By Holly Fuller
Cayugas are a threatened duck breed. These beautiful, iridescent, green feathered ducks are great for their flavorful meat, egg production, show quality, and their ability to make great pets. Their medium size (6-8 lbs.) and quiet quack make them an excellent choice for a backyard duck.
Cayugas appear black until the light hits them, then they show their beautiful green color. Their bills, shanks and feet are usually black. As Cayugas age they start to get white feathers, which can eventually take the place of most of their colored feathers, and their shanks and feet may take on an orange hue.
The biggest challenge in Cayuga care is thwarting the efforts of their predators, and every backyard has a few. Cats, mink, weasels, raccoons, and owls will all eat ducks if they are given the chance. Cayugas must be brought inside a building or enclosed in a tightly covered pen at night. A raccoon can kill and eat a duck through 1"chicken wire, so the bottom 30" of fence must be ½" wire to protect them.
Cayugas also need protection from hot sun; shade must be provided when temperatures reach 70° Fahrenheit. They love to swim, so a wading pool is nice as long as the water is kept clean and the surrounding areas are not allowed to get muddy. Ducks can, however, live well when provided with nothing but fresh drinking water; it must be deep enough to cover their bills so they can use it to clear their nostrils. Water needs to be replaced at least twice a week. Cayugas can forage for their own food when given enough space (1/4 acre for five ducks). Where space is limited a commercial duck feed is needed. Ducks need small gravel or coarse sand to help them digest their food.
Well kept Cayugas produce between 100 and 150 eggs per year. The first eggs of the season are black and lighten to gray, blue, green and even white as the season goes on. Cayugas are hardy and can produce a large quantity of offspring despite cold temperatures. Unlike most duck breeds, Cayugas will brood their own eggs which hatch in 28 days.
Cayugas have a quiet, docile temperament. When they are hand raised, they make wonderful, tame pets. With quality care, they live 8 to 12 years. Cayugas are a welcome, colorful addition to any backyard flock.
Cayuga Article References