Home is where the Egg is…

The Buff Orpington Duck is the subject of this era’s article. I chose it simply because I used to go to school in Orpington, Kent, where this duck hails from. It was originally bred by one

Buff Orpington Duck, care of poultrykeeper.com

Buff Orpington Duck, care of poultrykeeper.com

William Cook, as a domestic breed for eggs and meat. I’m not sure what the technical term for blending duck genes is, but this one was created by mixing the Cayuga, Runner, Aylesbury and Rouen duck varietes.

It’s name comes from the one surviving breed. There were black, white, blue and “chocolate” but these breeds have apparently disappeared over time. Cook presented the duck to the Dairy Show in Islington in October of 1897, according to the Poultry Journal of that year. The Buff Orpington was officially certified as a duck breed in 1914, although this event may have been overshadowed by other, more significant ones that year!

The interesting fact about this domestic breed is that, were you to actually breed them as a hobby, the blue variety would still crop up in the brood due to the presence of a “blue dilution gene”. From my limited understanding of genetics, this is similar to the red-head gene in people. It’s recessive and pops up every now and then. While the actual true-blue variety may no longer be with us, the gene apparently survives in the remaining Buff, which is an unstable variety.

Now, I must confess that this is a wee bit of conjecture, but from what I’ve read it makes sense. That said, if anyone can prove me right, or wrong in the interests of science and accuracy, please do let me know.

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