Why Are My Ducks Laying Small Eggs? (Finally Explained!)

I genuinely don’t think there is a better way to start the day than a couple of fried duck eggs on toast. Ducks’ eggs are large, rich, and tasty and they are simply perfect for the breakfast table.

I have been keeping, breeding, and showing chickens, ducks, geese, and quail for over 20 years, and during that time I have had my fair share of birds laying small eggs, misshapen eggs, and even shell-less eggs.

In this article, I look at some of the reasons your ducks are laying small eggs.

The main reasons a duck lays small eggs, (which are sometimes referred to as fairy eggs, wind eggs, witch eggs, or fart eggs), are age, stress, poor nutrition, or disease. These small eggs are often yolk-less but are otherwise usually perfectly edible.

The majority of the time, when a duck lays a very small egg, the shell either contains white with no yolk (most common) or yolk with no white.

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Why are My Ducks laying small eggs?

There are a number of different reasons a duck might be laying small eggs. Young ducks typically lay smaller eggs than their older counterparts.

Stress can also be a factor that affects the size and quality of the eggs a duck lays. Stress in ducks is something that is often underestimated and almost always poorly understood.

Poor nutrition can cause a duck to lay smaller than usual eggs too, as can diseases.

Young ducks lay small eggs!

When ducks first start to lay eggs, these eggs are usually much smaller than regular size duck eggs. This is typically nothing to worry about. It takes a duck a couple of weeks, and sometimes a couple of months, to start laying full-sized eggs.

It is a bit like her system needs to get up and running. She starts off laying small eggs, and they typically get larger each egg she lays for the next few weeks.

I have had ducks in the past that laid small eggs for many weeks, then started to lay normal eggs one day. It is just part of raising young ducks from ducklings to full-grown adult birds.

Generally speaking, if your duck is young and has just started laying, and her eggs are smaller than expected, I would not worry about it. In my experience, the size of her eggs will increase as she becomes more experienced at laying eggs.

Ducks get stressed

As mentioned above, stress can also be a factor that affects the size of eggs your duck lays.

Stress can take many forms and has a number of different causes. If there is a duck in the flock that is bullying the others, the bullying victims may be sufficiently stressed that they either stop laying, or they start laying small or misshapen eggs.

The presence of a predator can also be incredibly stressful for a duck. Foxes, snakes, skunks, and even large dogs can worry ducks sufficiently that their egg production is affected one way or another.

They might start laying soft-shelled eggs or stop laying altogether.

If your ducks are possibly suffering from stress, try to work out the cause of that stress, and remove it. By taking away the thing that is stressing your ducks you will hopefully allow them to get back to laying regular eggs again.

Poor quality Diet

Egg production is incredibly taxing on a ducks system. To be able to produce eggs on a regular basis, ducks need to be fed a balanced diet that has been developed especially for ducks.

If our ducks are fed a poor quality diet, or even worse, expected to survive on scraps alone, one of the first things to be affected by their poor diet is the duck’s egg production. Typically the size of the eggs will be poor, followed by thin or damaged shells, then eventually the duck will stop laying altogether.

Commercially available duck foods (like this one you can order from Amazon.com) supply your ducks with all the nutrients they need, including sufficient calcium for good quality egg production.

Duck Diseases can affect Egg production

There are many different diseases that can affect egg production in ducks. In fact, almost any disease can have an effect on a duck’s egg production, either directly or indirectly.

Respiratory diseases are some of the most common diseases to affect ducks on the homestead and most respiratory diseases quickly lead to a duck laying either small eggs or stopping laying eggs altogether.

If you believe your duck might be laying small eggs because it is unwell, you should seek the advice of a veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent the duck from getting worse, or the disease from spreading to other birds in the flock.

Other factors that affect Duck Egg Size

The four reasons listed above are the most likely reasons a duck is laying smaller than usual eggs, but there are other factors that can affect a duck’s egg production, including size, quality, and even ability to lay altogether.

Molting

Like all domesticated birds, ducks molt, usually around once a year, but that can vary.

Molting is the process in which birds shed a large number of their feathers and replace them with new ones. Chickens normally lose feathers all over their bodies, whereas ducks typically start by molting all their long, flight feathers first, then some of the feathers around their body.

It is believed molting has an effect on egg production. Regrowing a batch of feathers requires an awful lot of calcium, making less calcium available for egg production.

In my experience, it is during a molt that ducks produce more shell-less eggs than at any other time.

Molting also affects egg production because the flight feathers tend to molt first, meaning the ducks can’t fly, which in turn means they are more vulnerable to predators. This vulnerability can be very stressful for the duck.

End of the laying season

Unlike many breeds of domesticated chickens, ducks typically do not lay all year round. They usually have a laying season that starts in the spring and continues to either late summer or autumn, depending on the breed.

As they approach the end of their laying season, they have a tendency to lay eggs that do not have any yolk. Sometimes they pass some debris that was in their system, and that debris ends up being wrapped in a shell and laid like a normal egg, and sometimes there is nothing in the shell but egg white.

If your ducks are laying small eggs either at the very start or the very end of the laying season, it is almost certainly nothing to worry about.

Can You Eat tiny duck eggs?

Yes, tiny duck eggs are just as edible as regular eggs, providing when you break them open they don’t smell (possibly because they are off) or they don’t contain anything unpleasant, like a small piece of the duck’s internal system that may have broken off, causing the small egg to be laid.

I have eaten small duck eggs that were just white inside, and small eggs that had only a yolk inside.

If you plan to eat the egg, I would recommend breaking it into a small cup or bowl before cooking it, just so you can double-check the contents are edible.

In Conclusion

There can be a number of different reasons a duck is laying small eggs. Some may point to bigger issues with your ducks, such as stress or illness, whereas others may seemly be due to the duck’s age or approach of the end of the laying season.

Typically small duck eggs are nothing to worry about, and your ducks will soon return to laying regular-sized eggs.

Small duck eggs are normally perfectly edible, and I usually just add them to a batch of scrambled eggs or an omelet.

If you found this article interesting, why not check out another duck-related article I wrote recently titled ‘Why are my ducks not sitting on their eggs?’


Aaron Homewood

Aaron Homewood is HomesteadSavvy.com‘s poultry editor. Arron has spent over 20 years keeping, breeding, and showing different poultry breeds, including chickens, ducks, geese, and quail.​
Poultry Editor

Article sources:

  1. Avian diseases which affect egg production and quality ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  2. Molting Feathers rspb.org
  3. Molt brittanica.com
  4. Molting Wikipedia