After careful consideration, the Pekin duck and Steinbacher goose are to be added to Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s most important document, the Watchlist.

The Pekin duck

First domesticated some 2000 years ago, the Pekin duck was standardised in the UK in 1901, but it has a long history before this point. In 1870 a Chinese student, Chan Laisun, gave a lecture in New York referring to ducks known in his homeland as ten pound ducks (referring to the weight). As a result of the lecture, in 1872 some ducks were imported into the UK. Then a year later, some ducklings were imported into the USA in 1873 by John Palmer.

These importations provided the basis for the differences in development of the breed between the USA and Europe.  In the USA breeding was concentrated on developing the breed as table bird, whereas in the UK breeders focussed on its exhibition qualities.  This has led to major differences between the American and European forms of the breed.

The present-day European Pekins are upright with particularly dense plumage. One description of the general shape of the Pekin is that it resembles a small, wide boat, standing almost on its stern, and the bow leaning slightly forwards.

This is a variety that continues to survive as an exhibition breed and also as important base stock for commercial breeding.


The Steinbacher goose

Having only been standardised in the UK in 1997, the Steinbacher goose has not long been ‘accepted’ into the native breeds world.

It is generally believed that the breed originates from the northern European plain, more specifically central Eastern Germany, from crosses of local German geese with Chinese geese. It has also been suggested that Russian fighting geese were also introduced.

The breed was first seen in the UK in blue/ lavender in the early 1980’s. Other colours can be found, but mainly in mainland Europe.

The latest UK survey on the breed recorded 13 confirmed breeders of Steinbacher geese with 65 birds in total, making them a breed of high conservation concern.


Richard Broad, RBST Field Officer and Chairman of the RBST Poultry Working Group, says ‘Over time breeds come to the attention of the RBST and with the members of the RBST Poultry Working Group we look at their individual merit. Both these breeds are in need of help and the RBST are pleased to be able to recognise them on the RBST Watchlist’.

More information on ducks

More information on geese

More information on the UK National Livestock Gene Bank at

British Waterfowl Association

The Domestic Waterfowl Club 

The Goose Club