Heritage Poultry Breeds
and Farm Fresh, Free-Range Eggs


 

While we have several different breeds of chickens and ducks at Pleasant Lake Farm for egg production and meat, we only breed a select few of those breeds. For breeding, we have chosen our favorite heritage breeds of ducks and chickens that are also listed on the Conservation Priority List with the Livestock Conservancy. Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. We are excited to be part of the effort of rare breed conservation. We cannot ship eggs or ducklings/chicks. 

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Farm Fresh Eggs for Eating

CHICKEN EGGS - $3.00 a dozen
DUCK EGGS - $4.00 a dozen


Chicken eggs are typically available year-round and put out in our self-service egg stand daily. Duck eggs are typically available April through November and are put out by request. Please let us know when you would like to pick up your eggs. Call/text 207-542-8878.
 

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We will NOT have American Buff goslings or hatching eggs available for the 2022 season. 

American Buff Geese 
From the Livestock Conservancy:

 

American Buff geese were developed in North America and descend from the wild Greylag goose, which is native to Europe and Northern Asia. The history of this colorful bird is obscure. It may have developed from buff mutations in gray geese flocks or was refined from buff-colored stock imported from Europe. It was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1947.

The American Buff is a lovely apricot-fawn color. The buff-colored feathers on its back and sides are edged with creamy white. Its abdomen is nearly white. Its bill and feet are orange to reddish-orange, and the hard “nail” at the tip of the bill is a pale pink. Its legs may fade to pink during laying, or when green grass is not available. The American Buff has brown eyes.

 

The breed is the largest of the medium-weight class of geese with mature ganders weighing 18 pounds and mature geese weighing 16 pounds. The body conformation of the American Buff is typically European in style. It has a medium-long neck with deeply furrowed feathers. It has a chunky body with little or no evidence of a keel, a slightly arched back, and two rounded fatty lobes on the abdomen. The tail is held in line with or only slightly above the line of the back. This sturdy body is set on moderately sized legs that are set suitably far apart to provide a stable base.

 

When selecting breeding stock, consideration should first be given to good body size. A medium shade of buff that is free of gray is preferred. Even color on the back is desirable, though a portion of the plumage usually is somewhat checkered or mottled, even on today’s best show specimens. Avoid breeding stock with pinched heads, small or shallow bodies, prominent keels, gray in the plumage, and excessively faded or dark color. To produce the highest percentage of offspring with correct color, some breeders have found it helpful to use ganders that are slightly lighter in color than their standard-colored mates. Ganders can be mated with three to five geese.

 

The American Buff is calm and docile. They’re good parents, attending well to their goslings. These attributes make the breed well suited for the average home flock. The American Buff makes a medium-large roasting bird. Its colored plumage doesn’t show soil as readily as that of white birds, yet its light-colored pin feathers allow it to dress out as cleanly as a white goose.

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Ancona
 

From the Livestock Conservancy:

For many years the origin of the Ancona duck was speculated as being British but after extensive searches in the U.S. and Great Britain, all the information that has surfaced points to the breed being created in America. The strongest piece of evidence comes from an article published in the 1913 edition of the Water Fowl Club of America Yearbook. In it W. J. Wirt of Ridge View Farms in Knowlesville, New York announced the development of a new breed of duck he calls the “Ancona” that he named after the Ancona fowl. The new breed he had created was bred from a combination of several standard breeds of duck. Shortly afterwards Anconas began to enter poultry shows in the Northeast. In the February 1915 issue of Poultry Item magazine and the 1915 American Poultry Yearbook mentions the breed in the announcements of two first place wins for Ancona ducks in a Boston show by Willdum Duckery of Rowley, Massachusetts. The Ancona duck is currently designated as an American breed.

The Ancona averages 6 to 6.5 pounds and is a bit stockier than its close relative, the Magpie duck. It has a medium sized oval head, a medium-length bill that is slightly concave along the top line, an average neck that arches forward slightly and body carriage is 20 to 30 degrees above horizontal. The broken, mottled plumage is unique among ducks for, like Holstein cattle, there is no set design. "Any combination of white and color is acceptable as long as there are obvious broken areas on the head, backs, sides, and underbody." The neck is normally solid white, bills are yellow with dark green or black spotting, and the legs and feet are orange with black or brown markings that increase with age.

(Holderread, 2001) Varieties include Black and White, Blue and White, Chocolate and White, Silver and White, Lavender and White, and Tricolored. Chocolate is a sex-linked recessive trait. If a chocolate drake mates with a black duck, all female offspring will be chocolate, while all male offspring will be black. A black drake mated to a chocolate duck produces all black offspring. Only male offspring will carry the sex-linked recessive chocolate gene. (Holderread, 1985)

The Ancona is a hardy, adaptable, all-purpose duck. It is an excellent layer, typically laying 210-280 white, cream, or blue eggs yearly. The Ancona also grows relatively quickly, and produces high quality meat that is more flavorful and less fatty than that of most Pekin ducks. Anconas are well suited for situations where they can forage for some of their food and are capable of eating large "banana" slugs. "They make excellent pond or yard ducks since they tend to stay close to home, do not fly under normal conditions and are large enough so that they are less likely to be preyed upon by winged predators. Typically they have moderately calm temperaments and make fine pets." (Holderread, 2001)

"As with all rare breeds, it is especially important to choose stock birds that are vigorous, free of physical deformities and have classic breed traits. Since it is an excellent layer, productivity should be given a high priority in breeders. To produce the highest percentage of offspring with unique patterns, select birds with definite colored areas under their eyes and at least a bit of color in their chests. Avoid specimens that are either solid white or primarily colored with a white bib." (Holderread, 2001) While the Ancona is not recognized by the American Poultry Association, one breeder suggests the ideal aesthetic is three quarters white plumage and one quarter colored.

There is a critical need for more conservation breeders of Ancona ducks. Their excellent laying ability, tasty meat, and calm dispositions make them a great addition to any small farmstead or backyard producer's flock.

Holderread, Dave. Breed Bulletin #8502 Ancona Ducks. Corvallis, OR: The Duck Preservation Center, 1985.

Holderread, Dave. Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks. Pownal, VT: Storey Publishing, 2001.

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We will have Ancona ducklings and  hatching eggs available Summer 2022.  Please contact us at passchendaelefarm@gmail.com

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We are starting our Dutch Hookbill flock in 2022 and will NOT have Dutch Hookbill ducklings or hatching eggs available for the 2022 season. 

Dutch Hookbill

 

From the Livestock Conservancy:
 

Dutch Hookbill ducks are a unique and very old poultry breed thought to have originated in the Netherlands’ Noord-Holland province between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As their name implies, the breed features a downward curving beak, setting it apart from other duck breeds. It’s believed this trait was useful to duck breeders in making it easier for hunters to distinguish the domesticated Hookbill from wild ducks that inhabited the same land. In Holland, these ducks were managed in the waterways and canals of the countryside and were expected to forage for most of their food. Today, they’re still among the best foragers of domestic ducks.

According to the Dutch Association of Breeders of Domesticated Waterfowl (Nederlandse Vereniging van fokkers van gedomesticeerd watervogels), Hookbill ducks and the Noord-Holland White Breasted duck, also known as the Witborst duck, had similar genealogies. Their exact origins have never been determined, but it’s speculated that they developed from early importations of Indian Runners. This idea is supported by J. Bonenkamp in the magazine Avicultura (8/1990) where he recounts finding pure Hookbills among groups of ducks in East India.

The unique appearance of the breed made them desirable as ornamental birds, but was soon recognized as excellent layers of eggs. That combined with their remarkable foraging capability made the breed widely popular on Dutch farms. In 18th-century Holland, ducks were provided a place to nest and feed while they were brooding. Then ducks and ducklings were all sent out to the surrounding wetlands to forage for their food and received no supplemental food. Ducklings also had their wings clipped to make them easier to catch later. By mid-August, the birds were gathered and sent to market in Purmerend, where they were purchased by duck keepers who would use them for eggs. The birds kept for breeding were selected to be sturdy and disease resistant, self-sufficient, adaptable to new circumstances, and efficient layers that needed less food than other breeds in order to be productive.

 

The breed declined in the 20th century due to a diminished market for duck eggs and the effect of increasingly polluted waterways that served as their home. By 1980, the Hookbill was nearly extinct, but through a Dutch effort led by Hans van de Zaan, the last 15 birds were collected and used to start a conservation breeding program in the Netherlands.

Dave Holderread was among the first to import the Dutch Hookbill into the United States in 2000. He found that there were three bill types in the population: extreme curve, moderate curve, and straight. In his book Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks (2011), Holderread outlines that the most effective breeding strategy was to cross birds with moderately curved beaks to each other or an extremely curved beaked bird with a straight beaked bird as the best breeding options. He found that crosses between birds with extremely curved beaks had poor egg fertility. There are still very few primary breeding flocks of Dutch Hookbills in the U.S.

Dutch Hookbill ducks have excellent flight capability, especially younger individuals. The birds reach sexual maturity very quickly by around 16 weeks of age. Healthy ducks can be expected to lay anywhere from 100 to 225+ eggs per year. They come in three primary color variations: dusky, white, and white-bibbed dusky. Other colors exist but not in great numbers here in the states. The Hookbill is a remarkable breed that deserves a second look as a viable and efficient egg producer for small-scale farming.

Welsh Harlequin
From the Livestock Conservancy

 

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 silver variety of the Welsh Harlequin was accepted by the American Poultry Association in 2001.

The Welsh Harlequin is a lightweight breed at 5-5.5 pounds. Harlequins are streamlined, with relatively long bodies, medium-width backs, rounded chests, moderately full abdomens, and wide-spaced legs. Their necks are topped with trim, oval heads that sport medium-long, slightly concave bills. The color and patterning of the Harlequin is complex. The drake's head is greenish black, shoulders reddish chestnut frosted with white, and breast creamy with reddish-chestnut. The upper back has a tortoiseshell of 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)

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)

When choosing a Welsh Harlequin breeding bird, 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)

Holderread, Dave. Breed Bulletin #8503: Welsh Harlequin Ducks. Corvallis, OR: The Duck Preservation Center, 1985.

Holderread, Dave. Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks. Pownal, VT: Storey Publishing, 2001.

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We will NOT have Welsh Harlequin ducklings or hatching eggs available for the 2022 season.