Welsh Harlequin Ducks
Welsh Harlequin History
This breed has a fascinating story which begins quietly enough with it being developed by Group Captain Leslie Bonnet in the late nineteen forties using Khaki Campbell 'sports' (pure breeds that do not resemble the normal standards – much used in breed development), and later using other breeds as a cross. Although he originally did this in Herefordshire, the family moved to North Wales, hence the origin of the name 'Welsh Harlequin'. They were a utility breed and proved popular but as with so many ducks breeds numbers dropped in the fifties and sixties. Disaster then struck. A fox wiped out Group Captain Bonnet's birds that were direct descendants of the original 'sports'. It looked like the breed was lost forever. Yet in 1963, a Mr Eddie Grayson of Lancashire had bought some of the original Bonnet birds who carried all the genetics and he still had them so the breed was saved. Breeding stock was imported into the USA in 1968 and standardised in 1987 and today this breed has a lot of interest for its beauty and usefulness. The drake has a green and bronze head with a white circle around his neck and his breast and shoulders are a laced, rich red mahogany brown. The wings have a tortoiseshell effect. The duck has a honey brown head and neck and her main body is fawn to cream with lacing on her wings, making them a handsome pair.
Welsh Harlequin Behaviour
A good egg layer with stains ranging from a respectable 100 to a superb 200 eggs a year, the carcase is big enough for the table as well. It is docile and placid and doesn't fly and is happy to stay in the orchard or garden where it forages enthusiastically for insects. It has a high libido so don't keep more than one drake in a pen or the females will be damaged. It is classified as a light breed.
Welsh Harlequin Status
Fairly common (but do check the markings are in accordance with the breed standard).