Category Archives: heritage breeds

Chickens: 12 of the Best Brown Egg-Layers

So you want brown eggs.

Either you have a farm, a farmette, or you’ve decided to get serious about urban gardening. Your next step is chickens for fresh eggs. And you want brown ones.

If you are going to invest in setting up chickens for egg-laying, then you want the most return for your investment of time and money. Grocery stores have learned that people are willing to pay twice as much for brown eggs over white ones. For you to have brown eggs, then, it is simply a choice of which kind of chicken you pick for your hen house.

Chickens that are fed kitchen waste, weeds or zucchinis from your garden, and grasses, are far healthier for you than factory produced eggs produced by caged, grain fed chickens. If you’re lucky enough to be on a property where they can range freely, that’s even better!

Chickens raised on grass and insects, as nature would have them raised, produce eggs with a deep golden-orange yolk color. That color is indicative of the rich vitamins that the yolk contains, as compared to pale yolks produced by grain fed chickens. (Even though commercially produced chickens have synthetic chemicals added to their feed to make the yolks appear darker!) Healthy pasture raised chicken yolks contain more Vitamin K2, a vitamin helpful in protecting us from cancers, osteoporosis, immune diseases, cardiac disease, influenza and other infectious diseases, and even Alzheimers.


Below is a list and photos of twelve of the best brown egg-laying hen varieties, along with brief descriptions of each. Some breeds produce larger brown eggs; others produce medium sized brown eggs more frequently. Some breeds are known to produce eggs better in cold weather than others.

Keep in mind that the number of eggs produced by your chickens can vary greatly and will be determined by the growing conditions which you’ve provided for them.

Best of luck!


Rhode Island Reds

Everyone’s favorite because of great egg production, this is a popular breed that produces large brown eggs and can also be raised for meat. It is a cold and heat hardy egg producer. The Rhode Island Red, developed in the 1800s, is the state bird of Rhode Island. The hens weight about 6.5 pounds. This breed can lay about 275 eggs a year.

A similar breed but white in color, the Rhode Island White’s also lay brown eggs.



This chicken started out as a broiler. It is a less common very large brown egg layer that does well in all weather. The hen weighs 6.5 pounds. It is a dual purpose breed, useful for both egg production and meat.


Buff Orpington

This is a large meat breed with the hens weighing 8 pounds. It is an adaptable breed, very cold hardy, and an average to above average brown egg layer.


Red Star or Red Sex Link

This cold hardy and feed efficient breed is a very reliable brown egg layer at over 250 eggs per year. The hens weigh 4 to 5 pounds. The term sex link in chickens means that the color at hatching indicates which sex the chicken is because different colors at hatching tell them apart.


Australorp/Black Australorp

This is another dual purpose, average sized, hardy brown egg laying breed. It was developed in the early 1900s in Australia. The hen weighs 6.5 pounds.



Slightly smaller and less common, this hen weighs in at 6 pounds. It is also a dual purpose breed hailing from Holland. This lays very large speckled brownish red eggs that customers love. It is cold hardy.



This old English breed lays a very light brown colored egg of average size. Hens weigh 7 pounds, are very cold hardy, and are good layers. They have lovely personalities and are also a dual purpose breed. Though they come in eight colors, the speckled variety shown above is most common in the U.S.


Plymouth Rock

The Plymouth Rock was the most popular chicken breed in America at one time and has been raised on homesteads since the 1800s. It lays average-sized light brown to slightly pinkish colored eggs. Hens weigh 7.5 pounds. It is very cold hardy and adaptable and is a dual purpose breed.



Originating from Spain, this chicken lays a very dark smaller brown egg. It is very heat hardy and slower to mature. Hens weigh 4 pounds and the breed is less docile but good for free range.


New Hampshire/New Hampshire Red

This is a good layer of brown eggs which are average in size. It is cold and heat hardy and the hens weigh 6.5 pounds. It is somewhat similar to the Rhode Island Red and today, a cross between the New Hampshire and the Rhode Island Red is also a popular choice as a brown egg layer.


Black Star or Black Sex Link

Black Star hens are wonderful layers of large brown eggs. Black Stars are easy to raise and have a good feed conversion ratio. The term sex link in chickens means that the color at hatching indicates which sex the chicken is because different colors at hatching tell them apart.



This is a very cold hardy and more common chicken used to produce brown eggs. It is a dual purpose breed and hens weigh 6.5 pounds. It was developed in the late 1800s in New York and Wisconsin.


In addition to these twelve breeds of chickens which lay brown eggs are the Barnevelder, Brahma, Buckeye, Chantecler, Cochin, Dominique, Java, Jersey Giant, Langshan, Marans, and Naked Neck breeds. To do further comparisons, I recommend this PDF chart of chicken breeds along with their characteristics.

If you have anything to add from your personal experience of raising chickens that produce brown eggs that might be useful to others, please add your insights to the comments. Thankyou.

Cape Barren Geese

This is an interesting heritage goose breed.

Photo Flickr CC by Charles Strebor. Cape Barren Geese at Churchill Island Heritage Farm in Australia.

Cape Barren goose is a greyish Australian goose, Cereopsis novaehollandiae, having a black bill with a greenish cere

[Named after Cape Barren Island in the Bass Strait]

A Summary of Sheep Breeds Popular in the United States

Droving sheep at sunset with storm – Powder River Basin – Wyoming.
Photo credit: Flickr CC via Jeremy Buckingham MLC.

Talk about an idyllic farm picture. Scatter some sheep across a green “veriditas” pasture under a few trees. Or watch a collie herd a flock of sheep across a mountain rangeland. This mammal is a good fit in a pastoral rural landscape, a hardy and rugged flock animal which provides healthy meat and fiber for humans. The number of sheep being raised in America has diminished greatly since the 1950’s, but they are coming back on today’s small, organic farms and among local food movement meat appreciators.


Sheep were being domesticated 9 to 11 thousand years ago in Mesopotamia. In Europe, sheep husbandry was taking place 600 B.C. in the south of France. They descended from the Asian mouflon which are still found in the mountains of Asia Minor and southern Iran.

The number of domestic sheep in the world is over one billion. Sheep were introduced into the United States in 1607. In the early 19th century, sheep production in the U.S. moved westward where rangeland competition between cattle and sheep have been ongoing ever since.

The sheep is a ruminant animal, that having a four-chambered stomach and chewing a cud. Sheep are mostly grazers as opposed to goats which tend to forage on a wider variety of plants. Sheep prefer to eat forbs, or flowering plants, as well as grass and clover. They are useful at controlling weeds such a leafy spurge, knapweed, and kudzu. Sheep love to eat grain, but if it is added to their diets, it must be introduced slowly.

There are more than 200 distinct sheep breeds worldwide. Breeds vary according to their quality of meat, milk, and wool production as well as their hardiness and adaptability. Wool fiber characteristics are described as fine, medium, and long, or carpet wool. A rich, moist, pasture acre might support ten grazing sheep whereas an arid pasture condition might require ten acres per sheep. The intelligent Border Collie is a popular dog for working sheep. Sheep are often marked by their owners with ear tags, or raddles, which are temporary colored pigments. Sheep growers must work to prevent predators such as coyotes and dogs from reducing their herds.

Wool-producing sheep breeds need sheared at least once a year, preferrably in the spring. One sheep might produce seven pounds of grease wool. Because of the expense of shearing, hair sheep varieties which shed their coat naturally, are gaining in popularity.

Foraging herbivores such as sheep under managed or “prescribed” grazing conditions, are beneficial to grasslands and help to improve biodiversity. But, care has to be taken not to allow sheep to over-graze, which damages range land.

Sheep production has been on the decline in the United States. It peaked at 56 million head in 1945, and went down to 7 million head in 2003. Larger sheep operations are in the Western U.S. and smaller ones are in the Northeast, where the meat is more popular. Texas, California, and Wyoming are the top sheep-producing states. Meatpacking concentration has eroded prices for sheep producers in the U.S., contributing to the decline in herds. The development of synthetic fabrics in the 1960’s hurt the wool industry. However, small local lamb producers are being embraced in the eat-local and farmers market movements that are popular today.

Now, the U.S. imports much of its lamb from Australia and New Zealand, where sheep are grass-fed and generally smaller weight animals. Australia accounts for almost 30 percent of the world’s lamb and mutton exports and New Zealand accounts for over 40 percent. These two countries also have the highest lamb and mutton consumption in the world at 50 pounds per year for New Zealand and 37 pounds per year for Australia, as compared to 1 pound per year in the U.S.

To follow are photos and brief descriptions of some of the most popular sheep breeds being raised in the U.S., plus a few heritage varieties.



Merino wool sheep – Virginia.
Photo credit: Flickr CC via brownpau.

Merino sheep breeds are fine wool sheep found in Australia, South Africa, South America and the U.S. This variety accounts for about 50 percent of the world’s sheep population. Fine wool sheep do well in arid and semi-arid regions, have a strong flocking instinct, are productive, adaptable, excellent foragers, and are long-lived. The merino wool sheep has fine and soft, high quality wool and is slightly smaller than sheep bred just for meat. Merino, a Spanish word, is historically well-known in Spain where it was introduced as early as the 12th century. Merino wool is common in high-end, performance athletic clothing.

There are many breeds of merino wool sheep including American Rambouillet, German Merinofleischschaf, South African Meat Merino, Delaine Merino, Argentine Merino, Booroola Merino, and others.



Rambouillet Sheep.
Photo credit: American Rambouillet Sheep Breeders Association.

Rambouillet are the most popular commercial sheep. They are the foundation breed of most western range flocks in the United States. Sometimes called the French Merino, they descend from the Spanish Merino crossed with native French “Rambouillet” farm sheep, dating back to 1800. German breeders further developed and popularized the breed, which is larger than the Spanish merino. The U.S. Rambouillet breed association was formed in 1889. This is a large and long lived breed with a strong flocking instinct. It is an excellent dual-purpose breed for both meat and wool.

To learn more, go to the American Rambouillet Sheep Breeders Association.



Suffolk sheep – Ovis aries – Midlands, England.
Photo credit: Flickr CC via fwooper.

The Suffolk sheep breed is a meat or “mutton-type” sheep, with medium wool, and a striking appearance with its black legs and head. It accounts for more than fifty percent of purebred sheep registrations. It originated from a cross between Southdown rams and Norfolk Horn ewes 200 years ago on the rugged southeastern coast of England. This is a large, fast growing breed which yields heavy, good-quality meat. They were introduced into the U.S. in 1888.

To learn more, go to the United Suffolk Sheep Association.



Hampshire sheep.
Photo credit: Wikipedia.

The Hampshire sheep breed produces fine quality medium wool and excellent mutton. They have black legs and faces, grow quickly, and have good meat carcasses. Hampshires are large and active foragers with a mild dispostion. The breed originated in the early 1800’s by crossing Southdowns with horned white-faced sheep native to the Hampshire Downs in the UK. It became popular in the U.S. in the 18th century.

To learn more, go to the American Hampshire Sheep Association.



Katahdin Sheep, third largest meat breed.
Photo credit: Hidden Meadow Farms – Bridgewater, Maine

The Katahdin sheep is a hair sheep which has good carcass quality and was developed in the U.S. in the 1950’s. They are named after Mt. Katahdin in Maine where they were crossed by an amateur geneticist. This breed is easy-care, low-maintenance, tolerant of extreme weather, and naturally resistant to parasites. It sheds its winter coat, so it does not have to be sheared, which saves costs and makes them suitable to the warmer growing regions. They are medium-sized and ideal for pasture lambing and forage systems.

To learn more, go to Katahdin Hair Sheep International.



Dorper Sheep.
Photo credit: Wikipedia.

The Dorper sheep is a hardy, popular breed in South Africa. Originating in arid condtions, it is highly adaptable to many environments. Its popularity in the U.S. started in 1995. Their coat is a mix of wool and hair and drops off without being sheared. It has a prized sheepskin because it is so thick, protecting it from harsh weather. This skin is marketed under the name “Cape Glovers” and provides about 20 percent of the Dorper’s carcass value. They are a good mutton producing sheep.

To learn more, go to the American Dorper Sheep Breeders’ Society.



Dorset Sheep.
Photo credit: Old McCaskill’s Farm – Rembert, South Carolina.

The Dorset sheep is a medium wool, meat sheep known for prolific lambing. Polled dorsets are popular in the U.S. They are prolific breeders and milkers with a good body carcass for meat production. In the U.S., Dorset history began in Salem, Oregon in 1860, while polled Dorsets originated at North Carolina State College in Raleigh. They are the most popular white faced breed in the U.S., and second only to the Suffolk breed in total numbers.

To learn more, go to the Continental Dorset Club.



Southdown Sheep.
Photo credit: Wyncrest Farms – Houstonia, Missouri.

The Southdown sheep are a dual-purpose medium wool and meat sheep well suited for farm flock production. They originated from southeastern England, are one of the oldest sheep breeds, and have contributed genetics to the Suffolk, Hampshire and Oxford breeds. They were known to be in Connecticut back in 1648. They are great survivors and thrivers in difficult conditions and adapt well to intensive management. The breed is medium-small with a gray face and legs and is polled. Southdown sheep are useful for grazing weeds in vineyards because they are too short to reach the grapes.



Karakul Sheep.
Photo credit: Flickr CC via Just chaos.

The Karakul sheep breed is a fat tailed sheep that is possibly the oldest of the domesticated sheep, dating back to 1400 B.C. in Persia. Fat tailed sheep are about 25 percent of the world sheep population and have a distinctive taste. Karakul sheep are found in very arid regions of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Extremely hardy, they are raised for meat, milk, pelts, and wool. They were introduced into the U.S. in the early 20th century for pelt production. Currently, Karakul’s are finding a niche in the fiber arts cottage industry, so there are small farm flocks throughout the U.S. The fleece lacks a high grease content, is easily spun, and produces a superior carpet yarn. It is the wool from which the art of felting began.

To learn more, go to the American Karakul Sheep Registry.



Lincoln Sheep.
Photo credit: National Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association

The Lincoln, or Lincoln Longwool sheep was imported from England into the U.S. in the late 18th century. It is known as the world’s largest sheep breed, with mature rams weighing from 250 to 350 pounds. They are long wooled sheep and their lustrous fleece is in demand for spinning and weaving crafts. They produce the heaviest and coarsest fleece of all the long-wooled sheep varieties.

To learn more, go to the National Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association.



Icelandic Sheep.
Photo credit: Flickr CC via Neil D’Cruze.

The medium-sized Icelandic sheep are raised for fiber, meat, and milk. This feral and thrifty breed has coarse, low grade wool, used for carpets. The breed is double-coated with a coarse long outer coat for protection from life in extreme environments. They are a very prolific, short-tailed breed originating from Northern Europe, and brought to Iceland by the Vikings in 9th century. Accustomed to harsh environments, they are efficient herbivores, and not very docile. To preserve its heritage it is illegal to import any sheep into Iceland, where the breed is used primarily for meat. The first Icelandic sheep were introduced into North America in 1985, in Canada.

To learn more, go to the Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America.



Navajo Churro Ram.
Photo credit: Flickr CC via Just chaos.

The Navajo Churro sheep is the oldest U.S. breed with the most animals located in New Mexico. They were imported to North America in the 16th century to feed Spanish armies. This breed is hardy and adaptable, intelligent, has delicate meat, and double coat wool for yarn used in Navajo weaving. Churro thrived in the Southwest and were kept by the Navajo along the Rio Grande Valley in the 17th century. They became an important part of Navajo culture, providing them with meat, milk, hide, horns and wool. The U.S. government nearly exterminated them in the 1860’s and again in the 1930’s, when flocks were massacred by the USDA to about 800 head. Today, they are making a comeback. The breed was revived by starting a breeding program in 1978 from gathering survivors found in small pockets. The species is now “rare” but not “endangered”.

To learn more, go to the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association.



Leicester Longwool Sheep at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.
Photo credit: Flickr CC via Rory Finneren.

The Leicester Longwool sheep were developed in the 1700’s by Britain’s Robert Bakewell. It is a curly wooled sheep, medium to large, with a high quality carcass, but valued especially by handspinners and weavers. These were raised in the early American colonies, but had almost disappeared by the 1930’s in the U.S. A Colonial Williamsburg project is working on bringing back this heritage sheep breed, classified as “rare”. This has been an important breed for humans. Leicester Longwool’s were instrumental in the colonization of New Zealand and Australia, and were used in the 19th and 20th centuries to create new breeds of sheep. Today they number about 2,000 world-wide.

To learn more, go to the Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeders Association.



1. Sheep breeds – Oklahoma State website.
2. Sheep 101 Information (Maryland).
3. American Sheep Industry Association.
4. Wikipedia.

Six Duck Breeds For Your Small Farm

Runner ducks
Photo credit: Wikipedia CC

If you are considering adding ducks to your small farm you will be making a wise choice, as they will be pleasant companions and entertain you daily while providing pest control, manure for your soil, meat, eggs, down and feathers, and left-over grease that can be used for cooking. Granted, they do make “messes” with water and mud, depending upon your tolerance for that sort of thing. If your land has water, adding ducks would be a perfect fit. Ducks can be herded to bed in a simple night time shelter and they are more cold hardy than chickens.

When I was growing up, my grandmothers raised ducks on their farms and always gave us their “extra” ducklings in the spring. Besides enjoying their company, in my opinion, there is no better holiday meat than home raised free range Mallard duck. We didn’t have a pond, but set out a large water container for them to swim in. They loved using it and we loved to watch them use it. When our small flock circled the place by wing in the fall, we sadly knew that harvesting time was upon us.

Duck husbandry is important around the world, especially in Asia, where ducks are sometimes integrated into the rice paddy cycle. In the United States in 2007, according to the USDA, 31.3 million ducks were raised and the top three duck raising states were Indiana, California, and Pennsylvania. Americans on average only consumed about 1/3 pound of duck per person that year. In Canada, the duck industry totaled $58 million in 2006, part of the $5 billion pountry industry. Commercial duck producers use 17-20 pounds of feed to raise 6-7 pound ducklings in 7 weeks, whereas small farmers let them graze and gather their own food.

Ducks don’t scratch up vegetables, like chickens do and they are efficient egg producers, too. They lay their eggs by 8 AM and the eggs are larger, richer and fatter than chicken eggs. Certain duck breeds are well-suited for egg-laying such as the Khaki Campbell which lays well over 300 eggs per year.

“You don’t have a snail problem. You have a duck deficiency!” —Bill Mollison

If you want an optimal permaculture use for ducks, keep them fenced in your orchard, away from vegetables and where these omnivores eat weeds, insect pests and the odd fallen fruit.

All domestic duck breeds originate from the wild Mallard except for the Muscovy. If heritage breeds are your thing, then you will want to consider raising Aylesbury, Crested, Black East Indian, Buff Orpington, Welsh Harlequin, Silver Appleyard or Rouen ducks.

The following chart is from a 1989 Mother Earth News. It shows which of “the duck breeds your grandparents raised are still best for small farmsteads,” listing the unique and important characteristics of each duck type.

These next two charts compare the efficiency of meat and egg production according to various poultry types, including how much feed is required to produce a pound of meat, or eggs. As you can see, ducks are quite efficient for both purposes when compared to other poultry, but choosing the appropriate breed for your needs is important. (source:



If you have a relative or neighbor who raises ducks, you just may find yourself with a brood of free give-a-ways when they discover they’ve hatched too many for the season.

Lucky you!

Soon thereafter it will be you giving away the ducks.

Next, please read about the six duck breeds that I have chosen to feature. If you raise ducks and have any observations you’d like to share, please leave a comment and tell us which are your favorites.


White Pekin Duck

White Pekin Ducks
Photo credit: flickrCC/northdevonfarmer

The most common duck in the U.S. is the White Pekin, also called the Long Island Duck. Ninty-five percent of the duck meat consumed in the U.S. is Pekin, and it is the most popular commercial breed. Bred from the Mallard in China many years ago, this breed marked the beginning of America’s domestic duck industry in 1873, when they were shipped here from England.

The White Pekin is a dual-purpose breed, with adults weighing 8-11 pounds, and females laying 140-200 eggs per year. The body type is large with pure white feathers and an orange beak and feet. The breed is nervous, generally too heavy to fly, and considered the easiest of all breeds to dress. Their average lifespan is 9 to 12 years.

Pekin ducks don’t always chooose to sit on their nests, so eggs should be incubated, or hens can be used to sit on their nests. Eggs hatch after 28 days.

As with other ducks, these can imprint on humans for pleasant and long-lasting companionship. They are excellent sentinels, like geese, and will warn the household or other animals in the yard of approaching strangers or danger.


Muscovy Duck

Muscovy duck perched on a farm fence
photo credit: flickr CC/SubZeroConsciousness

Originally from Brazil, the “quackless” Muscovy duck is considered by some to be more goose-like. They are the only breed of duck that is not descended from the Mallard. Muscovy Ducks had been domesticated by various Native American cultures in the Americas when Columbus arrived. The first few were brought to Europe by the European explorers in the 16th century. In their natural range of South America, they are often referred to as “Musco ducks” as they eat many mosquitos.

The Muscovy Duck is sometimes crossed with mallards in captivity to produce hybrids, known as mulard ducks (“mule duck”) because they are sterile.

This is a dual purpose breed, desireable for both meat and egg-laying. Muscovy meat is unique in that it is stronger tasting, tender, less greasy, leaner, and sometimes compared to veal or roast beef. White breeds are most desireable for meat production due to skin color. They grow quickly and were once the choice of meat for European Christmas dinners. They are hardy and less prone to illnesses than other duck breeds.

Adult Muscovys weigh 7-12 pounds or more and are 25-34 inches long. The males are twice the size of the females. A unique characteristic of this duck is that it can perch due to feet with strong sharp claws. This earned them names of “perching duck” and “tree sitting duck.” The mature males have large red warty caruncles above the beak and around the eyes. They are intelligent, agile, and come in a wide variety of colors, although most are still the original color of glossy blackish/brown and white. The male has a breathy voice, and the female, a quiet croaking call.

These are very good egg layers, hatching 15-20 eggs up to three times a year. They lay eggs in tree holes or nesting boxes and incubate them for 35 days. The young stay with their mothers for 10-12 weeks and can fly in 5-8 weeks. The young feed on grains, grass and insects, and are good at keeping lawns trimmed. They eat mosquitoes, mosquito larvae, roaches, flies, spiders, and ants.

Males can be aggressive and observed to fight using their claws, wings and beaks, however, they are overall quite friendly to people. Muscovys swim less than other ducks. They prefer wooded areas with water, adapt well to extreme cold, and like to roost in trees at night. This breed is spreading, adaptable to both tropics and cold.


Mallard Duck

Mallard Ducks having a dispute
photo credit: flickr CC/ellenm1

The Mallard duck is the ancestor of most all domestic ducks except for the Muscovy and American Black duck. This “Wild Duck” domesticated weighs 3-3.5 pounds at adulthood and reaches 26 inches in length. The biggest threat to its breed is hybridization with other ducks.

This small flying duck which is widely hunted is native to most countries in the Northern Hemisphere. The male, with its characteristic green head and white neckring is easily recognized.

The mother Mallard raises one or two broods per year often in the same spot year after year, with 8-13 eggs per nest which are incubated 27 days. By five weeks of age, the ducklings are hardy and ready for any type of weather. The ducklings fledge at 50-60 days and between three to four months of age, the young begin flying. Mallards mature at 14 months and can live 20 years in captivity, though in the wild, half of them die by two years of age.

If you choose to raise mallards, know that this breed is timid and somewhat shy of humans. They are social, so need a small flock to feel content. Mallard meat is darker than other breeds. Their diet consists of small water plants and animals as well as grains, weeds, and insects. Noisy by nature, this is a quacking breed. Allow them to forage, swim, and fly and they will be happy.


Indian Runner Ducks

Runner ducks running instead of flying
Photo credit: FlickrCC/me’nthedogs

The Indian Runner duck is a “light duck,” egg-laying, nervous, general purpose breed which stands tall like a penguin. It is found in two dozen colors and does not fly, but runs instead. This breed originated in India or possibly China over 2,000 years ago and came to the United States from England in 1900.

These are prolific egg layers, laying anywhere from 150-300 eggs per year, depending upon the variety. The females rarely nest but drop eggs wherever they happen to be foraging. The adult drake weighs 3.5-5 pounds and the duck weighs 3-4.4 pounds with heights of 20-30 inches. This is a less noisy breed as only the females quack.

These ducks love to forage, swim, and run through grassy meadows, though they can be content confined to a garden area.


Ancona Duck

Ancona ducks
Photo credit: Wikipedia

This excellent choice for a domestic egg-laying and meat producing duck is a rare breed which was introduced into the U.S. in 1984 from England. Anconas descended from the Indian Runner Duck and the Belgian Huttegem Duck, and are most closely related to the Magpie duck. This breed has a calm personality, they are excellent foragers, and prolific egg layers, laying 210-280 eggs per year. With a quick growth rate, adults weigh 6-6.5 pounds, and the meat is tasty and less fatty than the Pekin. Attractive in appearance, the most common color of the Ancona duck is black and white, though they come in a wide range of colors and mottlings.


Buff Orpington Duck

Buff Orpington Duck
Photo credit: Sprout ‘n Wings Farm

This large dual purpose breed is an especially attractive good egg layer and table duck. The buff color found in both the male and female was created by crossing Indian Runners with Rouens, Aylesburys and Cayugas in England. They were introduced to the United States in 1908 but is rare today.

Buffs are a flock bird that lays 150-220 eggs per year and grows quickly. Their meat is considered tastier than the larger Pekins, and ready for harvest after the ducks are 8-10 weeks old. Light pin feathers make this breed easier to dress. Adult Buffs weigh 7 to 8 pounds.

As an added bonus for this duck’s attractiveness, it does not show dirt.


Univ. of Minnesota: Raising Ducks (2008)
Univ. of California Extension Service: Raising Ducks in Small Flocks
Univ. of California Extension Service: Muscovy Duck Care Practices
Univ. of Minnesota: Farm Flock Poultry (2008)
Boondockers Farm on Raising Ducks



1. Murray McMurray Hatchery sells the following ducklings (by mail order) which include several mixes: Homesteader’s Delight, White Crested Duck, Runner Duck Assortment, Gold Star Hybrid Duck, Jumbo Pekin Duck, Flying Mallard, Cayuga, Khaki Campbell, Runners Ducks, Blue Swedish, Buff Ducks, Ducks Deluxe Mix, Fancy Duck Package, White Pekin, Rouen, Barnyard Combinations, Welsh Harlequin Duck, Black Swedish Duck.

2. A list of the ducks which have been catalogued by the FAO from around the world include the following varieties: Belibis, Black East Indian, Hook Bill, Pommern, Rouen Clair, Swedish Blue, Belted, Jending, Dendermondse eend, forest, Huttegemse eend, Laplaigne, Merchtemse eend, Semois, Japanice Crioll, Grimao ermaô, Tea Anka, Canard du Cameroun, Azul, Mudo, Pato colorado, Brown Tsaiya, Caohu, Dayu, Enshi Partridge, Gaoyou, Jiangchang, Jinding, Linwu, Liancheng White, Putian Black, Quemoy, Sansui, Shaoxing, Weishan Partridge, Wendeng Black, Xingyi, Youxian Partridge, Yunnan Partridge, Zhongshan Partridge, Local Duck of Côte d’Ivoir, Barbary, Dsshed, Dwarf volant, Domiati, Shersheer, Sudani, Blanc De L’allie, D’estaire, De Bourbour, De Challan, Duclair ble, Duclair noir, Rouen fonc, Domestic Duck of Guam, Kunshan, Pekingase Duck of hortobág, Chemball, Kuttanadu Char, Kisara, Pegaga, Tondano, Maros, Magelang, Osaka Duck, Malian Duck, Bibbed, Kuifeend, Kwaker, Spreeuwkop, NoordHollandse witborsteend, Batakh, Pato Criollo Francé, Criollo, Philippine Duck , Tsaiya, Chunsoo, Blagovarsk, Medeo, Bantam duck (Slovenia), Hifh Fly, Annera Mallorquina, Petrock, Velovi, Vigro, Blekingeanka, Svensk Gul Anka, Ped Puen Muang Pak-Nam, Black White-Breasted, Appleyard Bantam, Baldwin, Bali, Crested Bantam, Gimbsheimer, Magpie, Penguin, Shetland, Silver Bantam Duck, Stanbridge White, Streicher, Whaylesbury, Anh Dao, Bau quy, Bauben, Ky Lua, Moc, Nang, Omon, Tiep, Madada.

Hot 5: Steyr Gas Tractor. Washington Grain Port. Super Weeds. Jyoti. Prezewalski’s Horse.


CNH Global N.V. has produced a prototype tractor which runs on natural gas. This “Steyr Profi 4135 Natural Power” has a Fiat turbocharged compressed natural gas engine which is 3.0 litre, four-cylinder, and 100kW/136 hp rated. The gas storage is divided into nine tanks totalling 300 liters. This tractor is to be on the market in 2015, and is especially encouraged for farms having their own biogas systems.



Just recently completed, this was the first export grain terminal to be built in the U.S. in more than 25 years. Located on the Columbia River, it is serviced by both the Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads, plus barges and trucks. It has the capacity to unload rail cars at the rate of 3,000 MT/hour. Having a storage capacity of 4.7 million bushels in 36 concrete silos, it handles corn, soybeans, wheat, soybean meal, and DDGs. Export destinations are Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam in Asia; Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador, Peru, and Colombia in Latin America. In addition to the $200 million project, a $32 million South Dakota project near Kimball, capable of storing 3.2 million bushels of grain for export by rail to West Coast ports will be completed later this year.



Photo credit: Colorado State
Pigweed, which can get 2-4 feet tall

It didn’t last long, did it? Ever since Roundup, or glyphosate, was approved for general use in 1994, weeds have been evolving to resist it. There are now more than 20 types of Roundup resistant weeds, in 24 states, which have developed over the past 15 years. Even though seed companies are working on the next generation of herbicide tolerant crops, experts believe that this development may put us on the downward slope of industrial Ag efficiency. Increased expense, labor, herbicides, and a return to old methods required to manage escapee weeds could mean a gradual reversal of the ever larger fields and equipment being used to produce today’s monoculture crops. Perhaps the grain farming efficiency of scale pinnacle point has now passed.


I recently discovered this canned natural food Indian Cuisine product line, Jyoti, produced out of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, at my favorite local organic grocery store. It was started in 1979 by Jyoti Gupta who is a registered dietitian, as a mail order operation. I’m a huge saag fan, and this Delhi Saag is superb. I’ve had it plain, and I’ve tried it with lamb added to it. This is quality “convenience” food at a reasonable price. The Jyoti Indian Cuisine company is growing and its website urges consumers to request the product at their favorite grocery store if not found there. Try it, request it, or order it online!



We headed for the Denver Zoo midweek and I took this photo of a Przewalski horse. This is the only surviving wild horse subspecies, and it roamed the border between China and Mongolia. It was discovered in the late 19th century by a Russian explorer named Przewalski. Currently, there are about 1,500 of these horses left, and most are in zoos. The FAO began reintroducing them into their native Mongolian habitat in the 1980’s. Its coloring is like that of a Siamese cat.

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