Facts on the Light Duck Breeds - Abacot Ranger (Streicher), Hook Bill, Khaki Campbell, Welsh Harlequin, Buff Orpington
Most ducks for laying were created partly from the Indian Runner early in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Cook of Orpington was working on the Buff Orpington as early as 1894-1898 and Mrs Campbell of Uley produced the Campbell duck by 1901. The White Campbell and Dark Campbell followed, as did the Abacot Ranger and Welsh Harlequin - all depending on a Runner ancestor. Light ducks are active ducks; they partly take their temperament and type from the Indian Runner. They are foragers and egg layers, the Khaki Campbell being the best egg layer of all time. Magpies and Orpingtons are at the heavier end of the scale at up to 7-7½ lbs and can be regarded as 'dual purpose' birds.
Lots of info on duck history and management in The Domestic Duck
The Abacot Ranger duck (right) was originally produced in the UK, was even described in Feathered World's 'Ducks' (1926) - and then disappeared from the UK record. Fortunately for this attractive breed, the Germans developed the 'silver wild-colour' to perfection and maintained the Abacot Ranger or Streicher as a popular breed on the continent until its re-discovery as a distinctive breed in the UK in the 1980s.The ducks are particularly attractive. They have a 'hood' of fawn-buff feathers (hence the name 'hooded ranger') and a creamy white body beautifully streaked and marked with colour. Like their relatives - the Campbells and Harlequins - they are very good layers
Khaki Campbell Ducks on a pool (below). These are the world's best layers, capable ( in commercial strains) of producing over 300 eggs per year. The breed was produced by Mrs Campbell of Uley, Glos.
More about the Khaki Campbell
Dark Campbells (below) and White Campbells were produced later. Dark Campbells are a dark 'dusky' - a basic recessive colour in ducks. Unlike the khaki, they do not have a brown gene. The are simply dusky and dark phase (in the terms of duck colour genetics) . Matings between Dark and Khaki Campbells make sex identification by colour at hatching possible.
The Hook Bill [Hookbill] (below) is the oldest recorded breed in Europe. It too comes in the dusky mallard colour, but also in bibbed dusky. The earliest Hook Bills, according to illustrations of them from the 1600s, were not dusky. They had mallard gene eye-stripes. These birds can be good layers and have a lovely, calm temperament.
The Welsh Harlequin (below ) was produced as a 'sport' from Campbells by Captain Bonnet in 1949. The breed (which is really a colour) almost disappeared, but was revived in the 1980s.