Ducks are great eggs layers. Their eggs are usually larger than chicken eggs, and they contain greater amounts of folate, iron, and vitamin B12. Many ducks are also excellent foragers, meaning you can minimize feed costs and essentially be self-sufficient in eggs for free. But how many eggs do ducks lay?
On average, a duck lays 190 eggs per year. Exactly how many eggs they lay mainly depends on the breed. The least productive duck breeds lay around 60 eggs per year, while the most prolific breeds can lay up to 340.
In this article, we will take a look at the various breeds of duck and how many eggs they lay. We will also talk about how many eggs a duck needs to go broody and how often they lay. Finally, we will talk about why ducks sometimes abandon their eggs.
Table of Contents
How Many Eggs Does a Duck Lay in a Day?
Ducks lay on average one egg every second day. But this number varies significantly depending on the duck breed and the individual duck’s age. For example, mallards lay only about 60 eggs per ear, while Khaki Campbells lay more than 300 eggs per year.
The table below provides an overview of average egg production by breed.
|Duck Breed||Eggs per Year|
As you can see, egg-laying is highly dependent on the breed, but age also strongly affects an individual duck’s productivity. A healthy duck can live up to 12 years, but they will lay fewer eggs as they get older. They are the most productive when they are from about one to four years old – after that, their egg production will gradually slow down until they stop laying entirely at around age seven to nine.
Compared to chickens, which usually stop laying eggs at age two or three, ducks are great egg-layers for the backyard. However, ducks are less ideal for industrial farming as they are messier and require more space than chickens.
What Ducks Lay the Most Eggs?
The table above shows that the Khaki Campbell duck lays the most eggs, averaging about 340 large per year. This is 40 eggs more than the number two and three on the list.
There are other great layer breeds, however. Additional factors besides the pure number of eggs laid per year will need to be considered when deciding on a breed of duck, such as fertility and how good they are at foraging for their own food.
How Many Eggs Does a Duck Lay Before She Sits on Them?
Ducks lay at least 5 eggs before they start sitting on them. What number of eggs should a duck need to go broody? Well, that depends on the breed. The majority of breeds hover around 5 to 8 eggs. In the table below, I have summarized the average clutch sizes for different breeds of ducks.
|Duck Breed||Clutch Size|
Incubators are more reliable and may result in more hatched ducklings, but they will also cost you money and take up space in your home or office. Hens, on the other hand, make great duckling mothers, and a broody hen is happy to take on the task of sitting on your duck eggs.
Do Ducks Lay Eggs All Year Round?
Some duck breeds lay eggs throughout the year, while other breeds are seasonal layers and will stop laying during winter. Most breeds will lay more eggs in the spring and summer and fewer in the winter.
I have been told that duck breeds that normally take a break during winter can be induced to lay eggs with the right food – cat food, to be exact. I have never tried it, for the same reason I don’t use light in my chicken coop: I believe they should have time to rest. But according to a few duck keepers I have talked to and who have tried this trick, it does work. I assume it’s the high amount of protein in cat food that somehow stimulates egg production.
Keep in mind that just as with chickens, ducks will lay more eggs when they are healthy and have plenty of food to eat. If you feed your ducks well and provide a stress-free environment, they will reward you with more eggs.
Five Reasons Why Ducks Abandon Their Eggs
There are several reasons why a brooding duck may abandon her eggs, the most common of these is because they are not fertilized, or all the embryos are dead.
Keep in mind that all broody ducks will sometimes leave the nest temporarily to get food and water. The mother will be back to incubate the eggs within about an hour, even if she has wandered relatively far from the nest. She knows exactly where her nest is.
If the eggs seem to have been abandoned for longer than a few hours, here are five common explanations:
1. There Are No Healthy and Fertile Eggs
If there are too many females per drake, some eggs will not be fertilized. These eggs will eventually go bad. The duck has a keen sense of when an egg is rotting, and she will kick these spoiled eggs out of the nest. Ducks do this to keep them from exploding and causing a stinky mess in the nest. They will do the same thing to fertilized eggs where the embryo has died.
If there are no healthy and fertilized eggs in the nest, she may abandon it altogether.
2. The Duck Was Disturbed
Ducks may also abandon their eggs if they are disturbed by predators or a human. They know instinctively that once a predator finds and destroys the nest, she will have to start from scratch with a new nest and eggs. Therefore, it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint not to waste her time with a nest that is seemingly exposed and at high risk of being raided.
This is why it’s important not to interfere with nesting ducks by disturbing her or moving their eggs around – especially in the beginning. Later on, she will fight to her death before leaving her eggs to a predator.
3. The Duck Is Very Young
A young duck may also abandon her eggs because she doesn’t yet know what she’s doing. She may have gone broody for a short while only to lose interest and abandon the eggs. This is not uncommon among young ducks that have just reached maturity.
4. The Ducklings Hatched and Left
Another reason why a nest is sometimes abandoned is that the ducklings have already hatched. The remaining eggs were dead or infertile, and the mother has left the nest along with her ducklings. If you see the shells of one or more hatched eggs, this is probably what happened.
When ducklings hatch, they will leave the eggshells with no yolk or white on them. If there is a dry and slightly bloody membrane on the eggshells, then that means a duckling has probably hatched.
5. The Mother Duck Is Dead
Another reason why a nest might be deserted is that a predator has killed the mother. Sadly, this happens all the time. The predator that killed her may be a fox or raccoon; it could also have been a hawk or any other medium-to-large predator.
If this is the case, you will likely find signs of a struggle, including feathers all around the nest and probably broken eggs.
You may be able to take any intact eggs home and incubate them yourself, but make sure you know the local regulations on collecting wild duck eggs.