“What are duck eggs like? How are they different from chicken eggs?” This is what I am most often asked when I tell someone I keep ducks for the eggs. Most people who produce their own eggs start with backyard chickens, and people are very used to buying chicken eggs from the grocery store. So, it’s a fair question. Duck eggs are different, but they’re not as exotic as you might think. Plus, they have a few advantages over chicken eggs. Here’s why I choose duck eggs.
Duck Eggs Tend to Be Larger
The thing people notice first about duck eggs is that they are often larger than chicken eggs. There’s some variability, depending on the breed of duck, but if you raise ducks, you’ll be collecting eggs that are up to 50% larger, which means you’re getting more protein and nutrients with each egg.
Duck Eggs Are Nutrient Rich
If you compare a chicken egg and a duck egg of the same size, the duck egg will contain more nutrients. Duck eggs are particularly rich in vitamin B12, and they have more protein, iron, and vitamin D. They do, however, contain more cholesterol, so that is something to consider if you’re someone with high cholesterol.
Duck Eggs Taste Like Chicken Eggs, Only Richer
Because they’re perceived as something out of the ordinary, many people just aren’t sure what to expect when it comes to how a duck egg will taste. Their larger yolks can make them richer and creamier than your standard chicken egg, but they taste like eggs. The richness comes from the difference in what ducks eat, which is enhanced even further when you choose farm-raised duck eggs. Ducks eat everything from grass to insects to small frogs. Their omnivorous diet makes the ducks easier to feed and gives their eggs their added nutrients and flavor.
The next time you go to a farmer’s market, if you find duck eggs for sale (they are still less common than farm-raised chicken eggs), don’t be afraid to try them. They taste delicious, and there’s nothing all that weird about them.
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Ducks in the Backyard
While duck eggs are the clear winner for our family, raising ducks vs. raising chickens requires a look at a whole lot more than just the contents of their eggs. Among other things, ducks need water for bathing. However, they don’t need a pond. In fact, many homesteads with ducks simply use a kiddie pool. Here’s our flock taking their morning bath.
Farm-Raised Duck Eggs
At Cedar Swamp Homestead, our Pekin ducks are free-range. To protect against predators, the ducks sleep inside a shed at night where we lay down pine shavings for their bedding. In the morning, I collect their eggs and they enter their outdoor enclosure where their clean water bath awaits them. They do get a bit muddy sometimes, as they’ve created themselves a mud hole in front of the kiddie pool digging for bugs. When I’m home and can keep a watch out for them trying to cross the road, they are free to roam our entire property to graze for grass, dandelion leaves, bugs, and other food. At night they are given layer feed and fresh water. They are often treated with chopped grapes and apples and are occasionally given freeze-dried mealworms, which they absolutely adore. We love our ducks, and in return, they give us high-quality, nutrient-rich eggs.