Anthony Bordessa has 3,700 ducks. At 23 years old, he is the owner of the Washoe Valley Duck Farm, a company selling duck eggs throughout the Bay Area.
Bordessa’s interest in the poultry industry began in 2009 while he was working for the McIsaac Dairy. It was the summer of his junior year in high school, and the McIsaac’s were raising chickens alongside their dairy cattle.
Bordessa began researching the poultry industry, and one day a Google sidebar ad for duck eggs popped up. Until that moment, Bordessa hadn’t realized people ate duck eggs.
More research on duck eggs led him to discover people saying how much they loved duck eggs but couldn’t find them. He also found out duck eggs were popular in Asia, and later went on to use this knowledge to develop a target market.
In 2012, Bordessa purchased his is first set of ducks. He wanted to order 400-500 ducks, but his parents talked him out of it and encouraged him to start smaller. Bordessa ended up ordering 60 ducks.
He began by selling the eggs at the Sebastopol Farmer’s Market, Andy’s Produce and Peter Lowell’s restaurant. The following year, Bordessa purchased 60 more ducks and continued to sell all the eggs.
While running his business, Bordessa was also a full-time student at the Santa Rosa Junior College. He moved to San Luis Obispo in 2013 to attend Cal Poly where he received a degree in Agribuisness. During the two years Bordessa was gone for school, his parents cared for the ducks to keep his business going.
Bordessa graduated in 2015 and returned to Sonoma County. He picked up where he left off and purchased a flock of 500 ducks from a friend who wanted to get out of the business.
Bordessa worked with retailers to get his eggs into several Bay Area Asian markets and found a niche market for a product he hadn’t known existed seven years ago.
“I started to ship more eggs to the Bay Area,” said Bordessa, “and it just took off from there.”
In April 2016, he started renting property from the Renati family in Petaluma. He purchased an additional 3,200 ducks and now has a combined total of nearly 4,000 ducks.
On the Petaluma property, he has two barns and recently finished installing an egg collector in one barn – previously Bordessa was hand collecting all his eggs. He has an off-site facility where he washes his eggs, but plans to develop an on-site washing and packaging facility in the near future.
The ducks live inside the barns at night, but spend most of their day outside in large pastures. The ducks are free range, and Bordessa is in the process of completing his organic certification.
The ducks have yet to have any major problems, and Bordessa describes them as disease resistant. He said that while the cold weather affects chickens, ducks are much more resistant.
Bordessa purchases his ducks when they’re a day old from Metzer Farms in Gonzales. He gets the ducks in the spring, with a preferred hatch date of April 1st. Ducks hatched at the beginning of April begin laying around early October and peak in the spring of the following year, when business slows down.
Most of Bordessa’s ducks are crossbred, a mix of Khacki Campbell, Rouen and Indian Runner ducks. Khacki Campbell ducks which are traditionally used for egg production, lay approximately 250 eggs a year. Crossed with the additional breeds, Bordessa estimates his ducks produce 300-310 eggs per year, and a number that is competitive with chickens.
With 3,700 ducks producing 300 eggs per year, Bordessa will be producing and selling approximately 1,110,000 eggs a year.
Bordessa said the demand for duck eggs is the highest from Thanksgiving to Easter with the holidays and children being in school. His business slows down at the end of May and picks back up mid-September.
In the slower times of the year, Bordessa said it can be good to have some back stock. The eggs keep for about five weeks from the week they’re laid, 8-9 weeks if they’re refrigerated. Bordessa tries to turn around all his eggs in less than a week to keep them fresh.
Bordessa described last year as stressful, because he didn’t have enough eggs to meet his demand. He was approached by a chef who wanted to use the eggs, and although Bordessa realized it was a great PR opportunity, he didn’t have the eggs.
Bordessa is the only official employee of his business, although his mother has helped him with marketing and he recently hired a freelance graphic artist to design his logo and packaging. In addition to his logo and packaging, Bordessa said he also has plans for a website in the near future.
Bordessa works full time on his farm, from taking care of the birds to working on his improvements. He installed his egg collector, which will save him a lot of time now that it’s operational. He’s excited for the farm and business to come together.
He is also optimistic about the future of his business and expanding the amount of ducks he has. He plans to get more in April or May of next year and has ideas to get the eggs into local natural food stores.
“We’ll get more ducks if the demand is there,” said Bordessa. “If people still want the eggs, we’ll keep producing them.”
While his business has become successful, Bordessa said he’s learned a lot over course of several years, and he’s still continuing to learn. He said there’s a lot of little things you never think about until they arise.
“It’s been all about trial and error,” said Bordessa, “the first group is where we learned everything. The chickens gave me a start, and I learned from there. Looking back, I’m glad we started with 60. Five hundred would have been a disaster.”
Eggs from Washoe Valley Duck Farm can be found locally in addition to the Bay Area. Local consumers can find eggs in select Sonoma County Safeway Stores, Andy’s Produce and some Sonoma County restaurants.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the author and Sonoma County Farm Bureau when reprinting this item.