What’s bigger than a chicken egg, has more nutrition, better flavor, better baking qualities, and quacks like a duck? Ok, they don’t quack like a duck, but here are 5 facts about duck eggs you can impress your friends with…
1. Duck eggs are bigger than chicken eggs.
As the rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot once said, “I like big eggs and I can not lie.” Maybe we have those lyrics wrong, but we do like big eggs. And regardless of the breed producing them, duck eggs are almost always a good bit bigger than chicken eggs.
Right now, we have a carton full of duck eggs sitting on our kitchen counter that were produced by our Welsh Harlequin heritage breed ducks (nope we don’t refrigerate or wash our eggs, here’s why). Each one of our duck eggs weighs 2.5 oz or more, which falls under the USDA’s “Jumbo” category, the largest size egg a chicken can possibly lay.
For chickens, jumbo eggs are quite rare, and often come from overfeeding protein to the hens, which can cause health problems for the birds. For our ducks, jumbo sized eggs are the norm, not the exception.
Duck eggs also have thicker shells than chicken eggs, so they don’t break as easily as chicken eggs when stored or handled.
2. Ducks Produce More Eggs Per Year Than Chickens.
OK, so this point is a very broad generalization. To clarify, there are hundreds of breeds of domesticated chickens and ducks. Each breed is a little different with varying degrees of sociability, foraging abilities, robustness, and egg production.
If you look at the breeds of chickens and ducks known for producing the most eggs per year, ducks win in the production category.
In fact, ducks can produce 32-52 lbs of eggs per year vs. 22-34 lbs of eggs per year for chickens.
If you’re considering getting backyard fowl of any kind (ducks, chickens, turkeys, quail, etc), it’s important to note that—generally speaking—the more eggs a breed produces, the higher the likelihood of it getting sick or having medical problems over the course of its life. There are tradeoffs. So, even though you want to get a lot of egg production from your fowl, you also need to consider other factors such as how robust the breed is. On that note, another benefit of ducks versus chickens: ducks are less susceptible to diseases and parasites than chickens are.
Perhaps this is because wild ducks spend the majority of their life in ponds, mud, and muck so they had to be hardy creatures to endure.
3. Allergic To Chicken Eggs? You Might Not Be Allergic to Duck Eggs.
Roughly 2% of children are allergic to chicken eggs. Thankfully, 70 percent of kids who are allergic to chicken eggs outgrow the condition by the age of 16. Considering there are about 320 million people in the US, that’s still a lot of people who can’t eat chicken eggs.
If you or your children are allergic to chicken eggs, you might not necessarily be allergic to duck eggs. The opposite is also true: you might be allergic to duck eggs, but not chicken eggs, as this research shows. Obviously, exercise extreme caution and/or consult a physician before trying another type of egg if you’re dealing with severe egg allergies.
However, if you find that you’re not allergic to a different type of egg, that can open a whole new world of food for you.
4. Duck Eggs Have More Nutrition
As Modern Farmer recently reported:
“Duck eggs are also more dense in nutrients than chicken eggs, with higher concentrations than chicken eggs of 17 of the 20 essential vitamins and minerals measured in the USDA National Nutrient Database. Duck eggs also have more protein, more fat and more cholesterol than chicken eggs.”
Let’s unpackage that a bit more…
If you sit inside all day long in a cage covered with your own waste, eat the cheapest food possible, and are shoulder-to-shoulder with other highly stressed people living in tiny cages, you’re not going to be very healthy. Not surprisingly, the same thing is true of animals. (Who knew?)
The way a chicken or duck is raised can have a rather dramatic impact on the relative healthiness of the eggs they produce and the likelihood their eggs contain salmonella.
Want the healthiest egg possible? Get your eggs from a healthy, happy, outdoor duck that eats a good balanced diet, including foraged insects and greens. Even if you could care less about animal welfare (which we hope doesn’t describe your sentiments), self-preservation and self-interest should make you want to get eggs from well cared for birds.
What about fat and cholesterol—aren’t those going to kill me?
A thorough answer to that question would require far more than a paragraph to answer, but the short answer is NO—especially if you’re eating fats from healthy animals. (Humans have been doing this for quite a while.)
Your body needs lots of cholesterol and saturated fat to work well. As this article from AARP points out, what we once thought we knew about the impacts of dietary cholesterol and fat was largely wrong and/or drastically oversimplified. Interestingly, this new study just concluded, there is “no excess cardiovascular risk associated with intake of saturated fat. In contrast, research suggests that industrial trans fats may increase the risk of coronary heart disease.”
Yes, you should avoid margarine and other industrial trans fats like the plague, but eggs from healthy animals are good for you. The dietary recommendations we grew up with, weren’t just wrong, they were deadly wrong.
5. Bakers and Gourmet Chefs Prefer Duck Eggs to Chicken Eggs
How did we (Susan and Aaron) discover duck eggs? With our taste buds.
Years ago, we were eating at a friend’s house and she served crème brûlée for dessert. It was exceptionally rich, creamy, and flavorful—by far the best crème brûlée we’d ever eaten. “What’s the secret?” we asked. Her answer: “Petunia.”
As it turned out, “Petunia” was her backyard duck. It was no accident that—a year later—we too had a flock of ducks in our backyard (Welsh Harlequins, a critically endangered heritage breed).
If you’ve eaten at a gourmet bakery or restaurant, there’s a good chance you’ve unknowingly eaten duck eggs. We know quite a few REALLY good chefs and bakers, and they all know about the not-so-well-kept secret of duck eggs and use them liberally in their restaurants’ kitchens. They also know that the flavor of an egg varies depending on how the duck was raised (diet, exercise, etc), and are quite picky about sourcing their eggs from producers who act upon that understanding.
You Now Know 5 Facts About Duck Eggs, But Here’s Why You Should NOT Get Ducks…
Our Welsh Harlequin ducks are garden fertilizing, insect munching, cuddly and hilarious pets that also happen to produce lots of delicious, nutritious eggs. However, do NOT get backyard fowl (or any animal) unless you’re willing to take great care of them and do some learning. We get furious when we see domesticated ducks abandoned in parks and lakes because someone decided they “didn’t want them anymore.”
Upon release into the wild, domesticated waterfall are almost certain to die a terrible and unnecessary death within a week.
Having lived with ducks for almost three years, we can tell you with certainty that these little creatures have complex emotional capacities, feel attached to each other and to us, and will live out their final days in a state of panic and terror if they’re abandoned in the wild. So, PLEASE DO NOT get ducks if you’re not committed to being good duck parents over the course of many years. (Ducks can remain productive egg layers for far longer than chickens and live to be over 10 years old.)
Now, if you’re ready to responsibly get egg-laying fowl, but you’re still trying to figure out whether you want to get ducks or chickens, here’s a little infographic we made a while back to show you a quick side-by-side comparison across some important metrics:
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