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Orpington or Aylesbury — America's rarest duck breeds — By Frank Reese at Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch
Orpington or Aylesbury
Innards not included
These ducks are raised outdoors on ponds and pasture with no hormones or antibiotics. Pond-raised ducks are strong, healthy birds with exceptional fat development. Frank Reese holds the title of "Master Poultry Breeder" by the American Poultry Association.
The Aylesbury duck reached its peak popularity in the late 1800s when thousands of ducklings were sent from the town of Aylesbury to London and served by the top restaurants of the day. The Orpington was developed by a famous poultry breeder from Orpington, Kent, and in 1914, this breed was admitted into the American Standard of Perfection under the name “Buff" for the popular color of the duck's plumage. The breed was introduced to the United States in 1908 at the Madison Square Garden Poultry Show in New York City.
Since then, these breeds were crossed with other breeds like the Pekin, which fared better in industrial settings. If it were not for a few dedicated farmers who kept them pure, it is likely the Aylesbury and Buff Orpington breeds would have disappeared for good. The Aylesbury duck is listed on the Most Endangered List with fewer than 500 breeding birds left in the U.S., and the Buff Duck is listed with fewer than 1,000 breeding birds in the U.S.
By raising these exquisite tasting birds, fourth-generation poultry farmer Frank Reese is staying true to the motto “eat them to save them.” Americans consume less than 1/3lb of duck per year but we hope to restore the bird’s presence on the farm and at your dinner table. See our blog for 3 delicious and simple recipes!
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