for laying, owners may find 1-2 eggs per day in the nests. However, duck owners have reported up to 6 eggs laid in one day. Cayuga ducks will generally lay where they feel safe and secure.


When allowed to roam, the Cayuga duck breed can be easily contained within a fenced area because of its heavy bodies and short legs. A 4-foot fence will probably be enough. If it isn’t, a more solid barrier will be needed.

Cayuga ducks generally stay within 1/2 to 5 miles of their home and will not stray far from it. For this reason, they can sometimes be kept on chains or cables if coops are too crowded for them to have enough room.

Raising Cayuga Ducks

The process of raising Cayuga ducks is not that difficult, provided you can give them the ideal conditions to live in. For instance, they need enough space to move about as they forage for food. Their sleeping place should also be kept dry at all times.

Socialization with the Cayugas from a young age is also simple, and they are great companions to have.

A well-regulated diet is also necessary for the ducks to provide enough minerals and vitamins to grow correctly. The Cayuga brood their eggs, and these are known to hatch in 28 days. Their growth is also rapid, and they take a few months to grow to full size.

They are usually small and cute at two weeks, but they will start growing their adult feathers between the fourth and fifth weeks. The Cayuga ducks will be fully feathered at seven weeks, complete with the green sheen and turquoise wing feathers. At this stage, they can be considered to be fully matured.

The feathers start turning white as they get older, and their feet also begin taking on an orange hue. These color changes indicate their age and the white feathers can eventually replace most colored feathers.

They are excellent mothers and will always give their young ones the best kind of care. They are excellent at rearing their ducklings and give them their full attention to ensure that they give them the best parental care they deserve.

Cayuga Ducks as Pets

To begin with, the Cayuga ducks are attractive owing to their iridescent beetle green plumage. It is one of the reasons to keep the duck, and it serves an essential ornamental purpose.

Not only will the Cayuga ducks look good in your backyard, but they are also quiet and do not make much noise.

The calm nature of the ducks makes them good pets, and they will not cause you much stress. However, they are easily infected, and you should beware of their health when taking care of them.

A good environment makes them healthier and ensures that they give you the best output in eggs and take care of their young ones.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can Cayuga ducks live with chickens?

Chickens and Cayuga ducks can be housed together in the same coop. However, it is better to keep them separate, especially when you have drakes. Drakes will try to make with the chicken hens, which could have dangerous results.

Cayuga ducks are best reared in the wide-open world and only need space to sleep in at night. The chickens will like to roost at night, and having somewhere to perch above the ground will be necessary.

The ducks will sleep at ground level, and this should be away from the roosts and dry. They will also feed on the same kind of food, and when you keep them together, the process of providing food for them will be less tasking for you.

How much are Cayuga ducks worth?

Male Cayuga ducks will cost you about $6, while females are worth double this amount. They are hardy ducks and will be sure to fetch a reasonable price when you decide to sell them.

The price is also known to reduce when the number of ducks being sold increases, and larger orders mean that each duck’s average cost will decrease. This is something that a farmer should always consider when selling their flock and can impact the price of each duck.


The Cayuga duck is a dark-looking duck with a brilliant green sheen effect on its feathers. However, the color changes as they age to a white color which is more evident in the females. They are a hardy breed that has been known for their rich egg production and brooding.

Caring for them is not difficult when you know what they need and the best care to give them. Learning about their inherent characteristics will also prepare you better for any behavior changes from the ducks, especially when taking care of their eggs.