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Get to Know Us and Our Ducks
My husband, Eric, and I have been married almost 30 years and raised our two daughters on our 53-acre farm near Lathrop in Northwest Missouri. I am an elementary school teacher, and with some time available during summer and an empty nest, I was ready for a new project.
Ancona Acres was born in 2018 when we decided to add ducks. When first deciding which breed to get, Anconas stood out because of their unique looks, heat tolerance, cold hardiness, and calm disposition. They also are prolific layers, laying an average of 240 eggs each year. Anconas are a dual purpose breed, meaning they can be used for both eggs and meat. Being a heritage breed means they will be with you and lay longer than commercial breeds. They will lay for five to eight years and can live ten years. After a lot of searching, we bought our first seven Ancona ducks and the rest is history. What started out as a little hobby quickly grew, and five years later we still enjoy our ducks as much as ever.
We do not use large scale hatchery birds in our breeding program. Our breeding stock comes from other small NPIP breeders across the United States. We introduce new bloodlines every couple of years. We have spent the past five years developing our Anconas for size, conformation, and most importantly, temperament. We also work on maintaining broodiness, always keeping hens in our breeding flock that display this trait.
Anconas are not a standardized breed. They are a heritage breed. Simply stated, it is a breed that has been improved by traditional agricultural methods and has not been commercialized. "A landrace is a domesticated, locally adapted variety of a species of animal or plant that has developed over time, through adaptation to its natural environment. Landraces are distinct from standard breeds." Wikipedia "The [ducks] that survived their environment were the ones that passed on their genes. These birds end up being very hardy, disease resistant, pest resistant, and low maintenance. The most compelling benefit is that landrace breeds often have a high degree of genetic variability (i.e. more diverse genes in their genetic code). [Anconas will be different colors and lay different colored eggs, some will be taller, some will be shorter, they will have different patterns, etc.] But these are just the visible, physical traits. There are also a number of unseen, non-visible traits. Some genes will allow for adaptation to cold or hot temperatures, some genes for arid or humid conditions, others for high wind or poor forage or minimal water or early maturity, etc.. Many of these genes still exist in the landrace breeds, and they are just waiting to be expressed. It is like these animals carry with them all the tools and materials to handle any job. Now compare this to modern breeds. They have intentionally lost this genetic variability as they have been bred toward uniformity. These animals are like a bunch of carpenters walking around with only a hammer or a bunch of plumbers walking around with only a wrench. They are ideally suited for a single situation, but if that situation changes, they are at a disadvantage."Temperate Climate Permaculture
Anconas are not standardized because they are not identical in either plumage or egg color. To standardize them would mean breeding only black and white birds that lay white eggs, at least in the beginning. Well, the lack of exactness in this breed is what brought us to them in the first place. We love that they are unique in their colors, and we love the colored eggs. To loosely quote waterfowl expert Dave Holderread, "As soon as people try to get the qualities exact, it is going to ruin the breed because such a large portion of the birds will be thrown out. The gene pool is so small anyway, to do that would run them into the ground, genetically."
Therefore, our stance is to continue breeding for variety in both eggs and plumage. Our focus is on inherent genetics such as those mentioned above, especially in regard to size and temperament.
The Facebook group, Heritage Ancona Ducks, as well as the North American Ancona Duck Alliance website, are two resources reflective of Dave Holderread's four decades of waterfowl research, including his extensive work with Anconas.
A lot of work goes into getting our birds to where they are now. Please reach out with any questions. Thank you for visiting our website!
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