the Rouen Clair project

THE Rouen Clair duck - like its better known cousin the Rouen - has its origins in France. Monsieur Rene Garry is credited with developing the Rouen Clair in France, and it was standardized there in 1923,  the UK in 1982.

Unlike the Rouen (fonce = dark), the Rouen Clair (light) is a light phase mallard - aka Trout - and lacks the keel associated with the heavier Rouen.  In addition, the drake has a white stern, while the duck is highly prized if she has well defined pencilling in the form of a chevron on the larger feathers.

Literature indicates that the Rouen Clair was bred mostly for utility purposes and therefore shows some variance in type, as focus was on production rather than appearance.   

Acknowledged as being one parent side of Australia's own Elizabeth duck, the Rouen Clair is not commonly seen in Australia today.   Several breeders are developing their own lines of Rouen Clair, with breeds such as Rouen, Pekin and Saxony being used.


koljash felt fortunate when the opportunity to obtain some RC stock arose (birds pictured below).   Unfortunately though, the challenge of colour breeding and getting the genetics correct became a bigger issue than initially considered.   Rather than being able to breed further RC,  koljash has had to rely on producing 'blue Clair' in order to work around some of the presenting issues.

The Problem

Genetics in waterfowl are an interesting and occasionally complicated thing, with birds sometimes looking right, but not breeding true. Hidden (recessive) genes can appear and result in offspring looking totally different to the way they should.  The drake had several visible faults (white primaries and toes, interesting neck ring) and came with the original duck (black leg band) and their 2 offspring.  The original duck was not used in the 2013 RC program, instead put to the resident Saxony drake  to produce the Blue Clair mentioned above.


 With several unexpected outcomes (light phase dusky, brown trout, trout with extra white) it became obvious that hidden genes were coming to light.   Bred to his daughters, dusky genes were exposed and the drakes visible faults (white primaries and toenails) were replicating. 

With some further investigation and photos,  Richard from RnBs Waterfowl deduced the drake as being a light phase dusky split for brown (aka Light Campbell - md/md li/li D+/d) rather than light phase Mallard (Rouen Clair - M+/M+ li/li D+/D+).  His daughters would therefore be M+/md li/li D+/ -,  appearing Rouen Clair but able to pass dusky gene (md is recessive so requires 2 doses to express).   The brown dilution gene is sex linked - the fact that several ducklings born were brown trout (M+/? li/li d/- ) and female is evidence the drake is split for brown. He is pigmented underwing,  evidence of being pure for md; underwing would otherwise be white (M+).  All 3 female ducks are unpigmented underwing.

 It is unknown what in his makeup has enabled white wing tips and toenails, and for this to be extended in his offspring when bred to his daughters.  At this stage it is also ? if there is harlequin in the female's genetic makeup (lih).

From left - light phase dusky and brown trout ducklings from "RC" mating'; brown trout (light phase wild type with brown dilution - female),  2 variants on mismarked "RC" ducklings at water bowl (and a pekin); and light phase wild type duckling with blue dilution (blue Clair).

2nd row -  blue and brown trout female ducklings with Elizabeth youngsters; mismarked RC drakeling and a pair of blue trout (Blue Clair).

Blue Clair

Putting a saxony drake over a Rouen Clair duck results in a blue trout, or Blue Clair (M+/M+, li/li Bl/bl+) .  This is because genetically the RC and Saxony are the same - light phase wild-type mallard - the Saxony with double blue dilution (M+/M+ li/li Bl/Bl). The blue Clair carries one dose of blue and when bred together produce blue Clair, Rouen Clair and Saxony.

With several blue Clair on the ground  (see above), koljash hopes to create an improved line of Rouen Clairs in 2014. 

While these birds are a start,  it was proven in the subsequent hatch that the blue trouts (juvenile pictured top left and right, 2 drakes and rear duck bottom right) are heterozygous for M+/md as a number of ducklings express the dusky gene (single and double dose of blue). Of the 9 ducklings hatched,  only 1 hatched without blue dilution.   This duckling was not correctly marked for trout,  with possibility of Restricted Mallard gene (MR) via the trout coloured female (bottom right foreground).