The editor's big cock, Grell.
Broiler chickens, or broilers,
are a gallinaceous domesticated fowl, bred and raised specifically for meat production. They are a hybrid of the egg-laying chicken, both being a subspecies of the red junglefowl. Typical broilers have white feathers and yellowish skin. Most commercial broilers reach slaughter-weight at between five and seven weeks of age, although slower growing breeds reach slaughter-weight at approximately 14 weeks of age. Because the meat broilers are this young at slaughter, their behaviour and physiology are that of an immature bird. Due to artificial selection for rapid early growth and the husbandry used to sustain this, broilers are susceptible to several welfare concerns, particularly skeletal malformation and dysfunction, skin and eye lesions, and congestive heart conditions. The breeding stock (broiler-breeders) grow to maturity and beyond but also have welfare issues related to frustration of a high feeding motivation and beak trimming. Broilers are usually grown as mixed-sex flocks in large sheds under intensive conditions, but some breeds can be grown as free-range flocks. Chickens are one of the most common and widespread domestic animals. The domestic chicken is descended primarily from the red junglefowl and is classified as a sub-species of that species. As such, it can and does freely interbreed with populations of red jungle fowl.
The traditional poultry farming view is stated in Encyclopædia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Very little formal attention was given to egg or meat production... ".
Genetic studies point to multiple maternal origins, with the clade found in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, originating from the Indian subcontinent, where a large number of unique haplotypes occur. It is postulated that the jungle fowl, known as the "bamboo fowl" in many Southeast Asian languages, is a pheasant well adapted to take advantage of the large amounts of fruits that are produced during the end of the 50 year bamboo seeding cycle to boost its own reproduction. It has been suggested that in domesticating the chicken, humans took advantage of this prolific reproduction of the jungle fowl when exposed to large amount of food. Similarly, it is speculated that the flexibility and adaptability inherited from the chicken's red junglefowl ancestor allows them to cope with the "unnatural and intense conditions" of modern production. Recent genetic analysis has revealed that at least the gene for yellow skin was incorporated into domestic birds through hybridization with the grey junglefowl.
A hybrid variety of chicken (the original cornish cross) was produced from a cross of a male of a naturally double-breasted Cornish strain and a female of a tall, large-boned strain of white Plymouth Rocks. This first attempt at a hybrid meat breed was introduced in the 1930s and became dominant in the 1960s. The original hybrid was plagued by problems of low fertility, slow growth and disease susceptibility. Modern broilers have become very different from the Cornish/Rock hybrid. As an example, As a second example, color sexing broilers was proposed by Shaver in 1973. The genetics were based on the company's breeding plan for egg-layers which had been developed in the mid-1960s. A difficulty facing the breeders of the colour-sexed broiler is that the chicken must be white-feathered by slaughter age. After 12 years, accurate colour sexing without compromising economic traits was achieved.
Catalanas were accepted in the APA's standard in 1949 and was first exhibited in 1902 at the Madrid World's Fair. , this Spanish breed originated near Barcelona, in the district of Prat, and was first exhibited in 1902. In Spain it is primarily grown as a meat bird. It is popular in Latin America as a dual purpose breed, although it is considered a rare breed in the US. Catalanas lay large white or lightly tinted eggs. Their ancestry includes Cochins and this accounts for the meaty carcass; the cocks can weigh 8 pounds and the hens 6 pounds. The body is various shades of reddish-buff, but the main tail and sickle feathers should be black. For a medium breed it has a large single comb; that of the male should be upright, but the female's may fold to one side. They are not known to brood and are heat tolerate but not cold tolerate. They can be slightly flighty (like the personality of a white leghorn) they also do not handle confinement very well. They only come in one color (black tailed buff) and one size (large fowl)
The Wyandottes are beautiful chickens from the American class. The history of the Wyandotte is extensive. The first type of Wyandotte was created in New York using silver Sebrights and the white Cochins and was called Sebright Cochins. They were then mixed with a cross of silver Spangled Hamburg and Buff Cochins.
The resulting chickens were called American Sebrights and Sebright Wyandottes. Those chickens were bred with dark Brahma and silver Spangled Hamburgs and the original Silver Wyandotte was developed. The Golden laced Wyandotte was developed in Wisconsin using silver-laced Wyandotte's females and crossbred Partridge Cochin-Brown Leghorn males. White and Black varieties came from off shoots of the silver Wyandottes. Partridge Wyandottes was created using Cochins (and sometimes Cochin/Cornish crosses) with golden Wyandottes. Columbian Wyandottes was crossings of White Wyandottes and Barred Rocks.
Wyandottes were first recognized in the Standard of Perfection in 1883 but the breed was not strictly characterized until 1925. The American Poultry Association recognizes Silver Laced, Golden Laced, White, Black, Buff, Columbian, Partridge and Silver Penciled. Other varieties include white laced yellow, blue laced gold, blue, blue laced, buff, buff laced, red, barred, white mottled black, buff Columbia, Columbia blue, blue partridge, red partridge, and white partridge.
Wyandottes are good dual/general purpose birds that weigh six to eight and half pounds. They are birds of curves with attractive color patterns. Hens lay between 150 and 220 large light brown to brown eggs a year. They mature quickly and the meat quality is very good. Wyandottes brood, infrequently or quite easily depending on the variety and individual hen, and their mothering skills are quite good.
Wyandottes have low red Rose combs that follow the contour of the head. Sometimes, due to the many breeds that went into developing Wyandottes, single combs do show up. The wattles and oblong earlobes are red and medium in size. Wyandottes are cleaned-legged, without beards or crests and have the standard 4 toes. Their skin color is yellow. They are very hardy birds that do well in cold weather and their rose combs do not easily freeze. Wyandottes might need to be kept in a covered run or have their wings clipped to keep them grounded.
Wyandottes are friendly and generally have a good disposition but are sometimes aggressive. Some varieties are not as uniformed as others are and older types are in higher demand. Wyandottes are great foragers and they bear confinement well. They are very attractive birds that would make good pets.
Marans are "chocolate eggers" meaning their eggs are a deep chocolate brown color. Eggs of the Black Copper variety--and to a lesser extent, the Silver Cuckoo--are usually the darkest of all, and are highly sought after! If you value a colorful egg basket, Marans are a "must" for your flock! Silver Cuckoo is the most available Marans plumage in North America, although interestingly, that plumage color is not recognized by the APA. Cuckoo Marans in this country are often clean-legged, while others have the standard feathered legs.
Marans, are a breed of chicken from the port town of Marans, in the département of Charente-Maritime, in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France. It was created with the local feral chickens descended from fighting game chickens carried from Indonesia and India. Those original Marandaise fowl were "improved" for the table through recombination with imported Croad Langshans. A favourite at poultry shows, it is a dual purpose fowl known both for its extremely dark eggs and fine meat qualities. Marans are generally quiet and docile; but they are quite active, taking well to free ranging in rough terrain and are also tough and disease-resistant. Their gentle temperaments and quiet demeanor makes them ideal for suburban backyard chicken keepers, as well as any assorted farm flock as they rarely bully smaller breeds.
Marans lay around 150-200 dark brown eggs each year depending on the variety. Marans are historically a dual-purpose bird, prized not only for their dark eggs but for their table qualities as well. There are 9 recognized colours in the French Standard: Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Black, Birchen, Black Copper, Wheaten, Black-tailed Buff, White and Columbian. Black Copper (black with copper feathers on the neck) and Cuckoo (barred feathers, giving a black and white speckled appearance) are the most common of these. Other colors not officially recognized (such as Blue Copper, Blue, and Splash) also exist.
They should have orange eyes. The shanks are usually slate or pink, the soles of the feet should always be white as Marans have white skin, not yellow. Though the original Marans could also be feather legged birds, British breeders preferred the clean legged version, and thus feathered legged Marans are now mainly found in France and the United States. The Australian Poultry Standard recognises both feathered and clean-legged. The American Poultry Association only recognizes feathered legged.
Pomeranian geese average 15-17 pounds and lay 15-35 eggs annually. Northern German farmers developed the Pomeranian goose, and their origin may date as early as 1550. In their native Germany, the term Pomeranian refers to a utilitarian goose breed. German Pomeranians are colored white, gray, saddleback buff, or saddleback gray. Only the Saddleback Pomeranian exists in North America. The head, back, and flanks of a saddleback are either buff or gray. All colored feathers of the back and flank are edged in near-white. The rest of the bird is white. A Pomeranian should have a pinkish red bill, reddish orange legs, and blue eyes.
The Pomeranian is distinctive among European geese in having a single-lobed paunch. In addition, Pomeranian geese have slightly flattened heads. This, in combination with their stout necks, protruding breasts, and rounded bodies, gives them the appearance some breeders describe as "arrogant".
While some Pomeranians are docile and pleasant to show, others are quick to read nervous body language and respond aggressively. Pomeranians tend to greet visitors noisily so make good watch birds.
When selecting breeders, look for birds with chunky bodies and well-defined markings. When viewed from behind and above, the colored areas of the backs and shoulders should be reminiscent of the classic heart shape. Solid-colored heads are preferred, but most specimens have white feathers around the base of their bills. Some strains of Pomeranians produce birds with slight indications of knobs at the base of their bills. Guard against this fault since it is evidence of crossbreeding. Avoid breeding specimens with dual lobed paunches, dewlaps, orange bills and feet, excessively white heads, dark feathers in the wings, or undersized bodies.
Pomeranians are a good all-around breed for a colorful home flock. While the plumage markings are fairly fixed genetically, producing a properly marked specimen is a challenge. Ganders can be mated with three to four geese.
The Crèvecœur is an endangered historic chicken breed from the Pays d'Auge, in the Calvados département of Normandy, in north-western France. It is named after the commune of Crèvecœur-en-Auge. It is related to the La Flèche and to other Norman breeds such as the Caumont and Caux and the extinct Pavilly; the Merlerault was formerly considered a sub-type of the Crèvecœur.
The Crèvecœur is among the oldest French breeds of chicken; its origins are unknown. It takes its name from the commune of Crèvecœur-en-Auge, near Lisieux in the historic region of the Pays d'Auge, in the Calvados département of Normandy. Crèvecoeur chickens won prizes at the Exposition Universelle of 1855 in Paris. The breed was described in detail by Louis Bréchemin in 1894,but the breed standard was not accepted by the Société d’Aviculture de Basse-Normandie until 1909.
The population of the breed suffered during both the First and Second World Wars; after the latter, it was thought to have virtually disappeared. Recovery was begun in 1976 by Jean-Claude Périquet. In 1995 numbers were reported to be between 100 and 1000 individualsin 2007 the breed was classified by the FAO as "endangered".
The Crèvecœur was added to the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1874.
The Crèvecœur has a crest similar to that of the Houdan breed. Unlike the Houdan, the Crèvecœur is four-toed and has a V-shaped comb like that of the La Flèche.
The Crèvecœur is most commonly black their are three other recognised colour variants: blue,white,and cuckoo. The legs are a dark blue-gray.
The Crèvecœur was traditionally kept as a dual-purpose chicken, raised both for its eggs and for its meat, which is of high quality. The eggs are white, and weigh about 55 g. The Crèvecœur is now raised primarily for poultry exhibition.