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There have been many new arrivals to meet in Pets Corner, including a flock of large, handsome white ducks. These are our new Aylesbury ducks. The Aylesbury duck derives its name from the town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, where the breed was developed as a table duck to supply the London market in the eighteenth century.

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The Aylesbury duck was a leading waterfowl exhibit in the first national poultry show held at the London Zoological Gardens in June 1845. This was the beginning of live poultry exhibitions, and it was the Victorian stress on size that led to the development of the modern Aylesbury duck with its pronounced keel and long pink beak.

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The Aylesbury is a heavy duck with the drakes weighing 4.5-5.4kg (10-12lbs) and the ducks weighing 4.1-5.0kg (9-11lbs). The females are not very good layers only producing 80-100 eggs per year.

Here’s farmer Tom moving them to their daytime quarters in Pets Corner.


Over the past week we have received a very generous donation of logs, bark and wood chippings from CSG Ushers Ltd, a local tree surgeon who has been working nearby. The byproduct of their work (branches, logs and wood chip) have been put to good use across the farm, providing a nice dry layer underfoot for our goat, duck and chicken pens as well as enrichment in the form of log piles and perches for many of the farm’s animals. The pigs love having a good scratch against their logs and searching for food among them. The goats seem keen on stripping all the bark off their logs and the chickens and ducks are eagerly scratching through the wood chip, looking for insects, worms and other treats. More photos and videos on the next page.

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Having completed their annual moult, our Madarin drake (Aix galericulata) drake and Golden pheasant cock (Chrysolophus pictus) are looking beautiful in their bright new plumage. They’ve also been making a bit of a racket in Pheasant Crescent and you may have heard some rather unusual sounds and seen some unusual behaviour in their aviary! These calls are part of the territorial defense and courtship of the two species and are fantastically dramatic, from the deep almost bubbling ‘song’ of the mandarin to the frenzied elaborate dance of the male golden pheasant complete with specialized feathers that move across his face. See more photos and videos on the next page!

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