Call Ducks, Bantams and chicks…..

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my two call ducks – brothers who get on really well

I was just sitting in my garden this morning, after feeding all the above, and watching their antics, and thought – Its about time I put a blog up about them all!

Now that I have moved to rural West Wales – for reasons you can find HERE – I can finally keep some chickens again.  I started just looking around the local auction – isn’t it great that poultry auctions are allowed again! – without any intentions of buying, as I hadn’t got anywhere to put them.

But …….I couldn’t resist the two fellas above……….or a lovely pair of bantams – both lots for some reason being very cheap.

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photo taken by my cousin O Eliason – professional photographer – you can tell!

This is the cockerel – does anyone know what breed he is – he and the hen are both very small, so whilst they look very like barbu d’uccles – which I’ve got a soft spot for, I think they might have been crossed with a Lemon millefleur sablepoot.  As you can see, they both ended up in the garden shed, and before long the hen got broody and I gave her a shoe box (you can see the edge of it where he’s resting his leg) which turned out to be just the right size for her!

Three weeks later her tiny chicks arrived – they were about an inch tall.

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I took this one – its slightly out of focus, but then I was trying not to spook her or the chicks

At the same time, I’d bought some eggs off ebay, and put them in my old manual incubator.  Whilst buying eggs by post is about as safe as a bet on the Grand National, I’m glad to say I got 10 chicks – out of 18 eggs.  Buff Sussex and Speckled Sussex.

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the chicks are about a week old here

By this time, I’d managed to get hold of a second hand ‘hen house’, and found someone to put it back together with me, but even tho’ it had wheels, I found I couldn’t move it on my own, so it, and I were stuck!

Luckily my cousin decided to visit and help me out, and by the time the chicks were getting far too active to keep indoors, we’d managed to create a nursery home for them outside.

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Only to find that they were even more active than we thought – its just a hop and a jump onto the roof after all!

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buff sussex chicks making themselves at home on the roof of the hen house!

I’ve since put some netting up, which keeps most of them in, and any circling red kites out – except for one of them, who keeps getting out whatever I do!

Hope you like the pics – I’ll probably post some more – cos I’m just loving having them around me – smile.

C is for call ducks

CThese are the prettiest of ducks, and are usually kept for their ornamental value.

They are fun to have around, and again, very friendly.  For that reason, they attract high prices at poultry auctions.

I bought some eggs a few years ago and managed to hatch these darlings – smile. However, there were too many of them and it wasn’t fair to keep them without a proper pond, so I advertised them for sale.

They were lucky, they went to a local Golf Course, with a huge pond – I was also lucky, I got a nice profit out of them!  One day I hope to be able to have some land with a pond, so I can hatch some more out and keep them!

Instead of a pond, I filled an old wash tub with water for my call ducks to swim in!

Instead of a pond, I filled an old wash tub with water for my call ducks to swim in!

Their history is not at all ornamental.  The following extract is taken from the UK Call Duck Association’s website.

“Call ducks were originally known as Coy ducks or decoy ducks from the Dutch word de kooi meaning ‘trap’. Willughby, writing in 1678, described how Coy ducks were used to catch wildfowl. The tame ducks were fed at the entrance to great traps constructed in the form of a ‘pipe’. Wild fowl were enticed down by the quacking (calling) of the tame birds, and then caught and slaughtered for the commercial market. These early decoy ducks may not have been like the Dutch Call ducks we know today; they may have been decoys by training rather than breed.”

an early engraving by Lewis Wright

an early engraving by Lewis Wright

They are a ‘bantam’ version of ducks, even smaller than mallards, and are thought to have been bred by the Dutch during the period when they were a ‘colonial power’ in the Far East.

“Dutch Call ducks were in Britain by the 1850s. They were described as having a head much rounder that the wild duck, rather like a tumbler pigeon. The breed was one of the first six waterfowl standardized in 1865. It was exhibited at the Victorian exhibitions and kept and illustrated by Harrison Weir (1902).”