A Hat to Die ForsteemCreated with Sketch.

in homesteading •  last year


Are we interfering with nature too much in search of a novelty?

This is not a specific breed of duck (although both Tufted and Crested Ducks exist as species of wild fowl). They used to be known as Pom Pom ducks, but the name seems to have been lost to some degree, and they are now also known as crested and tufted, causing confusion.

The proper Tufted and Crested wildfowl breed true, Pom Poms do not. They can be, and are, crossed with many other species so the only distinguishing feature is the tufted head.

The tuft itself can be of any size or shape. It is formed by a defect in the birds head; a hole in the skull. In order to protect its brain, the unhatched duckling grows a pad of dense flesh over the hole. The down and feathers growing from this pad will not lie flat. They may also be longer than normal head feathers, or contain more down. Either way, the result is a "pom pom" of feathers that grow from the pad. These ducks are bred from others which carry the tufted genes, but the parent ducks might not actually have tufts themselves.

Think of genes as being the instructions according to which a body is made--a blueprint for life. They exist in pairs, each pair controlling a different aspect of life. When two individuals mate, the resulting young will inherit one of every pair of genes from each parent.

Each bird carries a pair of genes that control the tuft. Let us say that the gene instructing "a tuft" is X, and the gene that instructs "no tuft", is x. If a duck has a pom pom then it will be carrying one of each gene, so we can show it thus: xX

Each duckling will take a single gene from each parent. So if both parents have pom poms they will both be xX. The duckling could take the two genes for "no tuft". His genes will be xx and his head will be "normal".

He could take the tufted gene from each parent, giving him XX. Sadly, the tufted gene is a lethal one, which basically means that when it is passed on in certain combinations it is, indeed, lethal. Ducklings inheriting XX will not be able to survive outside of the shell. They generally die in the shell fully-formed, at the point of hatching.

The remaining ducklings will inherit one gene for a tuft, and one for no tuft - xX. These are the ducklings that will actually have a tufted or pom pom head. But even their life is not secure; the hole in the skull can be to one side, forward or back, and of different sizes. Of the eight ducklings I've hatched with pom poms, two had periods of time when they walked very awkwardly, and kept falling over due to their balance being affected by this defect. They then had extreme difficulty in righting themselves. Perhaps the hole was too large, or the pad put pressure on part of the brain. Both died young.

In theory there is a 50% chance of these ducklings bearing pom poms, and 25% chance of them either having none, or dying in their shell with the lethal double combination. By breeding one tufted duck to another with no tufted genes, the lethal combination can be avoided completely, but only 25% of the progeny will bear the elusive tufts. Thus the duckling's viability is increased, but the potential profit is decreased--the ducklings that actually sport pom poms are the ones fetching higher prices.

Every time man places two creatures together with intent for them to breed, he should be making a conscious choice. The progeny will inherit one of every pair of genes from each parent, and it is that young creature, not the breeder, who has to deal with the consequences... But that is the topic for another post. Personally, I quickly decided that the unique beauty of a duck with a perfect tuft was not worth the cost to those who didn't make the grade, and my remaining ones will live out their lives without hatching their eggs.

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I think this is really sad. And yes, I do think we mess with nature too much.


Yes, to some degree its what we do for fashion... Thanks . ..
You seem to be the only person who stopped long enough to comment. So you have my full upvote!


Thats very kind thankyou!

love duckingls @elaine54!!

I am working with the #promo-uk team and @stephenkendal to promote steemit on a UK tour around 22 universities during freshers week! As a promonent UK steemian, we would like to ask for your support and if you have time, even to come and join us for whatever time you can spare at your nearest university!

The tour started in Manchester today, does a trip around the country and ends up in Lancaster on 07th Oct.

THIS link will show you the tour route, meeting times and meet up locations.

THIS link shows you our success around Manchester today!

It would be really great if you could make it to one of these promotional events to have some fun talking Steemit and letting people know how great it is!!

We are also presenting at the London investors fair on 20th October. We plan to get together with some steemians in a London bar after the event for some drinks (which we will put 150 GBP behind the bar for)
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Im sorry i can't make either of the events near me (Southampton and Portsmouth). Maybe you didnt realise, but Winchester also has its ow uni, about 20 miles at most from those two.


ah! thank you! if there is time i will stop by, but it is such an intense schedule!! I am flying by the seat of my pants as it is ;))


I know what you mean...

I always think about getting this type of duck. I haven't any ducks now, just the chickens, though two of them are Polish with the hats. I love hatching my own ducks because of the imprinting and then they are like little dogs. I live on the water, so in theory I should have at least a pair of ducks. I'd like a smaller bantam size duck possibly. I also love the genetics of breeding fowl, and my blue hens breed true!


There are bantam ducks, just as bantam chicken. I think you have silver appleyard which are pretty little ducks, and black east indian are beautiful black shining petrol blue and green. Both are friendly and well behaved. The smaller call ducks are popular here, but they are SO noisy!

I have pretty much become almost exclusively an heirloom individual. Natural hybrids occur in nature. However, messing with Creation to get the desired result usually causes an inherent weakness in the end species. So-called scientists have never learned this.


Scientists only seem to learn what they want to believe... Or am I being unjust?


No; you're being too kind. For years, I have debated self-professed scientists with all sorts of degrees, especially on LinkedIn and Google+. Almost every single response post by me got deleted and even threads that I started. That was far easier than to address my points.

Scientific Method has that name for a very solid reason.


Hmmm... Thats interesting to know!

nice post and quite educational... nature is best option for such... keep steeming!

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Thank you. Sorry I missed upvoting within 7 days

very sad story we have to react like humain with nature


How right you are. Thank you, I'll check your posts asap

very sad about this duck species, thanks for sharing !! it is necessary to preserve the nature and the living species.


Thankyou . I'll check your posts asap