The Rouen was one of the first standardised breeds in Great Britain, and featured in the original standards book of 1865 . Is origin lies in Normandy, France.
In France it is known as ‘Rouen Fonce’ (Dark Rouen), or ‘The English Rouen’.
It arrived in Great Britain around 1800, and through selective breeding the size of the bird was doubled. It’s once sleek body became very thick set and ‘boat shaped’, also the plumage colour was improved.
In England it was called by several differing names…’Rhone’, after the area in south west France, ‘Rohan’ after a catholic cardinal, ‘Roan’ for its mix of colours and finally ‘Rouen’ after the town in north central France.
Eventually the breed made its way to the United States in 1850, having been imported by a Mr D W Lincoln from Massachusetts, and in 1874 was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection.
The Mallard is a direct ancestor of the Rouen duck. Rouens’ closely resemble the wild Mallard in terms of plumage, but is darker in colour, and clearly much bigger in size.
Rouen ducklings look almost identical to those of the Mallard, but can easily be distinguished by the presence of a second lower eye stripe on the face below the level of the eye (illustrated below).
Today the Rouen is appreciated for their beauty, size and character. They are considered a rare breed and currently appear on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Watch List.
A Rouen has a large blocky body and a deep level keel.
The back arches from the shoulders to the tail.
A horizontal carriage.
Round head with medium sized bill, slightly concave along the top line.
Very dark eyes.
Weighs 4.5 – 5.4kg average
Head and neck is irredescent green, with a white neck ring/collar below.
Dark brown / black eyes.
Lower neck and breast dark brown.
Upper body dark grey, Lower body light grey.
Yellow Bill, Orange shanks and feet.
A diagonal white/blue/white feather colouring across the speculum feathers on the wing.
Weighs 4.1 – 5kg average.
A black crown on the head.
Dark brown / black eyes.
Two distinct eye stripes, one running through the eye line, and one below.
Plumage is brown with black lacing to feathers.
Orange shanks and feet.
Lays between 25 and 150 extra large white eggs per year.
The Rouen is a very heavyweight breed of duck, and is ideal for exhibition, ornamantal or as a table bird. Due to their size, Rouens are slower to mature, and can take over a year to reach their full adult weight, this makes them impractical for commercial meat production, despite their high quality table value.
Rouens’ are great foragers, pretty docile, calm, quiet, sociable and can be easy to tame.
They are not prolific egg layers and they too heavy to fly.