Chickens: Soft Feather: Heavy

Australorp

The claim that the Australorp -  an abbreviation of Australian black Orpington -  is the prototype of the black Orpington, as originally made by Mr W. Cook, has never been questioned. Its breeders emphasized that its true utility type gives to poultrymen the Orpington at its best, an excellent layer and a good table fowl, with white skin. It was around 1921 that large importations of stock birds were made from Australia into this country and an Austral Orpington Club founded. Later the breed name of Australorp was adopted, and this remains today.

Australorp

Barnevelder

This breed was originated in the district of Barneveld, Holland, and stock was imported into this country about 1921, with the brown egg as one of the chief attractions. At first the birds were very mixed for markings, some being double laced, others single, while the majority followed a partridge or `stippled’ pattern. Two varieties were standardized, namely, double laced and partridge or `stippled’, but the former gradually came to the top, and is the popular variety of today.

Barnevelder

Brahma

Although the name Brahma is taken from the river Brahmaputra in India, it is now generally agreed that they were created in America from large feather legged birds imported from China in the 1840s known as Shanghais. These were crossed with Malay type birds from India, known as Grey Chittagongs, which introduced the pea comb and the beetle brow. Rivalry between breeders of various strains led to a wide variety of names and much confusion. A panel of judges meeting in Boston, USA, in 1852 declared the official name to be Brahmapootras later shortened to Brahma. After a consignment of nine birds was sent to Queen Victoria in 1852, the Brahma became one of the leading Asiatic breeds in this country. Both light and pencilled Brahmas were included in the Poultry Club’s first Book of Standards in 1865.

Brahma

Cochin

The Cochin, as we know it today, originally came from China in the early 1850s, where it was known as the Shanghai, and later still as the Cochin-China. The breed created a sensation in this country in poultry circles because of its immense size and table properties. Moreover, it was an excellent layer. It was developed, however, for wealth of feather and fluff for exhibition purposes to the extent that its utility characteristics were neglected, if not made impossible, in winning types. There are no Cochin bantams.

Cochin

Croad Langshan

The first importation of Langshans into this country was made by Major Croad and, as with other Asiatic breeds, controversy centred around it. Already there was the black Cochin and then the black Langshan, some contending both were one breed, and others that they were quite separate Chinese breeds. As developed here the breed was called the Croad Langshan after the name of the importer. In 1904, a Croad Langshan club was formed to maintain the original stamp of bird. The Modern Langshan has been developed along different lines and, in consequence, the two types are shown in separate classes at shows.

Croad Langshan

Dorking

Its purely British ancestry makes the Dorking one of the oldest of domesticated fowls in lineage. A Roman writer, who died in AD 47, described birds of Dorking type with five toes, and no doubt such birds were found in England by the Romans under Julius Caesar. By judicious crossings, and by careful selection, the Darking or Dorking breed was established.

Dorking

Faverolles

Originated in the village of Faverolles, in northern France, this breed was created for its dual-purpose qualities. Its make-up includes such breeds as the Dorking, Houdan and Cochin, while Light Brahma blood as well as that of the Malines may be seen in some of the varieties. Imported into Great Britain in 1895, producers of table chickens crossed it freely with the Sussex, Orpington and Indian Game.

Faverolles

Frizzle

The Frizzle, a purely exhibition breed, is of Asiatic origin, and is notable for its quaint feather formation, each feather curling towards the head of the bird. It is more popular in bantams than in large fowls.

Frizzle

German Langshan

Langshans were first imported into Germany and Austria in 1879 from Major and Miss Croad in England. Some German breeders kept to the Croad type, while others, led by Baron Villa-Secca of Vienna, developed their own Deutsches Langschan. A breed club was formed for their new type of Langshan in 1895. German Langshans are tall birds with unfeathered shanks and feet and a neat rising tail and back line. These characteristics combine to give them their “wine glass” outline when viewed in profile. Johann Heermann, of Wedel, Holstein, developed German Langshan bantams, circa 1902-12. In addition to the Black, Blue and White varieties standardized here, there are several more colours in Germany: Barred, Birchen, Brown-Red, Lemon-Blue, Red and Silver-Blue.

German Langshan

Lincolnshire Buff

A dual purpose utility breed found mainly in its native Lincolnshire. During the 19th and early 20th Century, it was supplied in vast numbers to the London markets as a white fleshed table bird and was widely sold as a good winter layer. Standardisation of the Buff Orpington, which many at the time considered to be a refined Lincolnshire Buff, lead to its demise in name by the 1920s, although its genetic material still lived on in the Orpington albeit in a much modified form.  In the 1980s, the breed was redeveloped in Lincolnshire using this genetic material, with the addition of that of the Cochin and Dorking.

Lincolnshire Buff

Marans

Taking its name from the town of Marans in France, this breed has in its make - up such breeds as the Coucou de Malines, Croad Langshan, Rennes, Faverolles, barred Rock, Brakel and Gatinaise. Imported into this country round about 1929, it has developed as a dual-purpose sitting breed and the British Standard has clean legs, unlike the original French version. Like other barred breeds the cuckoo Marans females can be mated with males of other suitable unbarred breeds to give sex-linked offspring of the white head-spot distinguishing characteristic.

Marans

New Hampshire Red

As if to copy the farmers in the State of Rhode Island who developed the breed carrying its name, those in the neighbouring State of New Hampshire developed and named their breed. The New Hampshire Red was bred by selection from the Rhode Island Red without the introduction of any other breed, taking some thirty years to reach standardization in 1935. Early maturity, quick feathering, and a plump carcase are particular features of the breed. Its body shape and colouring are very different from those of the Rhode Island Red.

New Hampshire Red

Orloff

This breed originally came from the Gilan province of northern Iran, where it was known as the Chilianskaia. Some were taken to Moscow and renamed by Count Orloff Techesmensky. From Russia they became known to British, Dutch and German poultry experts in the 1880s and 1890s, and an Orloff Club existed in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. Orloff bantams have been known in Germany since 1925, but did not reach Britain until the 1970s. As this Standard indicates, Orloffs are mainly judged on type and character, especially of the head. Plumage colour is a secondary consideration.

Orloff

Plymouth Rock

Specimens of the barred Plymouth Rock were first exhibited in America in 1869, and stock reached here in 1871. The white and black varieties came as sports. About 1890, the buff was exhibited in America and in England. The barred Rock came to us as a dual-purpose breed, but was developed to an exhibition ideal in which body size and frontal development were neglected in order to secure long narrow finely barred feathers. With the introduction of sex-linkage between the black Leghorn and barred Rock for commercial purposes, utility breeders made use of the Canadian barred Rock, a bird with roomy body, full breast, lower on the leg but coarser in barring.

Plymouth Rock

Rhode Island Red

No breed made such a world progress in so short a time as this American breed. It was developed from Asiatic black-red fowls of Shanghai, Malay and Java types, bred on the farms of Rhode Island Province. Red Javas were known there in 1860, and the original Rhode Island Red had a rose comb, although birds with single combs, probably from brown Leghorn crossings, were bred. They were first exhibited as Rhode Island Reds in 1880 in South Massachusetts. In December 1898, the Rhode Island Red Club of America held their first meeting. In 1904, the Single Comb variety was admitted to the American Poultry Association of Perfection, followed in 1906 by the Rose Combs. The formation of the British Rhode Island Red Club took place in August 1909 and the breed has been one of the most popular in this country for all purposes. Being a gold, males of the breed are utilized extensively in gold-silver sex linked matings.

Rhode Island Red

Sussex

This is a very old breed, for although we do not find it included in the first Book of Standards of 1865, at the first poultry show of 1845 the classification included Old Sussex or Kent fowls, Surrey fowls and Dorkings. The oldest variety of the Sussex is the speckled. Brahma, Cochin and silver grey Dorking were used in the make-up of the light. The earlier reds had black breasts, until the red and brown became separate varieties. Old English Game has figured in the make-up of some strains of browns. Buffs appeared about 1920, clearly obtained by sex-linkage within the breed. Whites came a few years later, as sports from lights. Silvers are the latest variety. The light is the most widely kept in this country today among standard as well as commercial breeders. It is one of our most popular breeds for producing table birds. At the time when sex-linkage held considerable popularity, the light Sussex was one of the most popular breeds of the day, the females being in considerable demand for mating to gold males. At an even earlier stage, the Sussex breed formed the mainstay of the table poultry market in and around the Heathfield area. The Sussex Breed Club was formed as far back as in 1903 and is now one of the oldest breed clubs in Britain.

Sussex

Wyandotte

The first variety of the Wyandotte family was the silver laced, originated in America, where it was standardized in 1883. The variety was introduced into England at the time, and our breeders immediately perfected the lacings and open ground colouring. Partridge Cochin and gold spangled Hamburgh males were crossed with the silver females, to produce the gold laced variety. The white Wyandotte came as a sport from the silver laced; the buff followed by crossing buff Cochin with the silver laced. In 1896, the partridge variety was introduced from America, the result of blending partridge Cochin and Indian Game blood with that of the gold laced, the variety being perfected for markings in England. It was once called the gold pencilled, and the silver pencilled soon followed from partridge Wyandotte and dark Brahma crossings.

Columbians were the result of crossing the white Wyandotte with the barred Rock, and it was the crossing of the gold laced and the white varieties which produced the buff laced and the blue laced, first seen here in 1897. Blacks, blues and barred have been made in different ways in this country. The latest variety to be introduced is the red, created in Lancashire, from the gold laced variety, with selective matings with white Wyandotte, Barnevelder and Rhode Island Red. It is clear that while the family of the Wyandotte is large, every variety is a made one from various blendings of breeds.

Wyandotte