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The Black Egg

13 September 2007 770 views 13 Comments

blackegg.jpg

Before the day the black egg came to us, we’d been getting only 3 eggs per day, all white, from our 4 ducks. This was all as expected. Both our khaki campbells and our runner ducks were supposed to give us white eggs. Other breeds of duck can produce other colors – brown or even blue/green. But not ours. Our heavy producing breeds are supposed to produce white.

As excited as I was about our egg production so far, I have to admit that I was just a tiny bit annoyed that we hadn’t gotten to the 4 eggs per day level yet. I knew that one duck was slacking off, almost pushing me to the point of buying supermarket eggs on one occasion. Really, I’d planned for close to 5 eggs per day when I started this enterprise by buying 5 ducklings, but our loss of Megatooth early on had doomed us to a maximum of 4 eggs per day. So we learned what I’m sure must be a common lesson among new poultry owners – get an extra bird or two because you never know when you’ll lose one.

With all this information stored in my brain, you can imagine my surprise on the Morning of the Black Egg (I’m thinking of starting a push to have this day declared a National Holiday). When I peeked inside the duck house, I actually thought we had 3 white eggs and one rock. Or maybe a big duck poop. Good thing I fished around a little with my hands to investigate.

None of us really know what to think. Why black? Was this some sort of aesthetic statement, or maybe a reflection of the mood of the duck? (Is there such a thing as ducky Prozac?) And which of these birds made it – can you guess?

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I can’t really guarantee that I know, but I have my suspicions.

And the big question seems to be – “How did it taste?”

It tasted exactly the same as the others.

13 Comments »

  • Heather said:

    So who gets these ducks when you move to Costa Rica? I’ve almost got John convinced about chickens.

  • kelly said:

    OMG! That is a great blog entry. Is the suspect duck a cayuga?

    I am STILL waiting for my ducks to lay their first egg (they’ll be 20 weeks this week).

    Kelly

  • Trish (author) said:

    Heath: I’ve got some possible idea for people who might want to take them, but I’m still keeping my eyes open (hint, hint).

    Kelly: I don’t believe I have a Cayuga, but Macaroni seems like a mutt to me. That’s the white one. What kind of duck does she most look like to you?

  • kelly said:

    Hi Trish–I read that the cayugas, when they first start to lay, can lay eggs encased in a black cuticle which gets lighter as they mature. So maybe she is a cayuga mix? Your Macaroni (the light brown and white one right?) has the same markings as my Roadrunner (a fawn and white runner) but not the runner “profile” (the skinny model look!). Maybe she is a mix too?

    How is the lighting experiment going? Is is true that they finish laying by early morning so that you haven’t found any eggs laying around the yard?

    Take care, Kelly

  • Trish (author) said:

    Wow! Thanks Kelly! I actually skipped the section on Cayugas, so I hadn’t read that. Yes, the black color actually does seem like a coating on the egg. I suspected it was a colored version of the waxy film. And yes, it has been fading each day that I get an egg from the suspect bird. After about a week or two, it is now closer to gray, but still noticeably different than the other eggs. Wow. The only thing that confuses me is that the Cayugas are supposed to be black birds. I’m not sure about genetics, but would the black coloring of a Cayuga mix be dominant over the fawn and white coloring of Macaroni? If that was the case, I’d suspect my black runner, but she seems to have much more of the typical runner stature, so I’m thinking it’s not her. I’ll have to post this question on one of our forums for some more experienced people to answer!

    Regarding laying times, I always let them out at 9am. I actually got one egg this week that was layed outside their house, presumably after 9am, so it’s only happened once. So I’m going to stick with 9am and hope that one time was a fluke.

    Also, they have started laying multiple nests, which causes me to miss finding eggs some days. They bury them well in the shavings I’m now using. So I’m going to get some fake eggs and and egg crate and try to encourage its’ use as a nest.

    I also started giving additional light at night. I want as many eggs as possible since we only have 4 birds. I wish our fifth hadn’t died!

  • kelly said:

    Hi Trish–IMHO I think your black runner is the black egg layer and is a cayuga mix and Macaroni is a Fawn and White runner mix. It really is a significant difference in my runner (my only one unfortunately–she has become my favorite) body wise compared to the other “regular” ducks. Do either of them have that funny runner walk?

    We will be on egg alert here after 8am then based on your experience!

  • Molly Hallock said:

    Hi Trish,
    I’ve had several Indian runners and I’m afraid your two just don’t look like they are full runner ducks. Maybe half. Sorry, full runners are really neat! About your black egg. I, too, started getting my first eggs from my duck this December and the first 4-5 looked exactly like your black one. I think my duck is full, but definately part Cayuga. Here are some links that mention Cayuga laying black eggs early in the season and they lighten up as the season progresses. Don’t expect your ducks to lay all year. Mine really backed off in the summer. They’re so funny!
    websites: feather site.com and domestic-waterfowl.co.uk

    Molly

  • Trish (author) said:

    Hi Molly!
    When we bought the ducks, I didn’t bother getting “show quality” because I was really only interested in eggs, and the enjoyment of owning ducks. But still, it seems to me like the hatchery let their genetic stock degrade a lot. I got the runners just because they were interesting, and I didn’t want to get only the Khaki Campbells. So I’m a tiny bit disappointed that the Runners weren’t more Runner-looking, but I love them anyway!

    The black eggs did get lighter and lighter since August, but they are still noticeably darker than the other eggs, which are all white. Will they go back to being a darker black color in the spring, if they are indeed from a Cayuga mix?

    It’s interesting to me that you mentioned that your ducks give less eggs in the summer. I assumed that less eggs would always be due to cold temperatures and lack of sunlight (eg. winter). I’ve been supplementing my ducks’ light in the evenings, giving them approx. 14 hours per day. I only remember a duck skipping a day of production maybe 3 times so far in almost 5 months of production now.

    Thanks for your input and for visiting!
    Trish

  • Christine said:

    This story is awesome. I guess I’m not the only one. I just got a strange black egg from one of my ducks this morning. Was yours a one-time black egg? Or did your duck continue to lay black ones? I’m not sure who laid it, it was either my Khaki Campbell/Cayuga cross or my Swedish/Cayuga cross.

  • Trish (author) said:

    The first egg was the darkest, and it was close to black. But after that, the black eggs got gradually lighter and lighter until they were totally white. Really, it was just the outer cuticle of the egg that was dark. You could scrape it away with your finger. Everything I’ve read indicates that it is Cayugas that give black eggs, especially at the beginning of their egg-making life. So I assume I had a part Cayuga. My Khaki Campbells seemed pretty true to form, so I guessed it was one of my “runner ducks”, which were very UNtrue to form. I think the hatchery I bought them from was not producing very good quality eggs. On the other hand, I didn’t pay extra for the show quality eggs because I didn’t really care what they looked like all that much. I just wanted happy, healthy, egg-making ducks. All in all, I’d say it was a great adventure!

  • Tiffany said:

    Hi. I have a domestic brown duck (no idea the breed), she is about 5 years old. We started w/ two, but one got killed by a possum. Anyway- lately she’s been laying weird eggs. The first couple were just small, then there were some that looked kinda like concrete. Now I have a small black egg. Do you guys have any ideas? She’s laid eggs for several years now, so I wouldn’t have thought that it was related to maturity, but I do appreciate any info you can provide. :)

  • Trish (author) said:

    I’m not sure why a duck would suddenly start laying different colored eggs so much later in life. I have read that older ducks, around age 5-6, start laying less eggs. So maybe it is age-related. With the concrete-looking one, I’d be careful of calcium in the diet (either too much or too little). I’ve read that ducks are able self-regulate calcium when they are given free access to oyster shells. I’d see if your ducks are interested in the oyster shell. But on the other hand, if she is starting to slow down egg production with age, I’d be careful about her feed providing too much calcium. Feeding too much calcium is bad for ducks that are not producing. Which is why you should always switch to a low-calcium feed formula during molting, when ducks stop making eggs for several weeks. At some point, when your ducks stops producing eggs entirely, you will have to permanently switch to a low-calcium formula. Hope that helps a little bit. With these ducks things, sometimes we have to be a detective to figure things out!

  • Michelle said:

    I have runner ducks, the white and tan one looks like my pencil runner. I have 3 females and one male. The females are pencil and the other two are black. I got a black egg which is why I’m on this site. My ducks are about 6 months old and this is my first experience with them. I also have chickens. I fed the black egg to my dog and she’s fine. Glad to know they taste the same,,we’ll eat them from now on. Thank you for the help :D