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What Color Are Duck Eggs?

mallard eggs

The natural color of wild duck eggs is greenish or bluish. That’s because eggs with tinted shells are easier to hide from predators. Many consumers, however, prefer eggs with white shells, presumably because white represents purity.

Eggs with Blue-Green Shells

Wild mallards lay eggs with blue-green shells. Domestic Mallards usually lay eggs with blue-green shells, although a few Mallard hens lay white-shell eggs.

Other breeds that usually lay eggs with tinted shells include Ancona, Buff, Rouen, and Runner. However, more hens of these breeds are likelier than Mallard hens to lay eggs with white shells.

Eggs with White Shells

Most other duck breeds are more likely to lay eggs with white shells than eggs with blue shells. These breeds include Appleyard, Campbell, Pekin, Swedish, and Welsh Harlequin.

The usual explanation for why the hens of some duck breeds are more likely to lay eggs with white shells than tinted shells is selective breeding. Mating breeder hens that lay white-shell eggs with drakes that hatched from white eggs increases the chance that the female offspring will lay eggs with white shells. But selective breeding for white shells does not guarantee the offspring won’t lay eggs with tinted shells.

Eggs with Black Shells

Cayuga ducks lay eggs with nearly black shells. Well, not really. Those dark-appearing eggs actually have either white or tinted shells.

But early in the laying season a Cayuga egg’s shell may be covered by a black/gray film. The film easily rubs or washes off to reveal the shell’s true color, which more often than not is white.

Duck Egg Color

The bottom line is that you won’t know whether a duck will lay eggs with white shells or tinted shells until she starts laying. Once she starts laying, a duck that lays eggs with white shells will always lay eggs with white shells.

A duck that lays eggs with tinted shells, too, will always lay eggs that are some shade of blue-green. However, the shade may become lighter as the duck ages.

Even though the shell color of duck eggs varies, the egg inside tastes the same, regardless of shell color. And in every way, duck eggs compare favorably to the eggs of chickens and other poultry.

And that’s today’s news from the Cackle Coop.

Gail Damerow is the author of An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Raising Backyard Ducks : Breeds, Feeding, Housing and Care, Eggs and Meat.

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