Extracted from
Leghorn Fowls Exhibition & Utility
by C A House published Poultry World Ltd

THE DUCKWING(click for pictures) Australian version return to homepage

THIS variety is so named because of the rich Steel-blue feathers on the wing, which form a bar similar to the bar on the wing of the Mallard Duck. It is a variety that in the past has been fertile of discussion both as to its origin and originator. The late Captain George Payne, of Woking, is given the credit by some of being the founder of the Duckwing Leghorns; others say that Mr. R. Terrot, of Maidenhead, is entitled to the honour. This gentleman, was ever an experimentalist, having in 1926 brought out a new variety of the Sussex fowl, even as forty years before he produced the Duckwing Leghorn.
  Whether Mr. Terrot was the originator or not, the fact that he was the first exhibitor of the variety has never been disputed. The first Duck-wing Leghorn cockerel to grace a public show pen was one shown by Mr. Terrot at the Crystal Palace Show of 1886. To Captain Payne belongs the honour of being the first breeder to exhibit Duckwing Leghorns of both sexes.

  Captain Payne never took the Fancy into his confidence as to how he produced his Duckwings, but as he used the Brown and the White to make the Pile it has been thought that some of the stock used in the making of the Piles was used also in producing the Duckwings, also the Duckwing Yokohama. It is said that Mr. Payne used a Silver Duckwing Yokohama to improve the colour.
  Mr. Terrot made no secret of his operations, and with true sporting spirit let it be known that he manufactured his Duckwings from a combination of Duckwing Game, Silver-grey Dorking, and Brown Leghorn.
  In the early years of the variety one was able to detect traces of both sides of the ancestry, as many cockerels that were shown were very profusely feathered, and quite a number of the pullets, and cockerels too were very squatty in carriage, and followed the Dorking shape. In 1892 Mr. Hinson, who was for many years a most successful breeder of the Duckwings, won first with a grand coloured cockerel at the Dairy Show. He was a large bird, and because of that he was described as being little else than a Silver-grey Dorking with yellow legs. This and other things which happened at that time led one to the conclusion that most of the birds, came from what one may call the Terrot family, even though they were not so loudly boomed.
  At this time Mr. Gerathy exhibited some particularly good pullets, and he and Mr. Hinson did much to improve the variety, and also to make it more popular.
  Quite early on we had the two colours—the silver and the golden. This also led one to think that the two different branches of ancestry were responsible for the division, because the golds gave one the impression that they owed much to the Yokohama, whilst the silvers followed more the Dorking stamp. At this time I was very closely associated with the late L. C. Verrey in the management of the old Fancier's Gazette, and besides working with him day by day also visited his home, and shared largely in his views on the Leghorns of the time. For many years he bred Duckwings, Browns and Whites. He had studied the breed at home, in Italy, Switzerland and Denmark, and what he did not know of the different varieties few others could claim to know.
  It is a subject of deep regret that the lovely Duckwings have not maintained their position in the Leghorn Fancy in the country in which they were originated. To-day the finest Duck-wing Leghorns are to be found in Holland and Germany. The most beautiful lot of Duckwing Leghorns I have ever seen were at Enschede, in Holland, which is right on the border line of Holland and Germany. For twenty years have I been a constant visitor to the Dutch Shows, and from the first visit have the Duckwings made a deep impression. But this superiority of the Continental Duckwings is only another instance of how things produced in this country have been extended and improved by our Continental friends.
 Another friend of mine with whom also I was closely connected in journalistic work for a number of years was Mr. Harry Hesford, and he was a great lover of the Duckwings, especially the Golds, with which he was very successful at the shows. He fought hard against the effort made by some who sought to deepen the colour of the Golds, and prophesied that if breeders persisted in breeding the darker coloured birds the Golds would play a second place to the Silvers. Subsequent events have shown how accurate he was in his ideas, as even now, when the Duckwings are not as fashionable as they were, the Silvers are first favourites.

The Silver Duckwing Leghorn cockerel is a most handsome fellow and possesses a combination of colour that must attract the eye of any one who can appreciate what is beautiful. The feathers on the head should be pure silvery white, as should be the neck hackles, although the long feathers are striped with black. The back and shoulder coverts and saddle are also white of a silvery tint. A rich metallic black describes the shoulder butts, whilst the wing coverts and wing bar are a bright though dark shade of metallic blue. The wing primaries are black with a white edging, whilst the secondaries are black on the inner web and white on the outer edge. The breast, thighs and under parts of body sound bright black. Tail a rich black, showing a beetle-green sheen.

Hackle pattern of female


Handsome as is the Silver Duckwing cockerel, the pullet is equally beautiful, even if more subdued and not so brilliant in colouring. The charming soft French-grey so finely and delicately pencilled with black seen on the back and wings presents a most pleasing contrast to the light salmon tint of the breast.

Back/Shoulder of female

Taking the colour through, it should run as follows: Head, silvery white; neck hackle of the same tint, very finely striped with black; breast, pale, soft salmon, shading away to ashy grey on the under-parts; back, wings, sides of body, and saddle, soft, delicate, clear silvery grey finely pencilled with black; tail, grey of a somewhat darker shade than the body colour.

Wing pattern of female

    The Gold Duckwing differs in colour from the Silver in that what is silvery white in the Silver varies in the Golds from a light yellow, or wheaten straw colour in the neck hackle to a rich deep gold on back, which shades off into paler golden yellow in the saddle hackle. In the pullets what is silvery grey in the Silvers is a darker grey in the Golds, but the breast colour is a rich bright salmon red as opposed to the pale salmon in the Silvers.

  In breeding Duckwings both colours are needed, because if only Silvers of exhibition value are used the colour goes from the charming silvery white to a dead white which is not half so beautiful. If a rich coloured Gold cockerel is mated to Gold hens of exhibition stamp the pullets so bred are rusty in colour and look like poor imitations of the Brown Leghorn pullet.
Thus in breeding Silvers the cockerel should be an exhibition bird mated to hens or pullets of a darker shade than those which are needed for exhibition, or else they should be Golds. If this is not done the silvery tone in the white of the Silvers is lost. On the other hand to breed Gold pullets of exhibition Standard the exhibition Gold cockerel must be bred to pale coloured Gold hens or pullets, or to rich breasted Silver hens and pullets, birds which carry too much colour to be shown. In other words the Golds and Silvers are complementary the one to the other and if it is desired to breed exhibition birds the colours must be blended in the breeding pen. To be successful in producing high class exhibition Duckwings the breeder must know the material he is handling, or else he will meet with nothing but a series of disappointments.

  Mr. E. LI. Simon, who has produced some most excellent Duckwings, says that two pens are needful if one would breed exhibition birds of both sexes. The Gold bred pullet is usually too hard in colour, is shafty, and often has a brown cap which is objectionable, yet she is needful if one would breed exhibition Gold cockerels. The cockerel to breed a pen of Golds for Gold breeding should be an exhibition bird, or one that is a bit darker on top and wings, so as to counteract the tendency to run light, and show white ticking. The mates for such a cockerel should be birds that have been Gold bred for generations, and should have all the general characteristics of the Leghorn breed. If they are a bit warm in colour so much the better, as they will help to brighten the colour of cockerels bred from them, but pullets from them will be of no use as show birds, but the cockerels should be excellent. the Silvers may be bred from one pen providing good exhibition birds of each sex are used. But pedigree must be considered, as a Silver cock that is Gold bred will upset all one's plans. The Silver cockerel must be Silver bred, and as near exhibition Standard as possible. He should be mated to hens as near the exhibition standard as possible, being soft in colour, and free from shaft. Such birds should breed exhibition birds of both sexes.

  A writer in the Dutch Poultry paper, Avtcul-tura, recently said : "Silver Duckwing Leghorns originated in England about 1886. Silver-necked Phoenixes have contributed a good deal to the formation of this colour variety. Silver Dorkings were originally used, but with little success. Our country now possesses specimens which can be successfully exhibited everywhere abroad.

  In 1886 a bird of this colour variety was for the first time exhibited at the Crystal Palace Show, sent in by a Mr. Terrot. Mr. Payne, however, was the first to succeed in breeding well-coloured hens. Mr. Payne has never precisely indicated in what way he bred the Silver Duckwing Leghorn. It is assumed that he used Silver-necked Phoenixes and Pile Leghorns to obtain the desired colour. About 1890 Duck-wing Leghorns found their way to America, where they soon acquired a certain degree of popularity, but were never bred with the same care as the white and partridge coloured ones.

  In England the Silver Dorking has also been used to help breed the Silver Duckwing Leghorn, but it was the Phoenix which did most to help on this new colour variety.

  Silver Duckwing Leghorns are nowadays so generally seen at our shows that every poultry-lover knows them by sight.

  We publish herewith the standard description as fixed for our country by interested clubs.

  Bill.—Yellow, upper bill horn colour at the tip.
  Face.—Red, without any white in young birds.
  Comb and Chin wattles.—Red.
  Ears, —White, cream colour admissible.
  Neck-covering.—A glossy green black central stripe, as in partridge colour birds, but pure white ground colour.
  Back.—Silver-white, free from any  other colour.
  Saddle-covering.—In accordance with  neck-covering.
  Sickle-feathers.—Deep black with green gloss,
  Tail-covert feathers.—Black, white edge.
  Small flights.—Inner  web  and  tips  black, outer web white.
  Large flights.—Black, except for outer web, which is white.
  Wing-band.—Black with green metal gloss, free from purple.
  Shoulder-feathers.—Silver-white,  free  from every other colour.
  Breast.—Black with green gloss, free from grey and white speckles.
  Belly and Buttocks.—Black.
  Flanks and Thighs.—Deep black.
  Legs.—Yellow to orange.
  Nails.—Light horn colour.


* Return to top of page *