The desire of Welsh Harlequin

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Their name sounds like a romance novel and from everything I read, anyone whom raises the breed, falls in love. Being we must have eggs, and we do enjoy duck eggs, the Muscovy is not known for laying enough to satisfy the need. Plus Muscovy hens can be a bit flighty. The harlequins may flap, but are not fliers. So there will be no mornings walking out to find ducks grubbing in the garden! 
My wandering eye considered the Khaki Campbell which has a high count of laying yet are skittish with humans unless they have a large amount of daily human interaction year round. I hibernate in winter. Other then tending to the flock, I make quick of my time in the pen. It's not something that work well with this Southern Chick in Yankee weather.
As for the Welsh Harlequins, they are said to be clowns and have a high rate of egg laying with dual utility as meat birds. Personally, I find their appearance and eyes to have a Happy look. Their faces giving an almost smiling appearance.  Drakes weigh around 5-5 1/2 pounds and Hen ducks 4 1/2-5 lbs. They originated from a color sport in the Khaki Campbell breed. A layer of white or greenish eggs, developed in 1949, not surprisingly in Wales. They are known to produce 275-350 eggs per year and are calmer than the Campbell's.
They are said to be sex linked when hatched out by color of their bill. Males have the darker bills, whilst females have the more pink. As for accuracy, I found it is not 100%.
*Welsh harlequins owned by BYC user Kansaseq  shared via BYC forum *
Backyard Poultry Magazine  had this to say with comparison to the raising of chickens vs Ducks:

"Relatively few people in the Americas realize that, on the whole, ducks are more proficient layers than chickens. While poultry researchers in North America have spent the last 100 years and countless millions of dollars on improving the productivity of chickens, ducks—for all practical purposes—have been ignored. Despite all the attention chickens received, it's unusual for a commercial flock of Leghorns to average over 250 to 280 eggs per hen in a year's time. On the other hand, Campbell ducks of good strains often average 300 or more eggs per bird during the course of 12 months"

Yes, you read that right. Compared to chickens, the Campbell breeds outlay chickens.

Of course this brought forth the question on feed ratio. Will they eat more being they lay more? Will they require less or more for housing and weather protection? Well BYC magazine answers that as well:

"It is true that, when raised in confinement, a 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 pound duck will consume 20 to 30 percent more feed than a similarly sized Leghorn. But, due to the larger size and greater number of eggs produced by ducks, trials have shown that with proper management, ducks are still more efficient when the quantity of feed to produce a pound of eggs is calculated. Since ducks are considerably better foragers than chickens, the efficiency of ducks is further enhanced when they are allowed to rustle free foods in bodies of water, pastures or grassy yards.
Ducks are also incredibly resistant to disease and cold and wet weather. The average mortality rate in home flocks is significantly lower with ducks than with chickens. Due to their greater hardiness, ducks require less elaborate housing than chickens—yet another advantage. And, because egg-type ducks are not accomplished high jumpers, they are easily confined with a two- or three-foot high barrier."

I'm pretty sold on the Welsh Harlequin ducks.
**Update & correction~**
 Meyer's Hatchery offers them, which for us,  is a 1 1/2 hour drive. We are planning an order for March or early April.  I will no longer place orders with Meyers being they do not allow you to pick up ducks from their store. So if ordering under 9 ducks, you pay a minimum of $42 for s&h despite their breeder as well as their store being 1 1/2 hrs from us. Their Duck breeder is within a short distance of their location but Meyers refuses to have the ducks dropped off to their store for us to pick up to avoid the ridiculous Shipping and Handling charge they made mandatory.
On top of that, I am questioning their quality of the breed we are after. As of this update, their website lists their egg ability as 150-200 eggs. When questioned, their worker kept repeating they are excellent layers. That's not excellent duck laying amount Lady. You are obviously not knowledgeable enough to answer questions of detail with customers. The whole mess leaves me with a whole new view on this business. That's just my opinion and experience. But they will never receive another from me.
  So Meyer's, you have earned a big thumbs down from The Unusual farm Chick.

I found a wonderful woman local who raises waterfowl. Her Original stock of the Welshie's hailed from Holderead waterfowl. They have the original line from Wales and are known as superior producers in the waterfowl community. So I'll stay even more local with our duck purchase. Her prices are lower and stock is many times better. Plus, I'll spend about $1 in gas round trip to pick them up.***

An order of 1 drake with 3-4 females. They begin laying around 6 months, much later then a chicken. So we will not expect much in their first year.
The big plan is to let them go broody, hatch out as many ducklings as they can their first year. Hopefully, providing enough duck meat for freezer and doubling our main flock.
Of course, we are also adding meat rabbits later in the year. The hutches have yet to be built due to the workshop being overtaken by the winter storage of bikes and Beehive Supers.I plan to place them out by the big Winecap Mushroom bed.
Of course the list just keeps growing and I wonder if I will ever have time for the Vintage camper remodel. Whom ever believes a stay home mom {a Home maker} with all the children in school have too much time on their hands, has never spent a week with me.
Now off to help Panda study for the ACT. Apparently this is the first year they have opened it to all 8th graders. Can you believe she is almost in high school already?!
Let's just say it's a good thing I'm not the one taking the test. jeesh. This stuff makes my head hurt.
Sweetest Dream,



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