HELP IS AVAILABLE TO TAKE ON THE BREED YOU LOVE
MANY PEOPLE keep birds as a low-key pastime rather than a profession, writes Morag Jones. A flock of hybrid ducks are as good as any for slug control in the vegetable patch. Any white farmyard goose will stand his ground and announce visitors with aplomb. No one needs to know his ancestry for him to do that. But it is possible to take a step back and consider lineage more carefully. Preservation comes in many guises and all pure breed enthusiasts are playing their part, even sometimes unwittingly, as ambassadors for waterfowl.
This is where friendship comes in — like those experienced by Jackie Jarvis Waller. A life on the land can be a lonely existence, grafting during daylight hours tending to the holding and the livestock. With that in mind, how many people have the luxury of time to search out the right stock for the humble duck or goose?
I believe that most do, and having a network of like-minded friends makes it possible. Within the British Waterfowl Association (BWA) there are enthusiasts for every breed and species you can think of. So whether you are considering having waterfowl for the first time or are thinking of keeping a different breed, there will be someone out there who can help out.
Anne Terrell, who came to the rescue of Jackie’s birds in a time of crisis, did so knowing that her only reward would be gratitude. At the time, Anne was researching and writing a book. The friendship of other duck enthusiasts completed her own circle — their help was invaluable. Call and Other Bantam
Ducks by Anne Terrell, Ian Kay and Chris Ashton, first published in 1998, is still available to buy today.
The Brecon Buffs that Jackie keeps are one of the few goose breeds originating in Britain and their initial development is well documented. In 1929 in an area of the Brecon Beacons, Rhys Llewellyn noticed buff ‘sports’ among a flock of grey and white geese. From one of those females, crossed with an Embden gander, he obtained progeny that were all grey. A gander from that hatch was kept back and, in 1930, was mated with two buff females from elsewhere. Several buff goslings were produced and by 1933 the Brecon geese were breeding 70% true to type and colour. By 1934 this had risen to 100% and the ‘standard’ was first published in The Feathered
World that year. Weighing in between 6-9kg, it is classed as a medium weight goose. The Brecon Buff is slightly upright, alert and active. It is also classed as a priority breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust on its 2018/19 Watchlist, so they are geese who definitely need friends.
If you would like advice on the qualities and practicalities of domestic waterfowl, the BWA would love to help. For more information, visit www.waterfowl.org.uk.
Morag Jones is president of the British Waterfowl Association and editor of Magazine.