The Welsh Harlequin duck is a light breed of domestic duck originating in Wales. It is a fairly new breed which was developed in the year of 1949 by Leslie Bonnet. He discovered a color mutation among his flock of Khaki Campbell ducks and began selectively breeding for the trait.
Welsh Harlequin duck is known for it’s high eggs production ability, and it is also noted for being calmer birds than the Khaki Campbells. They were a popular utility breed after their development. But as with so many duck breeds, their numbers dropped in the fifties and sixties.
The breed was first imported to the United States around 1968. Actually hatching eggs of the Welsh Harlequin duck were imported by John Fugate to Tennessee. But live birds were imported to the United States in 1981.
The breed was accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in the year of 2001. Now the number of Welsh Harlequin duck is not too much. And the breed is considered to be critically endangered in North America by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
But the breed may be available in some other parts of the world. However review characteristics, uses, full breed profile and some special notes about the Welsh Harlequin duck below.
Welsh Harlequin Duck Characteristics
The Welsh Harlequin duck is classed as a light weight duck breed by the American Poultry Association. And the breed is well known for it’s good egg laying ability and also for it’s vivid plumage.
Welsh Harlequin ducks have relatively long bodies, rounded chest, moderately full abdomens, medium width backs and wide spaced legs. Their necks are topped with trim. They have oval heads that sport medium-long and slightly concave bills.
The females have a black bill with brown legs and feet. And their plumage is similar to a Mallard, but heavily frosted with white. They also lack the eye stripes of the Mallard females.
Welsh Harlequin drakes are also similar to a heavily frosted Mallard with a yellow/green bill and orange legs and feet. The patterning and color of the Welsh Harlequin duck is complex.
The drakes have greenish black head, reddish chestnut frosted with white shoulders, and their breast is creamy with reddish-chestnut. Their forewings are cream-white and reddish brown, with a shiny green and bronze cross-band. And their upper back has a tortoiseshell of cream, chestnut, brown and white.
The tail of the drakes is blackish/bronze edged with white. Their legs and feet are orange and the toenails are brownish-black. While the female Welsh Harlequins have a creamy white head with brown stippling.
Their crown of the head typically has more brown stippling than the rest of the head. Often there is a delicate light rust or burnt orange blush to her head, neck, and breast.
Usually the body of the female Welsh Harlequins is creamy white with buff and brown-green or bronze when young, and typically brown when older. And their toenails are brownish-black.
There is also a color variation of the Welsh Harlequin duck known as ‘Golden’, which is popular in the United Kingdom. This color variation replaces the black feather pigments with a light golden brown color.
Average body weight of the Welsh Harlequin duck is between 2 and 2.5 kg. Photo from The Livestock Conservancy.
The Welsh Harlequin duck is a very good egg laying duck breed. It is suitable for commercial duck farming business for egg production. But as a light weight duck breed, these birds produce a lean carcass and it is also suitable for meat production.
Welsh Harlequin duck is one of the fantastic egg laying duck breeds. They can lay up to 250 eggs per year. They are also noted for being calmer birds than their ancestor, the Khaki Campbells.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are friendly, docile and placid birds. They usually don’t fly and are very happy to stay in backyard or garden. They are also very good foragers and usually forage enthusiastically in the garden or backyard for insects.
The Welsh Harlequin drakes have a high libido. So it is wise not to keep more than one drake in a small pen, otherwise the females will be damaged. The Welsh Harlequin duck breed is prone to broodiness. And usually a pair can produce ducklings easily without human interference.
The gender of the ducklings can be determined easily after hatching by their bill color (with about 90 percent accuracy). The ducklings with darker bills are male, and lighter bills ending in a dark spot are usually females.
Although this distinction disappears within several days. However it is a beautiful utility bird. Review it’s full breed profile below.
|Breed Name||Welsh Harlequin|
|Breed Purpose||Egg layer|
|Special Notes||Calmer, Friendly, Docile|
|Weight||2 to 2.5 kg|
|Climate Tolerance||All Climates|
|Egg Weight||75-85 grams|
|Varieties||Silver & Golden|
|Country of Origin||Wales|
Welsh Harlequin Duck Facts
Here are the top 23 facts and characteristics of the Welsh Harlequin duck.
The Welsh Harlequin duck has a distinctive appearance, with a light-colored head, neck, and underbelly, and a dark brown back and wings. The breed also has orange feet and a unique blue-green iridescence on its feathers.
The Welsh Harlequin duck is a medium-sized breed, with males weighing around 5-6 pounds and females weighing around 4-5 pounds.
The Welsh Harlequin duck is known for its excellent egg-laying abilities. The breed can lay up to 300 eggs per year, which is significantly higher than other duck breeds.
The Welsh Harlequin duck is a dual-purpose breed, meaning that it is suitable for both egg and meat production.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are known for their calm temperament, making them ideal for backyard flocks and small farms. They are friendly and docile, and enjoy human interaction.
The Welsh Harlequin duck is a hardy breed that is able to withstand cold and damp conditions. The breed is also resistant to many common duck diseases.
The Welsh Harlequin duck is adaptable to a range of environments and can thrive in both rural and urban settings.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are known for their broody nature, meaning that they enjoy sitting on eggs and hatching them. This can be beneficial for farmers who want to hatch their own ducklings.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are natural foragers and are able to find much of their own food in the wild. This can be beneficial for farmers who want to reduce their feed costs.
Welsh Harlequin ducks require access to water in order to thrive. They enjoy swimming and playing in water, and require a water source for drinking.
Good Meat Qualities
The Welsh Harlequin duck is known for its good meat qualities, with a flavorful and tender meat that is ideal for cooking.
Low Fat Content
The meat of the Welsh Harlequin duck is low in fat, making it a healthier choice than some other types of poultry.
Easy to Raise
Welsh Harlequin ducks are easy to raise and require minimal care. They do not require a lot of space, and can be raised in small flocks.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are non-aggressive and do not exhibit territorial behavior. This makes them easy to keep in mixed flocks with other poultry.
The Welsh Harlequin duck is able to tolerate cold temperatures and can be raised in colder climates.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are long-lived, with a lifespan of around 8-10 years.
Welsh Harlequin ducks make excellent mothers and are able to raise their own ducklings without assistance. They are attentive and protective, and provide warmth and nourishment to their young.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are good flyers and are able to fly short distances if necessary. However, they do not generally fly over high fences or long distances
Good Egg Sitters
Welsh Harlequin ducks are also good egg sitters, meaning that they are able to sit on eggs for extended periods of time without getting up. This can be beneficial for farmers who want to hatch their own ducklings.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are sociable and enjoy the company of other ducks. They are happiest when kept in small flocks.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are good grazers and enjoy eating grass and other vegetation. This can be beneficial for farmers who want to reduce their feed costs.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are often bred for exhibition, and are known for their unique appearance and excellent egg-laying abilities.
The Welsh Harlequin duck is a relatively rare breed, with a small population worldwide. This makes them a valuable addition to any backyard flock or small farm.
Tips for Raising Welsh Harlequin Ducks
Raising Welsh Harlequin ducks can be a rewarding experience for farmers and backyard enthusiasts alike, but it requires proper care and attention. Here are 23 tips for raising Welsh Harlequin ducks:
Provide Adequate Space
Welsh Harlequin ducks require adequate space to thrive. They need a minimum of 2-4 square feet of space per bird in their coop or shelter.
Provide a Safe and Secure Environment
Ducks are vulnerable to predators, so it’s important to provide a safe and secure environment for your Welsh Harlequin ducks. Make sure their coop or shelter is well-protected and secure from predators such as raccoons, foxes, and hawks.
Provide Fresh Water
Ducks require access to fresh water at all times. A shallow dish or pool will suffice, but make sure to change the water frequently to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Provide Proper Nutrition
Welsh Harlequin ducks require a balanced diet of grains, vegetables, and protein. A commercial feed that is specifically designed for ducks can also be provided.
Ducks require grit to help them digest their food properly. Grit can be provided in a separate dish or can be added to their feed.
Ducks can be susceptible to heat stress, so it’s important to provide shade in their outdoor area during hot weather.
Provide a Dust Bath
Ducks enjoy taking dust baths to keep their feathers clean and healthy. A shallow dish filled with sand or dirt can be provided for this purpose.
Provide Nesting Boxes
Welsh Harlequin ducks require nesting boxes to lay their eggs. These boxes should be filled with clean straw or other bedding material.
Collect Eggs Daily
Collect eggs daily to prevent them from being damaged or eaten by predators. This also helps to ensure that the eggs are fresh and of high quality.
Provide Proper Lighting
Ducks require proper lighting to maintain their egg-laying cycle. A minimum of 14 hours of light per day is recommended.
Monitor Egg Production
Monitor egg production to ensure that your ducks are laying consistently. A sudden drop in egg production can indicate a health problem or other issue.
Provide Veterinary Care
Welsh Harlequin ducks require regular veterinary care to maintain their health. It’s important to find a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about ducks.
Practice biosecurity to prevent the spread of disease. This includes keeping your ducks’ living area clean and disinfected, and avoiding contact with other birds that may be carriers of disease.
Introduce New Birds Carefully
Introduce new birds carefully to prevent fights and other issues. Quarantine new birds for a minimum of two weeks before introducing them to the flock.
Clipping the wings of your Welsh Harlequin ducks can prevent them from flying away or getting into areas that are unsafe.
Ducks are intelligent and curious animals that require mental stimulation. Providing enrichment such as toys, puzzles, or a small pool can keep your ducks happy and healthy.
Train Your Ducks
Ducks can be trained to come when called and perform other simple tasks. Training your Welsh Harlequin ducks can be a fun and rewarding experience.
Welsh Harlequin ducks are sociable animals that require socialization. Providing a small flock of ducks can keep your birds happy and healthy.
Ducks are sensitive to temperature changes, so it’s important to monitor their living environment and make necessary adjustments. During cold weather, provide additional bedding and shelter to keep your ducks warm. During hot weather, provide shade and plenty of water to keep your ducks cool.
Practice Proper Hygiene
Practice proper hygiene to prevent the spread of disease. This includes washing your hands before and after handling your ducks, and regularly cleaning and disinfecting their living area.
Watch for Signs of Illness
Watch for signs of illness such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and unusual behavior. If you notice any of these signs, seek veterinary care immediately.
Provide Access to Water
Welsh Harlequin ducks require access to water for bathing and swimming. A small pool or pond can be provided for this purpose.
Enjoy the Experience
Raising Welsh Harlequin ducks can be a fun and rewarding experience. Enjoy the unique personality and beauty of these amazing birds, and take pride in providing them with a happy and healthy life.