Hook Bill Ducks
Hook Bill Ducks are quirky looking ducks. They have an elongated bill that curves downwards, at the end making them look quite different to other breeds of domestic duck. The hook bill duck has a history of more then 400 years, making them the oldest Domestic Waterfowl breed in Europe. Even Charles Darwin described hook bills in his books and kept them in his backyard pond. The origins of the Hook Bill Ducks is uncertain. Old texts suggest they originated in Asia but they were developed further and kept extensively in Holland at one point on the canals where they were let out (and would fly off) to feed and would come back home at night, being shut in and providing their keepers with eggs the next morning. One story is that the white-bibbed Hook Bill was bred to help hunters identify them from wild Mallards that they would shoot. I haven’t yet found any old texts that back this story up though.
The Hook Bill Ducks are unique in appearance due to its bill but it is a useful duck as it is still an excellent forager and some strains are capable of laying over 100 eggs per year. It is a good table bird. Independent but docile, it will brood its own eggs and best kept as breeding pairs or trios. Beware, it is a good flyer so the wings will need the flight feathers clipping. It is classified as a light breed and comes is standardized in three colors although specialist breeders produce non standardized colors too. The three colors are white (with bright orange legs), dark Mallard and white bibbed dark Mallard.
Uses: Exhibition, Utility: meat and eggs.
Eggs: 100 to 200 Blue Eggs.
Weight: Drake: 6.5 lbs. Duck: 5.5 lbs.
Colors: Dusky Mallard, White-bibbed Dusky Mallard, White.
Useful to Know: Hook Bills are very rare in Europe and the US with an estimated 250 – 400 breeding birds left. Good layers and generally quiet, can be very tame. May fly and might need a wing clipped.
Domesticated ducks are raised for meat, eggs, exhibition, pets and down. All varieties of domesticated ducks are descended from the mallard, apart from the Muscovy duck, which seems to be a breed of it’s own.