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What is a Cayuga Duck?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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The Cayuga duck is a black, domesticated duck that may have originated in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. This breed of duck can often produce between 100 and 150 eggs each year. They are considered to be good to eat, easy to tame, self-sufficient, and hardy. The Cayuga duck may have first been bred from a pair of wild ducks in the American northeast at the beginning of the 19th century. Others believe, however, that the Cayuga duck probably descended from a similar breed originating in Lancashire, England.

The plumage of a Cayuga duckis black with a metallic green tint. As the bird ages, the plumage sometimes becomes mottled with white. The bill is typically black, but may fade into olive green near the tip. The Cayuga duck's feet are typically dusky or black, but may take on an orange tint as the duck grows older.

The Cayuga duck is considered very good for its meat. They typically reach a size of about 7 to 8 pounds (3.2 kg to 3.6 kg). These ducks typically have very dark-colored feathers, and can therefore often be difficult to clean. Skinning, rather than plucking, the Cayuga duck is often recommended.

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These ducks are considered very good breeders and typically produce large numbers of eggs. The Cayuga duck may produce as may as 100 to 150 eggs per year. The eggs are often eaten. The color of the eggs can change throughout the laying season. Eggs may be very dark in color at the beginning of the laying season but often lighten to white at the end of the season.

Considered a hardy species, the Cayuga duck is said to be easy to tame and care for. This breed of duck is considered ideal for climates that experience cold winters. Cayuga ducks are considered largely self-sufficient. These ducks will often rely largely upon food they have foraged for themselves, if given the opportunity to forage adequately. When raised by hand, however, these ducks are considered very easy to tame.

The history of this particular breed of duck remains debatable. Many believe that these ducks were first bred from a pair of wild ducks in Duchess County, New York, in 1809, and that the ducks were therefore named "Cayuga" after the native people of the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Others believe that the duck is descended from a similar black breed native to England, and introduced to the Finger Lakes region by one John S. Clark in 1840. The breed was accepted by the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1874. It is believed to have been very popular in the U.S. towards the end of the 19th century, until other breeds displaced it.

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