How Do You Make Duck Egg Yolks More Orange?September 22, 2010
The color of a duck's egg yolk is strictly dependent on their diet. Xanthophylls (pronounced zanthofils) are natural plant pigments and the more xanthophyll in the diet, the more orange will be the yolk.
High levels of xanthophylls also make the skin more orange. In some parts of the United States, the demand is for a more yellowed skin broiler. In other parts, a more whitish colored skin is desirable. If you want a yellow skinned bird, feed predominantly corn. If you want a white skinned bird, feed predominantly wheat or barley.
It is interesting that an orange billed duck, like a Pekin, that is in high egg production, will lose color in its bill and feet as the xanthophyll is transferred from its bill and feet into the yolk of the egg. Once they slow down in production and their consumption of xanthophyll is more than what is used in their eggs, their bill and feet become more orange again. Oftentimes you can use this as a way to determine which of your ducks are laying eggs. See our blog on this subject.
If you want to grow vegetables that are especially high in xanthophylls, try spinach, kale, cilantro, romaine lettuce, parsley, orange peppers or scallions. These will be good for you and your ducks!