The rain was an almost welcome respite from the bitter cold that has humbled us for weeks now.
The ducks, sequestered in the barn throughout, were restless – squawking indignantly as soon as they heard me with their feed.
They ran – flew – out the door and scrambled over half-melted snow banks, even more typically ungainly on what had become sheets of sheer ice.
Undeterred, they hurried (in their fashion) on their regular foraging path – single line formation down the driveway to the neighbor’s, with me following gingerly to herd them back without breaking my leg or neck in the process.
In the end, I had to carry my birds – one by irritated one – back to their pen, as the ice proved too much for even their indomitable curiosity.
I can’t wait for the real spring thaw, when my little flock of Khaki Campbells can forage and amuse themselves – raising the spirits of everyone who sees them.
Sentiment aside (as even unsentimental me has become very much so over my ducks), these birds are prolific layers. Even in the worst of winter the hens will lay almost every day. A Khaki can lay up to 350 eggs a year, and ducks generally remain productive much longer than chickens.
Duck eggs are not as readily available as chicken eggs, and are usually considerably more expensive. You are most likely to find that them at a local farmer’s market.
Here are some reasons to give them a try:
- Duck eggs have more protein than chicken eggs. For bakers, this is good news – the whites provide more loft in baking. This extra protein can also help improve the texture of gluten-free baking.
- The yolks of duck eggs are larger and richer than the yolks of chicken eggs. Duck eggs as a result are higher in calories and cholesterol than chicken eggs, but also contain higher levels of the minerals, vitamins and amino acids contained in chicken eggs. They are also a better source of Omega 3 acids.
- Duck eggs can replace chicken eggs in cooking and baking. Duck eggs are generally larger, so if you are working with large scale recipes, the eggs will need to be weighed to ensure that proper proportions are maintained. For most home cooking though, 1 to 1 substitution should not be a problem.
- When frying or poaching duck eggs, you will need to keep the temperature slightly lower than you would for chicken eggs. The higher levels of protein in the duck eggs can make them get tough over the higher heat.
- The whites of duck eggs are whiter than chicken eggs, which sounds strange until you cook with them and see the difference.
- Duck eggs have stronger shells, which help them stay fresh longer.
If you haven’t tried cooking with duck eggs before, I encourage you to give them a whirl.
You may never go back.