Elizabeth Duck [All You Need to Know About This Rare Duck]

Elizabeth Duck [All You Need to Know About This Rare Duck]

Elizabeth Duck

The Elizabeth Duck hails from Australia, created in 1972 by an innovator named Lance Ruting. The Elizabeth Duck was born out of a mix of the Rouen Claire and Mallard breeds. An interesting tidbit? Elizabeth Duck was named after Ruting’s wife, Ann Elizabeth Ruting.

Distinguishing Elizabeth Duck from other breeds is its captivating plumage – a mix of gray, greenish highlights, and white stripes around the neck. Despite their visually appealing traits, these ducks face extinction; they fall short in demand compared to other commercially bred ducks.

It’s a pity that currently you’ll only find Elizabeth Ducks in Australia and New Zealand. They’re medium-sized birds, with males typically overshadowing the females in size. They’ve got an excellent temperament, and they’re pretty low maintenance too, making them an ideal choice for small-scale farming.

What Is the Origin of The Elizabeth Duck?

The Elizabeth Duck, a unique breed developed in Australia, owes its humble beginnings to Lance Ruting. In 1972, Ruting, in Merrylands, New South Wales, set out on a mission.

His objective was to create a waterfowl breed that could grow rapidly while delivering high-grade meat. And so, he ingeniously interbred two distinct duck breeds – the Mallard and the Rouen Claire.

The result was a magnificent breed, which he fittingly named after his dear wife – Elizabeth.

The Elizabeth Duck has gray and greenish plumage with neat white stripes gracing its neck.

Known for its speedy growth and substantial meat yield, the Elizabeth Duck meat stands testament to its origins – tender, tasty, and low in fat. Though initially bred for meat, the Elizabeth Duck also proves to be a viable candidate for egg production.

However, it should be noted that hatching Elizabeth Ducks can be tricky, with the chicks exhibiting a low survival rate. Susceptibility to diseases such as duck plague, coccidiosis, feather mites, and salmonellosis also present occasional hurdles. But with proper hygiene, a balanced diet, and diligent care, these can be effectively mitigated.

What Are the Physical and Behavioral Characteristics of The Elizabeth Duck?

The Elizabeth Duck is short, stocky and sports a broad chest with a round breast. Its head has a rounded shape and legs are slightly short. With only one official color, these ducks have bronze legs, grey bills, and dark brown eyes.

The males or ‘drakes‘ have a glossy green head, that ends in a white ring. They also have claret-colored chest feathers bordered in cream and charcoal grey feathers ringed with white on their back. A solid black rump and a dull black-brown tail complete the stunning look of the drakes.

On the other hand, females are fawn-colored with brown marks at the center of each feather, on most parts of their body. Their secondary flight feathers show off a blue-green color, while their primary flight feathers are off-white spotted with grey.

In terms of size, the Elizabeth Duck is a medium-sized duck with males averaging between 3.5 to 3.9 pounds, and females weighing between 2.6 to 3.5 pounds.

Behavior-wise, the Elizabeth Duck is known for its amicable nature. These ducks are calm, friendly and their low-maintenance husbandry makes them suitable for small-scale farming and as pets.

What Are the Uses of The Elizabeth Duck?

The Elizabeth Duck is known for its meat production. This isn’t surprising given that Lance Ruting, its creator, developed this duck primarily for this purpose in 1972.

This cross-breed of Rouen Claire and Mallard ducks resulted in a fast-growing breed known for its tender, tasty, and low-fat meat. These ducks mature early and offer anywhere from 2¾ to 4 lbs of meat.

Yet the Elizabeth Duck isn’t a one-trick pony. Beyond meat production, they’re also noted for their egg-laying abilities. While their egg production of 100-150 white eggs per year might not rival that of other duck breeds, it’s still a commendable performance.

But let’s not limit ourselves to the Elizabeth Duck’s meat and egg production. These Australian-natives have proven their worth as ornamental pets due to their attractive appearance and friendly nature. They make excellent pets – largely because they’re easy to maintain and have a very calm temperament. Their quaint charm and affable nature make them a solid choice for hobby or small-scale farms.

Despite being an outstanding meat producer, reliable egg layer, and superb pet, the Elizabeth Duck is listed as “Endangered” by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia. So it’s important to appreciate and conserve this unique duck breed for future generations.

What Are the Dietary Needs of The Elizabeth Duck?

The Elizabeth Duck is a protein-loving omnivore that thrives on a diet enriched with grains, seeds, and grass. Specific ratios preserve their health and energy, predominantly a balance of 70% water and 30% high-quality feed. This high-quality feed consists of not just grains, but also a mix of vegetables and protein.

The appropriate feed varies as per the duck’s age and gender. Adult Elizabeth Ducks benefit from layer feed, a perfect blend of the right nutrients fortified with added calcium, hovering around a protein content of 16-18%. However, if your flock is all-male, resort to maintenance feed, grower feed, or all-flock/flock raiser feed because layer feed is excessive in calcium for them.

For ducklings, your best bet would be to find duckling feed. However, in its absence, chick feed should suffice, provided it’s unmedicated. For the initial two or three weeks, feeding them with starter feed, which furnishes a higher protein content of 20-24%, is the way to go. Beyond this phase, a switch to grower feed, with a lower protein range of 15-18%, ensures their optimal growth.

These ducks need higher niacin levels than chickens. So, if you resort to chick starter for these ducks, adding niacin becomes important. An easy way to achieve this is by including brewer’s yeast in their feed – roughly 1/2 cup of brewer’s yeast for each 10 pounds of feed.

Apart from the commercial feed, Elizabeth Ducks love exploring nature for their meals. Given sufficient high-quality forage, you’ll find these ducks sourcing 50-75% of their diet independently.

Despite the autonomy they exhibit in their feeding, supervision is essential. There are certain harmful foods – bread, cat food, spinach, avocado, chocolate, onions, dry or undercooked beans, citrus, raw green potato peels, and salty, sugary, or high-fat foods – that must be strictly off their menu.

What Are the Benefits and Weaknesses of The Elizabeth Duck?

Here are the key benefits and weaknesses of The Elizabeth Duck.

Key Benefits

  • Temperament: Elizabeth ducks thrive on their sociable interactions with the flock, making for a relaxed, almost docile, environment.
  • Excellent Meat and Egg Producers: Bred initially for their savory meat, they’ve evolved into impressive egg layers as well.
  • Attractive Display: With a gray-green sheen on their feathers and striking white streaks around their neck, they’re truly a sight to behold.
  • Resilient to Climate Variations: They’re frost-hardy creatures, able to comfortably adapt themselves within mild climates.
  • Long-Lasting Lifespan: Clocking in at ten years on average, they are a long-term treat on any farmstead.

Possible Weaknesses

Despite the numerous benefits of these ducks, here are a few of their weaknesses:

  • Endangered: Overlooked in favor of mainstream breeds, the Elizabeth Duck is classified as endangered. Hence, responsible breeding practices are encouraged.
  • Delicate Hatchlings: This duck breed tends to have a tougher start in life, exhibiting a lower survival rate due to their smallish size.
  • Excessive Egg Laying: A blessing that may double as a curse–their prolific egg-laying could result in health complications.
  • Limited Foraging Skills: Not particularly adept at foraging, these ducks require a more supplemented diet.
  • Disinclined Toward Water: Unlike their aquatic counterparts, Elizabeth ducks don’t take very well to water, posing potential husbandry concerns.

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