Ducks

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Duck Eggs

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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.

One of our duck eggs on the left. Organic free-range chicken egg on the right.

One of our duck eggs on the left. Organic free-range chicken egg on the right.

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.

US egg sizes. Graph courtesy of wikipedia.

US egg sizes. Graph courtesy of wikipedia.

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.

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The Tyrant is never as happy as she is when she is with an armful of ducks. These are our Welsh Harlequins, a heritage breed that is on the critical list, meaning if more people don't raise & breed them, they're likely to disappear.

The Tyrant is never as happy as she is when she is with an armful of ducks. These are our Welsh Harlequins, a heritage breed that is on the critical list, meaning if more people don’t raise & breed them, they’re likely to disappear.

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. 

Chickens don't care for cold and wet weather. The colder and wetter it is outside, the more ducks feel at home.

Chickens don’t care for cold and wet weather. The colder and wetter it is outside, the more ducks feel at home.

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.

Our girls taking an afternoon nap in the middle of a patch of red mizuna mustard.

Our girls taking an afternoon nap in the middle of a patch of red mizuna mustard.

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.

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If you are allergic to cuteness or laughter, do NOT get ducks. They're adorable and hilarious creatures that provide a constant source of entertainment for their human flock.

If you are allergic to cuteness or laughter, do NOT get ducks. They’re adorable and hilarious creatures that provide a constant source of entertainment for their human flock.

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?)

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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.

Ducks don't have to have a full pond, but we added a water feature to our yard for our enjoyment, to attract new fauna, and to improve our flock's quality of life. Occasionally, we also soak mushroom logs in their pond, which the girls disapprove of (as you can see here).

Ducks don’t have to have a full pond, but we added a water feature to our yard for our enjoyment, to attract new fauna, and to improve our flock’s quality of life. Occasionally, we also soak mushroom logs in their pond, which the girls disapprove of (as you can see here).

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.

Not everyone finds duck flippers as cute as we do. There's something wrong with those people.

Not everyone finds duck flippers as cute as we do. There’s something wrong with those people.

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).

Trivia question: Is there any animal on the planet cuter than a duckling? Answer: No.

Trivia question: Is there any animal on the planet cuter than a duckling? Answer: No.

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.

Our ducks favorite movie is The Duckumentary. You guessed it, it's about wild ducks. They might not think they're wild ducks, but our girls would not make it very long in the wild if we

Our ducks favorite movie is The Duckumentary. You guessed it, it’s about wild ducks. They might think they’re wild ducks, but our girls would not make it very long in the wild if we “released” them at a local pond.

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.)

People often ask us,

People often ask us, “Do ducks get along well with other pets?” As you can see in this photo, the answer is “yes.” However, our ducks do occasionally chase off our cats.

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:

A comparison chart taken from our <a href="/a-fowl-battle-ducks-vs-chickens/" target="_blank">Ducks vs Chickens</a> article - https://www.tyrantfarms.com

A comparison chart taken from our Ducks vs Chickens article

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  • dj7418

    Hello. Your photos are very lovely. And your setup is beautiful. I have a few Welsh Harlequin ducks, but my setup isn’t nearly as nice :) I wanted to also let you know that I found your blog by doing reverse image search for your image of the two ducks walking through the beautiful grass and ferns. It is being used by someone who is selling duck and chicken hatching eggs on eBay. They also stole one of my photos. I contacted them yesterday and asked​ them to remove my photo. I haven’t heard back from them yet. I wanted to let you know. You can see the listing if you search eBay for this item number: 262882770614
    I believe it is on more than one of their listings. I need to figure out how to do an easy watermark..

    • http://www.tyrantfarms.com/ Aaron von Frank

      Thanks for the heads up! Did you contact them via Ebay? Or do you have a direct email?

      • dj7418

        Yeah, I contacted them though eBay. I don’t have an email address. He responded to me earlier and said he would take down my photo today. I didn’t mention to him about his other photos, but it looks to me like all the photos he’s using have been lifted from the internet.. *rolling my eyes*

        • http://www.tyrantfarms.com/ Aaron von Frank

          Thanks again. We contacted them via ebay yesterday and they took down the photos. The response was, “I didn’t know it was a copyrighted image.” Very odd that the seller wouldn’t have their own duck photos since they’re selling fertile duck eggs.