The Aylesbury is not an easy bird to breed – relatively few eggs are laid and fertility is often lower than for other breeds, because the keel of the drake can interfere with mating. There have been times in recent years where numbers of this breed have been very low, but a concerted campaign to Save the Aylesbury and efforts to publicise and spread the breed have meant that there is a reasonable number of keepers at present.
- The breed derives its name from the town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, where it was bred as a white table duck in the eighteenth century and was used in increasingly large numbers to supply the London market.
- The white plumage was valued for quilt filling and the pale skin resulted in an attractive carcass. This light colouration is evident in the pink bill colour that continues to be a key characteristic of the breed.
- The Victorian emphasis on size led to the development of the modern Aylesbury with its pronounced keel and long, pink bill.
- It was standardized in 1865.
- The exhibition Aylesbury has a carriage which is horizontal, the keel parallel to and touching the ground when the bird is standing at rest.
- The head is strong and powerful, with eyes near the top of the skull.
- The flesh-pink bill should be long, broad and wedge-shaped.
- The body is long and broad and the keel is very deep.
- The Aylesbury is a very heavy duck with the drakes weighing 4.5-5.4kg (10-12lbs) and the ducks weighing 4.1-5.0kg (9-11lbs).
Did you know?
The public perception of an Aylesbury duck is rather different from the show standard. To the layman, any white duck is an Aylesbury, even if it has a yellow bill. This means the breed is actually much rarer than many imagine.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit www.rbst.org.uk to see how you can help.