The Stanbridge white duck is a breed that was believed to be extinct except as natural 'sports' until 2007 when the president of the rare poultry society identified the breed in Gloucestershire. These birds were from William Osbourne who by 2009 maintained 14 Stanbridge ducks and 4 drakes in 3 breeding pens. William had purchased his original birds from a man in Aylburton in Gloucestershire, where a known poultry photographer, Mr Arthur Rice had lived and kept the Stanbridge. The seller did not know what they were and labelled them as ‘Farmyard ducks’ but he did state they ‘laid like stink’. Their laying ability has also been noticed by William who has stated his Stanbridge ducks ‘start to lay in the first week of February and go on until at least October’, ‘in all that time they would average about 240-250 eggs per duck’. William went on to say he has ‘ been keeping poultry for over 50 years and has never come across ducks that lay as well as these do, not even when I kept Khaki Campbells’.
The breed was originally
developed as a separate breed by Lord Greenway in Romsey,
Hampshire. There are two schools of thought as to how they
were developed. Some say they were developed from a white
sport of the Magpie duck, others prefer that they may
have been used in the creation of the Magpie. According to
Colin Murton "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 (Q.E.D ! ), 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." These were submitted by Captain Greenway to Harper Adams for the laying trials through the 1930's until the outbreak of war in 1938 . ( the same people responsible for importing the Marans Hen as the first 60 hatching eggs were imported by Mr J.S. Parkin, manager at Stanbridge Earl Poultry Farm in Kent (then owned by Lord Greenaway). I myself had them years ago ( 1970's) from Jacob Lory and other breeders in Cornwall/Devon and they then laid blue green eggs and the bill discoloured with extreme age as in the Magpie. They laid well into their old age and 10 year olds laying well was not uncommon. Tip if over 1 year old and no spots/ discolouring to the bill or a white egg layer get suspicious as yes they may have 'improved' but a change of egg colour and bill = a mixed parentage. Pink bills = commercial Aylesbury aka Cherry Valley input . They were also a good broody but often got severe middle aged sag to the back end after 12 yrs old in the girls ! They are described with breed standards in The Poultry Club Standards Containing a Complete Description of All the Recognised Varieties of Fowls, Ducks, Geese and Turkeys by William White Broomhead Published by Cassell, 1930 and subsequent editions as :- GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS Head -refined, long and straight and in no way thick or . . .
In the shows such as Royal Agricultural Society of England, 1930 they were then judged in classes with Magpie Ducks By 1957 Standards in USA and Oz they are then described as Type: favours that of the Pekin, though smaller and hardly as upright. Body: deep and lengthy with broad back and well-developed abdomen but not as low as the Aylesbury. They are regarded as an active dual purpose breed of duck with a dish shaped bill. They are more upright than the Aylesbury but not as much as the Pekin. Stanbridge whites lay a pale green egg ( in 1957 ) many now do not however both Cherry Valley and White Campbells lay white eggs.
Developing Stanbridge White Ducks
Having kept magpie ducks now for a number of years I was aware that achieving the correct colour markings each year was a hard task with many birds passed on to others as laying ducks . Having produced an almost pure white specimen with a couple of dark patches on it and aware that the Stanbridge White duck was either a white sport of the Magpie or used in the creation of the Magpie duck I set about breeding white ducks . I introduced a blue Magpie drake and produced a few pure white specimens . From these white birds the following year I produced further white ducks and finally this season I hatched from the pure white specimens and again only pure white ducks have been hatched .
This has been a great hatching season for the Stanbridge duck producing 4 drakes and 7 ducks all of which are almost identical in size, shape and colour . The adult stock have gone to a friend and a young pair has gone to another fancier in Northern Ireland leaving me with 3 drakes and 6 ducks for next years breeding season .This breed are a very calm breed of duck . They are identical in shape and size to the magpies with bright yellow/orange bills which tend to be slightly dished . The drakes are slightly bigger than the ducks . The parent stock were fantastic laying birds laying very light green eggs of a good size . The Stanbridge white ducks are great foragers and spend every day in the pond .
I recently had an opportunity to compare them against quality white Campbells also hatched this year . The Stanbridge is substantially bigger ,more upright with a longer bill which is slightly dished than the Campbell.
I also noticed that when the
Stanbridge ducklings were about two days old some of them were
pure white in colour while others were yellow . I will pay
more attention to this next season separating the two colours
of ducklings to establish if they are showing an autosexing
trait . The Stanbridge white duck is a marvellous eye catching
light breed of duck that produces a great number of eggs .They
are a breed worthy of more fanciers keeping them .from Guy
pics below Guy Richardson
Pics below from E.J.Russell some of the best yet 'pudgier fronts' showing their dual purpose breeding
Pics below from Emily Carpenter