That this breed is now getting the popularity and recognition it
deserves in theBritish Isles is very pleasing to me as it has long
been one of my favourites. It was in the 1970's that imports to the
U.K. from our fellow member in the U.S.A. Darrel Sheraw again
started a once popular breed on an upward curve again. At first
folks over here were very keen but then realizing the problems of
producing a near perfect specimen some fell by the wayside. Very
near the start of my association 20years ago I remember discussing
them with Vernon Jackson. I recall his saying to me that we didn't
need to have imported the stock as wealready had the raw material in
this Country. I had the two breeds and used a Fawn & White
Runner drake onto a Cayuga duck with quitesatisfying results. It has
also answered for me quite a few of the recurring problems that
happen when breeding Magpies. The lines underthe eyes of ducks, the
marks on the breast, the black branch down behind the legs, the
lacing sometimes seen under the wings and thespotted beak turning to
a cucumber colour in late life, all speak of the parentage.
They do also have a reasonable appetite and the drakes make good
eating, the colour pattern meaning you don't get black stubs on the
breast. They also have the advantage that you can select reasonably
marked specimens at day old.
The history of the breed does suggest it was originated in 1918-191
9period. In the 1921 Feathered World Yearbook it was reported how
hardy they were, one breeder reared 285 In 1920 with only three
deaths! Anadvert late in the book by Oliver Drake of Holme in
Yorkshire shows a group of approaching 20 birds saying this new
commercial breed has aflock average of 185 large eggs. Again in the
1923 Yearbook two photos of Magpies one of a drake and one of a pair
appear, the latter purchased from Oliver Drake for Captain Greenaway
- more of him later. As these plus Runners and Campbell's were the
only breeds illustratedit showed how their popularity had risen.
By 1923 they were being shown in consistent numbers, at the Crystal
Palace 20 in 2 classes. In Birmingham 2 classes mustered 17 entries.
Now to Olympia where there were a number of Club Shows, including
theWaterfowl Club, Buff Orpington, Magpie and Coaley Fawn (where did
they go) 7 classes for Buff Orpington produced 1 13 entries. Again
the Magpie entries in 2 classes were 20.
An interesting little aside in my research is that in the 1923
Yearbook a full page advert appears from the Abacot Duck Ranch owned
by Oscar Gray, Friday Wood, Colchester and amongst his breeds listed
are Magpie Ducks and Hooded Rangers (our original Abacot
Ranger's)..........Old illustrations all seem to show one
characteristic which is now under debate. The slightly dished bill
has until the last year always been seen in the best birds and as I
said before Captain Greenaway who became Lord Greenaway, came into
the equation from another side in that his poultry manager, J.S.
Parkin, brought the title Stanbridge Earls Poultry Farm with him to
Kent when he came to work for Lord Greenaway.
From the white sports of the Magpie they developed the
StanbridgeWhites, a utility white duck which had a slightly dished
bill. Over the last 20 years or so it was fairly easy to spot 'White
Campbell's" which were not so and which had the aforesaid dished
bill and if penned a green egg in the showpen.
Magpie Ducks as I said at the outset now seem to have again attained
their former glories. Not only in the original Black & White but
the Blue & White also which have been around since beforeWorld
War 11. Dun & White have made appearances but no-one seems to
have consistently bred for this one colour. We hear of Chocolate
& White on the Continent also Lavender & White over here but
this colour seems to be open to debate as the Blue & White is
actually a fairly light blue. Congratulations to the breeders of the
top class specimens being shown and also the judges with the courage
to put up a marked bird, in contrast to a self-colour. Michael
****Finally a tip for the newcomers to the breed. You can breed
well-marked drakes from well-marked parents, but to get your ducks
right you need somewhere around a 50% black marked duck to your
Magpie Ducks are a modern breed originally from Wales that was bred
for both its meat and its egg production.They are the most difficult
a breed to produce a show quality bird. They are good broodies and
quite long lived ( av 9 yrs up to 12+). Originally a triple purpose
:egg, meat, and show bird. Possibly similar to the Huttegem or
Oudenaarde Duck. The Magpie duck is believed to have originated in
the early 1900s, having been developed by Oliver Drake and M.C.
Gower-Williams in It is possible that they were selectively bred
from the Belgian Huttegem an old breed that was popular in the
duck-raising area north of Brussels in the 19th century.
Descriptions of the Huttegem are remarkably similar to the modern
Magpie duck, and old pictures show many of the features of the
Magpie including the coloring. The Magpie duck was imported to the
United States from Great Britain in 1963, but they number in
the low hundreds .
The markings are specific ie a cap on the head; white neck / front
etc with a coloured heart shape on their back; thighs white
Country Of Origin;. ........Wales . An early 20th Century
Breed mentioned from the 1920'sonwards
Name in Europe : France = Canard Pie
Carriage; Similar to the Campbell ducks but a
substantailly more well built duck ie useful for the table if needed
Purpose;... .......Eggs..Meat...Broody...a good utility
Egg Colour.....................green / blue ..large many now lay
white eggs after crossing out. ***Could anyone with a blue egg
laying magpies for sale please contact Mike
Egg Numbers ............. 220–290 large white eggs annually
but the earlier standards were all for blue eggs
Legs and webs should be orange
but often mottled; lack of cap ;Coarseness in markings etc. . . . .
. are that the colouring is virtually impossible to get to the Show
Standards ie a high number of rejects including pure whites
(originally a separate breed Stanbridge Whites) and that the bill
discolours with age making it possibly one of the few breeeds that
shows best when it is a 'point of lay'.
Breed Hints.... Kept as trio or more ie can be a family
Weights; 5 to 7 pounds. This is an average size bird
(weight Drake: 2.5 – 3.2 Kg, Duck: 2 – 2.7 Kg ).
Breed Tip ****Easily sorted as a duckling as all
white and mismarked ones can be weeded at birth ****
Flying . rarely flies a goodback garden all rounder;
Genetic profile. .
2015 DWC Show pics by Rupert Stephenson
Pic by Rupert