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AYLESBURY DUCKS, SHETLAND DUCKS, PILGRIM GEESE & BLACK ORPINGTON CHICKENS

These are for our own use and enjoyment; we do not sell hatching eggs or birds

Aylesbury duckling being held in hands

AYLESBURY DUCKLING

Group of Pilgrim geese outdoors on grass

PILGRIM GEESE

Shetland drake outdoors on grass at South Yeo Farm West

SHETLAND DRAKE

Debbie’s books

Debbie’s books Keeping Ducks and Geese – A Practical Guide (October 2021) and Keeping Goats – A Practical Guide (January 2022) are both published by The Crowood Press. You can buy the books direct from us, from The Crowood Press, in bookshops and from the usual online retailers.

 

Keeping Ducks and Geese – A Practical Guide is stuffed with all the things we’ve learned about how to keep and look after these great birds (good and bad) in our thirty plus years of having them.  It covers the legal stuff, choosing breeds and bringing them home, housing and fencing, nutrition, breeding and hatching, health and welfare, security and pest control, dispatching, raising for meat, using for craft and even some favourite and unusual recipes.  Rammed with our own colour photos (those of you who have been to the farm will recognise all kinds of things) and by other brilliant keepers from all over the place, it also includes information on 80 breeds of ducks and geese to be found in the UK.  I’ve been lucky enough to be able to include wonderful historic black and white photographs by James Ravilious too, my favourite photographer, thanks to Beaford Archive.  192 page hardback with 290 photos.

Utility Aylesbury ducks

Our Aylesbury ducks are reared for both meat and eggs; after years of duck keeping, a duck egg is now far preferred to those of the hen for their taste, not just through sheer greediness for their superior size. The Aylesbury is a fabulous meat breed, with a dressed weight of 6-8lbs, and they aren’t slack in the egg department either, producing an egg a day throughout the laying season; the eggs are very large and creamy white. These are the Jemima Puddleducks of the waterfowl world.

Shetland Ducks

We keep a small breeding flock of Shetland ducks, the rarest duck breed in the UK, and a priority breed on the Rare Breed Survival Trust at risk register. Our birds were hatched from eggs sourced from the Island of Trondra, in the Shetland Islands, where the birds were saved from extinction by Tommy and Mary Isbister. We have been surprised and delighted that the ducks lay almost year round – they must find our Devon weather a doddle in comparison to their Shetland origins. Although laying is prolific, the breeding season is still limited to spring and early summer.

Black Orpington large fowl chickens

We have kept various chickens (and guinea fowl) for many years but hadn’t had any clucking around for far too long. In 2010 we decided to remedy this and have developed a small flock of rare breed Black Orpington large fowl. They are the best tasting meat breed we’ve ever had and are on the Rare Breed Survival Trust at risk register.

Pilgrim geese

Pilgrim geese are a light weight auto-sexing breed, their colour indicating their gender (the gander is white with some grey speckling, the females a light grey with some white). Pilgrims are on the Rare Breed Survival Trust at risk register.

Two pilgrim geese outdoors on grass at South Yeo Farm West

PILGRIM FEMALES

Free range Black Orpington chickens at South Yeo Farm West

BLACK ORPINGTON CHICKENS

Two free range Aylesbury ducks at South Yeo Farm West

AYLESBURY DUCKS

Tips for successful hatching

In response to lots of queries about the hatching and raising of Pilgrim geese and ducklings, we have produced a factsheet for Hatching and keeping pilgrim goslings and a separate duckling factsheet Hatching and keeping ducklings.

Not only are our pigs captured in print, our Aylesbury and Black Indian Runner ducks acquired a bit of fame of their own too, featuring in Jack Byard’s Know Your Ducks, published in Spring 2011.

South Yeo Farm West's logo of a barn owl surrounded by the farm name