I was looking around for a particular breed of duck to focus on for this entry, a month after the last post, so an epic fail on the duck-a-week front. Not even going to try to defend that one.
Anyway, the duck I’m going to write about tonight is the Khaki Campbell. My main reason for this is that I got to hold one! The other week, my girlfriend and I went to pick up her new motorcycle, and the lady she bought it from breeds quails, hens, grouse…and a couple of ducks. Well, she focusses on the others, but had been given two Khaki Campbell duck eggs as a gift, in the hope that they would hatch. They did, and yours truly got to hold the tiniest little ball of fluff he’s ever seen. Noisy little bugger it was too, but lovely nonetheless. It was strange to see the breeder handle the birds actually. I was very gentle, wary of hurting them. She, one the other hand, grabbed them up with the kind of confidence that comes with years of experience, knowing exactly how hardy the little blighters are.
So, the Khaki Campbell. It got it’s name from the khaki colour of its down, and the name of the 19th century breeder who developed the breed: Adele Campbell. Having developed this colour, it reminded her of the khaki colour of British army uniforms. It is one of three varieties Campbell bred, all named after her: the Khaki, Dark and White. They were developed through interbreeding the Mallard, Rouen and Runner ducks, all common domestic breeds. They are very popular, the Campbells, because their egg laying capacity is apparently higher than a lot of domestic hens. The ducks are known to produce an average of 300 eggs a year. That’s pushing one a day.
This leads me on to the interesting fact of these ducks. They often don’t hatch their own young. They produce so many eggs that they can’t tend them, so leave them. To hatch the eggs, breeders use artificial incubators or broody hens in place of the ducks, which is what the breeder we met did. She had the eggs placed in a mechanical incubator and hoped for the best. Both eggs hatched and, at the time of writing, are thriving.
The breed is also apparently perfect, having been added to the American Standard of Perfection in 1941, although probably not for their parenting habits.