Welsh Harlequin Drake: Profile, Care, Differences, Facts

welsh harlequin drake

The resplendent Welsh Harlequin Drake finds its origins in the meticulous work of Leslie Bonnet, a breeder hailing from Wales, who stumbled upon a coloration mutation within his Khaki Campbells in the year 1949. Our initial stock of these magnificent birds was sourced directly from the progenitor, Mr. Bonnet himself. Since the inception of our breeding program in 1982, we have undertaken the task of meticulously selecting and refining our Harlequins to ensure the preservation of their authenticity.

Welsh Harlequin Drake: Profile, Care, Differences, Facts, Care

It’s important to note that every modern breed of domesticated duck traces its ancestry back to the wild Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), with the singular exception being the Muscovy ducks (Cairina moschata), which occupy a distinct branch on the duck family tree. For those seeking a visually striking duck that not only possesses the prolific laying capabilities akin to the Campbell breed but also boasts a hearty foraging ability and reaches a weight of 5 to 5.5 pounds, the Welsh Harlequin Drake stands as an excellent choice.

Our flocks have consistently demonstrated an impressive annual egg production, averaging between 260 to 350 pristine white eggs per female. Furthermore, given the opportunity to brood, many Harlequin females exhibit commendable success in hatching out healthy ducklings, further underscoring their value as a dual-purpose breed.

Selective Breeding and Maintenance of Authenticity

Behind the allure of the Welsh Harlequin Drake lies a laborious process of selective breeding, diligently carried out since the establishment of our breeding program over four decades ago. With unwavering dedication, we have meticulously scrutinized and chosen our breeding stock, prioritizing traits that epitomize the quintessential characteristics of the Harlequin breed. Through generations of careful selection, we have endeavored to perpetuate and enhance the breed’s distinctive attributes, ensuring that each subsequent generation maintains the hallmark traits that define the Welsh Harlequin.

This steadfast commitment to maintaining authenticity has been a cornerstone of our breeding philosophy, guiding every decision made in the propagation of these exquisite waterfowl. By adhering to stringent breeding standards and practices, we not only honor the legacy of Leslie Bonnet’s pioneering work but also uphold the integrity of the Welsh Harlequin breed for future generations to cherish and appreciate.

The Ancestral Lineage and Genetic Peculiarities

Delving into the evolutionary tapestry of domesticated ducks unveils a fascinating lineage deeply rooted in the wild Mallards, from which all modern breeds derive their ancestry. However, amidst this genealogical continuum, the Muscovy ducks stand as a distinctive anomaly, representing a divergent lineage within the broader duck family tree. Unlike their counterparts, Muscovy ducks (Cairina moschata) trace their origins to a separate evolutionary trajectory, characterized by unique genetic and morphological features.

While the majority of domesticated ducks exhibit a genetic lineage intertwined with that of the Mallards, the Muscovy ducks occupy a singular position, offering a fascinating case study in avian evolution and genetic divergence. This peculiarity underscores the remarkable diversity present within the duck family and serves as a testament to the intricate interplay of genetic forces that shape the natural world.

Welsh Harlequin Drake Origin

Welsh Harlequin Drake has been developed in Wales, UK, from the Khaki Campbell, which itself descended from a Rouen drake, originating in France, crossed with a Fawn and White Runner duck, originating within the islands of Southeast Asia, whose offspring have been later crossed with a Mallard drake.

Honey Campbells: In 1949, Bonnet’s Khaki Campbells produced two pale-colored ducklings, which he named “Honey Campbells.” Recognizing their potential, he embarked on developing a new line of ducks with this unique coloration.

Welsh Harlequin: Upon relocating to a new farm near Criccieth, Wales, in 1950, Bonnet renamed his ducklings “Welsh Harlequin” geese, signifying their Welsh origins and distinctive appearance.

Color Variations: The original Gold variation became prevalent in the UK. However, a new Silver variation emerged when fertile eggs were imported to Tennessee by John Fugate, resulting in a significant portion of hatchlings displaying this new coloration.

Preservation Efforts

Breeding Setback: A fox attack devastated Bonnet’s flock, leading to the loss of his breeding stock. Fortunately, Edward Grayson, an enthusiastic amateur breeder, had preserved stock from Bonnet’s original strain.

Revival and Standardization: Grayson played a pivotal role in reviving the breed by crossing with Khaki Campbells and stabilizing the color. He established a standard and a national club, ultimately leading to the admission of Welsh Harlequin geese to British Standards in 1997.

American Expansion: In the United States, Fugate’s stock faced a decline by 1981, prompting the importation of live birds to increase genetic diversity. Collaboration with Dave Holderread facilitated the establishment of matings and the expansion of stock.

welsh harlequin drake

Recognition and Standardization

Standard Refinement: Over time, breeders refined conformation to meet the current standard while acknowledging the two color variations. By 1984, ducklings were readily available in the US market.

Official Recognition: In 2001, the Silver variation gained recognition and was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection, cementing the Welsh Harlequin Drake’s place in the poultry world.

Conservation Standing: Welsh Harlequin Drake is a heritage poultry breed on the watch record of The Livestock Conservancy.

A Closer Look at the Welsh Harlequin Drake

Distinctive Conformation: The Welsh Harlequin Drake shares similarities in physique structure with the Campbell breed, featuring a streamlined silhouette characterized by a lengthy body, medium-width back, rounded chest, and wide-spaced legs. Notably, its oval-shaped head boasts a medium-long straight or slightly concave bill.

Elegant Stance: With a neck of medium length held nearly vertically, this drake maintains a poised posture, positioning its body at an angle of 20–35 degrees from horizontal, ideal for efficient foraging endeavors.

Majestic Plumage: Resembling the Mallard in appearance, the Welsh Harlequin Drake exhibits striking colors. Its head, dark with a green sheen, is adorned with a white collar, while chestnut shoulders transition into a captivating white frosted pattern over the back, wings, and down to a cream-white breast. The tail adds contrast with its striking black and bronze hues. How AI, ChatGPT maximizes earnings of many people in minutes

Feminine Beauty: In contrast, the Welsh Harlequin duck boasts a softer aesthetic, featuring a cream-colored head adorned with fawn stipples and lacking eye stripes. Its creamy-white body, wings, and tail are embellished with frosted brown and fawn markings, exuding elegance and grace.

Sexual Dimorphism: Both male and female Welsh Harlequin ducks display orange legs in their youth, but as females mature, their legs turn brown. Adult drakes exhibit olive-black bills, while females’ bills take on a yellowish-green hue. Interestingly, a distinctive autosexing coloration difference is observable in chicks, with females displaying paler bills and a dark spot on the tip. This characteristic, though approximately 75% accurate, fades within two to three days post-hatching.

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