Khaki Campbell egg production

During their first year of laying, our seven Khaki Campbells laid 332 eggs each. That is 47 pounds (21 kilograms) of eggs per duck, in a single year.

When we were debating breeds of ducks, we read that Campbells typically lay about 300 eggs a year. (The record laying bird of any breed, any species, was a Campbell duck who laid more than 365 eggs in a year.) Several sources confirmed this figure, but we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to believe it. It just seemed fantastic. An egg a day, with only an occasional miss and time off for molting? Surely these ducks must be pushed to the limit of their genetic capacity.

But we never consciously pushed our birds. As far as I can tell, they’re just extremely happy and healthy ducks.

Daylight and egg production

Typically, ducks lay more eggs in summer when the days are longer and fewer in the winter when days are shorter. To maximize production, some people provide artificial lighting in the evenings during the winter. (Artificial light is, of course, standard practice for industrial egg production.) But increasing short-term production can shorten the birds’ productive lives, and we saw no reason to do that. The whole point of raising ducks, after all, was to get away from industrial methods of agriculture.

For their first year of laying, we kept a 15-watt nightlight on all night for our ducks, to keep them calm and deter predators. Fifteen watts is not supposed to be sufficient light to increase their egg production, but it may have been a slight factor. After we moved them to their new house in fall 2003 (when they were a year and a half old), they had minimal light at night; their egg production was down somewhat that following winter, but I would expect a decline in their second year regardless. If the light was a factor, therefore, I assume that it wasn’t much of a factor — at most an egg per week per duck in the winter months. That should not be enough to put a long-term strain on them or to reduce their productive lives.

Production over time

The ducks began laying at the end of September 2002, when they were just shy of 19 weeks old. They did not all begin laying at the same time. We found that we could tell which ducks were laying first by the visible bulge in their lower abdomen each evening. By that standard, the first ducks began laying at seventeen weeks; the last began at about twenty weeks.

As a group, they were laying 5 eggs a day (or 5 eggs per week each) after four weeks and nearly 7 eggs a day after six weeks. They maintained that level of production until they were a year old and began molting. They motled gradually during the summer and fall; by winter their production had returned to about 5 eggs per week.

In later years, they settled into a pattern of laying fairly heavily from February through June, then tapering off as the weather grew hot and they molted. By the winter of 2005–2006 they didn’t lay at all in the late fall and winter.

This table shows our egg production as the ducks reached maturity during their first fall. Someday I may get a chance to type up a record of their production over the first three years, but don’t hold your breath.

Early egg production (18-28 weeks)

Age (weeks) Eggs/week/duck Mean weight (oz.)
18 1.5 1.7
19 2.0 1.7
20 3.3 1.8
21 4.1 1.8
22 4.7 1.9
23 5.3 2.0
24 6.3 2.0
25 7.0 2.1
26 6.9 2.1
27 6.9 2.2
28+ 6.9 2.3
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