The Duclair Duck
A Relative Of The Rouen Duck, Its Past Is Tragic And Enigmatic
By Stuart Sutton
The Duclair duck is a cousin of the more widely known Rouen duck, both coming from Normandy, France. In fact, the geographical area of origin for the two breeds is only about 20 miles, and they are both the result of local selection.
They are distinguished by the Duclair having a white frill on its black plumage. This earned him the nickname “lawyer.” A Duclair is also smaller than a Rouen. The breed’s uniqueness lies in its white bib, which starts below the throat and base of the neck and widens down the chest. The breed was used in the famous Normandy blood duck recipe, “Normande du canard au sang.”
At one time the breed’s life was tragic. When animals were transported to the market of Duclair, held every Tuesday, the animals were so tightly packed that some would suffocate to death. These unfortunate birds were then deposited at the “Hotel de la Poste,” where they were then served to customers. In fact, it seems that choking ducks was practiced for convenience, but also as a matter of taste as the animal kept its blood, thus allowing the flesh to have a better taste.
Today, the future of Duclair seems to be improving, even though there are presently only a handful of breeders in Seine-Maritime.
Lomenède Bruno, president of the Safeguard of Poultry Breeds Club Channel (CSRAN) says, “We are in a wave of revival of heirloom varieties, and that’s good. Very commonplace in local life in the 19th century and the origin of the traditional blood duck recipe, the Duclair faces competition from the middle of the 20th century by the industrial production of hybrid ducks. However, the recently constructed slaughterhouse, “The volaillère Clos” located in Oinville, has put in place today the necessary tool to produce the old blood duck recipe, which is a step toward the further development of our local variety. To promote this high gastronomy product, CSRAN will soon sign a partnership agreement with the Regional Natural Park of Boucles of the Seine Normandy. We will refine the selection to expand the line. Future ducklings will then be installed in various local farms. The aim is to link biodiversity in economic activity and a gourmet high-end product. We want to rebuild a local supply chain, in 2014, there should be a real production in Duclair ducks.”
Although the bird originated in Normandy, France, from regional ducks, its history is pretty vague. These ducks were gradually standardized and finally established as a separate breed on Nov. 11, 1923, by Mrs. Bodinier-Poached, Dr. Rame and Mr Chevallier. However, it is interesting to note that several European countries have similar breeds that are recognized under different names, such as Dendermonde in Belgium, the Swedish duck and the Pomerania duck of Germany.
The body is long and fleshy, the head is also long, with a flattened forehead and the eye is dark brown. The beak is fairly long and wide, slightly concave to the edge and dark slate in color. The neck is average in length and slightly arched while the back is large, long and slightly domed. The abdomen is rounded, wide and deep without a keel trace. The tail is closed, following the extension of the back and the legs are well apart and dark reddish brown stain to completely black in appearance. The plumage is tight and very attractive.
Recognized as a rustic duck, the Duclair is not only revered for its taste — its flesh has a stronger, less oily flavor than that of the Rouen — but is a very good layer and incubator, producing, per year, 150 large eggs of at least 2.6 ounces; these being of a likeable bluish-green color.
Weights are male 6.6 pounds and ducks are 5.5 pounds. Two varieties of Duclair exist: black, with beautiful green beetle reflections and the blue (gray).
• Black Variety
Intense Black with green shades, white bib starting at the throat widening to the chest. Sub-gray-black plumage. Beak dark green, drake; duck, that of slate to dark black. Very dark legs.
• Blue Variety
Very uniform color throughout the plumage. Some isolated black feathers are tolerated genetically. A white bib as per black. Under plumage is the same color.
Defects include lack of type, yellow skin; anatomical defects, many violet reflections, bib down to half of the body or extending the back of the neck’ stained bib colored feathers, many brown or fawn, white feathers.
Thanks to the Safeguard of Poultry Breeds Club Channel. Stuart Sutton is a specialist in poultry breeds and heritages, and works as a freelance writer and photographer in the United Kingdom.