Last year in June, I purchased 25 Silver and Gold Welsh Harlequin ducks from a breeding flock. The plan was to increase egg production as well as to begin a breeding program for these rare breed ducks. A couple of them were promptly killed by a mink in the middle of the day. The mink came back several times for more, but we were vigilant in cutting down brush cover, and using electric poultry netting to create an ‘island’ with Tisza the Kuvasz patrolling the ‘moat’. The ducks are brilliant at charging the electronet to get the amazing grubs on the other side, so I no longer put a charge on it, it is more of a barrier to keep the flock of 38 ducks contained.
This year in June, I will be bringing in some new ducks from different bloodlines to further improve the breeding program. I find these little ducks delightful and their egg production is quite amazing. They are remarkably hardy and only stay close to or in the duckhouse on the coldest of winter days. I have separated the flock into breeding groups this spring and the first hatch is in the final week in the incubator. The ducks who do not meet breed standard, and one lone Silver Appleyard, are hanging out in the kitchen garden until breeding season is over.
I am often asked about taste differences between duck and chicken eggs. There is a lot of information on the internet about nutritional differences, and my taste summary in a nutshell is this: the water content of duck eggs is lower than chicken and the yolk is larger in relation to the white. This means that they have a somewhat richer or creamier taste than chicken eggs. I can attest to the fact that they make delicious scrambled eggs, omelettes, quiches, and are without par in baking! Last year I made a traditional English custard using duck eggs and it was superb.
I love my Harlequins for their beauty, their delicious eggs, their abundant manure (which feeds my fruit trees) and their outstanding bug control on the farm.