Welsh Harlequin ducklings have primarily identified Mallard domestication befell in Asia about 4,000 years in the past. It’s unknown when Muscovies have been first domesticated, however, it possibly occurred 1000’s of years in the past of their native vary of Mexico, Central, and/or South America.
Welsh Harlequin ducklings
The Welsh Harlequin ducklings originated in 1949 from two mutant mild-colored ducklings hatched from pure Khaki Campbells by Leslie Bonnet, a duck breeder residing close to Criccieth, Wales.
In 1968, John Fugate imported hatching Harlequin eggs to Tennessee, however by 1980, descendants of the unique imports have been confined to 2 small flocks.
To broaden the gene pool, breeders imported more Harlequins and Welsh Harlequin ducklings in 1982, and in 1984 they started to supply birds on the market in America.
The silver number of the Welsh Harlequin was accepted by the American Poultry Affiliation in 2001.
So, Welsh Harlequins’ wild ancestors have been Mallard geese. Silver Part Welsh Harlequin geese to be the extra lovely of the 2 varieties because the Silver geese (females) supply lovely blue-green iridescent wing bars and different hanging colorations not present in Gold Part Welsh Harlequin geese.
The drakes (males) of each phase are so comparable in a look that solely duck breeders or judges would be capable of informing them aside.
Sexing and birth of Welsh Harlequin ducklings
One other attention-grabbing visible function of Welsh Harlequins… “sexing” new child ducklings as both male or feminine normally requires a method the place an individual makes use of their fingers to half the duckling’s vent to show its girl or man elements (assuming they’re not hermaphroditic).
Nevertheless, for the primary few days of a Welsh Harlequin duckling’s life, you possibly can intercourse them with 75% accuracy based mostly purely on their bill shade.
Drakelets (males) usually have darkish inexperienced or gray payments. Ducklets (females) usually have tan or yellow payments with a darkish tip.
Welsh Harlequin geese: pets that lay eggs
Probably the most essential option we sought in our geese was a persona. We needed extremely sociable geese as a result of we needed pets as a lot as egg producers.
Our Welsh Harlequin geese have far exceeded our expectations within the “pet” class. They’re ridiculously cute and hilarious animals who by no means fail to place a smile on our faces. (Attributable to their personalities, Welsh Harlequin ducklings are sometimes called the “clowns of the duck world.”)
Study extra about Welsh Harlequin geese, a multi-purpose, heritage breed duck that additionally makes an improbable pet!
Years again, we determined we needed to get egg-laying fowl. We didn’t know a lot at the time, so we simply assumed this want meant we’d get chickens.
Nevertheless, after assembly a pal’s pet duck (and consuming her duck’s eggs) plus studying a pile of books on the subject, we got here to understand that geese have been a significantly better selection for us relative to chickens.
You’ll be able to learn all in regards to the side-by-side evaluation we carried out that precipitated us to decide on geese vs. chickens right here.
In this article, we’ll be telling you extra about why we selected Welsh Harlequin geese particularly, and what we’ve discovered after residing up shut and private with a flock of Welsh Harlequin geese for the previous seven years.
The place is Welsh Harlequin geese from?
Each fashionable breed of domesticated duck originated from wild Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). The exception to this rule is Muscovy geese (Cairina moschata), which are a separate line on the duck household tree.
The Welsh Harlequin ducklings are a reasonably new breed, developed by Leslie Bonnett in Wales from two off-colored Khaki Campbell ducklings in 1949.
They’re turning into a very talked-about breed as a result of they’ve glorious egg manufacturing skills and they’re going to instinctively sit and hatch a nest filled with ducklings.
They’re extraordinarily calm birds but in addition very inquisitive and glorious foragers. The feather patterns and colors on the grownup females are particularly lovely.
Of the 2 shade variations present in Welsh Harlequins (Silver and Gold), ours are the extra widespread Silver selection.
The Welsh Harlequin weighs 4.5-5.5 lbs and the feminine lays 100-150 massive, pearly white eggs weighing 75-85 grams per year. A really small share could also be tinted blue or inexperienced.
The primary identified Mallard domestication befell in Asia about 4,000 years in the past. It’s unknown when Muscovies have been first domesticated, however, it possibly occurred 1000’s of years in the past of their native vary of Mexico, Central, and/or South America.
So, Welsh Harlequins’ wild ancestors have been Mallard geese.
Each American brags that they are half Cherokee. Each duck brags that they are half Mallard.
Each American brags that they’re half Cherokee. Each duck brags that they’re half Mallard. Pictured: one among our Welsh Harlequin geese foraging within the snow. Photograph by our pal, John Christ.
Who’s the best human being in the historical past that you simply by no means heard of? Undoubtedly, the reply to that query is Leslie Bonnet, the person who initially bred Welsh Harlequin geese.
Bonnet was a real Renaissance Man: a gifted scholar, author, journal editor, banker, British Royal Air Power (RAF) officer, and — most significantly — duck breeder.
In 1949, Bonnet and his household moved to Criccieth in North Wales (simply throughout the Irish Sea from Dublin, Eire). After all, the household introduced their two dogs with them. And their 1,500 geese. (We thought we had a duck habit – sheesh.)
The Bonnets mounted up a ramshackle manor home on 25 acres, and Leslie quickly used the house to grow to be an international renowned duck breeder.
His 1960 ebook Sensible Duck-keeping was long thought to be the world’s go-to information on elevating and breeding geese.
Right here’s how Bonnet described Welsh Harlequin geese in Sensible Duck-keeping:
“The Welsh Harlequin originated from two sports activities of pre-Khaki Campbell inventory in 1949. Its supporters declare that the breed is a greater egg producer than the Khaki Campbell.
If that is so, it will be as a result of the docile and placid nature of the breed, which reduces probabilities of interruption of egg-laying by means of shocks or scares….A flock averages over 300 eggs per 12 months.”
The Brits do have a method with phrases. When Bonnet died at the age of 83, his obituary described him as “countryman…rubicund, well-fleshed however by no means flabby, and abounding with vitality.”
It is truthful to say that Leslie Bonnet made fairly a splash along with his life. The human that initially bred Welsh Harlequin ducklings deserves to have their visage carved on to the floor of the moon so that each one the geese and people on this planet can see his face in the evening.
Throughout his life, Bonnet produced the one true Welsh breed of duck, the Welsh Harlequin. For that, we’re eternally grateful to him.
Welsh Harlequin ducklings come to America
In 1968, John Fugate, a duck breeder in Tennessee, imported Welsh Harlequin hatching eggs from Leslie Bonnet.
By 1981, there have been solely two small flocks of Welsh Harlequins within the US, so Fugate reached out to Millie and Dave Holderread for assist, with the purpose of accelerating the genetic variety of the breed on this facet of the Atlantic Ocean.
In case you’re not a duck geek, Dave Holderread is likely one of the world’s high duck consultants/breeders.
We HIGHLY advocate his ebook Storey’s Information to Elevating Geese to anybody fascinated about elevating or breeding geese.
Over the following few years, Holderread and Fugate efficiently maximized the gene pool of the Welsh Harlequins in America. (In addition, they imported extra grownup Welsh Harlequin ducklings to assist the method.) By 1984, Holderread says, “we had enough matings to have the ability to ship ducklings to events all through the Americas.”
Silver Part vs Gold Part Welsh Harlequin Ducks
In Storey’s Information to Elevating Geese, Holderread describes the origins of “Silver Part” vs “Gold Part” Welsh Harlequin geese as follows:
“Early in our work with the Harlequins, I saw that there have been two distinct colors and that the physique conformation tended to be considerably shorter than portrayed within the earliest descriptions and images of the breed.
These modifications point out that Bonnet launched non-Khaki Campbell blood into his breeding program sooner or later previous to 1968. John [Fugate] and I made a decision that we would choose for the longer physique confirmation of the unique Harlequins however would keep each shade varieties. I dubbed these Gold and Silver.
Throughout the 1990s a number of British Waterfowl breeders and judges who visited us commentated that the conformation, dimension, plumage sample, and bill and leg shade of our Harlequins have been extra genuine than lots of these discovered at the moment of their homeland.
Once we initially obtained Welsh Harlequin geese from an area breeder, we ended up getting one feminine Gold Part Welsh Harlequin duck (left).
On the proper, you possibly can see one among our Silver Part Welsh Harlequin geese. This provides you side-by-side visibility of the variations between the 2 Harlequin varieties.
Gold Part Welsh Harlequin geese have been the unique conformation of the breed, and stay the usual in England. Silver Part Welsh Harlequin geese (like our flock) is perhaps described as a later, American model of a Welsh Harlequin.
Holderread describes the excellence between Gold Part and Silver Part Welsh Harlequin geese as follows:
The unique shade was the Gold, which has no black pigment, has comfortable colors and is the equal of Khaki in Campbells.
The Silver selection apparently arose at the very least 10 years after the origin of the breed and has an identical relationship to the Gold selection as Darkish has to Khaki within the Campbells.
Silver Harlequins have extra distinction and brilliance of their plumage and are the commonest selection in North America right now. In Nice Britain, the Silver selection will not be acknowledged as a Harlequin.
These snotty Brits! Our Silver Part Welsh Harlequin geese would thumb their noses proper again at them — if they’d thumbs or noses.
“For my subsequent trick, I shall dazzle you with my magnificence.” Our Silver Part Welsh Harlequin geese out foraging on a snow day. Chilly and moist situations don’t trouble our flock within the least. Photograph by John Christ.
The Welsh Harlequin ducklings are a lightweight breed at 5-5.5 kilos. Harlequins are streamlined, with comparatively lengthy our bodies, medium-width backs, rounded chests, reasonably full abdomens, and wide-spaced legs.
Their necks are topped with trim, oval heads that sport medium-long, barely concave payments. The color and patterning of the Harlequin are advanced. The drake’s head is greenish-black, shoulders reddish-chestnut frosted with white, and breast creamy with reddish-chestnut.
The higher again has a tortoiseshell of cream, white, brown, and chestnut whereas forewings are cream-white and reddish-brown, with a shiny inexperienced and bronze cross-band.
The tail is blackish/bronze edged in white, the legs and toes are orange, and the toenails are brownish-black. The duck has a creamy white head with brown stippling. Usually, there’s delicate mild rust or burnt orange blush to her head, neck, and breast.
The crown of the top usually has extra brown stippling than the remainder of the top. Her physique is creamy white with buff and brown-green or bronze bands on her wings.
Her tail is a mix of creamy white and brown. Her legs are orange when younger, and brown when older. Toenails are brownish-black.
Welsh Harlequin duck, drake, and duckling might exhibit a refined sex-linked distinction in bill shade at the beginning
Harlequins are primarily raised for his or her fantastic sensible attributes. “They’re extremely adaptable, excellent layers producing 240-330 white shelled eggs yearly, energetic foragers, glorious producers of lean meat, fantastically colored and pluck virtually as cleanly as white birds when dressed for meat.”
When selecting a Welsh Harlequin breeding chicken, choose “sturdy, strong-legged birds which can be freed from bodily deformities, heavy layers, and of appropriate physique sort and shade.
To assist perpetuate the genuine Harlequin, keep away from the next traits: greater than a half-pound above or beneath typical weights; brief, blocky our bodies; massive coarse heads; distinct Mallard-like facial stripes; mild colored payments in geese; and poor producers.”
Personally, we discover Silver Part Welsh Harlequin geese to be the extra lovely of the 2 varieties because the Silver geese (females) supply lovely blue-green iridescent wing bars and different hanging colorations not present in Gold Part Welsh Harlequin geese.
The drakes (males) of each phase are so comparable in the look that solely duck breeders or judges would be capable of informing them aside.
Sir Winston Duckbill, our Welsh Harlequin drake, pondering the which means of life whereas a bit of down dangles from his bill.
Sir Winston Duckbill, our Welsh Harlequin drake, pondering the which means of life whereas a bit of down dangles from his bill.
Welsh Harlequin egg-laying – an excessive amount of factor?
A wild Mallard duck might lay 24 eggs in a complete 12 months (two broods consisting of about 12 eggs every). A single Welsh Harlequin duck can lay 300+ eggs in a single 12 months.
Granted, a domesticated duck will get far more meals for a way of energy expended, however, that a lot of egg-laying nonetheless takes a toll.
Since geese’ major operate is to pet, not egg producers, we would like them to be as wholesome as potential and stay so long as potential — even when meaning they lay fewer eggs.
To maximize your pet geese’ well-being and longevity, maintain them on maintainer feed moderately than layer feed all year long. Make calcium complement (like an oyster shell) accessible if they need it.
The lower-protein, lower-calcium maintainer meals reduce their laying time/egg manufacturing, which then maximizes their health.
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