Our Tamworth girls have a handsome new visitor. The dark ginger boar is visiting the gilts at Mudchute and we hope their time together will be productive. (Bit of pig terminology: a gilt is a female pig who has yet to have her first litter, after that she is known as a sow. The boar seems to be getting on well with our gilt so far. They make a happy, chatty pair, greeting visitors enthusiastically (and rather noisily!). We hope to be welcoming some ginger piglets next Spring if things continue to go well. Gestation (pregnancy) in pigs lasts about 115 days (just over 3.5 months). In the meantime, it’s lovely to see the pair together. Can’t wait to see Tamworth piglets? You can take a trip down memory lane and look back at how tiny the two sows once were!
In addition to our striking white Aylesbury ducks, we’ve also welcomed new waterfowl on our duck pond. One breed are rather large and the other rather small!
The large, heavy set ducks with mallard-like markings are our Rouen ducks. This is a very large imposing breed which looks like an oversized mallard. Female ducks are brown with black lacing on the outside of the feathers and males (drakes) have a green head, claret bib and grey body.
The Rouen originate in from France where they were used as a meat bird and crossed with the Muscovy to produce the Barbary duck. They take 2 yrs to reach their full size of 12 lbs, and because of this they are now kept more for showing. Exhibition females only lay between 100-150 eggs per year. They are a docile breed and tame reasonably easily and due to their size they cannot fly.
The other duck breed now on the ponds are diminutive, particularly in comparison to the weight Rouen. These are call ducks. A call duck drake weighs only about half a kilogram! Despite their small size, they have a very loud, high-pitched call. These birds were originally bred to lure wild ducks into traps during hunts. The call duck has been in Britain since the 1850s and in addition to their small size have a distinctively round forehead and broad, short bill. Find out more about the breed from the Call Duck Association UK.
In the video below, you can see the new ducks on their pond and enjoying the falling leaves. You’ll also hear the unmistakable sound of the call ducks. They are extremely loud, especially considering their small size!
Love is in the air on our big field as our Oxford Down ewes meet our stunning new Oxford Down ram. Mudchute has been home to Oxford Down sheep for many years and we’re excited to be able to bring new bloodlines to or flock with our new ram. The newcomer has a lovely temperament and is a fine example of his breed. He’s only a young ram, but already showing lots of interest in the ewes. The characteristic lip curl is known as flehmen and helps him to detect pheromones. This will tell him when his advances might be welcome! We hope the introduction continues to go well and that we’ll be introducing you to his sons and daughters in the spring. To find out more about the Oxford Down sheep breed, visit the Oxford Down Sheep Breeders’ Association.