ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Duck-licious: Lakefield farmers market duck eggs to people with allergies to chicken eggs

LAKEFIELD -- This may be the week of the turkey, but at the Mike and Mary Ann Hasara farm near Lakefield, every day is the day of the duck. There are hundreds of them -- Mary Ann estimates 150, but then after walking among them, admits there coul...

2982425+112216.N.DG_.HASARADUCKS2.jpg
An assortment of ducks -- Pekin, Muscovy and Rouen -- waddled around the Mike and Mary Ann Hasara farm last Thursday in rural Lakefield. (Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe)

LAKEFIELD - This may be the week of the turkey, but at the Mike and Mary Ann Hasara farm near Lakefield, every day is the day of the duck.

There are hundreds of them - Mary Ann estimates 150, but then after walking among them, admits there could be as many as 300 to 400 - waddling around the Hasara farmyard. They quack, eat and shake their booty, all while keeping a wary eye on visitors who just might be, for all practical purposes, out to get them.

During the past year, the Hasaras have built up a niche market for these ducks. Their customers are looking for more than just a bird to fill their Sunday dinner platter. Duck eggs have become a hot commodity.

“If people can’t eat chicken eggs because they’re allergic, they can have duck eggs,” Mary Ann said. Some of her culturally diverse customers will soak the duck eggs in salt for six weeks and then eat them, shell and all.

A duck egg tastes about the same as a chicken egg, but is packed with protein - twice as much as a chicken egg - and a shelf life double that of chicken eggs. The eggs are used for omelets, baking cakes - whatever chicken eggs are used in - by those with allergies to chicken eggs.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Hasaras market their duck eggs to area food cooperatives, and are often delivering direct to customers or inviting customers to their farm for pickup. At $5 per dozen, Hasara said she earns enough money to pay for the feed.

In the farmyard, they have a kid-sized swimming pool filled with corn - consider it an all-day buffet for the ducks and an assortment of other fowl, from chickens to geese and guineas. Nesting boxes are located in a nearby barn, where many of the ducks go to lay their eggs.

Mike’s job is to pick the eggs every morning. This time of year, he gets about 60 eggs per day from their ducks.

Duck, no duck, duck While the Hasaras have hundreds of ducks roaming around their farmyard today, that wasn’t always the case. There was a time when all was quack-less on the homefront.

“The first time we had ducks, my husband bought 300 baby Muscovy ducks,” Mary Ann recalled. “I didn’t want them around here.”

They ended up getting rid of the ducks for a while, but now they have taken over the homestead. There are Muscovy, Pekin and Rouen breeds roaming the yard, as well Indian Runner ducks.

The Muscovy are raised primarily for eating. Their meat is a bit drier, perhaps a little more pleasing to the palate. Pekin, popular among Mary Ann’s Asian customers, is also a great eating variety, although she said their meat is more on the greasy side.

The Hasaras get their ducks from a variety of sources. Mary Ann will raise some on her own, putting duck eggs into an incubator that stands in her kitchen. She does this mostly with the Muscovy ducks.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Just like the guineas, they are the worst mothers,” Mary Ann said, noting that the Muscovy ducks lay their eggs anywhere and everywhere around the farm. The Pekins are better about going into the barn and using the nesting boxes.

“The Pekin duck will lay 300 eggs a year,” Mary Ann said. “We’re hoping that in the barn with some adequate light and adequate chicken feed, I think they are going to lay.”

Just ducky At one time, the Hasaras had close to 500 ducks. They come from everywhere, including from people who drop them off at the end of their driveway and then drive away.

The Hasaras often attend specialty animal sales to pick up breeding stock and laying ducks. Now that word has spread about their duck-focused business, they get phone calls from people interested in selling their birds.

“We’ve gotten a lot of people from the Owatonna area that will call us to take their ducks,” Mary Ann said. “We have a lot of people call us every year, asking if we’ll come and buy their ducks.”

When the farm gets overrun with ducks, Mike loads up a bunch in a horse trailer and hauls them to market at St. Paul’s Concord Fresh Meat Processing.

A lot of them, though, are sold directly on the farm. The Hasaras sell some of their other fowl as well. Care for a Christmas goose or plump chicken? They have them.

Mary Ann said the menagerie on their farm yard - there are Barbados and Dorper sheep, meat goats, donkeys and two border collies to keep everyone in check - can be credited to her mother.

ADVERTISEMENT

“My dear old mother, she had all that stuff. She was always raising chickens and ducks,” Mary Ann said. “It was just a tradition in the family.”

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
What To Read Next
The program provides funding to help processors add value to Minnesota agricultural products by investing in production capacity, market diversification and market access for value-added products.
The application deadline is March 6.
Newspaper industry peers from the Kansas Press Association judged the 3,453 contest entries submitted from 132 Minnesota newspapers.
Louis and Cyril Keller are the inventors of the Bobcat skid-steer loader and were selected as 2023 inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.