The Abacot Ranger was one of many breeds developed from (or crossed with) Indian Runners. Starting with “sports” from Khaki Campbells, themselves originally the products of Runner crosses, Mr Oscar Gray of Abacot Duck Ranch, near Colchester, mated their offspring to a white Indian Runner drake. The eventual results were “light drakes of Khaki carriage and type with dark hoods, and white ducks with blue flight bars and fawn or grey hoods.” This development was begun in 1917 and the Wye College Duck Laying Test of 1922-3 indicates a very successful outcome: the breed came top with 935 eggs in the four bird section. Originally called the “Hooded Ranger”, this breed almost died out in this country. Imported into Germany via Denmark in 1926, it was “stabilized” as a colour form by H. Lieker, whence it acquired the name “Liekers Streifere” (Lieker’s Ranger or Scout). In 1934 it was eventually standardized under the name of Streicher-Ente (Ranger Duck). Later standardized by the BWA in 1987, the modern Abacot Ranger owes both its survival and written standard to the work done in Germany.
The Aylesbury derives its name from the town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, where it was bred as a white table duck in the eighteenth century and used in increasingly large numbers to supply the London market. The white plumage was valued for quilt filling and the pale skin contributed an attractive carcass. This light colouration is evident in the pink bill colour that continues to be a key characteristic of the breed. The Aylesbury was a leading waterfowl exhibit in the first National Poultry Show held at the London Zoological Gardens in June 1845. This was the beginning of live poultry exhibitions, and it was the Victorian stress on size that led to the development of the modern Aylesbury with its pronounced keel and long, pink bill. It was standardized in 1865.
Originally imported from Malaysia in 1925, these ducks take their name from Bali, an island east of Java where they were indigenous. Originally standardized in 1930, the breed has recently been re-created in Britain (in the 1990s) by crossing crested ducks with Indian Runners.
Black East Indian
First Standardized in Britain in 1865, the Black East Indian Duck shares its colour with the North American Cayuga. This bantam duck was alleged to have been imported to Britain by the Earl of Derby in about 1850. However, evidence suggests that it had been already in the possession of the London Zoological Society since 1831, the same year that the 13th Earl of Derby was elected President of the ZSL. At this time it was known as the “Buenos Ayres” duck, but there seems to be no evidence that South America or the East Indies were the places of origin. It has been known as “Labrador”, “Brazilian”, “Buenos Aires” and eventually “Black East Indie”, the former being perhaps the most appropriate geographically. There is speculation that the black gene may have arrived via a close relative of the northern mallard, the American black duck (Anas rubripes). This is the bold assertion of early historians of the Cayuga, and it seems equally applicable to the Black East Indian. The drakes tend to retain their black plumage but the females develop patches of white as they get older. Impure black birds can show elements of brown pencilling, especially under the wings and throat.
Blue ducks emerged in northern Europe during the nineteenth century in various breeds. Two of the most popular, the Blue Swedish and the Pomeranian (Pommern), were developed near the Baltic shores of what is now modern Germany and Poland. Both of these breeds have characteristics in common: both have bibs and are blue, but the Blue Swedish has some white primaries. A pair of exhibition Blues will produce a proportion of blue, black, and splashed offspring.
While known as Call Ducks nowadays they have been referred to as Decoys or Coys in the past. Francis Willughby who toured the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy between 1663 and 1666 observed how wildfowlers in Holland fitted ponds with channels and nets prior to stocking them with Coy ducks to entice and entrap wildfowl. He noticed that some Coy Ducks were free winged, but others were pinioned. A painting by Melchior d’Hondecoeter (1635-1695), featuring what appears to be, well grown Call ducklings in the foreground, seems to back this evidence that they existed in Holland in the 17th Century.
Trapping wildfowl went on in Britain also, with wildfowlers deploying tame or semi-tame ducks to entice their wild relatives. Rev. Edmund Saul Dixon M.A. revealed in his book “Ornamental and Domestic Poultry”, written in 1848, that a much smaller race of white ducks had been imported from Holland and that their chief merit, indicated by the title Call Duck, consisted in their incessant loquacity. He went on to state that the management of decoys was as well understood in Norfolk as anywhere and that the trained Decoy ducks there resembled the wild Mallard. While these wild coloured traitors aroused no suspicion the imported conspicuous Dutchmen excited fatal attention and curiosity. The white Call Ducks had a yellow orange bill unlike the Aylesbury’s, which was flesh coloured. Harrison Weir’s “Our Poultry” published in 1902, in quoting from Johnson’s Dictionary, i.e. “To decoy, v.a. (from Koey, Dutch, a cage), to entrap, to draw into”, aptly described why these diminutive ducks were employed. When the first “Standard of Excellence in Exhibition Poultry” was compiled in 1865 two colour varieties of Calls were standardised, the White and the Grey. (The latter becoming known as the “Brown” before being largely termed “Mallard” at the present time.)
By the mid 1880’s, Mandarins (Aix galericulata) and Carolinas (Aix sponsa) had become more popular with exhibitors and Calls were relegated to just the odd exhibit or two being shown in Ornamental duck or drake classes. This state of affairs lasted for over a century until the Call’s popularity really took off and 300 + Call Ducks could been seen at larger shows, which is the case today. From 1971 onwards, additional colour varieties have been standardised.
One of the first, and certainly the most successful, of the utility breeds designed in the 20th century from the Indian Runner, the Khaki Campbell largely took over as the top egg-laying duck. The colour of farmyard mud, from which it gets the first part of its name, the Khaki Campbell proved to be exceedingly agile, very fertile and extremely prolific. It too has spawned many variants: the White Campbell, the Dark Campbell, the Welsh Harlequin (a simple mutation of the original Khaki), the Abacot Ranger (a cross back to the Runner) and the Whaylesbury hybrid (Harlequin and Aylesbury). “This breed,” writes Captain R A Long (1926), “was produced by mating a Rouen drake with a Fawn and White Runner duck, some Wild Duck blood being added later.” Mrs Campbell writes of her ducks that they were meant for utility layers “not show birds” but that since some people wished to show them (and the birds must be bred to a definite type), she drew up a standard of what she would like them best to be in plumage.
Mrs Campbell’s Original Campbell ducks were not khaki at all. They quite closely resembled Abacot Rangers. It was not until about 1901 when she tried to produce buff coloured birds, and failed, that the Khaki variety emerged.
The white variety was developed by Captain F. S. Pardoe in 1924 and standardized in 1954. It was hailed as having identical utility properties to the Khaki but with more attractive selling appearance, at least for the table. The white plumage is the result of a recessive gene that hides other colours. The White Campbell has also a gene that makes the bill appear yellow rather than pink.
The Dark Campbell, first standardized also in 1954, was the product of attempts to breed auto-sexing ducks. Mr H. R. S. Humphreys of Devon is credited with creating this variety in the September 3, 1943, edition of “Poultry World”. The element of sex-linkage is caused by a lack of the brown dilution normally in the Khaki. Because this is a sex-linked gene, it is possible to cross a Khaki drake with a Dark Campbell female to produce Khaki female ducklings and Dark-looking male ones, thus allowing breeders to cull unwanted males in their day-old fluff. Essentially the Dark Campbell has the same colour form as the Dusky Mallard Call. Quite simply it is a Khaki without any brown dilution.
This breed takes its name from Lake Cayuga in New York State, and is thought to be descended from the wild black duck (Anas rubripes), the Cayuga was recorded in North America between 1830 and 1850. It was first standardized in America in 1874 and in Britain in 1901. Its colour is very similar to the smaller Black East Indian: black plumage with brilliant green iridescence. The drakes tend to retain their black plumage but the females develop patches of white as they get older.
Darwin described the “Tufted Duck” (1868) which he obtained from Holland, as well as another sent to him “from the Malayan archipelago”. The connection is significant. Dutch trading interests in Asia date back at least to 1602 when the Dutch East India Company was formed. Seventeenth century Dutch paintings by artists such as Jan Steen and Melchior d’Hondecoeter feature crested ducks and those with pied markings like the Fawn & White Indian Runner. Bali Ducks also emerged from this part of Asia. Since a duck with crested genes would survive with difficulty in the wild, its development and cultivation may be jointly attributed to the inhabitants of the East Indies and the Dutch.
The breed was also described by D. J. Browne in the USA in 1853 and admitted to the American Standard in 1874. Harrison Weir depicted the breed in his work “Our Poultry” in 1902 and the breed was finally admitted to the UK Standard in 1910.
The Hook Bill is described and illustrated by Francis Willughby (in his Ornithology, published in 1678). Harrison Weir (1902) asserts that these birds are of Indian origin. He notes also that he saw them between 1837 and 1840 on the lake at Surrey Zoological Gardens. Weir maintains that the Dutch released their Hook Bills every morning on to the local canals and rivers, a very cost-effective way of feeding them. At dusk the birds flew back to their owners. Fancifully perhaps, he suggests that the bill and white bib made them distinct from the wild targets of the local hunters. Both Durigen and Broekman (referred to in Schmidt, Puten, Perlhuhner, Ganse, Enten, 1989) reinforce the Asiatic origin of the bird. Durigen calls it haken- or bogenschnabel (hook or bow-bill). The name Krombekeenden occurs in the Dutch references and the Germans use the term Krummschnabel-Enten. How and when it arrived and later spread in Europe is not reported, although there is evidence (A. Buehle, 1860) that the bird was widely distributed throughout Europe in the mid nineteenth century, centred particularly in Thuringia where it was kept on garden ponds for egg-laying and as a prized meat bird.
The era of the high egg-laying breeds of ducks started with the introduction of the Indian Runner into this country from Malaya. A ship’s captain brought home fawns, fawn-and-whites and whites, distributing them among his friends in Dumfriesshire and Cumberland. They proved prolific layers, and there was a class of fawn Runners at the Dumfries show in 1876 but the fawn-and-whites were not exhibited until 1896. The Indian Runner Duck Club’s Standard of 1907 described only the fawn-and-white, that of 1913 recognized also the fawn, while the 1926 Standard described the black, Cumberland Blue and Chocolate varieties.
The Magpie is an unusual duck breed named only according to its original plumage markings of black and white. Developed by Rev. Gower Williams and Mr. Oliver Drake in the years following the First World War, the breed was first standardized in the addendum to the 1926 Poultry Club Standards. It has a comparable colour form in the later German Altrheiner Elsterenten produced by Paul-Erwin Oswald.
The wild Muscovy (Cairina moschata) is a native of South and Central America where it was being domesticated long before Columbus arrived in 1492. (White ones were found on Guadeloupe, by Diego Alvarez Chanca in 1494). It is allocated to a sub-group of perching ducks known as “the greater wood ducks”, which it shares with the white-winged wood duck and Hartlaub’s duck. These are heavy-bodied birds with relatively short legs that give them a horizontal carriage. They have broad wings with bony knobs at the carpal joints and the males show a slight swelling of the forehead during the breeding season. The wild Muscovies are mainly black in plumage with white patches on the wing covert area. These vary, but usually develop with age. This is the basic wild pattern. Other patterns have been developed under domestication, including the magpie pattern and the white-headed magpie pattern. Three other characteristics are readily apparent: Muscovies have an erectile forecrown crest, wart-like “caruncles” that develop with age, especially in the case of the males, and webbed feet (with strong claws) equally suited to perching as swimming. The size has increased under domestication. A powerful bird requiring careful handling.
The Orpington Ducks were developed by William Cook of Kent, who also bred Orpington chickens in the late nineteenth century. The Buff and Blue versions are likely to have emerged sometime after 1894, and were being advertised for sale in 1898. These ducks were believed to be the result of cross-breeding Indian Runners to Aylesburys, Rouens and Cayugas. The Buffs were standardized in 1910, followed by the Blue variety in 1926. Black, White and Chocolate Orpingtons were also developed but these were not standardized.
The Standard Buff Orpington is an attractive but unstable colour form. Standard birds are impure for blue dilution and produce three colour forms, the first of which is the standard:
Buff. Intermediate head colour in the males (seal brown), a dark grey brown colour. There is very slight indication of blue on the rump, and the females, like the males, have an overall even buff body colour with little evidence of pencilling.
Blond. Pale buff with a light grey brown head (in the case of the drake) and possibly more blue on the rump. The females are paler than the Buffs and there is even less chance of pencilling.
Brown. Light khaki pencilled plumage on the females; brown heads and rumps on the males; no evidence of blue at all.
The Pekin was imported from China into Great Britain and America between 1872 and 1874. Crossed with other breeds, it had a large impact on the commercial table bird market. The American strain continues to show a less than upright carriage whilst the British and European Pekins retain the characteristics described below. The British Standard between 1910 and 1930 insisted on a plumage that was deep cream or ‘buff canary’, and when this strain ‘died out’ fresh importations were made from Europe. The present exhibition strain is therefore often referred to as the ‘German Pekin’, largely to distinguish it from the American. This is a variety that continues to thrive as an exhibition breed and also as basic stock for commercial breeding. In addition, it provided genetic material for several modern breeds, including the Saxony.
The Rouen is a very large domestic duck with plumage colour and markings that resemble those of the wild mallard (Anas p. platyrhynchos). Originally produced in Normandy, from the area of Rouen, it was imported into southern England some time in the eighteenth century. Here its size, shape and colouring were further developed to such an extent that it was distinguished from the commercial French ducks by referring to it as the Rouen fonce (dark Rouen) or even “English Rouen”.
This was one of the first duck breeds standardized in Great Britain (in the original Standards of 1865), and is now valued more for its size and plumage markings in the exhibition pen than as a commercial meat bird. It has also been used as basic stock for breeding many of the duck breeds developed in the twentieth century.
The Rouen Clair is a modern development of the traditional mallard-coloured ducks from the Rouen area of France. It is distinguished from the Rouen fonce by the pale (Isabelle clair) ground colour of the female, the slightly upright carriage and a number of other characteristics common to the light phase plumage. The modern Rouen Clair is largely the result of breeding accomplished by Monsieur Rene Garry between 1910-20. Beginning with birds selected from farms in the area of Picardy, he proceeded to develop bloodlines primarily for size and plumage colour. Further bloodlines, involving Rouen-mallard crosses, improved the vigour and resulted in a large, light-phase, commercial duck, first standardized in France in 1923 and in Great Britain in 1982.
Developed mainly from Rouens, German Pekins and Blue Pommerns around 1930, the Saxony was bred by Albert Franz at Chemnitz. It was first exhibited at Chemnitz-Altendorf at the first Saxony County Show of 1934. However, the breed stock was almost entirely destroyed during the Second World War and in 1952 Franz was forced to begin a revival using small surviving flocks and reintroducing some of the other breeds employed earlier in 1930. The Saxony duck was recognized in Eastern Germany (GDR) in 1957, in Western Germany (FRG) the following year and in Great Britain in 1982.
Originated by Reginald Appleyard in the mid twentieth century, the Silver Appleyard was developed as a layer of “lots of big white egg” and as a white-skinned table bird that attained a weight of 3.0 kg / 6 1/4 lb (cold and plucked) at the age of 9 weeks. For size, carriage and basic plumage colour, it closely resembles the Rouen Clair. Its unique feature, however, is the expression of the restricted mallard gene that limits the amount of pigment on the face and body plumage of both duck and drake. Little is known about the appearance of the first Appleyards other than from sources like the painting by Wippell commissioned in 1947. The modern Silver Appleyard (standardized in 1982) and its Miniature form (standardized in 1997) are largely the result of breeding by Tom Bartlett of Folly Farm.
Silver Appleyard Miniature
Developed in the 1980s and shown at the first BWA Championship Waterfowl Exhibition of 1987 by Tom Bartlett of Folly Farm, this Bantam Duck is a miniature version of the original Silver Appleyard produced by Reginald Appleyard in the mid twentieth century. The Miniature, first Standardized in 1997, is roughly a third of the weight of the original, large breed.
This bantam breed was formerly known as the Silver Appleyard Bantam. It was produced by Reginald Appleyard from a cross between a small Khaki Campbell duck and a white Call drake in the 1940s. The Silver Bantam does not have the same colour genes as the large Silver Appleyard, hence the change of name when the Miniature Appleyard was Standardized in 1997. The Bantam is very similar to the Abacot Ranger, which was also developed from Khaki Campbells and crossed to a white drake. In this way, the dusky mallard genes were retained and the hidden harlequin-phase genes were revealed.
Originally bred by Group Captain Leslie Bonnet at the end of the Second World War, the breed owes its existence to a chance production of two mutations (?sports?) from a flock of Khaki Campbells in 1949. These ?Honey Campbells? were renamed ?Welsh Harlequins? when the Bonnet family moved to Wales.
The Harlequins were saved from virtual extinction after the late 1960s by Edward Grayson in Lancashire. He had retained birds from the original Bonnet strain, bred these back to Khaki Campbells and eventually stabilized the colour form. This was possible simply because the Harlequin is genetically almost identical to the Khaki Campbell. It possesses two recessive genes, which F. M. Lancaster established as harlequin-phase. Both Khaki Campbell and Welsh Harlequin have dusky mallard genes and sex-linked, brown dilution genes, hence the bronze rather than blue specula. Modern examples of the Welsh Harlequin, however, tend to have bright olive bills, compared to the blue-green of the Campbell and a proportion of the early Harlequins.