Welsh Harlequin Duck
Group Captain Leslie Bonnet was a well-known commercial duck breeder specializing in utility breeds in Hertfordshire, UK. In 1949, his purebred Khaki Campbells gave rise to two pale-colored ducklings that he named “Honey Campbells”, which he selected to develop a new line. The new color derived from two recessive genes. On moving to a new farm near Criccieth, Wales, in 1950, he renamed them “Welsh Harlequin” ducks.
Characteristics of Welsh Harlequin Duck
Today the breed is fixed as a light duck with a bright clear plumage, whose duck is known for its laying qualities. The colors and makeup of the breed have evolved, suggesting a new blood supply. The Welsh harlequin weighs between 2 and 2.5 kilograms. Females have black beaks, brown legs, and their plumage is similar to that of the mallard, but evolving towards a honey-cream color with a contribution of white feathers, and without the dark line that extends to both sides of the eye.
Bronze-headed males are similar to mallards; they show a white neck ring, with slightly spotted plumage and a greenish-yellow bill and orange legs. The shoulders and chest are mahogany, the belly white. Young males have a darker bill than females. There is also a “golden” variety, highly appreciated in Great Britain, which replaces the black pigments in the feathers with a golden brown color.
This breed is calm and docile. Duck makes an excellent coat (generally 150 to 190 eggs per year averaging 65 grams5). The Welsh Harlequin is one of the breeds recognized by the British Poultry Standard. The Welsh Harlequin was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s standard of perfection in 2001. But due to its small size in North America, it is considered endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Welsh Harlequin Egg Production
Hens of this breed are prone to laying between 250 to 300 large white eggs per year. To garner this many eggs from Welsh Harlequins during the cold weather months a coop light (solar powered) needs to be placed inside their coop to offer them the 10 or more hours a day of sunlight they need to foster egg production.
How To Choose The Best Welsh Harlequin Ducks
If you do not purchase these ducks as hatchlings, carefully looking over the physical attributes and habits of juvenile to mature birds will help get a robust flock started.
- Review the strength of the legs of the birds. Make sure they are uniformly developed, do not have any visible physical deformities (bow legged or hips placed too far apart) and are strong as well as functioning properly.
- Inspect the plumage of the birds to ensure their colors and patterns match the standard traits of a Welsh Harlequin from top to bottom.
- Lift the ducks to make sure they are neither more than a half a pound below or above the standard body weight.
- The birds should not boast a body that is too short or stout – blocky in style.
- The head feathers of a Welsh Harlequin should not have a coarse feel to them.
- The bill color should match the breed standards.
- Attempt to find accurate information about the laying habits of mature hens. If you plan on selling some of your Welsh Harlequin hens after establishing a large flock, keep laying records to share with potential buyers.