Sara, Chad and Evie Fraker raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) laying ducks at Willow Creek Ducks in Waxhaw, North Carolina. Sara grew up in the city; her parents were certified Master Gardener parents and rented community garden plots where they raised most of the family’s vegetables. When Sara and her husband, Chad, moved to the country two years ago, they purchased 10 acres of woods backed by a winding creek and started gardening, added fruit trees for their family’s use. Before too long, they added a flock of Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW laying ducks for eggs.
The Fraker’s flock of Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW ducks consists mostly of Welsh Harlequins, with a few other mixed breeds. “They are a great animal for an active family, as they are calm, friendly and curious birds,” Sara says. “They lay a ton of great tasting eggs year round and are just as happy picking through the downed leaves in the woods as they are in the sunny pasture.”
The Welsh Harlequin breed originated in Wales in 1949 from two light-colored ducklings hatched from pure Khaki Campbells. In the late 1960s, the Welsh Harlequin was introduced into Tennessee and several breeders worked to grow and develop the breed. In 1984, Welsh Harlequins began to be offered for sale more widely in the U.S. The birds are particularly suited to outdoor and pasture systems, being active foragers, outstanding and consistent egg producers, and highly adaptable. “The ducks handle the North Carolina summers and winters quite easily,” says Sara.
The ducks at Willow Creek Farm are raised outdoors on pasture and range, which is a fundamental component to AGW certification. Attentive management is central to Sara’s animal husbandry approach: “I want to watch my birds and make sure they are acting and moving normally, and to catch any issues that may arise while they are still minor,” she explains. Keeping the soil and pastures in good condition are also vitally important for the health of her flock: “Maintaining your soil and pasture for longevity is essential. If you don’t keep an eye on your soil you could end up with an area that is no longer able to support the pasture.”
The Frakers pursued AGW certification for their flock of ducks because the AGW program represents the highest standards for high-welfare, pasture-based production. “I love the program and that it encourages farmers to care for animals in a way that they should be cared for,’ Sara adds. “Just because we are going to slaughter an animal or keep it for its eggs or milk doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deserve a healthy, happy life.”
In the future, the Frakers plan to continue raising ducks, providing healthy, nutritious eggs that fill a need for their local community.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW duck eggs from Willow Creek Ducks are available at Provisions by Sandy Creek in Waxhaw, North Carolina. Check the AGW directory for details. For more information about Willow Creek Ducks, visit the farm’s Facebook page, You Tube page and Twitter feed, or contact Sara Fraker directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-512-9959.