The Case of the Mystery Ducks

Black Cayuga Ducks
The young duck on the left has angel wing.

Wait a Minute…These Aren’t Khaki Campbells!

I ordered 5 Khaki Campbell ducklings through our local farm supply store and they arrived in early March. Well, at least four of them did…one was missing and could not be located. One died shortly after I picked them up. Things were not going well with operation ‘Khaki Campbell.’

What Else Can Go Wrong?

The last three survived, although one of them has developed ‘angel wing.’ This is a deformity caused by, as near as I can tell, either a vitamin E deficiency or too much protein in their diet. Janet Garmin from Timber Creek Farm explains that ducklings need to forage for greens and bugs in order to develop properly. So I learned something new this spring. Unlike my chicks, who do well with chick starter or meat producer feed, the ducklings need foraging time.

Despite the angel wing issue, the young ducks are growing and thriving now in our pasture. They’ve started hanging out with the Pekin ducks and are getting along well with everyone. I watched one of them repeatedly steal foraged earthworms from one of the chickens this morning…the chicken was NOT amused (but I was)!

Khaki Campbell Duckling

Why Are My Khaki Campbells Black?

Now that they are getting their adult feathers, they really should start looking like Khaki Campbells, shouldn’t they? Indeed, they should! But these ducks are staying black and their feathers are taking on an iridescent green color.

A quick search through a couple of online poultry catalogs solved the mystery. My Khaki Campbells are none other than Black Cayugas…which is definitely NOT what I ordered! I suspect that the hatchery didn’t have any Khakis when the order was filled and they substituted Cayugas instead. There weren’t any other ducklings in the order that looked like Khaki Campbells.

Black Cayuga Ducks are Very Pretty!

Well, I do like my new ducks, even if they aren’t what I ordered. And, quite honestly, I DON’T NEED ANY MORE DUCKS! So the Khaki Campbell breed will have to go about its business without me. Even though I really wanted to have some of the ‘best laying ducks’ available.

So maybe later this summer I’ll have some black duck eggs to try. Yes, the eggs are BLACK when the ducks first start laying. I’m glad I read that before finding one. πŸ™‚ If you’re interested in learning more about the Black Cayuga duck, check out The Livestock Conservancy’s info about them here. I found it interesting that almost every other site that I visited shared the legend of the miller’s pond as the history of this breed, but The Livestock Conservancy gives a different history. It sounds more likely that the Black Cayuga comes from the English Black duck, which disappeared in England as farmers favored the Aylesbury duck in the late 1800s. Perhaps I have their progeny right here on my little homestead. I wonder if my ancestors raised English Black ducks? Hmmm, these are very mysterious little ducks. πŸ™‚



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      • Amy R
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