canard de Challans

[French] plural canards` de Challans

The canard de Challans is a very common breed of duck, predominantly bred in the Vendée around Challans. It is characterised by its small size and plumpness, and mildly flavoured flesh. Apparently during the reign of King Philip IV of Spain in the 17th Century, many Spaniards settled in Brittany and the Vendée. They drained the gulf and built canals. The ducks would be let free from the farms and would go to the canals where they laid their eggs in specially provided conical nests. There were no controls over the mating, so the females might as well mate with a passing wild duck as with a proper Challans duck.

Ducklings may either be left to be reared by the mother or by a broody hen. Farmers provide all the things that ducks like to eat, including slugs and snails, caterpillars, insects and so on. At about 8 weeks they are penned for fattening.

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