Photo Credit:

The Sicilian Buttercup is a breed of domestic chicken originating from the island of Sicily. The breed was imported to the United States in the 19th century, and to Britain and Australia early in the 20th century. It derives from the indigenous Siciliana breed of Sicily, but long separation from the original stock has led to marked differences between the two. The Siciliana breed of Sicily appears to derive from ancient inter-breeding of local birds with North African stock such as the rose-combed Berbera breed or the Tripolitana described by Tucci. These birds may have been similar to the "Gallus turcicus" described by Ulisse Aldrovandi in 1600. Similar chickens are depicted in 16th-century paintings in the Vatican Museums and the Galleria Borghese in Rome, and in Florence and Paris.

In about 1863 or 1877, a certain Cephas Dawes of Dedham, Massachusetts, captain of the Frutiere, was loading oranges in Sicily and bought a number of chickens to provide meat on his homeward journey. Some of these continued to lay well during the voyage, and were kept for eggs instead. Some of them were later sold to one C. Carroll Loring, also of Dedham, who became the first breeder of what would become the Sicilian Buttercup. All American Buttercups, however, descend from a later shipment of hatchlings, in 1892.

A breeders' association, the American Buttercup Club, was formed the United States in 1912, and by 1914 had 600 members; a similar association formed in Britain in 1913. The Sicilian Buttercup was included in the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1918. It is listed as "threatened" by the American Livestock Conservancy and is on the "Rare and Native Breeds" list of the British Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Cubalaya cockerel and hens:

Old English Game Bantam

Old English Game fowl are prized among poultry breeders and thus fetch a high sale price. Standard Old English Game cocks were originally bred for cockfighting. The Old English Game fowl is one of the oldest strains of poultry. Through the Middle Ages the breed was developed by the English nobility into many varying colours, traits desirable for cockfighting were chosen by breeders. Cockfighting became illegal in Britain and Australia in the 1850s and English game fowl are usually kept just by poultry enthusiasts. Today the breeds are used at poultry exhibitions and breeders try to develop stock that will win prizes. Exhibition bred cocks can fetch amounts over $600.Breeders aim to preserve the present strains of this species as well as trying to keep the color and traits for poultry showing and exhibits. It should be noted that the body styles of US- and UK-bred OEG bantams differ noticeably. The Old English Game bantam is the bantam version of this breed; it is one of the smallest chicken breeds, weighing about 650 grams when fully grown. The Old English Game Bantam is one of the most popular bantam breeds. This is especially the case in the United Kingdom, where it has its own specialist shows. The Old English Bantam is similar to the Old English Game in that it has long legs and it is fairly muscular. They are a great pet for children. The bantam was not developed from the larger sized old English but rather from other barnyard bantams of the same area. This explains their lack of length in the sickle feathers that is seen in the standard sized OEG. The American old English game bantams contain blood from Dutch, and Rosecombs plus other breeds to add feather length and more colors, such as the silver-laced varieties developed from Sebrights.


Princess socializing Polish chick

Cubalaya cockerel and hens:

Polish chickens.
The Polish or Poland is a European breed of chicken known for its crest of feathers. The oldest accounts of these birds come from The Netherlands; their exact origins are unknown, however. In addition to combs, they are adorned with large crests that nearly cover the entirety of the head. This crest limits their vision, and as a result can affect their temperament. Thus, though normally tame, they may be timid and easily frightened.

Polish chickens are bred primarily as a show bird, but were originally productive egg layers. Accordingly, Polish rarely go broody and are noted for their white eggs. There are bearded, non-bearded and frizzle varieties.
The origins of the breed's name are uncertain. The breed could have been named after the country of Poland. Its name also could have come from the Middle Dutch word pol, meaning "head", in reference of the Polish's dome-shaped skull.
Though the derivation of the Polish breed is unclear, one theory suggests that their ancestors were brought by Asian Mongols to Eastern Europe during medieval times, and thus, could have originated in Poland. It is also believed that immigrants could have brought the breed's predecessors from Spain or Italy in the late 16th century. The Polish was standardized in the Netherlands and declared a thoroughbred in the 16th century. Chickens bearing a strong resemblance to the Polish can be seen in paintings from the 15th century, and the breed was extensively portrayed in Dutch and Italian paintings from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Though usually only a fair layer at best today, In France they were known as an excellent producer of eggs. The American Poultry Association states that the breed was introduced to America between 1830 and 1840. The breed was, during a certain period of time, favored by American farmers and chicken fanciers. The American Poultry Association accepted three Polish varieties into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874; additional varieties were accepted in 1883, 1938 and 1963.
There are some controversies around origin of the Polish chicken's breed. Some state that the breed has Polish origin. These doubts might have arisen due to generally limited access to original sources documenting the Czubatka's (Polish chickens') presence in the history of Poland, caused by the fact that these testimonies are available in Polish language only. The Polish chicken breed's original, i.e. Polish, name is: Czubatka  For centuries Poles kept their Czubatka domestic fowls in small farms scattered all over Polish territories. The full name of Polish chicken is 'Czubatka Staropolska' or 'Czubatka Dworska', where in Polish language 'Czubatka' simply indicates a hen or rooster with 'czub' (a tuft of feathers growing on top of the head), the word 'Staropolska' is an adjective meaning 'old-Polish' and the alternative nickname 'Dworska' is an adjective meaning 'court'. The Czubatka has multiple representations in Polish literature and art, and the Czubatka rooster is an iconic image symbolizing a country gentleman - character. To wind down, it is worth to mention, that the Czubatka poultry had been looking and behaving exactly like the contemporary Polish chickens do today for long (first accounts come from Middle Ages) before it was firstly introduced to Dutch breeders as the Polish chicken.
The Polish has a small V-shaped comb. The earlobes and wattles are small and may be completely hidden by the crest and beard. The earlobes are white, the comb and wattles bright red. And average weight of standards are  6lbs for standard cocks, 1.8 lbs for bantam cocks.  4.4lbs for standard hens and 1.6lbs for bantam hens

Ever since Martha Stewart appeared on television several years ago holding a basket of blue eggs laid by her chickens, the demand for the blue egg laying breeds has skyrocketed. There are predominantly three that come up when you're talking blue eggs - Ameraucanas, Araucanas and Easter Eggers (although Cream Legbars do lay blue eggs as well and are just becoming available in the US) - but only two of the three ALWAYS lay blue eggs, so you'll want to keep reading and be sure of what you're ordering this spring if you are determined to have blue eggs in your basket come fall!
Ameraucanas are a pure breed recognized by the APA since 1984. They were most likely originally bred from South American blue egg laying breeds but were developed and standardized in the United States. They come in eight distinct colors including, Blue, Black, White and Wheaten, which all share these distinct Ameraucana traits:

Muffs and beard
Red earlobes
Blue legs
White foot bottoms
Always lay blue eggs

Araucanas are also a pure breed recognized by the APA since 1976. They originated in Chile most likely and come in five colors including black, white, duckwing silver and golden. Araucanas all share these distinct Araucana traits:

Ear tufts (this gene is lethal to developing chicks if inherited by both parents)
Red earlobes
Rumpless (no tail)
Green or willow-colored legs
Yellow foot bottoms
Always lay blue eggs

Easter Eggers are not a recognized breed. They are mongrels - mixed breed chickens that do possess the blue egg gene but don't fully meet the breed specifications of either Araucanas or Ameraucanas. They can come in any color or combination of colors and share these traits:

Any kind of comb
Muffs/beard/ear tufts or none
Any color earlobes
Tail or tail-less
Any color legs
Any color foot bottoms
Can lay blue but also sometimes lay green, tan, pink or even yellowSo if you want to be guaranteed blue egg layers, you will want to raise some Araucanas or Ameraucanas; otherwise Easter Eggers are always fun because you never know what color egg each will lay until she starts laying, and even identical-looking hens often lay varying shades of bluish or greenish eggs.  
Final note: There is no such thing as an Americana. Hatcheries try to sell Easter eggers as "americana" anytime you see it with an "I" its most likely an Easter egger if its spelled with a "U" it could still be an easter egger but not as likely. most hatcheries do not sell APA recognized blue egg layers (like either of the first do) so if you order from a hatchery it may  be an easter egger. 

Minorca Chicken

The Minorca chicken takes its name for the Island of Minorca, off the coast of Spain, in the Mediterranean, where it once could be found in large numbers. Spanish tradition relays that the breed came to Spain from Africa, with the Moors. In fact, it was sometimes referred to as the “Moorish fowl.” Another popular history is that it came to Spain from Italy with the Romans. What we do know is that fowls of this type were widely distributed throughout the region known as Castile – the tablelands north of Madrid. It is clear that the Minorca chicken descends from the old Castilian fowl.

The Minorca chicken came to America from England. We know that the breed was imported into England by Sir Thomas Acland in 1834. But we also know that it was to be found in Devon and Cornwall before this time, possibly as early as 1780. Minorca chickens were imported into America in 1884 by Mr. J.J. Fultz of Mount Vernon, OH. White Minorca chickens were imported the following year by Francis A. Mortimer, PA. In America, rose comb versions of the Minorca chicken were developed, the first of these by George H. Northup of Raceville, NY, around 1900.

Minorca chickens are the largest of the Mediterranean class. They are non-sitters, excellent layers of large white eggs, laying perhaps the largest such, and very hardy and rugged fowls. The breed has proven excellent on all soil types and adapts readily to range or confinement. In America, the breed made a name for itself due to its great egg laying ability combined with its hardiness and proclivity to excel on range. The breed produces a large carcass, but the meat tends to be dry. Historically Minorca chicken breasts were stuffed with lard, that is, “larded,” before roasting.

Minorca chickens were admitted to the American Poultry Association standard as a recognized breed in the following varieties: Single Comb Black and Single Comb White, 1888; Rose Comb Black, 1904; Single Comb Buff, 1913; Rose Comb White, 1914. Males weigh 9 lbs and females weigh 7.5 lbs.

The Java
The Java is considered the second oldest breed of chicken developed in America. Its ancestors were reputed to have come from the Far East, possibly from the isle of Java. Sources differ on the time of origin of the Java, but the breed was known to be in existence in America sometime between 1835 and 1850. They did not reach Britain until 1885, and this is important as those that claim they originated in pure form directly from the island of Java cite England as their source of stock (from Java by way of England). It is possible 1835 may even be late in the development of this breed.

The Java is a premiere homesteading fowl, having the ability to do well when given free range. While slower in rate of growth compared to some more modern breeds, the Java was noted for the production of meat during the mid-1800s. The Plymouth Rock and Jersey Giant breeds owe much to the Java, as the Java was used in the creation of both of these breeds which later supplanted it.

Javas come in four varieties: Black, Mottled, White, and Auburn. The Black Java is noted for the beetle-green sheen of its feathers, a green sheen more brilliant than any other black fowl except the Langshan (speaking in terms of English and American experiences). The Blacks further have very dark eye color, being dark brown or even nearly black. Black Javas have black legs with yellow soles on their feet. Mottled Javas should have very intense red eye color, and their feathering is black with splashes, or mottles, of white. The legs of the Mottled Java should be a broken leaden-blue with yellow soles. The White Java was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection, but was removed prior to 1910 as it was felt that it and the White Plymouth Rock were too similar. White Javas have yellow leg color. The Auburn Java has never been recognized by the APA, but is mentioned as a color sport of the Black Java in writings as early as 1879, and it is most noted for its use in the development of the Rhode Island Red chicken breed. All Javas have yellow skin and lay brown eggs. Although the APA only recognizes the Black and the Mottled Java colors in its Standard of Perfection the White and the Auburn are being actively bred by a core of dedicated producers interested in bringing these colors back to the breed.

The body type is one of the most distinguishing features of Javas. They have a rectangular shape, much like the Rhode Island Red, but with a sloping back line. The back should be long; in fact Javas have the longest backs in the American Class. Javas have full, well-rounded breasts. Originally this breed, like the Buckeye and the Rhode Island, had tight feathers. Another distinguishing feature is that the single comb on all Javas should not show a point too far forward on the comb (the first point should be above the eye, not above the nostril). While this last characteristic is of no economic value, it may be of value in terms of identifying purity of the stock. It also indicates a single combed bird that was produced from pea-combed ancestors.


Red Comet pullet from:

Australorp cocekrel:

Ancona from:


The Chantecler is a breed of chicken originating in Canada. The Chantecler was developed in the early 20th century, at the Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac in Oka, Quebec. It is extremely cold-resistant, and is suitable for both egg and meat production. At the dawn of the 20th century, no breeds of chicken had been established in Canada, and Canadian farmers and poultry fanciers only had fowl of European and American derivation. This fact was noted by Brother Wilfrid Châtelain, a Trappist monk and Doctor of Agronomy, as he toured the poultry flocks of the Oka Agricultural Institute, an agricultural school at his abbey which is affiliated with the Université de Montréal. In 1907, the Brother set out to remedy this void and create a practical chicken that would be suited to Canada's climate and production needs. Working at the Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac in Oka, Chantelain first combined Dark Cornishes, White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, White Plymouth Rocks and White Wyandottes, creating the White variant of the Chantecler. It was admitted into the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1921.[3] By 1918, the breed was presented to the public. To this day, the Chantecler is one of only two breeds of poultry from Canada, and the only one known to have been created primarily by a member of a monastic order. At the outset, it was only intended for the breed to be white in color; white birds are preferred for commercial meat production in the West, as they produce a particularly clean-looking carcass. In the 1930s, the Partridge Chantecler was generated by crossing Partridge Wyandottes, Partridge Cochins, Dark Cornishes, and the rose comb type of Brown Leghorns to produce a chicken more adapted to free range conditions. This variant was admitted to the Standard in 1935.There has also been a Buff variety present since the 1950s, but it has never been admitted to show standards. In 1979, the extinction of the Chantecler was publicized, with what was thought to be the last rooster of the breed dying at the University of Saskatchewan's Department of Animal and Poultry Science. However, despite the disappearance of the breed in institutional and commercial hatcheries, it was still maintained by a few small farms. In the 21st century, the breed persists, but is listed as Critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The Chantecler is a large chicken that lays respectably well and is a good meat producer. Roosters weigh around 9 pounds, and hens are 6.5–7.5 lb. The breed possess yellow skin and beaks, and lay brown eggs. With plumage that lies tight against the body but has a good deal of fluff, and an exceptionally small cushion comb and wattles, the Chantecler is one of the most cold hardy chickens. They are gentle birds amenable to taming, but can be temperamental in confinement.


Silkie, from

The Russian Orloff is the only distinctly Russian breed of chicken to be found in America. Russian tradition credits Count Orloff – Alexey Grigoryevich Orlov (1737-1808) – with the importation and promotion of this breed of chicken. This is the same famous Count responsible for the Orlov horse breed. Count Orloff is said to have imported the breed from Persia.
But there is also some speculation that the European breeds the Bruge, Thuringian, and Ushanki formed the basis or have contributed to the Russian Orloff chicken. The Bruge is a heavy-boned, Malayoid type Game chicken found in Belgium. The Thuringian is a bearded chicken breed found in central Germany, light-weight and in size close to that of a Leghorn. The Ushanki is an eastern European landrace of fowl very much like the Russian Orloff chicken in appearance, with the exception of having a single comb. The Ushanki is an ancestor of the Thuringian and it seems quite probable that some Ushanki birds have been, at the least, incorporated into the Russian Orloff chicken breed.
The Russian Orloff chicken was not known in England and western Europe until 1899. But clearly the breed arrived in America much before this, being included in the American Poultry Association’s standards from the first in 1875 until 1894 when it was removed due to lack of popularity. Famous American poultry author, John Robinson of Reliable Poultry Journal, also remarked that he had seen the breed as a child in America many decades before 1899.
The Russian Orloff chicken is tall, with a very thickly feathered neck, Yellow legs, minuscule wattles and a cushion/strawberry comb. The first APA standard lists the breed has having a rose comb (a.k.a. double comb) without a spike and solid black plumage. This lack of spike is genetically consistent with what we term today as a cushion comb, or another variant, the strawberry comb. Strawberry, cushion, and walnut combs result from the interaction of the dominant genes for rose and for pea shaped combs. The Russian Orloff chicken males should weigh 8.5 lbs and the females 6.5 lbs.
The Russian Orloff chicken can be found in three color varieties: Red; White; and Spangled. The once popular Black variety is seldom seen anymore. At least three other color varieties of Russian Orloff have existed: Mottled; Black Breasted Red (Wheaten); and Buff. The British Standard lists four varieties of this breed: Black; Mahogany; Spangled; and White. The chief distinction of the Russian Orloff chicken, besides its looks, is the extreme hardiness of the breed. This is a breed that will tolerate cold and foul weather and survive when other breeds cannot. Russian Orloffs are indifferent layers of light brown eggs. They are classified as non-broody and are noted to be calm in temperament. They were primarily favored for meat production, though they are noted for being hard fleshed. 


The Modern Game is a breed of ornamental chicken which originated in England between 1850 and 1900. Purely an exhibition bird, Modern Game were developed to be most aesthetically pleasing and to epitomize the visual appeal of the gamecock or fighting cock. After the outlawing of cockfighting in Britain in the mid-19th century, many cockfighting enthusiasts turned to breeding for shows as an alternative poultry hobby, and the Modern Game was developed from crosses of Old English Game and Malays. Despite being classified as game chickens (i.e. of cockfighting derivation) in breed standards, Modern Game were not bred to fight. Game, as they were then called, were included in nine colors in the Standard of Excellence in Exhibition Poultry, the first edition of the British Poultry Standard, in 1865; a Game bantam was also included. Eight colors of Game were included in the first edition of the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1874. Today, the ideal show bird should have a body shaped like a flat iron when seen from above, a relatively short back, fine tail, hard feathering, and a very upright carriage. The breed appears in more than a dozen color variations. The most common being black red, birchen, brown red, duckwing and pyle. The colors can be broadly divided into two groups; those with willow-colored legs and red eyes, and those with black legs and dark eyes. The color of the skin, comb, and wattles varies from red to mulberry depending on variety, but all have a small single comb. Combs and wattles are required to be dubbed (cut off) to compete in showing in some countries, which reflects their descent from fighting birds.

As in many breeds, there are both standard and bantam sizes of Modern Game. According to the standard of the Poultry Club of Great Britain, standard-sized cocks weigh 3.20–4.10 kg and hens 2.25–3.20 kg, while bantams weigh 570–620 g and 450–510 g respectively. Today, the bantam version is the most popular among poultry fanciers.

Silkie Chickens
The Silkie (sometimes alternatively spelled Silky) is a breed of chicken named for its atypically fluffy plumage, which is said to feel like silk. The breed has several other unusual qualities, such as black skin and bones, blue earlobes, and five toes on each foot, whereas most chickens only have four. They are often exhibited in poultry shows, and appear in various colors.
 In addition to their distinctive physical characteristics, Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament. Among the most docile of poultry, Silkies are considered an ideal pet. Hens are also exceptionally broody, and make good mothers. Though they are fair layers themselves, laying about three eggs a week, they are commonly used to hatch eggs from other breeds and bird species.
 It is unknown exactly where or when fowl with their singular combination of attributes first appeared, but the most well documented point of origin is ancient China (hence another occasionally encountered name for the bird, Chinese silk chicken). Other places in Southeast Asia have been named as possibilities, such as India and Java. Once Silkies became more common in the West, many myths were perpetuated about them. Early Dutch breeders told buyers they were the offspring of chickens and rabbits, while sideshows promoted them as having actual mammalian fur.
In the 21st century, Silkies are one of the most popular and ubiquitous ornamental breeds of chicken. They are often kept as ornamental fowl or pet chickens by backyard keepers, and are also commonly used to incubate and raise the offspring of other chickens and waterfowl like ducks and geese and game birds such as quail and pheasants.
Silkies appear in two distinct varieties: Bearded and Non-bearded. Bearded Silkies have an extra muff of feathers under the beak area that covers the earlobes. They also are separated according to color. Colors of Silkie recognized for competitive showing include Black, Blue, Buff, Grey, Partridge, and White. Alternative hues, such as Cuckoo, Lavender, Red, and Splash also exist. The standards of perfection call for all Silkies to have a small Walnut Comb, dark wattles, and turquoise blue earlobes. In addition to these defining characteristics, Silkies have five toes on each foot. Other breeds which exhibit this rare trait include the Dorking, Faverolles, and Sultan. All Silkies have black skin, bones and grayish-black meat.

A Modern Game hen from

Differences between Rhode Island Red chickens and Production Red Chickens.

Heritage Rhode Island Red chickens are not commonly found anymore instead most hatcheries now carry and sell their hybrid cousin “production reds”. These birds are not Rhode islands nor are they even showable birds.  

Production Reds are Rhode Island Red Industrial Production strain. They are bred mainly to be very productive layers, but are heavy enough to be good  meatbirds, too.

As Production Reds gained popularity, Rhode Island Reds suffered and by the 1950s,  almost all of the Rhode Island Reds were gone. Now, thanks to the efforts of many who are committed to raising that important heritage breed Rhode Island Reds they are now a  strong breed. 

The standard weight of a production red is 9lbs for a cock and 7lbs for a full sized hen. They vary in color from light rust to a dark mahogany but not the same color as heritage reds. 

The Rhode Island Reds on the other hand are a beautiful heritage breed, The Rhode Island Red is an American breed of chicken. It is a utility bird, raised for meat and eggs, and showing bird. 

Reds are a popular choice for backyard flocks because of its egg laying abilities and hardiness.

Non-industrial strains of the Rhode Island Red are listed as "recovering" by The Livestock

Conservancy. The Rhode Island Red is the state bird of Rhode Island and it is one of only three state 

birds that is not a species native to the United States. Full sized Heritage Rhode Island  Reds are 8.5lbs for a full grown cock to 6.5lbs for a full grown hen. The bird's feathers are rust-colored, however darker shades are known, including maroon bordering on black. Reds have red-orange eyes, reddish-brown beaks, and yellow feet and legs, often with a bit of  reddish hue on the toes and sides of the shank. Chicks are a light red to tan color. Production reds will lay 300+ eggs a year if given the right circumstances heritage Reds will lay sometimes even more then this but only for the first year. A single Heritage Red can lay upwards of 312 eggs her first year but it will drop to 223 in their second year and continually will drop in production after that. Both  breeds temperament depend on the individual birds some may be very friendly and social while  others will want nothing to do with attention and will be more independent and even more so some times hens and roosters can become aggressive. Each bird has its own individual personality. ~*~Princess~*~

Egg collecting robot may change how cage free factories care for their birds and eggs. Like the Roomba robot eternally vacuuming a living room floor, the egg collecting Poultrybot searches for and gathers eggs laid by hens on the chicken coop floor. So-called floor eggs are the bane of every chicken keeper.

When Europe banned caged layers, egg producers who turned their hens loose in the coop found that some of the hens prefer not to use the provided nests, but persist in laying eggs on the floor. Seeking to reduce the workload of egg farmers, a group of students working with the Farm Technology Group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands invented a robot that rolls around the coop seeking out and collecting floor eggs

In addition to saving humans the manual labor of finding and collecting eggs on the floor, Poultrybot acts as an extra set of eyes and ears with a continuous presence among the hens, says Wageningen University graduate student Bastiaan Vroegindeweij. Like any good multi-tasking housekeeper, the robot keeps track of the coop’s temperature and humidity, as well as watching for ailing hens, which if found will be alerted to nearby workers so that they can check the hen over.


Dutch research chickens didn’t take long to get used to having a robot among them. Initially they were frightened by the odd creature, but soon they grew curious about it, even becoming so bold as to peck the Poultrybot. Eventually they just ignored it.


The egg collecting robot isn’t perfect. It has trouble finding eggs laid in corners and in groups, or eggs that get buried in the coop litter. And just like us humans, sometimes it drops an egg.

Although this Poultrybot is designed specifically for detecting and collecting eggs, Vroegindeweij says it also might be used to clean out the coop. Now that’s something we would all find handy!

We thank Hans Bijleveld of Reed Business for providing a photo of Poultrybot. Bastiaan Vroegindeweij has posted this video of the robot in action on YouTube. (should be the correct link for the video)


Cochin cock from:


The Brabanter is a Dutch breed of chicken originating in the historic region of Brabant which straddles Belgium and the Netherlands. It is an ancient breed and is shown in 17th-century paintings. A bantam Brabanter was created in around 1934.

The Brabanter has been bred in the Netherlands, and particularly in Brabant, for a long time. The oldest known image of one is in a painting of 1676 by the Dutch artist Melchior d'Hondecoeter. They soon spread from their area of origin. Black and Cuckoo Brabanters were shown at the first German poultry exhibition, at Görlitz in Saxony, in 1854.The Brabanter became nearly extinct in the early 20th century, but was recovered by cross-breeding with other crested and bearded birds.

The Brabanter is among the lightest of chicken breeds; cocks weigh 1.9–2.5 kg and hens 1.6–2.0 kg. It has a narrow crest and a three-part beard. The crest is unlike that of most other crested breeds such as the Polish: it projects upwards and slightly forwards like that of the very similar Swiss Appenzeller Spitzhauben. The Brabanter has a V-shaped comb. The earlobes are small and white, and the wattles are often absent both earlobes and wattles are hidden by the beard.

Seven color varieties are recognized in the Netherlands: black, chamois, cuckoo, gold spangled, laced blue, silver spangled and white in Germany there are thirteen.

A bantam Brabanter was created in around 1934 by cross-breeding the standard-sized Brabanter with bearded bantams of the Polish breed.
Hens lay a moderate number of white eggs, do not frequently go broody, and are fairly good winter layers. The breed has a fair build, and thus is a decent table-bird. The Brabanter is a calm breed that is intelligent. It can stand confinement. The Brabanter is suitable for cold areas because its smaller comb and wattles are less susceptible to frostbite.


The Nankin is a bantam breed of chicken. One of the true bantams, the breed is a naturally small fowl with no large counterpart from which it was miniaturized. Males weigh an average of 24 ounces and hens an average of 22 ounces. The breed has two varieties, differentiated by comb type; the single comb Nankin has a large comb with five points, and the rose comb has a medium size one ending in a single spike. All Nankins come in a single color, with buff on the body and black tails. The golden hue is deeper and more lustrous in males, and they have the longer sickle feathers common in roosters. Their legs are slate blue and beaks are a light off-white and black toward their nostrils. Nankins are very friendly in disposition. Though they retain the ability to fly because of their small bodies and relatively large, downward-slanted wings, they tend to be less active and flighty than other bantams overall. They do well in confinement, and tend not to wander much when allowed to free range. Due to their small size and more prominent comb and wattles (especially in the single comb variety), they are not cold hardy chickens, and require insulated shelter in northern regions. Their eggs are very small and a creamy white color. Nankin hens are remarkably good mothers, and often go broody. This breed is counted as critically endangered on the endangered species list, this breed has been kept alive for brooding purposes though, (mostly pheasant, quail and chukar).


Fayoumi hen from

Photo from:

Nankin rooster, photo credit:


The Leghorn is a breed of chicken originating in Tuscany, in central Italy. Birds were first exported to North America in 1828 from the port city of Livorno,on the western coast of Tuscany. They were initially called "Italians", but by 1865 the breed was known as "Leghorn", the traditional Anglicization of "Livorno". The breed was introduced to Britain from the United States in 1870. White Leghorns are commonly used as layer chickens in many countries of the world. Other Leghorn varieties are less common.
The origins of the Leghorn are not clear; it appears to derive from light breeds originating in rural Tuscany. The name comes from Leghorn, the traditional Anglicization of Livorno, the Tuscan port from which the first birds were exported to North America. The date of the first exports is variously reported as 1828,"about 1830" and 1852.They were initially known as "Italians"; they were first referred to as "Leghorns" in 1865, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Leghorn was included in the American Standard of Perfection in 1874, with three colors: black, white and brown (light and dark). Rose comb light and dark brown were added in 1883, and rose comb white in 1886. Single comb buff and silver followed in 1894, and red, black-tailed red, and Columbian in 1929. In 1981 rose comb black, buff, silver, and golden duckwing were added.

The breed was first introduced to Britain from the United States in 1870, and from there re-exported to Italy. White Leghorns that had won first prize at the 1868 New York show were imported to Britain in 1870, and brown Leghorns from 1872. Pyle Leghorns were first bred in Britain in the 1880s; gold and silver duckwings originated there a few years later, from crosses with Phoenix or Japanese Yokohama birds. Buff Leghorns were first seen in Denmark in 1885, and in England in 1888.

In Italy, where the Livorno breed standard is recent, ten color varieties are recognized. There is a separate Italian standard for the German Leghorn variety, the Italiana (German: Italiener).The Fédération française des volailles (the French poultry federation) divides the breed into four types: the American white, the English white, the old type (golden-salmon) and the modern type, for which seventeen colour variants are listed for full-size birds, and fourteen for bantams; it also recognizes an autosexing variety, the Cream Legbar. Both the American Poultry Association and the American Bantam Association (ABA) recognize a number of Leghorn varieties including white, red, black-tailed red, light brown, dark brown, black, buff, Columbian, buff Columbian, barred, and silver. In Britain, the Leghorn Club recognizes eighteen colors: golden duckwing, silver duckwing, partridge, brown, buff, exchequer, Columbian, pyle, white, black, blue, mottled, cuckoo, blue-red, lavender, red, crele and buff Columbian. Most Leghorns have single combs; rose combs are permitted in some countries, but not in Italy. The legs are bright yellow, and the ear-lobes white.

The Italian standard gives a weight range of 5.3–6.0 lb for cocks, .4–5.1 lb for hens. According to the British standard, fully grown Leghorn cocks weigh 7.5 lb, hens 5.5lbs cockerels weigh 5.9-6 lbs and pullets 4-4.5 lbs for bantams the maximum weight is 1020 g for cocks and 910 g for hens.

Leghorns are good layers of white eggs, laying an average of 280 per year and sometimes reaching 300–320. The eggs are white and weigh a minimum of 55 g.

It is doubtful that any other single breed of chicken has inspired more people to keep poultry as a hobby or fancy. When the Cochin chicken made its debut outside of China it was met with astonishment, wonder, and awe. Cochins are gigantic with an abundance of feathers and calm disposition. Together with the Brahma chicken, the Cochin fueled what became known as “hen fever” – a national obsession for all things poultry that overtook America and England around 1850.

The Chinese had developed the breed paying particular attention to large size of the bird and to the eggs it produced. It was designed to have tolerably good table qualities at 12 weeks, but it excelled as capon – best harvested at 15-16 months, at which time it would weigh about 12lbs. Meat texture at other stages of harvest was found to be coarse and the breed’s meat tended toward a larger portion of dark meat than breast meat. The eggs of the Cochin are extremely large, and the majority of them come during the winter.
The Cochin chicken, though promoted with great enthusiasm as productive all around, never met with commercial success. Stephen Beale in 1895 wrote in his book, Profitable Poultry Keeping, “The Cochin then and now being the least profitable of all of our breeds of poultry [1850-1895].”

The breed, then and now, has characteristics, which offer some advantages and disadvantages. Cochin chickens are great eaters of food, and indiscriminate in their preferences. This combined with their unmatched profuseness of feathering make them an ideal choice for colder climates and gives them the ability to eat enough to produce both animal heat and eggs during the heart of winter. They feather slowly, but are very hardy and, like the Brahma chicken, will thrive under conditions where other breeds would perish. Cochins are predisposed to becoming too fat. Such fattening can stop egg production and even lead to death by disorder of the liver. Lewis Wright, in his book The Practical Poultry Keeper, circa 1892, recommended that Cochins should receive a daily ration of green food to keep them healthy.

Cochin hens are inclined to broodiness and will hatch more than one batch per year if allowed. As a broody fowl they have no equals, even the roosters will occasionally brood the chicks; though Cochins do tend to wean the young a bit soon if used to hatch chicks early in the year while it is still cold. They are considered the best fowls for hatching and brooding ducks and turkeys. Because of the size of Cochins, be cautioned that the hens can easily break thin-shelled eggs.

But of all the unique characteristics of this wonderful breed of chicken there is one more that perhaps stands out above all others – personality. Cochins are noted for extremely gentle dispositions. The males reputedly seldom become aggressive (not as true in the Bantam version of the breed) or even quarrel. They are easily tamed and may find themselves more suited to your home than your poultry yard. They are not inclined to wander nor do they scratch as profusely as other breeds. A fence two feet tall will keep them contained and they endure confinement easily. It is said that Cochins, even under adverse conditions, immediately sets about making themselves comfortable.
Cochins are recognized by the American Poultry Association in several color patterns: Buff, Partridge, White, Black, Silver Laced, Golden Laced, Blue, Brown, and Barred (listed in order of development). They were admitted to the Standard of Perfection in 1874. This is a good breed of choice when a large, astonishing chicken is desirable, which happens to have a docile, gentle disposition. They represent all the best in maternal characteristics, and will even, when not brooding, supply wonderfully, large brown eggs. Because they do not fly they will require low roosts. Muddy pens should be avoided as frostbite of their feathered toes can easily follow.
Cochin come in two different sizes bantam and standard, the normal weight of a standard hen and cock is 9 and 11 pounds respectively. the normal weight of bantam hen and cocks is 2 and 4 pounds respectively.


Breed of the week

Black australorp:
These birds are a good beginner bird as well as cold hardy. They are a dual purpose bird (high egg output, and they put on enough meat to be used as meat birds). Australorps lay light brown medium size eggs and do not often go broody. An average hen will weigh upwards of 5-7 lbs while and adult rooster can weigh upwards of 8-9lbs. They are a docile and friendly breed so they would be a good bird for children. They do not do well in the winter unless light is given to them all year around. Australorps only come in a standard variety (no bantam counterpart) and will hit their peak of laying around 1- 1 1/2 years after that their laying will decrease.


Brown leghorn hen from

The Fayoumi is a breed of chicken originating in Egypt. Fayoumis are a very old breed in their native region, and are named for the Faiyum Governorate southwest of Cairo and west of the Nile. Representations and descriptions of domestic fowl first appear during Egypt's New Kingdom. King Tutankhamen had pet Sri Lanka junglefowl procured through the ancient cinnamon trade. Fayoumi chickens are believed to be descendants of junglefowl hybrids with domestic fowl that have adapted for life in thorn palm forests and marshes in Egypt ~ 3,000 years ago. They have been present in the West since at least the 1940s, when they were imported from Egypt by an Iowa State University Dean of Agriculture. However, they are not officially recognized for exhibition by the American Poultry Association, and are not included in the Standard of Perfection.

With their upright tails and forward jutting breast and neck, they are sometimes likened to a roadrunner. They are a lightweight fowl, with roosters weighing in around 4.4 lb and hens 3.5 lb. They appear only in a single variety. In roosters, the plumage is silver-white on the head, neck, back and saddle, with the rest in a black and white barring. Hens have heads and necks in the silver-white hue, with the rest barred. Fayoumis have a single comb, earlobes, and wattles are red and moderately large, with a white spot in the earlobes. They have dark horn colored beaks, and slate blue skin. Their appearance is remarkably similar to the silver variety of the Campine breed of Belgium, and the Campine may be descended from a Fayoumi-like chicken brought north in Europe by the Romans.

Fayoumis are a hardy breed, and particularly well suited to hot climates. The breed, through poultry genetics research and anecdotal reports, is thought to be especially resistant to viral and bacterial infections. They are also very good foragers, and if left to their own devices on a free range basis they can fend for themselves in a nearly feral manner. Fayoumi hens are good layers of small, off-white eggs. They are not given to broodiness as pullets, but can be when they reach two or three years of age. The breed is fast to mature, with hens laying by four and half months, and cockerels crowing at five or six weeks

Peking/pekin duck

The American Pekin duck, Peking duck, or Long Island duck is a breed of domestic duck used primarily for egg and meat production. It was bred from the mallard in China. The ancestors of those ducks originated from the canals which linked waterways in Nanjing and originally had small bodies and black feathers. With the relocation of the Chinese capital to Beijing, supply barge traffic increased in the area which would often spill grain on which the ducks fed. Over time, the ducks slowly increased in size and grew white feathers. By the Five Dynasties, the new breed of duck had been domesticated by Chinese farmers.

The Peking duck is the most popular commercial duck breed in the United States,after a small number were imported to Long Island from China in 1873 by James Palmer of Stonington, Connecticut.The animals and their meat are sometimes referred to as "Long Island duckling". Around 95% of duck meat consumed in the United States is Peking duck. Fully mature adult Peking ducks weigh between 8 and 11 pounds  in captivity. Their average lifespan (if not eaten at an early age) is about 9 to 12 years. Their external feathers are white, sometimes with a yellowish tinge. This is more obvious with ducks that have been reared indoors and not exposed to sunlight. The ducks have a more upright stance than dabbling ducks, and possess an upturned rump. The eyes of this duck appear to be black when seen far away, but up-close one sees a grayish-blue colored iris. They have orange bills and orange legs.

An adult Peking will lay an average of 200 eggs per year if it does not try to hatch them or is prevented from hatching them. They will normally only lay one egg on any given day. They will lay their eggs in what they consider to be a safe place and will often lay where another duck has already laid (egg dumping). Ducks can be tricked into laying eggs where desired by placing a golf ball or similar object in a place where they might normally lay.

Peking ducks are less "broody" than other ducks which means they will incubate eggs less frequently and they are more likely to abandon their nest before their eggs hatch. Hens can be used to sit on the duck eggs, or they can be incubated artificially.

Peking ducks, for the most part, are too heavy to get airborne. While some individual ducks may be lighter and capable of short bursts of vertical flight, clipping their flight feathers (pinioning) is generally unnecessary. They are gregarious and will usually group together with other ducks.

As with most waterfowl, the Peking duck has feet perfectly adapted for paddling through water but is also capable of walking while foraging and exploring as well. If keeping ducks, be sure to remove items from their environment which may cause tripping or stumbling, and house them on natural surfaces, such as grass, hardpack, straw, or sand which is gentler on the bones and ligaments, will not abrade the sensitive surface of the webbed feet, and is easy to keep clean. Ducks are happiest when they have free access to clean, safe water in which to swim and mate. As precocial(the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching) birds, Peking ducks make ideal companion animals for a variety of reasons. As a duck imprints on a human, the bond of trust that develops rivals that of humans and dogs for example, and can provide enduring companionship if they are not surrounded by other ducks. Peking ducks are very intelligent, and are capable of lifelong strong and loyal bonds with humans, and often then prefer human company over the company of other ducks.

Ducks can be both outdoor and indoor companion animals, and there are many products available to help keep them comfortable and one's home clean. They are successful indoor pets because they are adaptable to house life; it is important to provide them with toys and social stimulation. When taken on supervised trips outdoors, if properly imprinted, the duck will stay with the human "flock" member(s) and not wander away. If a predator or danger approaches, the duck will seek safety from, and remain with, their human flock rather than flee and become lost or separated. Like geese, they are excellent guard animals, and will provide warning of approaching strangers or other dangers.


Buttercups from:


The fancy boy to the left is a Minorca.  Pic from

Chantercler Hen:

Different breeds of chickens


You may be asking “which breed of chicken is best for me?” well, the answer is, tons of breeds could be best for you to make the decision easier for you to make ask yourself these questions: what do I want these birds for?, can they handle heat or cold?, are they flighty or skittish?, how many eggs will they lay?, how much meat will I get off them? These are only a few questions you would ask yourself and/or the person you’re buying chickens from. If a person wanted chickens for egg production and they needed to be cold-hardy and non-flighty a good breed would be orpingtons, which are a heavy set bird, but they can be prone to frost bite on their combs. Another cold hardy and non-flighty breed is Easter eggers, these birds are mutts that lay green eggs (commonly mistaken for amercauna/aracauna, we will go into the differences of these three in a different article). Easter eggers can be good layers, foragers and occasionally brooders, but this is uncommon. Easter eggers have a pea comb which is set close to their heads and is not commonly frostbitten, as opposed to larger combed birds are. Easter eggers also come in a variety of colors, from white to gold, even blues, silvers and blacks.  If looking for meat birds there are more than just Cornish broilers. Red rangers are a great meat bird for a beginner because they don’t have quite as many health concerns as Cornish broilers do. Red rangers can still forage and will still gain weight but not quite as fast and not quite as much. Other breeds are known as “multi-purpose breeds” or “dual-purpose” meaning they can be eggs and meat or eggs, meat and show. A good example of a dual purpose breed is again opringtons or australorps as well as jersey giants. All of these breeds can and will get very large (upwards of 7+ lbs) but are very docile. An example of a multi-purpose  breed is the Cubalaya which is a large game fowl used for eggs and meat mostly but also for showing, however, these birds can be flighty and aggressive and are not recommended for beginners. 


Live animals don’t belong in Easter baskets. As adorable as baby bunnies, chicks and ducks may be, they aren’t great gifts.  They require an intense level of care and have life expectencies of up to 20 years.  Every year, in the months following Easter, thousands of bunnies, chicks, and ducks either die from improper care or are surrendered to already over-burdened animal shelters. Presenting a child with a pet they are not capable of caring for and you are not willing to care for in the long term sends very negative messages about responsibility, consequences and the value of life.

How will it affect your child should your new pet die from improper care?  What does it say about love, caring and responsibility if you abandon your new pet to a shelter within a year?

Living creatures are not disposable.

If you are not accustomed to keeping pets, have not done extensive research on the care necessary and are not ready to commit up to 20 years to the care of a new companion animal, then bunnies, chicks and ducks are not for you. Speaking of the level of care necessary, did you know that domesticated rabbits, ducks and chickens cannot survive in the wild? Pet rabbits should not even be kept outdoors. They should live in the house with the family, just like a cat or dog. Rabbits are social creatures, and an outdoor hutch is now considered cruel treatment. They can be litter trained, but it is a process, just like with other pets. And if you already have a cat or dog, how will they take to a new addition? A responsible pet owner will easily spend over $500 per year to care for a rabbit.  

Baby chicks require round the clock attention and care, needing to be kept at precisely the right temperature and fed every few hours. Once making it past that hurdle, adult chickens require an appropriate environment, a temperature controlled coop and possibly an enclosure, which you will have to build or buy. They require daily care, including when the family is on vacation.  Further, sexing baby chicks is difficult, so you may end up with a rooster on your hands. Many young roosters are surrendered or killed every year due to incorrect sexing. And don’t forget that many municipalities don’t allow chickens or ducks at all!

Ducks require the same care requirements as chickens and then some. In addition to care, feeding, and housing needs, ducks must also be provided with a bare minimum of 1 liter of clean water per duck per day. And remember, all of these animals are social. Rabbits should be kept with the family, and chickens and ducks need to be kept with their own kind. One should never keep just a single chicken or duck. The Centers for Disease Control warns that each year, several children in the U.S. are infected with salmonella carried by baby chicks, ducks, goslings or turkeys. Salmonella can be transmitted to children from the animals themselves, or from contact with their houses or bedding (or an Easter basket the little critters were nestled into!).

This fact alone demonstrates that these animals are not appropriate gifts for small children.

Also consider the health of the animals themselves. Bunnies, chicks and ducks are all incredibly fragile creatures and can easily be injured by enthusiastically loving children.  Why take on the expense, risks and commitment of a live animal, when you could use one of these fun Easter ideas? Stuff that basket with seeds, seedlings, bulbs or a sprout jar to give kids the joy and pride of caring for something and watching it grow with a much more manageable level of care (unless it’s orchids; don’t give them orchids, ha). This is also a great opportunity to wedge a little science lesson into the fun!

Kids love eating vegetables they’ve grown themselves, so consider some tomato seedlings or radish seeds. Plant some carrots in a clear container (like an old juice bottle with the top cut off and holes in the bottom for drainage), and kids can watch their food grow.  Sprouts in a jar provide a lot of interaction and a very fast turnaround, being ready to eat in under a week.  Wish seeds are another perfect Spring activity. At the equinox (or Easter), each member of the family plants three seeds representing their wishes for growth in the coming year (sort of like a new year’s resolution). As they care for the plants and watch them grow, they are reminded of their wishes. Easter comes right at the start of Spring. Why not celebrate the new season with outdoor activity-related basket stuffers like jump ropes, yard games and sidewalk chalk? I’m pretty sure I got my first bike as an Easter gift (we winter babies don’t have a lot of warm-weather gift opportunities). Enjoy the animal experience and support a local sanctuary or rescue at the same time. Many farm or wildlife sanctuaries include picnic areas and tours. 
Finally, if you are sure that a new bunny or some chicks or ducks are right for your family; if you’re sure you’re ready to commit to caring for these creatures for so long as they may live, please consider waiting until after Easter and adopting from a local rescue. There are always a large number of these creatures needing good homes at this time of year.

Adopting from a rescue organization saves an animal in need of a loving home, supports the mission of the rescue and reduces the demand for large corporations to overbreed “throw away pets.”

~*~ Princess ~*~


Cubalayas are a gorgeous breed of chicken with long, lustrous tail feathers kept mainly in Cuba but originating in the East in North America. Cubalayas are rare and enjoyed only as an ornamental breed. The hens that can lay fairly well, though. The cocks, on the other hand, can be aggressive toward other cocks and can also have multiple spurs, but are not commonly aggressive to humans, especially if hand raised.
It is the only chicken breed with official recognition from the Asociación Nacional de Avicultura, the Cuban national poultry association. It derives from Sumatra and Malay birds brought to Cuba from the Philippines, and was bred as a triple-purpose breed, for meat, eggs and cock-fighting.
The Cubalaya was first shown in the U.S. at the International Poultry Exhibition in 1939, and was recognized by the American Poultry Association in the same year; the bantam is recognized by the American Bantam Association.
Cubalayas are characterized by their stately carriage; pea comb; abundant, flowing hackle feathers and long, well-spread tail carried about 20 degrees below the horizontal. They have a friendly, curious disposition, are very heat tolerant and make excellent foragers when allowed to range. The hens lay small eggs and are good brooders.
The breed has been developed in standard and bantam size. Standard-sized cocks weigh on average 2.40 kg (5.3lbs) and hens 1.59 kg (3.5lbs); bantam cocks weigh about 740 g (1.64lbs) and hens about 625 g (1.4lbs)
Three colors were allowed by the original Cuban standard: black, black-breasted red and white; many others were bred in Cuba at the time. The same three colors are accepted by both the APA and the ABA.


The Muscovy duck is a large duck native to Mexico, Central, and South America. Small wild and feral breeding populations have established themselves in the United States, particularly in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Florida as well as in many other parts of North America, including southern Canada. Feral Muscovy ducks are found in New Zealand, Australia, and in parts of Europe.

They are a large duck, with the males about 30 in long, and weighing up to 15 lb. Females are considerably smaller, and only grow to 6.6 lb, roughly half the males' size. The bird is predominantly black and white, with the back feathers being iridescent and glossy in males, while the females are more drab. The amount of white on the neck and head is variable, as well as the bill, which can be yellow, pink, black, or any mixture of these. They may have white patches or bars on the wings, which become more noticeable during flight. Both sexes have pink or red wattles around the bill, those of the male being larger and more brightly colored.

Although the Muscovy duck is a tropical bird, it adapts well to cooler climates, thriving in weather as cold as 10 °F and able to survive even colder conditions. In general, Barbary duck is the term used for C. moschata in a culinary context

The domestic breed, Cairina moschata forma domestica, is commonly known in Spanish as the pato criollo ("creole duck"). They have been bred since pre-Columbian times by Native Americans and are heavier and less able to fly long distances than the wild subspecies. Their plumage color are also more variable. Other names for the domestic breed in Spanish are pato casero ("backyard duck") and pato mudo ("mute duck").

This species, like the mallard, does not form stable pairs. They will mate on land or in water. Domesticated Muscovy ducks can breed up to three times each year.

The hen lays a clutch of 8–16 white eggs, usually in a tree hole or hollow, which are incubated for 35 days. The sitting hen will leave the nest once a day from 20 minutes to one and a half hours, and will then defecate, drink water, eat and sometimes bathe. Once the eggs begin to hatch it may take 24 hours for all the chicks to break through their shells. When feral chicks are born they usually stay with their mother for about 10–12 weeks. Their bodies cannot produce all the heat they need, especially in temperate regions, so they will stay close to the mother especially at night.

Often, the drake will stay in close contact with the brood for several weeks. The male will walk with the young during their normal travels in search for food, providing protection. Anecdotal evidence from East Anglia, UK suggests that, in response to different environmental conditions, other adults assist in protecting chicks and providing warmth at night. It has been suggested that this is in response to local efforts to cull the eggs, which has led to an atypical distribution of males and females as well as young and mature birds

For the first few weeks of their lives, Muscovy duckling feed on grains, corn, grass, insects, and almost anything that moves. Their mother instructs them at an early age how to feed.

~*~ Princess~*~

Blue Andalusian 

An ancient and rugged breed of fowl, the Andalusian chicken’s history is not known; though it is likely rooted in the Castilian chicken breed. In type, it resembles the Spanish chicken, but a pound lighter in weight. Like the other breeds of Mediterranean original it has white ear-lobes and lays a large number of white eggs.

Andalusian chickens were first imported into England by Mr. Leonard Barber in 1846-47. These birds came from Andalusia, about 25 miles from Cadiz, from a Mr. Xeres de la Frontera. In 1851, Mr. Coles of Farnham and Mr. John Taylor of Shepherd’s Bush also imported more. Andalusian chickens were widely distributed around Cornwall and Devon. The breed was first exhibited at the Baker Street Show, in London, in January of 1853. Somewhere between 1850 and 1855 Andalusian chickens arrived in America.

Andalusian chickens stand high in productivity. It is one of the best layers of eggs, an excellent winter egg producer, has white flesh with plenty of breast meat – though the carcass is not very plump, it is an active forager, rugged and hardy. The chicks feather and mature quickly; cockerels will often begin crowing at seven weeks of age. The body type, more coarse than a Leghorn, is easy to produce and maintain.

The chief distinction on the Andalusian chicken breed is the blue color of its plumage. Each feather should be a clear bluish slate, distinctly laced with a dark blue or black. Blue colored fowls are produced as a result of crossing black fowls with white fowls. When two Blue Andalusians chickens are mated together 25% of the chicks will come black in plumage, 50% blue, and the remaining 25% white or splash (white with blue or black splashes).

The best colored Blue Andalusian pullets are produced by mating a dark blue male to a properly colored hen. The best colored Blue Andalusian cockerels are produced by using slightly dark parents of both sexes. There is a tendency for the color to become too light as generations go by. The periodic use of black offspring will repair this defect. The blue ground color should extend down to the fluff.

Andalusian chickens are wonderfully designed for foraging on range. The breed’s rugged nature makes it hardy even in cold climates. It does not stand confinement well, however, and is predisposed to feather eating. An excellent traditional cross is an Andalusian male over Langshans females. This produces a hardy brown egg layer that matures early.

The Blue Andalusian chicken was recognized by the American Poultry Association as a standard breed in 1874. Males weigh 7 lbs and females weigh 5.5 lbs


This week's bird: Red Comet

Red Comet (also called Golden Comet and Red Star) chickens are a great layer, and large brown eggs.  They are known as sex link chickens, which are cross-breeds with coloration varying by sex. They do well in confinement or free range foraging, and are a cold hardy breed. Red comets are good if kept in a flock of other Red Comets, but if kept with other chickens red comets can become to aggressive to the other birds. Red comets are good birds around people, they can be very loving around humans.

Red comet hens can weigh upwards of 5-6 lbs, and roosters will weigh upwards of 7-8lbs. Red comets are a lighter color than Rhode Island Reds and can have variable white lacing in hackle and chest feathers.


Russian Orloff Hen from:

The Ancona is a breed of chicken which originated in the Marche region of Italy, but which was bred to its present type mainly in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. It is named after the city of Ancona, capital of the Marche. It is popular in Britain and the United States, but uncommon in Italy; an initiative to re-establish it in its native area and preserve its biodiversity was launched in 2000. There are also Ancona bantams. The first Ancona chickens were imported into England in 1851, and selectively bred there for regularity and consistency of the white markings in the plumage. In 1880 a breeder named Cobb showed a group. Some birds were exported from Britain to the United States in 1888. Rose-combed Ancona chickens were first shown in Birmingham in 1910.

In the United States, the single-comb Ancona was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1898, and the rose-comb bird in 1914. The Ancona is a good layer of white eggs, of which it lays an average of 220 per year the eggs weigh 50 g or more. Hens have little tendency to broodiness; pullets may begin to lay at 5 months. It is a typical Mediterranean breed, rustic, lively and hardy. Birds range widely and take flight easily.

The plumage of the Ancona is black mottled with white. Approximately one feather in three has a v-shaped white marking at the tip. All primaries, sickles and tail-feathers should have white tips. The black feathers may have a beetle green tint. In Italy, blue mottled with white is also recognized in full-size birds, but not in bantams. Australia recognizes a Red variety, with a chestnut to red bay ground colour.

The legs are yellow mottled with black, the beak yellow with some black markings on the upper mandible, and the eye orange-red. The skin is yellow, the ear-lobes white or cream-coloured. The comb is of medium size, with five well-marked points; in hens it should fall gracefully to one side. In the United Kingdom and in the United States, but not in Italy, a rose comb is permitted.

Cocks weigh 5.5 to 6.2 lb and hens 4.0 to 4.6 lb.

This Week's Barnyard Birds

Raising poultry can be fun and rewarding for youth and adults alike. Whether you want fresh eggs and meat or fairly easy pets for a child (or yourself) poultry can be a fun option. There are hundreds of options when choosing breeds for you or your family. Do you want great egg layers and meat birds or a cuddly family pet? Maybe you need a protective rooster. How you answer these question and more well help you to decide what type of bird is right for you. There are standard size chickens and bantam chickens, which are smaller, then you have ducks which are messier but still quite fun to have.

Most breeds of chickens and ducks are great foragers and do well free ranging in a yard or run, both species of poultry are great lawn mowers and bug control as well. Once they find a good insect source, those bugs will be gone without the need for bug sprays and chemicals.

Ducks and chickens also produce great organic compost. 4-6 standard hens can supply a family of 4 with a constant supply of fresh eggs, chickens can also be shown in groups such as FFA and 4H. Small bantam chickens are great for young kids to begin showing and standard size birds work great for older children and adults. Chickens are fairly easy to raise with 4 basic requirements; food, water, shelter from predators and best boxes for laying hens. Chicks also need a source of heat when they are younger. If given these 4 things chickens and ducks will thrive. They can be given treats, but that should make up less than 10% of their diet. Most breeds will start laying around 6-8 months but some can start sooner or later and will stop in the winter when the days shorten.

~*~Princess~*~  A black Orpington hen.