Chickens: Rare Soft Feather Heavy

Autosexing breeds

An autosexing breed is one in which the chicks at hatching can be sexed by their down colouring. It was when crossing the gold Campine with the barred Rock in 1929 that Professor R. C. Punnett and Mr M. S. Pease discovered the basic principle in their experimental work at Cambridge, and made the Cambar.
Barring is sex - linked, there being a double dose in the male and a single dose in the female, the barring being indicated by the light patch on the head of the chick. This light patch is very similar in chicks of both sexes having black down, but when the barring is transferred to a brown down there is a marked difference. The light Head - spot on the female chick (one dose) is small and defined, while on the male chick (double dose) it spreads over the body. For that reason, the down colouring in the day - old cockerel is much paler, and the pattern of markings more blurred, than in the newly hatched pullet chick, which has the sharper pattern of markings.
Standards which have been passed by the Poultry Club are gold and silver Brussbar; Brockbar; gold, silver and cream Legbar; gold and silver Cambar; gold and silver Dorbar; Rhodebar; silver Welbar; Wybar. The cream Legbar, Legbar, Rhodebar, Welbar and Wybar standards are given below and all other standards for autosexing breeds are held by the Rare Poultry Society.

Autosexing breeds

Dominique

This is perhaps the oldest of the distinctive American breeds, being mentioned in the earliest poultry books as an indigenous and valued variety, as an excellent layer, very hardy and good for the table. They were first seen in this country at the Birmingham Show of 1870 and re-imported in 1984.

Dominique

Ixworth

The all-white Ixworth was created by Reginald Appleyard in 1932, taking its name from the village in Suffolk, and was produced as an excellent table bird with good laying qualities. Breeds used in its make-up included white Sussex, white Orpington, white Minorca, Jubilee, Indian and white Indian Game. In 1938, Ixworth bantams were to follow and at the time their breeder said they were better than the large fowl. The breed is now kept by the dedicated few, in both large fowl and bantams.

Ixworth

Jersey Giant

Originated in New Jersey in about 1880, this American breed took the name of `Giant’ because of the extra heavy weights that specimens could record. Its make-up accounts for such poundage as it includes black Java, dark Brahma, black Langshan and Indian Game. When introduced into this country it was claimed for the breed that the birds were heavier than those of any breed, that it was adaptable for farm range, and also for providing capons. Earlier specimens were of exceptional weights.

Jersey Giant

La Fleche

The La Fleche is a French breed which has never been widespread in Britain. A large black breed with two vertical spikes for a comb, it is related to the Crevecoeur and in the middle of the nineteenth century was used to produce white-skinned petit poussin for the Paris market.

La Fleche

Modern Langshan

When Major Croad imported his first Langshans in 1872, some poultry experts questioned whether they were significantly different from Black Cochins, which at that stage were not as profusely feathered as they have been since about 1900. Some Langshan breeders in the UK decided to emphasise the difference by breeding a taller and tighter feathered type of Langshan. It was this group who retained control of the original Langshan Society, with those favouring the medium feathered type, as first imported, forming a new Croad Langshan Club in 1904. Although the taller birds soon became known as “Modern Langshans” among poultry keepers in general, the enthusiasts stuck to the names “Club type” or “Society type” Langshans for several decades. Modern Langshans gradually declined in popularity through the 1930s, and have only just survived to the present day.

Modern Langshan

Norfolk Grey

The Norfolk Grey was first introduced by Mr Myhill of Norwich under the ugly name of Black Marias. They were first shown at the 1920 Dairy Show and were mainly the result of a cross breed between silver birchen Game and duckwing Leghorns. They appear regularly at shows and are plentiful in their county of origin.

Norfolk Grey

Sulmtaler

The origin of the Sulmtaler lies south and south-west of Graz, capital of the Austrian county Stiermarken. Especially in the valleys of Kainach, Lassnitz, Sulm and Saggau (tal = valley), heavy fowls were bred for high quality fattening, mainly being fed on locally grown maize. From 1865 to 1875, these birds were crossed with Cochin, Houdan and Dorkings and then crossed back again to the local fowls from Stiermarken. By 1900, the Sulmtaler had been developed as a breed in its own right and spread into Germany, Holland and England. It is a hardy fowl, fast growing, easy to fatten and a good utility breed.

Sulmtaler

Transylvanian Naked Neck

Transylvania has been part of Romania since 1918, but was once part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, and then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Naked Neck chickens have been recorded in many parts of Europe and the Middle East, so it is difficult to be sure about their origin. Exhibition Naked Necks, bred to a standard with completely bare necks, have always been most popular in Austria and Germany: there were 110 Naked Necks at the 1907 Leipzig Show. Karl Huth exhibited the first recorded Naked Neck bantams at the 1898 German National Show. They have never been more than a rare novelty in the UK.

They are active foragers and productive birds, and their bare necks and reduced plumage is not a problem, especially in warm climates. Indeed, the speed with which cockerels can be hand plucked and ready for cooking has no doubt ensured their popularity among smallholders. There are now several naked-necked broiler hybrids, a good example of how even the most unexpected old breed can be useful in today’s poultry industry.

Transylvanian Naked Neck