Silver Appleyard ducks are sometimes a little difficult to find, but are an eagerly embraced meat and egg breed by both amateur homesteaders and commercial keepers.
Members of this breed are classified as a dual-purpose or multi-purpose type of duck. Silver Appleyard ducks are also categorized as both Large Appleyards and Miniature Appleyards, basesd upon the specific breeding techniques that help to develop different strains of the breed.
Silver Appleyard ducks are often not only raised for their eggs and meat, but also for poultry bird exhibitions and for “decoration” on farm ponds. Some folks have become so enamored with their fairly quiet beauties, they keep them simply as pets.
The average lifespan of a Silver Appleyard duck is four to eight years, but some members of this breed have been known to live as long as 12 years.
Silver Appleyard Duck History
This duck breed hails from Europe. Reginald Appleyard developed the Silver Appleyard ducks on his Priory Waterfowl Farm in the Bury St. Edmund area of England in 1940.
Reginald Appleyard, a writer and an accomplished duck breeder, sought to create a large and beautiful duck breed that would produce a quality meat and large white eggs – he succeeded.
The British farmer created the Silver Appleyard duck breed by crossing the Pekin, Rouen, and Aylesbury breeds.
Appleyard unfortunately passed away before he could submit a breed standard to any poultry association. Yet, the Silver Appleyard breed continued to win ribbons at shows.
When accomplished artist E.G. Wippell painted an exquisite canvas of Silver Appleyards in 1947, which played a significant role in creating a breed standard.
The Miniature Silver Appleyard breed was also developed by Reginald Appleyard. He crossed a small Khaki Campbell with a White Call duck to originate this smaller version of the same new breed.
Appleyard’s original line of this new breed began to suffer a decline after 1945. During the 1970s, Gloucester, England breeder Tom Bartlett began an effort to essentially recreate the Silver Appleyard breed.
Gloucester has been deemed responsible for the great effort to save the breed, and help bolster its popularity.
Bartlett purchased Silver Appleyard breeders with all the best qualities he could find on the open market. He then bred them selectively to achieve the best standard traits as illustrated in the depiction painted by E.G. Wippell.
These valiant efforts to save the Silver Appleyard breed resulted in them being accepted by the British Waterfowl Association in 1982. Bartlett also worked a little breeding magic with the Miniature Silver Appleyard version of the breed.
This small version of the poultry bird breed was shown for the first time at the British Waterfowl Association Champion Waterfowl Exhibition in 1987. These birds are approximately one third of the weight of the initial breed.
In 1997 a standard was ultimately established for the Miniature Silver Appleyard, and it was reclassified in the United Kingdom as the “Silver Bantam” breed.
It was during the 1960s that Silver Appleyard ducks were first imported to the United States. These ducks were readily available around the country in 1984.
It took until 1998 for the large version of the Silver Appleyard duck breed to be accepted by the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection.
The miniature version of this breed that is available in America is believed to have descended from the small stature poultry birds first developed by Reginald Appleyard.
Silver Appleyard ducks are listed as “threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. In the United Kingdom the breed is protected by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Silver Appleyard Physical Characteristics
- Silver Appleyards are a stocky breed, and yet have a compact body style.
- These ducks boast a posture that is slightly erect, but not nearly so much so as an Indian Runner duck.
- A Silver Appleyard can be mistaken for a Mallard at first glance due to the similarities in their plumage.
- Ducks of this breed possess two restricted yete dominant genes. Both are light recessive genes that result in a light colored pigment on the body and face – which can result in a silver shading effect.
- The head of a mature drake’s neck and head are a dark green hue. The chest of
- Silver flecks are present on both the throat and above the eyes of drakes, as well. A silver to white ring is visible around the neck.
- The chest area of a Silver Appleyard mature drakes is a chestnut shade of brown with silver flecks. The tail is white and black.
- The stomach of drakes of this duck breed are a pale cream shade. Wings and the back are a brown to gray shade.
- The shade of plumage on a Silver Appleyard drake do change with age. The head often becomes more silver and all chestnut plumage on the body darkens.
- Silver Appleyard mature hens boast brown to gray feathers on the crown, back, tail, and wings.
- Hens of this breed have a silver to white head and neck. The belly and chest area are exceptionally pale when the duck hen is young and change to a darker shade of pale as they age.
- Both drakes and hens of the Silver Appleyard breed have a speculum that is iridescent blue to green to violet in shade. This area becomes both larger and brighter as the bird ages.
- The beak of a Silver Appleyard hens is orange, and a drake’s is greenish to yellow in shade.
- Both drakes and hens have orange legs once mature. Ducklings of this breed are yellow with a mohawk style stripe in black along the crown and a black tail.
- Large Silver Appleyard ducks often appear in both lighter and darker versions of the standard size ducks of the same breed. They frequently have crested, or all white plumage.
- Silver Appleyard ducks weight between 7 to 9 pounds (3 to 4 kgs) once mature, on average. A drake matures in roughly nine weeks, but it takes most females a few weeks longer to hit a mature butcher weight.
- Ducks of this breed, like all domesticated duck breeds, cannot really fly. A duck may get a few inches off the ground and move forward about 12 inches, but that is the extent of their flying capabilities.
Silver Appleyard Duck Facts
- Ducks hens of this breed are often deemed the best egg layers in the meat class breed.
- Silver Appleyareds are excellent foragers. In my personal experience, they rival my favorite duck breed – Pekins, in the foraging prowess category.
- Most Silver Appleyard hens are good sitters and excellent mothers. They often go broody and will adopt the eggs and ducklings or other hens if necessary.
- Ducks of this breed are hardy in both hot and cold climates.
- They are a fast growing meat duck breed.
- Silver Appleyards are a friendly and social breed with not only other poultry birds but with their keepers – hence their popularity as farm pets.
- These ducks have a calm demeanor and are often dubbed as a quiet breed to raise by the keepers who reap the benefits of the eggs and meat members of this duck breed produce.
- Meat harvested from a Silver Appleyard duck is lean. There is less fat on meat produced by this breed than on Pekin ducks. While duck fat is often coveted for cooking, folks looking for a lean poultry meat tend to favor Silver Appleyards.
- The large breasts on ducks of this breed are one of the reasons it is so often prized by meat duck breeders and gourmet chefs.
- The mild flavor and non-greasy texture of meat from Silver Appleyard ducks is another reason why this breed is favored.
Silver Appleyard Egg Production
- Hens lay between 220 to 270 eggs annually.
- Silver Appleyard duck eggs typically weigh between 30 to 44 ounces (850 to 1250 grams).
- Eggs laid by members of this breed are medium to large, and white.
- It takes roughly 26 to 29 days for a Silver Appleyard egg to hatch.
- Unlike any other duck breed that I have raised, Silver Appleyard hens sometimes will actually lay in a nest.
If you want a hen of this breed to sit her own eggs, the best chance of that occurring is if she is offered a space away from the rest of the flock to help her feel safe to do so.
When choosing breeders, look for Silver Appleyards that meet breed standards, and do not weigh one pound over or under the recommended weight. Large, first time hen mommas sometimes accidentally smother their recently hatched ducklings.
Removing the ducklings to a brooder after they hatch may be wise when a large duck breed hen has successfully hatched her first clutch of eggs.
For the best chance of sustainable breeding results, keep one mature drake for every 8 to 10 females. Over-procreation in a duck flock can cause irreparable harm to the reproductive organs of both males and females – and potentially lethal internal injuries.
Silver Appleyard ducks do not need any dietary or living quarters husbandry techniques that are out of the norm with any other duck breed. A duck house and run or duck coop and run to protect them from both the elements and predators will serve their needs just fine.
They can eat waterfowl or poultry bird feed – which is the more readily available type of feed sold at most agricultural supply stores.
When feeding ducklings, never use medicated chick feed, only purchase the non-medicated version to avoid exposing the young Appleyard ducks to components in this type of feed that can be deadly to all breeds of ducklings.