Chickens: Soft Feather Light

Ancona

Named after the province of Ancona in Italy, specimens of this Mediterranean breed were imported into England in 1851, first the single then the rose comb. Controversy centres around the view that Anconas are akin to the original mottled Leghorn and, therefore, a member of the Leghorn family. However, the fact remains that breeders adhere to the name of Ancona. The breed has retained its popularity on the show - bench not only for its laying propensities, but because of its combination of breed type and characteristics with usefulness.

Ancona

Appenzeller

The Appenzell Canton is the north - eastern part of Switzerland. It is not known how long Spitzhaubens have been bred there, but the very similar Brabanter from The Netherlands was depicted in seventeenth century paintings, so Appenzeller Spitzhaubens may date from the same period. The Appenzeller Barthuhner was developed in the 1860s from crosses between Brown Leghorns, Russian Beardeds and Polveranas (now extinct, related to Bearded Polands). Kurt Fischer, of Stuttgart - Zuffenhausen, Germany, was a leading breeder in the revival of both breeds in the 1950s, as they had almost died out during World War Two.

Appenzeller

Araucana

When the Spaniards arrived in South America, bringing with them the light Mediterranean breeds, they found that the indigenous Indians had domestic fowl which soon cross - bred with the incomers. Notable for their fierce resistance to the Spaniards, however, were the Indians of the Arauca province of northern Chile who were never conquered. The name Araucana for the breed is derived therefore from that part of the world where the South American and European fowls had the least opportunity to interbreed.
The Araucana breed standard in the British Isles is generally as envisaged by George Malcolm who created the true-breeding lavender Araucana, among other colours, in Scotland during the 1930s. Araucanas are prolific layers of strong - shelled eggs, blue or green eggs having been reported from South America from the mid - sixteenth century onwards. These are unique in that their colour permeates throughout the shell.

Araucana

Hamburgh

The origin of the Hamburgh is wrapped in mystery. The spangled were bred in Yorkshire and Lancashire three hundred years ago as Pheasants and Mooneys, and there is a book reference to black Pheasants in the North of England in 1702. In its heyday, the Hamburgh was a grand layer and must have played its part in the making of other laying breeds. However, its breeders directed it down purely exhibition roads, until today it is in few hands.

Hamburgh

Leghorn

Italy was the original home of the Leghorn, but the first specimens of the white variety reached this country from America around 1870, and of the brown two years or so later. These early specimens weighed not more than 1.6 kg (3 1/2 lb) each, but our breeders started to increase the body weight of the whites by crossing the Minorca and Malay, until the birds were produced well up to the weights of the heavy breeds. In the postwar years, the utility and commercial breeders established a type of their own, and that is the one which is now favoured. In commercial circles the white Leghorn has figured prominently in the establishment of high egg-producing hybrids.

Leghorn

Minorca

The Minorca has been developed in this country as our heaviest light breed, and was at one time famous for its extra-large, white eggs. Crossing with the Langshan and other heavy breeds did not improve the egg production of the breed, and concentration on exaggerated headgear had a similar effect. Those times are passed and wiser counsels now prevail. The result is that a much better, balanced type is aimed for on the show bench with moderate size of lobes and of comb, and a more prominent front.

Minorca

Poland

That the Poland is a very old breed goes without saying, although its ancestry is none too clear. Many connect it with the breed named the Paduan or Patavinian fowl, although this original example is illustrated without muff or beard. Poland (gold or silver spangled, black or white) had a classification at the first poultry show in London in 1845, and was standardized in the first Book of Standards in 1865, with white-crested black, golden and silver varieties included. The white-crested (black or blue) varieties are without muffling, while the others have muffs.

Poland

Redcap

The Redcap is one of the most beautiful of all breeds of poultry. It is healthy, hardy and thrives in all parts of the British Isles. It has long been a favourite with poultry breeders in the exposed High Peak district of Derbyshire. The breed is not without value for the table, as year-old birds have a very good breast. It is a non-sitter and excellent layer. It is a grand old English breed, a utility layer of the first class and on the show bench a bird of beauty in shape and feather.

Redcap

Scots Dumpy

This breed has been bred in Scotland for more than a hundred years, and the birds used to be known as Bakies, Crawlers and Creepers.  Fowls having identical dumpy characteristics have been shown to exist as early as AD900.  The bird is considered an ideal broody, being an excellent sitter and mother.

Scots Dumpy

Scots Grey

A light, non-sitting breed originated in Scotland, it has not been bred extensively outside that country where, even if it is less popular today, it will doubtless be maintained by keen breeders. It has been bred there for over two hundred years.

Scots Grey

Silkie

Silkie fowls have been mentioned by authorities for several hundred years, although some think they originated in India, while others favour China and Japan. Despite light weights the Silkie is not regarded as a bantam in this country but as a large fowl light breed, and as such it must be exhibited. Its persistent broodiness is a breed characteristic, and either pure or crossed, the breed provides reliable broodies for the eggs of large fowl or bantams.

Silkie

Welsummer

Named after the village of Welsum, this Dutch breed has in its make-up such breeds as the partridge Cochin, partridge Wyandotte and partridge Leghorn, and still later the Barnevelder and the Rhode Island Red. In 1928, stock was imported into this country from Holland, in particular for its large brown egg, which remains its special feature, some products being mottled with brown spots. It has distinctive markings and colour, and comes into the light-breed category, although it has good body-size. It enters the medium class in the country of its origin. Judges and breeders work to a standard that values indications of productiveness, so that laying merits can be combined with beauty.

Welsummer