Have you ever tried a duck egg?
It's funny, I personally had never heard of cooking or eating duck eggs until I was at a Farmer’s Market a couple of towns over from where we live and I saw people selling them.
But then we got ducks and now we enjoy their eggs almost daily.
So in the spirit of sharing knowledge, today I want to talk about duck eggs.
Let’s get started:
Duck Eggs vs. Chicken and Other Eggs
If you enjoy eggs then you might be aware that there are many eggs, including chicken, out there. Other than chicken eggs, people also eat duck eggs, quail eggs, and goose eggs.
So what are the differences between all of these eggs?
Well, there are quite a few.
When we first consider the most common egg, which is the chicken egg, there are quite a few differences between it and the duck egg.
First, the duck egg is bigger than a chicken egg.
Second, a duck egg has twice the amount of omega-3 in it and about 3 grams more protein per egg.
Though there is quite a bit more of needed nutrients in a duck egg, the taste, and other characteristics are pretty much the same in my opinion.
But I will mention, that duck eggs are great for baking because of the extra egg white. It helps to make things fluffier which is always a good thing when baking cakes and things of that nature.
Quail eggs are about half the size of a chicken egg.
So a duck egg is obviously much larger than a quail egg.
A quail egg is higher in cholesterol because of its white-to-yolk ratio. But it still has the same amount of protein in it as the chicken egg. This means that a duck egg still packs 3 grams more of protein per quail egg.
Now, a goose egg is a bit of a different story.
It is about twice the size of a duck egg. It has almost 20 grams of protein in each egg. That equates to about twice the amount of the duck egg.
So if you are looking for nutrition, goose and duck eggs are packed the tightest with nutrients. However, if the idea of such a large egg bothers you then you can always downsize to a chicken or quail egg.
Here's the complete nutrition comparison of each egg:
The Benefits of Eating Duck Eggs
There are many benefits to eating duck eggs instead of chicken eggs.
The first benefit is the nutrition. You can eat a duck egg and get the protein and omega-3’s your body needs. Next to a goose egg, it outshines most other eggs that are commonly used.
Secondly, duck eggs stay fresher longer because of their thick shells.
So if you need eggs that won’t go bad (even if you don’t eat eggs regularly) then duck eggs are probably what you’ve been looking for.
Finally, if you have an allergy to chicken eggs then you can probably still eat duck eggs. That is pretty exciting news. You don’t realize how many things have chicken eggs in them until you have an allergy. Well, you can still have all of those items and then some as long as you substitute the chicken egg for a duck egg.
The Pros and Cons to Raising Ducks
Raising ducks is very different than raising chickens, there are pros and cons.
The first thing to know about raising ducks is that their eggs are larger, packed with more nutrients than chicken eggs, and will go for an average of $3 more per dozen.
This is good news if you want to raise them for the egg money.
The second thing you should know about raising ducks is that they are much heartier birds than chickens. Chickens have very sensitive respiratory systems, and they don’t just get a cold. Chickens die when their respiratory systems give them issues.
Even when my chickens have gotten sick, my ducks did not.
The third thing you should know about raising ducks is that they are much lower maintenance than chickens. When you get chickens you need to design a good sized coop, they also need roosting bars and nesting boxes.
Ducks aren’t like that.
I’ve discovered the more ‘rugged’ their home is, the happier they are.
All they need is water and food. They’ll sleep on the ground, and you can give them nesting boxes but if not, they’ll make their own nest out of straw or any other materials they can find.
Their homemade nests turn out quite beautifully, actually.
The fourth thing you should know is where the downfall to ducks could possibly come in. Ducks eat a lot more food than chickens usually, and they are messy. They like to get water everywhere, they like to make their swimming water and drinking water dirty.
Don’t beat yourself up over it though. Change their drinking water once a day and their swimming water about once a week, and they’ll be fine.
It bothers you more than it bothers them.
The fifth and final thing you should know about raising ducks is that it is hard to raise just one or two if you have a male. From research, drakes (male ducks) prefer 9-12 hens.
Your hens prefer it too so they don’t become over bred.
Now, from my personal experience, I had a dominant drake and a less dominant one. We actually butchered the dominant one and kept the lesser. He has been wonderful, and there have been times he’s had 1 hen or 5 hens. He has never been aggressive with them nor overbred them.
So I think it depends on the drake’s personality.
You’ll know what you need to do by observing them.
The big thing to watch out for is if you have chickens and ducks be aware of cross-breeding. We used to keep our ducks and chickens together until we caught them cross-breeding.
The problem is a duck has an appendage where a rooster does not. That can cause chickens to prolapse which ultimately leads to their death.
We didn’t want this so we separated them immediately.
Some people don’t worry so much about that and allow them to live together. It is a personal preference and totally up to you how you’d like to handle that situation.
The Best Egg Laying Duck Breeds
I own one Mallard duck and the rest are Pekin ducks. Though I love these ducks they are actually not the top layer breeds for ducks. The best layer breeds are as follows:
- Khaki-Campbells: They are beautiful ducks, and they also lay up to 340 eggs per year. It isn’t quite as much as chickens lay but pretty close.
- Runners: These ducks are some of the oldest breeds of ducks. They come in at a close second by laying 300 eggs per year.
- Buff: These birds get to be up to 8 pounds so they are raised for both egg production and meat. These ducks produce up to 200 eggs per year.
- Welsh Harlequin: These birds are sadly listed as endangered. But if you can find some to raise, you should. They are raised as meat birds but are also very broody so they are used for setting eggs too. On top of all of those purposes, they also lay 300 eggs per year.
- Magpie: I love the name Magpie. These beautiful ducks lay up to 290 eggs per year.
- Ancona: These ducks will give you up to 240 eggs per year. That is a pretty impressive number and gives you a dependable source of eggs too.
These duck breeds are some of the best as far as egg production goes. However, from my experience, if you are looking for ducks that won’t leave home, are friendly, good meat birds, but also provide eggs I recommend the Pekin ducks.
Pekin is the most popular dual-purpose duck breed in the US.
Our Pekins only lay so many months out of the year. They are steady layers from Spring through Fall. We have chickens so having their eggs year round isn’t a necessity. They are also great setters.
So any of these above breeds will provide you with a lot of happiness courtesy of your ducks.
Hatching Duck Eggs
Hatching duck eggs is a rather simple process.
If you are using an incubator then you will need to incubate the eggs up until day 25. Then on day 25 the eggs will need to be moved to the hatchery to rest until day 28. Most ducks will hatch by day 28.
A Muscovy duck egg is an exception, it will take 35 days to hatch.
But if you choose to allow your ducks to set your eggs then you just need to let her set. She will usually set on them for 25 days and then let them rest until day 28 just as though it was in a hatchery.
She will guard her eggs and take care of the babies which ultimately is a much easier process for you.
Either way, you can have plenty of ducks in less than a month.
Owning ducks are a great investment because you can grow your flock for very little money, which then leads to more eggs, more meat, and also more ducks (and eggs) to sell for profit.
Hatching your own ducks can lead to multiple income paths for your home or business.