Welsh Harlequin

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by beakkeeper, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

    Oct 2, 2008
    Excellent question. Since I am just interested in eggs and not exhibition, color isn't really that big of a deal. For someone breeding and showing, well, you gotta have answers.
  2. Webfoot

    Webfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 7, 2009
    Central TX
    Drakes with blue speculae win in the U.S. because that's what the American standard calls for. There is no 1949 standard, because that's the year the birds that formed the foundation of the breed first appeared as mutations from a flock of Khaki Cambells. I would guess that the British standard is the oldest one, but I don't know.

    If you show, then buy and breed WH's that fit your country's standard. If you don't show, buy and breed birds that fit your definition of an ideal WH. In a nutshell, there is no chiseled-in-stone, worldwide, eternal definition of what a WH (or any other breed) is. It varies from country to country, and within any breed standard there will always be some room for interpretation. This is true of all exhibition animals, not just poultry.


  3. OzarkCountryGirl

    OzarkCountryGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Ozark Highlands
    Quote:Then it's not really a Welsh Harlequin, regardless of what the U.S. or anyone else calls it. And breeding what you "think" is a WH, doesn't make it so. That is, unless you have money...and as we all know money talks, and unfortunately with the right amount of backing, it appears that any mixed breed can have another breed's name slapped on it and sold as such, much to the demise, and possibly outright extinction, of the actual breed.

    The AKC has done the same thing to dogs...it doesn't take a breeder to turn on the TV and watch the AKC Nationals to see how some of the most awesome working dog breeds are being turned into useless, misshapen creatures that physically couldn't do what they were originally bred for if their life depended on it. [​IMG] That is NOT preservation of the breed.

    It's not my intention to upset anyone here. I just want to preserve the original breed, and not just someone's ideal or version of it.

    Does anyone have a copy of the standard from Wales that they would care to share?

    I [​IMG] Welsh Harlequins
    1 person likes this.
  4. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

    Oct 2, 2008
    "Welsh Harlequin Duck
    The Welsh Harlequin originated in 1949 from two mutant light colored ducklings hatched from pure Khaki Campbells by Leslie Bonnet, a duck breeder living near Criccieth Wales. In 1968, John Fugate imported hatching Harlequin eggs to Tennessee, but by 1980, descendants of the original imports were confined to two small flocks. To broaden the gene pool, breeders imported additional Harlequins in 1982 and in 1984 they began to offer birds for sale in the United States. The American Poultry Association scheduled a tentative show for their admittance to officially recognize the breed in October of 2001. (Holderread 2001, 42)
    The Welsh Harlequin is a lightweight breed at 5-6 pounds. (Batty, 134) Harlequins are streamlined, with relatively long bodies, medium-width backs, rounded chests, full abdomens, and wide-spaced legs. Their necks are topped with trim, oval heads that sport medium-long, slightly concave bills. (Holderread 2001, 43) The color and patterning of the Harlequin is complicated. The drake's head is greenish black, shoulders reddish chestnut frosted with white, and breast creamy with reddish-chestnut. The upper back has a tortoise effect in cream, white, brown, and chestnut while forewings are cream-white and reddish brown, with a shiny green and bronze cross-band. The tail is blackish/bronze edged in white, the legs and feet are orange, and toenails are brownish-black. The duck has a creamy white head with brown stippling. Often there is a delicate light rust or burnt orange blush to her head, neck, and breast. The crown of the head typically has more brown stippling than the rest of the head. Her body is creamy white with buff and brown-green or bronze bands on her wings. Her tail is a mixture of creamy white and brown. Her legs are orange when young, and brown when older. Toenails are brownish-black. Welsh Harlequin duck and drake ducklings may exhibit a subtle sex-linked difference in bill color at birth. (Holderread 1985, 2-4)
    Harlequins are primarily raised for their wonderful practical attributes. "They are highly adaptable, outstanding layers producing 240-330 white shelled eggs yearly, active foragers, excellent producers of lean meat, beautifully colored and pluck almost as cleanly as white birds when dressed for meat." (Holderread 2001, 44)
    When choosing a Welsh Harlequins breeder, select "robust, strong-legged birds that are free of physical deformities, heavy layers, and of correct body type and color. To help perpetuate the authentic Harlequin, avoid the following characteristics: more than a half pound above or below typical weights; short, blocky bodies; large coarse heads; distinct Mallard-like facial stripes; light colored bills in ducks; and poor producers." (Holderread 2001, 43)
    ALBC's 2000 census of domestic waterfowl in North America found only188 breeding Welsh Harlequin. While five people reported breeding Harlequins, only one primary breeding flock with 50 or more breeding birds existed. (Bender, 4) There is a critical need for more conservation breeders of Harlequins. Their excellent laying ability, lean meat, and stunning plumage make them a great addition to any small farmstead or backyard producer's flock."

    While I do understand what you are saying, this breed started as a mutated khaki. How can people get upset about future mutants if a mutant created the breed in the first place?
  5. I have Holderreads Bulleton #8503 on Welsh Harlequn Ducks, the quote given in this link, http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/waterfowl/welshharlequin.html is only partial, it does not contain the coloring of the Silver Harlequin which Holderread does describe in this bulletin, these have the blue wing bar as opposed to the bronze which the Gold have. I find this omission disconcerting. Holderread includes both Silver and Gold, although I had the impression Silver was the American Standard it may be in fact both color phases are included int the APA standard. I don't have a copy of the American Poultry Associations book called The Standard of Perfection, it's too expensive for me, and I am not interested in showing. But I would like to settle the question of what the standard is in this country. Does anyone have a copy from which we could check this question out?

    I agree there are unreasonable distortions in the standards set for dogs and some other animals, including Call Ducks, the show Calls are often infertile due to unreasonable expectations. I'm not convinced that is what is happening in the case of Welsh Harlequins, my understanding was that too large of WH ducks are discouraged. Maybe the judges aren't doing a good job?
    edited for clarity
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  6. Webfoot

    Webfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 7, 2009
    Central TX
    I have a copy of the APA standard (obtained prior to its being printed in the Standard, from the APA). I won't quote it in its entirety because it's four pages long--and it would be a copyright violation [​IMG]. While it doesn't explicity state that the Gold Phase is NOT accepted, it doesn't describe it in detail. It only describes the Silver Phase, which implies to me that only Silvers would be eligible for awards at shows. It states that:

    "The original variety was the soft hued Golden. The Silver Welsh Harlequin, which currently is the most common, has the greater contrast and brilliance in its plumage and was developed by Mr. Bonnet in the 1960's."

    I think we're all in agreement that some people play fast and loose with breed names and that not every duck marketed as a WH is actually a WH. My point is that if you're looking for the "original WH" I don't think you're going to find it. A breed is what its originator wants it to be. The WH started with some mutant Khaki Campbells, and Bonnet added a little of something else, and a smidge of another thing and "invented" the WH. Every breed is "...someone's ideal, or version of it" When enough people get interested in it and want to show, they form a committee and develop a standard.

    OzarkCountryGirl, are you saying that you believe the Gold Phase is the true form of the breed? Are you looking for a standard specifically for the Gold? I've never seen one myself. In fact, when the Gold duck turned up in my flock last year, I had to look far and wide to find a description so I could determine whether she was in fact Gold, or whether I should cull her for incorrect color. I couldn't find a single picture of a Gold female, and I don't remember anymore where I found the written description that confirmed for me that she was Gold.

    It would be nice to know if the British or Australian standards have a description of the Gold.

  7. Thanks Webfoot! I am assuming there are weight limits given in the APA standards so that if the ducks are judged correctly according to standard these huge ducks OzarkCountryGirl has seen at show should not have been accepted or shown?

    As far as UK standards, Mike and Chris Ashton in their book Colour Breeding in Domestic Ducks give brief description of the WH:
    Welsh Harlequins are similar in colour to the Abacot Ranger. The main difference is the addition of the brown gene. This results in a bronze lustre on the head of the drake, and a bronze speculum in both sexes. The brown dilution also gives the duck a honey-fawn ground color, and the hood is less well marked. In both sexes, the wing coverts have well-defined edging. The females tend to exhibit two slightly different colour types: those with the tortoiseshell pattern well defined on the scapulars ...; and those with a more regular central splash to the feather ...
    (The Abacot Ranger has a silver color pattern like our Silver WH.) Ashton is describing the same gold-phase as Wifezilla's post. I don't think the weight or body type is in dispute, but apparently judging is not being done correctly everywhere on that. I think the real debate is is around color, which is simply whether it is OK for the US standards to accept or promote the Silver phase. I just don't have a problem with it because the genetic difference is so tiny, like the difference between brown and blue eyes.

    Here's Holderread from his Bulletin #8503 on WH for a little more explaination on the genetic difference between the Gold and Silver:

    Genetics of the Harlequin Plumage
    The color of Harlequins is genetically very similar to that of Khaki and Dark Campbells. For those who are interested, the genotypes of Khaki Campbells, Dark Campbells, Gold Harlequins and Silver Harlequins are given for comparison. As can be seen from the diagram, the sole difference between the Khaki and Gold, and between the Dark and Silver, is due to a single pair of genes.

    Key to Gene Symbols Used Genotypes
    D = non-dilution Khaki Campbell = dd LiLi
    d = sex-linked brown dilution Dark Campbell = DD LiLi
    Li = dark phase Gold Harlequin = dd lih lih
    lih = harlequin phase Silver Harlequin = DD lih lih
    Last edited: May 8, 2009
  8. lakota_elder

    lakota_elder Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 13, 2009
    North Central, FL
    Thanks so much for the genetic infor.... it really helps define the differences.... like being able to find the homozygous genes in breeding horses.... makes it much easier to understand what colors will produce what colors...

    and the percentages you'll get when breeding what to what..
  9. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    Well I personally do not care what the duck standards are in the UK because I do not live in the UK. And I barely care about the standards here because my ducks will be pets.

    So, I ordered 5 Ancona and 5 GW from Holderread. I tend to trust the man that wrote the book on waterfowl and has raised them for 40 years. But irregardless...I ordered what I liked and wanted...now I just wait for them to arrive to love on.

    I was supposed to get them this week but it looks like we are on to my second delivery date of next week.
  10. CityChicker

    CityChicker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2009
    I have noticed that WH look a lot like Abacot Rangers! It is funny that so many breeds of ducks are almost identical in genotype with just very slight differences.

    On sizes of WH, I recall reading I think on one of the UK waterfowl club websites that they are supposed to be intermediate in size between a Campbell and a Mini Appleyard. That would be quite a bit smaller than what most are here in the states. Anyway, I am not sure how much it matters if a person is not breeding them to be show stock. They are beautiful no matter what the size or color phase.

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