Key Characteristics

Like other heavy breeds, the Cayuga is generally quite calm and easy going. Although there are better breeds for both laying and for the table, the Cayuga is often top choice in the looks department. This popularity means that good quality birds command a high price.

  • The breed is classed as heavy, the weight specification for the drake being 3.6kg, with the duck at 3.2kg.
  • Its appearance is very similar to that of the smaller Black East Indian and is very striking in good daylight – the plumage is black with a brilliant green iridescence. The pigment that covers the Cayuga feathers makes them black but the structure of the feathers intercepts and scatters light to give the brilliant green lustre. 
  • The bill in both sexes should be black, as should be the legs and webs. 
  • In build, the body is long, broad and deep, with a broad breast, and the carriage is only slightly elevated. The neck should be curved and graceful.


  • This breed takes its name from Lake Cayuga in New York State. 
  • Generally thought to be descended from the wild black duck (Anas rubripes), the Cayuga was recorded in North America between 1830 and 1850. 
  • It was first standardized in America in 1874 and in Britain in 1901.


It makes a large meaty table bird, and the size now attained is a result of many years of selective breeding, to produce a bird which is the equivalent of the Aylesbury in the UK and the Rouen in France.  However, black feathers are not ideal for marketing table birds, and commercial Cayugas in the USA were replaced by the white Pekin after 1873.

Egg laying is generally only fair – 100-150 dark eggs per year can be expected. 

Did you know?

Cayuga eggs can be quite impressive in appearance, as a black colour is transferred to the shells, but this is only a superficial layer and is easily wiped off. The degree of black colouration varies throughout the laying season - the eggs start darker early in the laying season and fade as the season goes on, when you wipe off the black cuticle it reveals a green egg. Birds that lay darker eggs are highly desired.

Breed Societies

For more information visit the British Waterfowl Association