Any visitors who have paid a visit to us here at Chartwell over the last few weeks and popped down to the lakes to see our famous Black Swans may have noticed a few extra additions to the wildfowl population there. Sir Winston Churchill was a great lover of wildlife including fowl such as swans and ducks and we like to maintain that tradition of having a wide range here in the grounds at Chartwell. We have introduced many different ducks to our lakes in the past including the likes of Indian Running Ducks and Muscovies but it has been the Silver Appleyard Ducks that have been the most successful. We therefore felt it was time to try and introduce some more along with some closely related Saxony Ducks too.
A short while ago Steve Humphrey, our Estate Supervisor, and I therefore paid a visit to Brady Coughlan at nearby Woodlands Animal Care in Westerham in order to obtain three adults of each breed. Brady is a keen duck keeper and recently went to North Wales in order to obtain the best pair of breeding Appleyards that he could source. You can contact him though his kennels at http://www.woodlandsanimalcare.co.uk/. The pictures below tell the story of how our arrivals made it to their new home on the lakes at Chartwell:
The Silver Appleyard duck was developed as a dual purpose bird for both eggs and meat by Reginald Appleyard at his farm in Bury St Edmonds in the 1930s. They are perhaps the most prolific layers of large white eggs among the heavyweight breeds but they do not have very good mothering instincts, hence our need to introduce some new adults.
The unique colouring on Appleyards is caused by a restricted Mallard gene that limits pigmentation. The breed was accepted into The Poultry Club of Great Britain in 1982 after the work of Tom Bartlett and others to restore the Appleyard to its original colour and breeding after it had strayed and declined prior to this. The male can weigh up to 4.1kg and the female can lay up to 120 large eggs per year.
Originating in the Saxony region of Germany, Saxony ducks were bred by Albert Franz of Chemnitz in the 1930s also. He blended the Rouen, German Peking and Blue Pomeranian ducks to reach the Saxony breed as it known today but a large number of them were lost during WWII. They are almost as prolific layers as the Appleyard and were once again bred as a dual purpose duck for eggs and meat. This is the first time we have had Saxony ducks here at Chartwell but we are hoping they will settle in just as well as our last batch of Appleyards did.
So the next time you’re with us here at Chartwell make sure you make a trek down to the lakes that Churchill built and check that our new friends are making themselves at home. While there you’ll also be able to see all sorts of other ducks as well as geese, moorhens, coots and of course our black swans.