The Case of the Mystery Ducks

      19 Comments on The Case of the Mystery Ducks
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Khaki Campbell Duckling

Not a Khaki Campbell Duckling?

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)!

Black Cayuga Ducks

The young duck on the left has angel wing.

Why Are My Khaki Campbells Black?

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


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19 comments on “The Case of the Mystery Ducks

    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Thanks, Regula 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing those eggs (hopefully I have at least one female!). Ducks are a lot of fun…you would enjoy them!

      Reply
  1. Anonymous

    I had Cayuga’s years ago and while they do not lay as well as Khaki Campbell’s my cousins told me they are a good eating duck. Mine died of old age!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Lucky Ducks! Well, I was hoping for more duck eggs, but I do like to raise ducks for meat too. We’ll see how this all plays out over the summer. 😉

      Reply
  2. Toni

    Lisa, I have to say I’m starting wonder what’s going on with farm supply stores these days – if it’s not gmo plants, feed, etc. it’s a mixup on something else. O.O I noticed you didn’t name the farm supply, but I’m going to name Tractor Supply as the reason I don’t have any chickens so far this spring. I was all set to take a dozen purebred hens, but when I went to get them I was told the store couldn’t guarantee their chicks to be any particular breed this year. I was surprised, disappointed and left empty-handed. I don’t think that’s any way to run a business.
    That said, your ducks are cute anyways. Have a great week!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Toni,
      I don’t want to diss the store because I’m not sure if it was their fault or the hatchery that supplied them. I believe that the wrong ducks were sent by the hatchery. But the farm supply store (a big box chain…but not Tractor Supply) received their order a day late and a lot of the babies were dead or dying when they arrived. Also, the order was completely mixed up with entire orders missing (maybe dead)…one man ordered 25 White Rock pullets and left with no chicks at all…they couldn’t locate them. My friends from Troggs Hollow Farm ordered 75 pullets and they could only find something like 56 of their chicks…and some of those died withing a day or two. It was a nightmare and I felt horrible for all the little birds because so many were suffering due to the delay in shipping. It was very sad and I think that pretty much every customer was upset about the situation. The kids (well, in their 20s) working at the store had no experience with baby poultry and were totally unprepared. I felt bad for them because the customers were upset and complaining…understandably so, but the store associates were completely overwhelmed.

      In the future, if I only want a few baby poultry, I think that I will order from a company that sends small orders by express mail.

      Reply
      1. Amy R

        Not really in defense of TSC or anyone else, it has been a terrible year for shipping poultry so far. The deep cold of early spring really did a number on hatchery orders. I, myself, have lost the majority of 4 orders (order, plus replacement orders). I’ve heard many other horror stories from our local feed stores here in GA, as well as from people online that ordered straight from the hatchery. My take away is to wait until late April- early May from now on.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Thanks for that info, Amy. I’m not sure if the cold was the issue or if it was the fact that they spent an extra day in shipping. I believe they took 4 days to arrive instead of 3, which pushes them past the point where they really need food and water. But it may very well have been the cold or a combo.

          I hadn’t heard that so many people had trouble with their orders this year…that’s awful. 🙁 I hope you finally got all of your little babies safely.

  3. Anonymous

    We kept Khaki Campbells and Cayugas at the same time, along with Indian Runners. We DID want the Cayugas, because they are a heritage breed and we thought they were pretty. The eggs they gave us were a dull purpley color. We just picked up two Pekins at Tractor Supply yesterday – a total impulse buy! We said we’d never keep ducks in our backyard before, but they looked so miserable inside – we’re such animal softies!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Lol! I have no idea what it’s like to make an impulse poultry purchase! 😉 Purpley colored eggs? Sounds interesting…I hope I have a female so I get to collect some of them!

      I really do like my Pekins, and I know that the Cayugas will be a great addition to the barnyard. Who knows, maybe I’ll get some Khaki Campbells in a year or so. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  4. Mair

    I absolutely love your posts; please keep ’em coming! Also, just wanted to let you know that another cause of angel wing is housing baby ducks in a too-small area. The little buggers need lots of room as they grow! (And, if you can forgive me for one more piece of unsolicited advice, Murray McMurray Hatchery is where I get all my birds. They are reasonable in price and the birds are delivered right to my local post office. Much better than ordering from my local feed store where the birds come from who-knows-where.) Best of luck to you as you continue with your self-sufficiency quest!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Thanks for the suggestion and the info, Mair. I di d have the ducks in a room that is about 12×12′ but they didn’t have as many greens as I’d like since it was early in the spring. This was the first time I ordered through the feed store and I did so because I only wanted the 5 ducklings. Next time I will probably order from a company that will do small orders and express ship them.

      And, I’ve also decided that in the future I will try to hatch or order ducklings when they can go outside from an early age so they have more foraging time. 🙂

      Reply

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