Did you know? Or did you guess?
We got ducklings!
Back in December we put in an order for 10 Welsh Harlequin ducklings from Holderread Waterfowl Farm and Preservation Center. If you don’t know who they are, they are a well-respected breeder of geese and ducklings located in Oregon. They primarily focus on heritage stock, and have some beautiful birds that come from beautiful lines. Of course, not every bird is going to be show quality or perfect, but they start with the best.
By getting our ducklings from them, I could be certain they were purebred and not a hatchery spin-off. Not that there is anything wrong with that! But we really want to focus on some of the heritage breeds around here, and I wanted to be certain in what I was getting.
Welsh Harlequins are listed as Critical on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy’s list. The Welsh Harlequins originated from two mutant (or sport) Khaki Campbells. They are are not a particularly old breed, but they’re particularly beautiful and are said to have maintained their ancestor’s impeccable laying ability. Both of these reasons are why we chose them, as well as because they are a smaller duck suitable for our little homestead. If you want to read more about the breed, please do so here: American Livestock Conservancy.
One of the particular traits of the Welsh Harlequin is that it is said you can sex them with 90% accuracy within the first few days by their beak color. The females have a pink beak, sometimes with a black dot, whereas the males have a solid dark beak. Going by that, we definitely have some females, and we definitely have some males…. There are a few in the “maybe” zone, hwich is possible as the female’s beaks will darken quickly over the days after they were hatched. I’m tentatively saying we have 6 ducks and 4 drakes.
The goal was to keep 4 ducks and 1 drake, so we will have a bit of excess to sell and possibly eat once they are old enough for us to decide which we’re keeping.
A little later this weekend, I’ll post on our duck brooder and how I like it–it’s from a design on Backyard Chickens to try and keep the pesky ducklings clean!
Until then, enjoy this video of ducklings around their watering hole.