Chickens: Rare Soft Feather Light

Andalusian

Leonard Barber is believed to have been the first importer of chickens from the Andalucia region of Spain in 1846-7, but these had an assortment of plumage colours. The standard Blue Andalusian, with its characteristic sharp lacing, was developed in England. The two leading breeders in the 1850s who started this process were John Taylor, of Shepherd’s Bush, London, and Mr Coles of Fareham, Hampshire. It took several decades of selective breeding by a succession of fanciers before birds with the perfect colour and lacing depicted by Victorian artists became a reality. Andalusian bantams first appeared in the 1880s.

Andalusian

Brakel

Brakel is a village near the market town of Aalst/Alost, north-west of Brussels in Belgium.

The Brakel fowl was once kept on almost every farm and smallholding in its home area, and was generally more important in Belgium than the neighboring breed, the Campine, which became better known in other countries. There is still an active Brakel Club in Belgium. Brakel males, which have normal cock feathering, are easily distinguished from the hen-feathered Campine males. The females of both breeds are very similar, but Brakel hens are heavier and stockier.

Brakel

Campine

The Campine (pronounced kam-peen) originated in the northern part of Belgium around Antwerp. It is closely related to the Brakel (also Belgium), Chaamse Hoen (The Netherlands) and Hergines fowl (northern France). Most Campine males bred in Belgium before 1900 had normal cock feathering, although hen-feathered males appeared occasionally. The difference between Brakels and Campines then was in build and weight, the Campines being slimmer.

British poultry expert Edward Brown wrote about Campines in 1897, soon leading to the first importation by Thomas Braken of Lancaster. A Campine Club was formed here about 1900. The Club members had heard about the hen-feathered males, but did not have any at first. They were keen to adopt them as their standard male to avoid the complications of double mating experienced by breeders of Pencilled Hamburghs. The first hen-feathered male in the UK, a Silver from eggs imported from Belgium, won at several shows in 1904. Sons of this bird were spread around club members, some of whom crossed them with Gold females to produce hen-feathered Gold males by 1911. Rosecombed Campines briefly appeared in the 1920s and ‘30s. Campine bantams have appeared from time to time since the 1950s.

Campine

Fayoumi

The Fayoumi is an ancient Egyptian breed from the district of Fayoum and has been selectively bred for egg production. They are hardy, very early maturing, strong fliers and vocal when handled. The Fayoumi is not genetically a barred breed but a pencilled breed. All chicks are born brown whether of the silver or gold variety. The plumage pattern is similar to that of the Brakel. They were introduced into the UK in 1984.

Fayoumi

Friesian

Friesian fowls are from the windswept northern coastal region of The Netherlands. This region was very isolated until modem times, so the breed is thought to be very similar to those bred in the area 1000 years ago. They are small, active and hardy birds, a characteristic they share with breeds from other parts of the world where chickens were expected to find most of their own food by foraging. Friesians have attracted several breeders in the UK since the 1980s, most choosing the Chamois Pencilled variety. As large Friesians are a small breed, they have frequently been entered in bantam classes at shows here by mistake. Friesian Bantams are tiny, about the same size as Dutch bantams.

Friesian

Houdan

Introduced into England in 1850, the Houdan is one of the oldest French breeds, taking its name from the town of Houdan, and has been developed for table qualities. Developed here it was once classified as a heavy breed, but today is included in the category of light, non - sitting breeds. It is one of the few breeds carrying a fifth toe, a semi-dominant feature when crossed with other breeds.

Houdan

Kraienkoeppe (Twentse)

Kraienkoeppe is the German name, Twentse the Dutch name for this border area breed. The basic breed type began with crosses between Malays and local farmyard fowls in the late nineteenth century. Later, Silver Duckwing Leghorns were introduced. Kraienkoeppe were first exhibited in the Netherlands in 1920 and Germany in 1925. The bantams were developed from crosses of the large breed with Malay bantams. They were first exhibited in the Netherlands in 1940, in Germany in 1955 and in Britain around 1970.

Kraienkoeppe (Twentse)

Lakenvelder

Lakervelt is a village near Utrecht, in the east of The Netherlands. It is also the place of origin of Lakenvelder cattle, which have a similar black and white colour pattern. The area where the chicken breed developed extended over the border to the Nordrhein-Westfalen region of Germany, where the breed name is Lakenfelder. These distinctively patterned chickens were recorded as far back as 1727. They were not imported to the UK until 1901 and then first exhibited at the 1902 Shrewsbury Show. Their popularity has been limited because very few birds have the desired completely black neck and tail with a white body.

Lakenvelder

Marsh Daisy

The Marsh Daisy was created around the 1880s by a Mr J. Wright of Southport, using an Old English Game bantam cock crossed on to cinnamon Malay hens. A cock produced from that cross was mated to hens which were a black Hamburgh/white Leghorn cross. A white rosecombed male produced from that cross was in turn crossed back to the hens of the Hamburgh/Leghorn cross. No other blood was introduced until 1913 when a Mr C. Moore purchased some hens from Mr Wright and crossed them on to a pure Pit Game cock. Desiring to secure the white lobe and willow leg stock, it was crossed with Sicilian Buttercups. The above were the basic ingredients for what we now know as the Marsh Daisy, a moderate layer and good forager. There are no known bantams in this breed.

Marsh Daisy

Old English Pheasant Fowl

This breed was given its name of Old English Pheasant Fowl about 1914, previous to which it had been called the Yorkshire Pheasant, Golden Pheasant and also the Old-fashioned Pheasant. That it is a very old English breed is certain. Some Northern breeders retained their strains as Yorkshire Pheasant Fowls until the present tag of `Old English’ was brought officially into use. It has a meaty breast for a light breed, and has always been popular with farmers.

Old English Pheasant Fowl

Sicilian Buttercup

The distinguishing feature of the breed is the cup-shaped comb. This comb variation has been known for centuries, birds with this type of comb are portrayed on paintings in galleries in Rome and Florence, dating back to the 16th century. The first specimens were taken to America from Sicily in the 1830’s. Today’s stock probably descended from imports and subsequent selection by C. C. Loring of Dedham, Massachusetts in the 1860’s or from eggs imported to America in
1892. In 1907 the breed was widely promoted by the efforts of Mrs. James L. Dumaresq, of Easton, Maryland, whose husband had been in the American diplomatic service. She noted ” the chickens were pretty, tame, and abundant layers.” Specimens were brought to Britain in 1910 and in 1913 by a Mrs. Colbeck of West Yorkshire. Soon afterwards a Breed Club was formed, there followed a brief spell of popularity followed by a decline in interest from the late 1920’s. Sicilian Flowerbirds were standardised in 1922, as a distinct breed. The Buttercup in bantam form is a recent creation. Obtaining correct plumage markings on females, well-cupped combs on both sexes and a wholly red earlobe are the main difficulties in breeding show quality Buttercups. The American standard for the breed was changed in the late 1920’s in favour of a white earlobe, hence stock imported to Britain in the 1970’s from the USA were white lobed.

Sicilian Buttercup

Spanish

The white-faced black Spanish is one of our oldest breeds, and was widely kept and admired long before the advent of poultry shows in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Of striking appearance, with its extensive white face surrounding the eyes and ears and extending lower than the wattles, the Spanish was also a good layer of large white eggs. In the last decade, the breed has gained popularity especially with the re-introduction of the bantam form, although bantam white-faced Spanish were popular around the 1900s.

Spanish

Sultan

With head crest, beard, vulture hocks, feathered legs, five toes and snow-white plumage, Sultans have always been an ornamental breed. They were originally found strutting around the Sultan of Constantinople’s palace garden. All today’s Sultans are descended from an importation by Miss Elizabeth Watts of Hampstead in January 1854. They have never been numerous, but have a dedicated following.

Sultan

Sumatra

The Sumatra, which comes from the island of Sumatra or the Malay Archipelago, was admitted to the American standard in 1883. With the help of Lewis Wright and Frederick R. Eaton the British standard was drawn up in 1906 under the name of Black Sumatras. A long, flowing tail, carried horizontally, and a pheasant-like carriage are distinguishing characteristics. Sumatras are prolific layers of white eggs and excellent sitters, especially being used to hatch waterfowl. In the late 1970s, a strain of bantams was recreated.

Sumatra

Thuringian

The first recorded mention of these fowls in the Thuringen state of Germany was in 1793. They were known as Thuringer Pausbuckchen until they were standardized under their present German name of Thuringer Barthuhn on 8 March 1907. For most of their history there were just two colour varieties, Gold and Silver Spangled. Several more colour varieties have been recognized in Germany since then, of which only the Chamois Spangled and the Black has been seen in the UK. Ernst Florschutz was a leading breeder of the first Thuringian Bearded bantams, circa 1890-1914, but current strains are probably post-1945 remakes. They have been seen at British poultry shows since about 2000.

Thuringian

Vorwerk

Originated in Hamburg by Oskar Vorwerk in 1900, the breed was first shown at Hanover in 1912 and standardized in 1913. The aim was to provide a middle-weight economical utility fowl, good natured, lively but not timid. A point worthy of note is the compatibility of males amongst themselves. These fowls were found to be particularly suitable for smallholdings and farmyards as they are excellent foragers, small eaters and quick maturing.

Vorwerk

Yokohama

The earliest recorded long-tailed fowls were found in China and sent home by Japanese diplomatic representatives. This was sometime between 600 and 800AD in our calender. Not all accounts agree about dates and details of events so long ago. The original type birds were called Shokoku in Japan, and from them were developed several other Japanese long-tailed breeds, which are summarized at the end of this Standard. Several of these Japanese long-tailed breeds were exported to Europe, the first recorded by M.Girard, a French missionary, in 1864. These and later shipments were consigned from the port of Yokohama, which became the name by which all long-tailed fowls were called by Europeans who were not able, or did not bother, to discover the true breed names and details from Japanese experts. A leading German fancier, Hugo du Roi, bred and promoted the red-lobed and somewhat gamey, Red Saddled White Yokohama (circa 1880), but it is not clear if he made them himself by crossing various imports or actually imported birds of this colour and type. This variety is unknown in Japan now, but might have existed then. In an effort to bring some order to their assortment of imported types, German fanciers restricted the name Yokohama to the Red Saddled Whites, and invented a new name, Phoenix, for the white lobed, single combed type. British fanciers formed a Yokohama Club about 1904 and decided to use that name for all types; which is why we now have one very long and complex standard for what really should be several breeds. Yokohama Bantams were made by various German fanciers by crossing large Yokohamas with assorted bantams of appropriate colours.

Yokohama