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Urban market for duck eggs?

 
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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Hello, All -

I've checked Washington state law, my city's municipal code, and based on my slice of urban land, I can have up to 20 ducks. I can sell their eggs without a license as long as the eggs are:

1. from ducks in my flock, and
2. I'm selling them on my property.

I have 10 Golden Cascade ducklings on their way from Holderread Farm. I expect them in March or April.

Thinking long term, what the heck do I do with the extra eggs? I haven't decided what type of adult ration I'll feed - probably not for layers, and they will run about and forage daily in a moveable pen. I'd like them to live as much as ducks like to live, if that makes sense. IOW, I don't know that I'll have a bunch of eggs, but I'm a crazy planner, and planning makes me feel calm, even if things go sideways. Adapt and change as needed, but start with some semblance of a plan

I'm getting a straight run, so...if the drake to duck ratio is too high, we'll be eating some overly amorous drakes.

Anyway, I'm wondering if there is a market for duck eggs in Lewis County (if I were to try to sell them at a farmers market or to the health food store, I'd need a state license).

I don't intend for this to be a side business. I work from home and I'd probably sell the eggs for $2/half dozen. About 1/4 or the people here are below the poverty line, and I would like to offer healthful food. I might give them away...

Does anyone have any advice, cautions, want some free eggs?
 
Posts: 38
Location: Northport, NS. Canada
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Duck eggs are very salable in urban areas. In fact they are larger than chicken eggs and richer/higher in protein. For this reason generally they sell at a premium price to chicken eggs. Especially desirable for baking or the Asian market. Generally once you find a few customers they are loyal as supply is limited.
 
pollinator
Posts: 251
Location: Near Philadelphia, PA
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On a volume basis, I found one duck's egg substitutes for 3 large chicken eggs (YMMV).  The whites whip up nicely and make a great cake!  

I think you have to educate your market, but bet folks will become repeat customers if you give them one to try first!
 
master steward
Posts: 11355
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Up north of you, we've got quite a few people that buy eggs from our 10 layers. We often don't have enough to meet demand. We've got a lovely lady that buys them to decorate them, a Vietnamese guy that eats them, another person who's brother pickles them dozens at a time, and people who just like our eggs. We sell at $5/dozen for organic/pastured eggs, but should really sell higher. But since we're selling to my husband's coworkers and a 90 year old lady (she decorates them), we don't really feel like we can raise the price.
 
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I always choose duck eggs over chicken eggs and it's always hard to find supply. Usually when I do, they aren't charging enough when you consider the price of the much smaller chicken eggs. If you get twice as much, you should pay twice the price. But they mostly ask for 1.5 x the price of chicken eggs.

In a small village on Mindanao in the Philippines, ducks thrive without supplemental feeding beyond waste products. When they raise muscovies, they produce a carcass big enough to feed a family. Many chickens are too small. Ducks are kept mostly for their ability to eliminate slugs and snails from rice and other crops. All they seem to need is predator protection.
 
gardener
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Location: Western Washington
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I live in Lewis County, too.

I think that if you could sell them in Olympia they'd be a big hit, but then they wouldn't be "on your property." There might be a way to swing it. If they're raised chemical free you could probably get a decent price for them, even selling at the co-op or something.
 
Posts: 96
Location: Oakland, CA
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I once had muscovies and found a couple of hidden nests with a full clutch of eggs in them.  I set up in a part of town with a lot of foot traffic and sold them for $0.50 each, or $5 a dozen, now this was years ago in Olympia.  I did not have too many after that.  I am guessing you will find people interested in duck eggs by the time you have too many and between eating like a king and sharing you will not have too many.  Enjoy your ducks, they are great
 
gardener
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Can't directly help with your questions except to say that duck eggs are awesome. I would even consider buying some & I raise chickens. That should count for something. Had neighbor a few years back & she had no trouble developing a market for all she could raise.

Three cheers for feeding the hungry!!! Hip hip duck eggs. Hip hip duck eggs. Hip hip duck eggs.
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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You guys are AWESOME! Thanks for sharing what you know and for the encouragement.

I'll start with feeding the hungry! All the rest is icing on the cake. Later I'll check the laws regarding fresh/frozen ducks for peeps.

Hip hip duck eggs!
 
Posts: 183
Location: 7b desert southern Idaho
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A license to sell duck eggs....sucks.
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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Quack quack!
 
pollinator
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Many people who are allergic to chicken eggs have absolutely no problem with duck eggs. I have sold many, many eggs to these people. Find a few and you'll never have "extra" eggs!
 
pollinator
Posts: 449
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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I love duck eggs, but right now I travel too much to keep a flock well cared for.  And I travel I-5 through Lewis county 6-8 times a month so PM me when you have eggs for sale!
 
pollinator
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My ducks eggs prefer to do their shopping online; they find urban markets to be not very accommodating of shoppers their size.
 
Posts: 97
Location: Frederick, MD zone7b
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We find that getting people to try the duck eggs the first time is the big hurdle :) while they arent for everybody, those who like them really do.

We have also found that they are a good way to stay in good graces with the neighbors. Also, duck egg quiche/ frittata is a great dish to bring to a potluck.

You can also mention to sellers at the farmers market that if they ever have people looking for duck eggs to call you. If there are bakers at the farmers market give them some to try and see if they find it special.

As far as im concerned if you drop them off in your car, thats still being sold from your property.

Cheers
Bryan
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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I love y'all too much! <3

I started reading about raising ducks about a year ago. When I thought, "Hmmmm, think I'll give this a go," I told my neighbor that I was thinking about getting ducks, and I asked her what she thought about having duck neighbors. I was concerned that the noise might bother her, but all she wanted to know was if they'd get in her yard. I said, "No, but they might be a little quacky." And she replied, "Pfft. I sleep like a log, and ducks are wonderful. Please try to keep them out of my yard."

She will receive the first gift of eggs.

As far as im concerned if you drop them off in your car... That's how we sold 8-track tapes back in the day in West Philly! You could find a lot of interesting things in someone's trunk. But yes, my car is my property. I'll check to see if the WA Code specifies "real property." heheheheheh yazzzz
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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Well, it seemed like a great idea before they feathered out. They aren't quite finished (they're five weeks old), but the current drake to duck ratio of my 10 ducking straight run looks like this:

8:1

Eight drakes to one duck‽ ::sigh::. I'm still holding out hope for Number 9, but they look like a drake. Everything but the neck ring.

I'll start a new thread with questions about small flock management best practices because I have a ton of questions about how to move forward.

These are gorgeous ducks. I'm sad that so many have to be culled so soon, and I'm glad that I resisted the urge to name them.

Best laid plans...



 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 11355
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I had the same problem with my first 10 ducks. 3 girls, 7 guys...and then one girl got eaten by something.

Now, when I pick ducks from a straight run, I pick the LOUDEST ducks. Girls are louder than guys, even when ducklings. It worked pretty well the last time. I got 4 girls and 1 drake.

Nows a good time to find affordable ducks on craigslist. I'd had every intention of having a pure ancona duck flock, but then we had way too few girls. So we got cheap ducks off of craigslist and people knew we had ducks and so pointed their friends in our direction when they had too many ducklings or their duck needed a home. So we have anconas, magpie x Swedish, khaki Campbell, golden 300, white layer, and runner ducks and even a crested black Swedish. They lay eggs and that's what matters to me!
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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Thanks, Nicole :)

First of all, my so-called count seems to be wrong. I've been so stressed (obsessed) about the duck to drake ratio that I think I had it wrong as they continue to lose their baby down and what I thought were neck rings probably weren't.

It looks more like 50 50 BUT I will try to practice patience and try to stop my incessant duck counting based on sex. I will continue to count to make sure no one is running around the kitchen. (Their temporary housing is a 7' x 4' wooden brooder box I built a couple of weeks ago. Imma build their outdoor house and get them outta here this weekend.)

I wasn't able to hand pick the straight run; I ordered them from Holderread, and they don't vent sex 1-day-old duckings, and that's fine with me.

Here's a picture of their current digs:

Patience, patience, patience...

Oh, and here they are hanging out. Imagine them twice the size :)

ETA: I've added a picture from today. Um...pretend I didn't mess around with the Blu-Kote. Sooooooo stupid. (Besides patience, I'm working on my self-critical issues.) ::sigh::
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Brooder #2
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Ducks move in
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My purple ducks :(
 
Posts: 211
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Beth Johnson wrote:Hello, All -


I don't intend for this to be a side business. I work from home and I'd probably sell the eggs for $2/half dozen. About 1/4 or the people here are below the poverty line, and I would like to offer healthful food. I might give them away...

Does anyone have any advice, cautions, want some free eggs?



Check your market, duck eggs are a premium. Call a few artisan cake shops. They might revel at a steady source of local duck eggs.  
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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First egg! They're 20 weeks old now, and living the high life.
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She worked hard!
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Happy Happy Joy Joy
 
Posts: 97
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I had a paddling of ducks about 10 years ago.  There was an overabundance od eggs to which most people would turn their noses up to, too greasy, they'd say.  Then I changed my strategy.  I began visiting Chinese restaurants and takeout, and would sell them to the owners.   I always came home with an empty cooler.
 
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I just want Ducks 🦆 &  Geese when I retire.
Selling egg 🥚 & babies never crossed my mind.
I could make pen & feed money back, that would be good.
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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***WARNING: I am going to describe my experience processing ducks among other things***

In early September, I processed three drakes. In the straight run I ordered, I had eight drakes and two ducks, and the drakes were dragging each other around by their head feathers. Often they ganged up on one drake. The females were and are fine.

I knew that I would have to do this at some point. A year before I ordered the ducks, I'd read about keeping ducks as well as watched videos about dispatching them. I wasn't certain that I could kill them, but I also knew that there would be times that I would have to do so, be they fatally injured or ready to be processed for meat. Like any other skill, I knew that it would be hard to learn at first. I didn't know how I would react emotionally having never killed an animal. I decided that this was something I must be prepared to do, and I tried my best, but I made mistakes along the way.

The first drake did not have a good death. I used a very sharp knife and a kill cone, but the knife, a sticking knife, didn't have the heft needed to exert enough pressure on the drake's neck. I tried to separate the feathers with the knife's edge so that I was close to the drake's skin, but I had difficulty making a clean cut. Also, his feet were not sticking out of the top of the kill cone but rather wedged in against his body. He jumped out and ran to sit bleeding under a bush. I apologized profusely as I put him back into the cone and finished as quickly as possible. By the time I processed the third drake, I was by no means an expert, but I did a much better job, and I was able to look him in the eye while he was dying. We ate one, and one is in the freezer. I botched processing one to the point that I was afraid the meat wasn't safely edible. Sadly, his body went to the landfill (double bagged), but definitely not where I planned for it to go. My dog is an expert digger, and I was afraid that should she eat the carcass, she would not longer protect the ducks.

In late September, I ordered a straight run of Swedish ducklings: Five are black, and five are blue. Out of the 10, five are drakes. Everyone is outside and establishing a pecking order. I know I will need to process more drakes. As of today, all is well.

Now to the subject of the thread.

I have decided that I will start selling duck eggs in the spring. I have a full-time job, but I'm fortunate to work from home. I plan to sell the eggs on the weekend, and I'm currently working on a business plan. The bare bones plan is to take orders on the internet and have people pick up their orders on Saturdays or Sundays. That way I can give notice on the website when I cannot fill any more orders for the week. I'm going to register with the state as an LLC. My daughter is a coder, and she will create the site and be the webmaster. I have other ideas about marketing the eggs. In addition there are a number of homeless people who walk by. I plan to give them hard-boiled eggs for free should they desire. I've been homeless and without a way to store or cook food, so I think hard-boiled eggs are the way to go should anyone want them.

I have a lot of other ideas running around in my head, and I hope it's okay if this thread morphs into descriptions of my duck project. It won't be as fabulous as Ludi's Project thread - what could be? I hope that I can give as well as receive advice as I learn. I also hope that this thread might help someone who is considering keeping ducks.

Ducks are hypnotic. People who are walking down the street stop and watch the ducks. If I'm outside, I'll talk to people about them, and I'll bring a duck over to the fence so people can see them up close and ask me questions. One person counts the ducks every time she walks by.

So, that's the news from Centralia. Here are some pictures of the ducks:



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john mcginnis
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* Check you local food ordinances. For example, under Texas Cottage Law I can sell all the duck eggs I want if I am following USDA guidlines for handling. Not permitted to do internet sales under Cottage Law however for any item, not just duck eggs. Internet advertising is a grey area but probably ok so long as the transaction is person to person.

* You might try shopify.com for ecomerce. Its not free and whether if fits your business model will likely depend on your sales volume. But it does save a lot of coding effort.

* Retail sales can be time consuming. If you can link up with a baker close by that would be interested in your product you could be miles ahead. B 2 B sales can be a time saving option. You have to be able to deliver consistently is the key to that market.

* Check zoning as well. A single complaint to the zoning board can shut you down faster than lightining.

Hope it helps.
 
Beth Johnson
Posts: 99
Location: Lewis County, WA
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Thanks so much, John. Washington state allows the sale of poultry eggs from your flock on your property. If I were to try to sell them at a farmers market or to a restaurant, I would fall under the USDA's and Washington state's laws regarding inspection of my premises and the flock, etc. My town specifies how many ducks and chickens one may have based on the size of one's plat, not to exceed 20 animals. We cannot keep roosters or geese, but I haven't read a prohibition on keeping a peacock. ;) The animals must live in humane conditions which are always available for inspection. I conducted research of state and local codes before I bought the first run of ducks. I'm the only human in my home, and there's only so many eggs my dog, two cats, and I can eat. I also spoke with my neighbors before I bought the ducks. One said as long as they don't get into her yard, she's fine with them.

I can take orders on the internet, but people have to come to my home to buy eggs. The site is meant for orders and education but no money will be exchanged online. I cannot sell or give away duck meat without meeting USDA and Washington state guidelines. I can only share cooked duck when I have people over for meals so we can all get sick together, I suppose. :)

I think the hardest part will be guesstimating how many eggs will be available each week assuming I develop an interest. If not, I'm out the cost of the domain (~$100/year) and whatever my daughter charges me to design the site. My daughter, mother, father, one brother and I are a mix of fine and graphic artists and are working together on design. I've researched the filing fees associated with establishing an LLC (I'm a recovering lawyer), and I'm keeping track of whatever upfront outlays there might be. I'm certain I'll miss many. I plan to advertise in the local rag, and I'm thinking about painting the duck house with the company logo and website address.

With respect to the website, my daughter writes code and designs and maintains websites for a living. Right now she's with a start up, but she's thinking about freelancing. She lives across the country, otherwise I'd be putting her to work in the yard. ;) I have asked her for an estimate because I don't want to take her time and skill for granted. My truly urban family in Philadelphia and North Jersey is living vicariously through me. It's kind of cool - my septuagenarian parents were raised with backyard livestock, and the photos and emails I send remind them of their childhoods. It's kind of cool to connect with my parents this way.

My business plan isn't the type that one would write to try to attract venture capital. My town's economy teeters on the razor's edge of depression, and we have a large homeless population. I won't be selling eggs for top dollar. My hope is that I can share my love of these creatures, invite people to interact with the flock, and hopefully keep the ducks in feed.

 
john mcginnis
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Beth Johnson wrote:Thanks so much, John. Washington state allows the sale of poultry eggs from your flock on your property. If I were to try to sell them at a farmers market or to a restaurant, I would fall under the USDA's and Washington state's laws regarding inspection of my premises and the flock, etc. My town specifies how many ducks and chickens one may have based on the size of one's plat, not to exceed 20 animals. We cannot keep roosters or geese, but I haven't read a prohibition on keeping a peacock. ;) The animals must live in humane conditions which are always available for inspection. I conducted research of state and local codes before I bought the first run of ducks. I'm the only human in my home, and there's only so many eggs my dog, two cats, and I can eat. I also spoke with my neighbors before I bought the ducks. One said as long as they don't get into her yard, she's fine with them.



If you are limited to flock size then your consideration might be breed. Khaki Campbells and Golden 300s are the most prolific egg layers. I raise Silver Appleyards for meat and eggs, but they only lay half as many eggs as a Campbell.

Good luck on your venture.
 
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