West of England Geese
Like other medium breeds, West of England Geese are hardy birds which grow quickly and do well as meat producers. They are quite calm birds and will become confident with human contact. They will rear their own young readily.
- Although only standardised in 1999, the breed is an ancient one.
- Similar birds were once common in farmyards throughout the UK and particularly in the West Country.
- These birds may have been bred for countless generations from the same stock, which means that, although likely to be pure-breeding, they may be somewhat inbred. One effect of this is that, in these situations, the size has often decreased.
- Adult males are white, but may have the odd grey feather, and females have a saddleback grey and white pattern, with grey on the head and neck.
- The grey on the head usually decreases with age, and some more mature females may have very little grey on the head.
- Somewhat larger than the Pilgrim, this is a medium goose, with ganders up to 9kg and geese up to 8kg.
- As in most domestic breeds, the paunch should be dual lobed.
Evan and Cariad are Welsh Harlequin Ducks
The Welsh harlequin is a breed of domestic duck originating in Wales. In 1949, in Criccieth, Group Captain Leslie Bonnet discovered a colour mutation among his flock of Khaki Campbells and began breeding selectively for the trait. By 1968, hatching eggs were exported to the United States, followed by the importation of live birds in 1981.
Today, the Welsh harlequin is a light-weight duck breed known for its vivid plumage and egg laying ability. Welsh harlequins weigh 4.5 to 5.5 pounds (2-2.5 kilos). Females have a black bill and brown legs and feet, and their plumage is similar to a mallard but heavily frosted with white. They also lack the eye stripes of mallard females. Drakes are also similar to a heavily frosted Mallard with a yellow/green bill and orange legs and feet. There is also a colour variation known as “golden”, popular in the UK, which replaces the black feather pigments with a light golden brown colour.
The birds produce a lean carcass and are active foragers, though they are sometimes more vulnerable to predators such as birds of prey due to their light colouration. The egg laying ability is highly valued as the production exhibited by some hens rivals that of chickens. The breed is prone to broodiness and a pair can easily produce young without human interference. They have become a popular backyard pet in recent years due to the bird’s calm demeanour and high egg production.
The Welsh harlequin was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 2001. The breed is considered to be critically endangered in North America by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, with only 188 breeding birds found in a 2000 census.