Authentic Aylesbury Duck

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Authentic Aylesbury Duck

Aylesbury Duck

Hailing from Buckinghamshire in South East England, Aylesbury Duck has historically been known as some of the tastiest in the country. The birds are prized for being less fatty than most other types – their flesh is pale and tender with pronounced gaminess. However today it has declined considerably in popularity. This wane is largely due to the increase of competing breeds, like the Peking Duck, on the British market. There is currently just one producer of the authentic Aylesbury Duck left, as his bird’s bloodline is the only one to remain intact in the face of hybridization. Historically the Aylesbury Duck filled the gap between game and spring chicken, with prices falling after Ascot and reviving at Christmas. In 1756 Martha Bradley wrote that any kind of duck was acceptable for the English table but by the time of Mrs. Beeton in the second half of the 19th century, the Aylesbury breed was noted for its superior taste and quality meat. Many people misguidedly use the term ‘Aylesbury’ to describe all white table ducks. This is far from correct, as the vast majority on the modern market are hybrid breeds. Strict enforcement of the EU hygiene regulations has significantly reduced the number of small duck-farmers by diminishing the economic viability of their businesses. Richard Waller is the last remaining breeder of Aylesbury Ducks for the table. He is the sixth generation of a family of duck breeders and poultry farmers with a history going back to the late 18th Century. Richard’s father had the foresight to buy stock from many of the old duckers he knew around the villages as they retired or gave up the business after World War Two. The duckling’s feed contains no growth promoters, antibiotics or animal proteins – it is cereal-based diet with only essential vitamins and minerals added. To alleviate stress all of the ducklings are bred, hatched, reared, killed and processed on this small family-run farm with high welfare standards. The ducks that Richard grows remain direct descendants of those bred by his ancestors. The bloodline has not been lost but has been added to by buying or swapping good stock with other farmers over the last two centuries.

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