Duck Tales: Depressing Duck Math

Though the ducks are laying cheerfully, I did find most of the receipts for the ducks and well, even if we achieved peak production for this month and December (daily laying from the Khakis and the Cayuga finally laying a couple eggs a week this month and next), we’d be in the hole on the ducks by quite a bit.

The waterers endlessly leaking and being super expensive was the problem.  We dropped a lot on waterers designed for indoor poultry, though we didn’t really think that part through when we got them.  So, sucky!  We’ll have to do some kind of hanging thing sometime in the next few weeks and see how that goes.

We spent about $120 on various feeding and watering contraptions, mostly waterers.  The ducks themselves cost $47 and one had to be killed for severe congenital problems.  The first 75lbs of feed was just starter ration to get them to laying age.  We’re now at 120lbs of layer ration used so far.

The starter was about 20 a sack, the layer 14 or so a sack.

Without projecting the additional costs of more feed (we buy layer 80lbs at a time, and in a week or two we’ll be through 160lbs of feed), we can only “earn” about $170 in market value for the eggs this year.  But we’ve spent about $240 all told and have to buy more feed to get them to year-end.  Figuring 80lbs/month, we’ll close the year out having spent about 300 dollars on all costs for the ducks, with a maximum of about 170 dollars in egg value from 4 layers.

And peak laying is 8-9 dozen eggs per month with that many.  Current  market value of a dozen duck eggs is about $7, so each month the ducks would be producing (if all four lay) 56-63 dollars worth of eggs.

If we have to kill the second Cayuga for being a dud, we won’t get to 170 bucks this year and our laying max is 7.5 dozen, or $52.50/month in egg value.

So, even at peak laying, we don’t see a breakeven on the ducks until sometime in March.  Now, doing it this way loads all the expense at once, amortizing the ducks’ purchase price and the equipment over 3 years (reasonable laying lifetime at good high numbers per month) makes that 170 for the year look a lot nicer.

To summarize:

  • All expenses at once– $170-$300= $130 loss at peak laying numbers.
  • Amortizing equipment and animal purchase price over 3 years– $170-$100= $70 profit at peak laying numbers.

We may not get peak laying, I’ll revisit this in January and obviously if I have to kill the Cayuga, I’ll note that as well.

Our labor is negligible, the ducks take a couple minutes a day, even moving the run takes seconds.  I was pretty surprised, it seems longer some days, but 5 minutes is a long duck-tending day.  Water costs are a few dollars annually.  And of course, feed is the biggie.  They eat a variable amount daily, sometimes a quart, sometimes three, they clearly get a lot out of the fresh grass and bugs they have access to.  But right now a safe guess is 80lbs/month, or about $340/yr, rounding a bit.

So right now, next year the ducks would bring in $625-750 in eggs at peak laying, which compares ok with the feed estimate above.

I am less depressed now, yay!


6 thoughts on “Duck Tales: Depressing Duck Math

  1. I don’t think you will ever find Cayugas on a list of ducks recommended for egg laying. They are a meat duck, and their eggs aren’t as pretty a Khakis. I’m surprised that your Khaki’s haven’t slowed down and I think they will slow down for fall and winter more as they age. They should rest from laying at least 2 months each year. Do you have lighting for your Khakis? 17 hours of daylight is recommended for the maximum number of eggs a year.

    Since I don’t think you intend to have a breeding flock I would recommend pan seared (Cayuga) duck breasts and for another day braised duck legs. There are so many great recipes out their. I plan on trying a curry version with the four legs I have in my fridge now. But if you do think you want to raise a few ducks for meat consider adding a Khaki drake to your flock. The Cayuga x Khaki hens will probably lay more eggs than your Cayuga. The crossbred drakes size will be more worth the effort to process than Khaki drakes. But ideally for profitability the meat ducks are generally eaten by 12 weeks of age.

    Your Cayuga isn’t a dud. It just isn’t an egg layer breed. Next spring it will lay eggs very similar in size to your Khaki eggs. But over a shorter season.

    I feed my ducks all they can eat in 15 minutes twice a day. Then expect them to forage for the rest. They get plenty of garden produce thrown their way during the growing season and they find buckwheat that we grow for weed suppression in fallow areas of the garden. I don’t feed layer feed all year and greatly reduce my feed costs by using local barley and oats (soaked in an equal volume of water overnight). These are bought from a local farmer. I can also buy layer concentrate to add to grains at a good price through this farmer. I also give the ducks a lot of veggies from the garden. They eat winter squash daily in the winter (raw or cooked) and potatoes (boiled) make a good supplement. Holderread’s excellent book on raising ducks lists several home mixed feeds. I buy 100 lbs of barley or oats for $14 a lb. Naked oats cost more but are higher protein and lower fiber. I feed corn until mine runs out.

    But I raise Appleyards as meat ducks and greatly enjoy their very nice eggs in the Spring and Summer. In an unlighted sleeping quarter they don’t lay eggs in the Fall and Winter. Would they? I don’t know.

    • oops. The local price of barley and oats may be confusing. I edited the front end and forgot to delete the back end of the sentence. I pay $14 dollars for 100 lbs of oats or barley.

    • Oh, we didn’t get the Cayuga for egg production, but we did expect originally that we might have a mating pair for meat ducks and then when we had to get rid of the other we figured it was no harm if the remaining one gave a couple cool-looking eggs a week most of the time. So it being 26 weeks old and not laying any cool-looking eggs is a little frustrating, we really hoped to see at least one this year.

      We haven’t moved them into the barn yet, where there would be artificial light. Yeah, I am surprised the Khakis are holding up through the short days as well as they are.

  2. I need duck eggs as chicken eggs occasionally try to kill me (that, and no chicken egg on earth tastes better than a duck egg)… I usually get mine from PCC but the one in Edmonds is both too far away, and typically out of stock. Where do you sell your eggs!?!

    • We lost 2 of our ducks to a predator recently, and we only had 4 to begin with.

      We don’t sell our eggs, we only got enough ducks for our personal use. We’ll replace them in the spring and revise our anti-predator strategy as well to hopefully avoid another loss.

      If you need duck eggs right now, I would recommend craigslist, we bought from a local person that way until we got our own ducks.

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