Dr. Jacquie Jacob Ph.D., University of Kentucky
Many people have claimed that duck eggs are creamier and higher in nutritional value than chicken eggs, but there is very little research to support this. Rhodes et al. (1960) compared eggs from Khaki Campbell ducks with chicken eggs. They found that the flavor was similar whether the eggs were consumed directly or used in cakes. They also found that duck eggs had less time-related deterioration during storage than chicken eggs. The chalazae were not as visible, which some study participants found to be a positive attribute of duck eggs. Duck eggs were also less likely to have discoloration around the yolk when hard-cooked. Negative attributes identified in duck eggs were a tough shell membrane and a firmer albumen than chicken eggs, making them harder to scramble.
There have also been claims that people who are allergic to chicken eggs are able to eat duck eggs without problems; however, this is not necessarily always the case. One case study was reported where a person had no allergy to chicken eggs but was allergic to duck and goose eggs (Añîbarro et al., 2000).
Production of duck eggs for the table is not widespread in Europe and the Americas. In India and Asia, however, duck eggs are an important part of the local diet. Research on the nutrient requirement of egg-laying breeds of ducks (e.g., Campbell and Runner) is lacking. There is some research on breeder diets for other duck breeds that have not been selected for high egg production (e.g., Pekin). Research from India indicates that under rural conditions the Khaki Campbell duck had better production than the local birds (Rashid et al., 1985). The mortality, however, was higher in Khaki Campbell. The same research also reported that the economic performance of the local ducks could be improved through a cross-breeding program with Khaki Campbells.
Most layer diets formulated for chickens can be fed to ducks. While chicken hens are often given mash feed, feed for ducks should be pellets or crumbles, with pellets being the best. With mash diets, the feed tends to clump more in the mouth of the duck, requiring frequent trips to the water source to clean away the material. This increases feed wastage and litter moisture. A typical diet for laying ducks has a minimum of 15-16% crude protein and 3% calcium. Laying ducks should not be fed marine products (i.e., fish meal) because it will result in off flavors. As with chickens, laying ducks should not be fed cottonseed meal.
The American Soybean Association suggests the requirements shown below. There are no protein levels given, but typical diet formulations using these requirements provide a diet with 17-19% crude protein.
Nutrient requirements of egg-laying ducks
|Digestible lysine, %||
|Digestible methionine, %||0.36|
|Digestible total sulfur amino acids, %||0.64|
|Digestible tryptophan, %||0.16|
|Digestible threonine, %||0.58|
|Digestible arginine, %||0.96|
Digestible isoleucine, %
|Digestible valine, %||0.72|
|Available phosphorus, %||0.39|
|Linoleic acid, %||1.00|
Source: American Soybean Association
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