Breed Profile: Silver Appleyard Duck

A Beautiful All-Rounder Among Heavy Types of Domestic Ducks

Breed Profile: Silver Appleyard Duck

Breed: Silver Appleyard ducks

Origin: The Silver Appleyard duck was first developed in the 1930s by Reginald Appleyard, the renowned British poultry breeder and writer, in Ixworth, England. He also developed a Miniature Silver Appleyard from mating a White Call with a small Khaki Campbell duck.

History: Reginald Appleyard aimed for a large beautiful duck that was good for the table as well as producing a plentiful number of eggs. He retained the broody characteristics lost to many modern ducks.

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In the 1950s, the original line declined due to lack of interest in heritage duck breeds. Tom Bartlett in Gloucester, England, aided the Silver Appleyard duck’s recovery in the late 1970s, consulting a 1947 painting by poultry artist E. G. Wippell for breed characteristics of the original Appleyard-developed birds. The Silver Appleyard duck was standardized in Britain in 1982. Bartlett also developed a miniature version in the 1980s, first shown at the BWA Champion Waterfowl Exhibition in 1987. The Miniature Silver Appleyard duck was standardized by 1997, and is approximately a third of the weight of the large breed.

Silver Appleyard ducks and drake. Image by Katie Hannan/Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0.

The Silver Appleyard was imported into the United States in the 1960s, where the breed became available to the public from 1984. The large version was accepted into the heavy class of the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 2000, joining Aylesbury ducks, Pekin ducks, Rouen ducks, Muscovy ducks, and Saxony ducks, which they outclass as layers. Both the large and miniature versions in the United States are likely to have been descended from Appleyard’s original birds.

Silver Appleyard ducks are a great all-round heavy breed: friendly, great foragers, growing quickly to produce delicious, lean meat and plentiful eggs.

Conservation Status: Classified as “threatened” on the Watch List of The Livestock Conservancy, “critically endangered” by FAO, and protected by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (UK).

Description: Stocky, broad, compact body with slightly erect posture. The coloring is basically Mallard, except that they express two dominant restricted Mallard genes and two recessive light genes, which limit pigment on the face and body, resulting in a silvered effect.

The drake’s head and neck are dark green with a silver-flecked throat and a silver-white ring around the neck. His chest is chestnut-brown with silver flecks. He has a pale belly, brown-gray back and wings, and a black and white tail. The colors change with age with a tendency for the head to become more silver with age and chestnut tones to darken.

Image by Anna Maria Barbieri/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The female has a silver-white head and neck with brown-gray feathers from crown to back, over back, wings and tail, and a pale chest and belly. She is generally paler while young. Both sexes have an iridescent blue-green-violet speculum, which becomes larger and brighter with age. They have orange legs and beak.

Silver Appleyard duck (female). Image by Oast House Archive/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Silver Appleyard ducklings are yellow with black “mohawk” stripe along the crown and a black tail. Varieties: Silver: large and miniature.

Skin Color: White.

Popular Use: Dual purpose: meat and eggs. Also valued as a show breed due to ornamental plumage.

Egg Color: White. Egg Size: Large. Productivity: 100–270 eggs per year. Fast growing and maturing: ready for the table by nine weeks old. They produce flavorsome, lean meat and a full meaty breast.

Weight: Drake 8–10 lb. (3.6–4.5 kg); duck 7–8 lb. (3.2–3.6 kg). Miniature drake 3 lb. (1.4 kg); duck 2.5 lb. (1.2 kg). Temperament: Lively, calm, and easily tamed; active foragers with a large appetite who settle in where they are well fed.

Adaptability: Silver Appleyard ducks need plenty of land to forage and a good quantity of well-balanced feed to lay well. They also need water to bathe. Females have good maternal instincts: they brood and raise ducklings proficiently.

Quote: “Appleyards are one of the best all-purpose large breeds of ducks and adapt to a wide range of environments.” Dave Holderread, Corvallis, OR.

Sources: Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks. 2011. Dave Holderread. Holderread Waterfowl Preservation Center.

British Poultry Standards, 6th Edition. 2009. Ed: Victoria Roberts.

Choosing and Keeping Ducks and Geese. 2008. Liz Wright.

Photos by Holly Occhipinti: preening and keeping watch.

This profile will be developed within the June/July 2020 issue of Backyard Poultry magazine.

Silver Appleyard ducks and drake foraging

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