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Good Weather for Ducks

A pastel bouquet of Rainshadow duck eggs


Local duck eggs are a seasonal delight

We’ve passed the Vernal Equinox, and spring is definitely in the works–daffodils are blooming, leaves are unfolding, and–inevitably–rain is falling.  Birds, responding to longer hours of daylight, are laying eggs–and this includes domestic fowl like chickens and ducks.

Chicken eggs, of course, are the standard for many of us in Western culture–but they’re not the only eggs in town.  Duck eggs are catching on, particularly on the Pacific side of the country–you know how we love Ducks in Eugene!–and they’re more readily available in the spring.  If you’re duck-curious, now is the time to experiment.

Duck eggs are, in general, not extremely different in flavor and use from chicken eggs–both can be eaten fried, boiled, scrambled, or used in baking or salads.  The flavor is similar, though duck eggs are stronger and richer.  People who have had a bad experience with duck eggs with an unappetizing taste may have had a stale egg, or an egg from ducks whose feed imparted an off-flavor.

The Kiva carries duck eggs from Rainshadow El Rancho and Egg It On, which are both farms where the poultry are not only free-range, but pastured in a natural setting.  Due in part to the fact that ducks have not been as intensively bred for egg-laying as chickens, they don’t produce eggs as consistently–seasonal temperature and light variations mean their eggs are much more plentiful in the spring, and tend to get scarcer as the weather warms up.

Gram for gram, duck eggs are significantly lower in water and higher in protein than chicken eggs, so they’re more easily overcooked, which can make them tough–and because they are larger and have a thicker texture than hen’s eggs, they take a little longer to cook, so some experimenting may be in order.  (Remember that the rules for safe handling of eggs applies–cooking eggs all the way through is the rule of thumb.)

The timing doesn’t have to be so fussy when using duck eggs in baking, and their thicker consistency, higher protein and fat content are all characteristics that make them great for baking.  (Duck eggs are about 30%–nearly one third–larger than chicken eggs, so factor that in when substituting.  One blogger recommends substituting duck eggs for chicken eggs one to one anyway, on the grounds that a little more egg will usually just make a recipe better).  Duck eggs have a thicker shell and membrane, so they’re a little harder to crack neatly, and their thicker nature makes them a little more work to beat, but the loft they add to baked goods is worth the minor added effort.  Try them in omelets, frittatas, cakes–anywhere you want the fluff and body of eggs.

Recipes specifically for duck eggs aren’t hard to find–here’s one page I found with some great tips for cooking duck eggs in general, and their use in gluten-free cooking specifically.

But to keep it exclusive, here’s a recipe from our winebuyer’s family that she preferentially makes with duck eggs:

Mom’s Best-Ever Waffles

2 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, well-beaten
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoon melted butter
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder and salt and sift again.  Combine egg yolks & milk; add to flour, beating until smooth.  Add butter in a thin stream (it shouldn’t be so hot that it cooks the batter on contact!).  Fold in the beaten egg whites.  Bake in hot waffle iron or on hot, greased griddle.  Serve with maple syrup and/or fruit and/or jam.

Local Egg Farmers

Dairy Post:  From the Farm to the Kiva

Brought to you by Emma Buckley, Kiva Dairy Department Manager

Anconda Duck Eggs in the nest at Rain Shadow El Rancho

We are proud to carry eggs from four local farms at the Kiva.  All of these eggs are from free-ranging chickens and ducks.  We recently visited all four farms to get to know the farmers and to make sure our customers are getting the best quality eggs they can get.

Lonsway Farms:

Fritz and his wife Beverly have had their farm for forty years, and they have raised chickens the entire time.  At first they were harvesting eggs for personal use, but have expanded the number of chickens they have on the farm to provide eggs for sale at local stores.  They have over 100 chickens, all of the Red Star breed.  Red Star chickens produce brown eggs.  They are fed diatomaceous earth to prevent worms internally and mites in the nest.  They are also fed fresh milk from the dairy, which they love!  Additional supplemental feed is yard scraps (grass clippings, weeds from the vegetable garden, etc.), wheat, and a pellet mix containing wheat, oats, barley, soy meal, corn gluten, limestone, salt, vitamins and minerals.  There are no chemicals or hormones in the pellet mix that the birds eat.  Of course, the chickens supplement their own diet by pecking around in the large fenced pastures that they have rotating access to.  The chickens always have access to the outside and spend most of their time out in the yard and pastures.  By rotating which pastures the chickens have access to, Fritz can ensure that there is always plenty of bugs and grass for the chickens to peck at.

Emma feeding the Red Star chickens at Lonsway Farms


Rain Shadow El Rancho
Joe and Karen Schueller started their farm in 2001 and have been raising chickens the entire time (as well as many other animals, check out their website to learn more!).  They raise many different breeds of chickens, including Rhode Island Reds, Black Sex-Links, Araucana and Barred Rock.
Barred Rock Rooster at Rain Shadow El Rancho

They also have Anconda, Moscovy and Pekin Ducks.  The chickens and ducks have year round rotating access to fenced grass pastures.  The ducks scavenge for the vast majority of their feed, but the chickens’ feed is supplemented by a layer pellet mix, oyster shells, and all the fallen fruit from the plum, apple, pear and cherry trees on the farm.  There are no chemicals or hormones in the layer pellet mix that the birds eat.

Muscovy Ducks in the pond at Rain Shadow El Rancho


Sweet Briar Farms

Keith and Petrene have been raising chickens at Sweet Briar Farms for six years.  They currently have 165 chickens.  They raise Black Star, Red Star, Araucana, Blue Andalusian, Cuckoo Moran and Barred Rock chicken breeds.

This guy runs the roost at Sweet Briar.  He followed us around the entire time, making sure we didn’t cause any trouble with his ladies!

Sweet Briar Farms is USDA certified and has a grant for brown power to reuse all the waste from the chickens and hogs to power the farm.  They supplement their chickens’ feed with flax seed, squash, garlic, carrots, kale, celery, seed blocks, corn and apple cider vinegar.  Of course, the chickens also eat insects and other small creepy crawlies when they are pecking around in their fenced pasture area.

Emma, Dorothy and a chicken at Sweet Briar
Turpen Family Farms
Pamela Turpen and Dylan the Dog

Pamela Turpen and her husband have been running this family farm for 17 years with their two daughters.  It is an entirely family run operation.  They currently have 900 chickens.  They raise many different kinds of chickens, including Golden Sex-Links, Araucana, Australorps , Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rock breeds.  The chickens always have access to outdoor pastures on their 72 acre property.  The chickens’ diet is supplemented with alfalfa pellets, ground whole corn, yard clippings that have never been fertilized or sprayed with pesticides, and a layer pellet containing corn, soybean meal, and vitamins and minerals.  The pellet does not contain hormones or antibiotics.  As always, chickens feed themselves with bugs and whatever else they can dig up while pecking around outside.

This Barred Rock chicken always lays her eggs in the feeder at Turpen Farms instead of the egg boxes!  She is very particular!