Welsh Harlequin Ducks

p1180674I can’t believe I haven’t already posted something on my beautiful Welsh Harlequin Ducks! (Follow the link to learn more about this beautiful breed of duck.) I picked up my first three a year ago in November to help keep my lonely Khaki Campbell girl company. I had lost the Khaki Campbell drake and 2 hens over the late summer and early fall season, so she was the only duck left. I had had them for several years, so it was pretty sad to not have them hanging around anymore. And the remaining girl was pretty lost without other ducks. Chickens just didn’t quite cut it with her.

In one of the local towns, they hold a poultry swap the first of the month, so I headed down with some extra chickens I had and wanted to sell, with a vague plan of picking up some ducks if possible. While there, I sold my chickens and also met up with a great lady that had a trio of the Welsh Harlequin Ducks available. Next thing I know, I am driving home with new ducks.

When I first brought them home, I put them in a small enclosure so they would get used to their home and also allowed the resident duck access to them so she could meet her new duck companions. After a few days, I let them loose to wander around the place. All worked out well, and they have now been here for a little over a year.

In the spring, one of the hens tried to hatch out some eggs, but since she didn’t start until there were quite a few laid and it was super cold, none of them hatched. I was able to pick up a few from the same lady that I had bought the original three from, hoping for more hens, but of course both are boys. Sigh… I put them in with the little hen that had tried so valiantly to hatch the eggs, hoping she would bond with them so that when they were old enough, I could let them out with the rest of the ducks and they would stay together and protect the little ones.

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I did pick up a cute little girl later on in the summer, but she is about half the size of the other girls and is colored just a little different, so I suspect that she is not purebred. I’m not sure that I should keep her, as I would have no way of knowing who the mom is to any ducklings, and I wouldn’t really want to sell them as purebred Welsh Harlequins. They could easily end up being really small instead of the medium meat bird size that they are supposed to be. Not a good plan.  A bit of a dilemma, as I really like her looks.

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I am considering the purchase of new birds from a reputable breeder in Oregon, as I need more girls. I will probably have to sell off two of the drakes, as 3 drakes to 4 hens is not a good ratio! The only problem is that they rarely sex the ducklings, so I may end up with more drakes and no new hens.  A risk I will have to take, as I do want more girls. I really love the looks of the Welsh Harlequin and would enjoy getting involved a bit with the raising and breeding of this breed, as it is on the Watch List according to the American Livestock Conservancy. The “Watch” designation is not as serious as Threatened or Critical, but they still are a more uncommon breed, and I believe in helping to preserve the more uncommon breeds if I can.





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