Poultry appeals to a wide and diverse range of individuals. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother was probably one of the most famous with her Buff Orpingtons looked after and shown by Will Burdett MBE.
HRH The Prince of Wales is the current Poultry Club of Great Britain Patron and we are grateful for his enthusiastic support. Welsummers and Marans are kept at Highgrove and the eggs from these birds have been shown on many occasions.
Her Grace is an enthusiastic poultry keeper and is herself an excellent example of everything which is good about The Poultry Club. At Chatsworth, she has a fine collection of pure bred poultry including Welsummers, Leghorns, Cochins, Silkies, Marans, and recently gained a Best of Breed at the Royal Show. Most of her collection is on public view to the many visitors to Chatsworth and all of the birds are avidly photographed by the many visitors. As Poultry Club Past President, Rev Ray Trudgian, observed ‘it is good to have such fine poultry shown to such an advantage at one of our country’s leading tourist attractions, fulfilling in every way the aim of our Club, ‘to promote high standards in the keeping and breeding of pure-bred poultry’. Here, Her Grace tells of her own affection for poultry keeping:
“I was brought up with hens and have kept them all my life. I would hate to be without them. My mother kept Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns on a commercial scale - commercial in that the small profit made by them paid for the governess who taught my sisters and me in the schoolroom at home. Without the hens even that vague attempt at our education would probably have foundered. We inherited our mother’s affection for them. My eldest sister, Nancy, kept several breeds of bantam as a child. Pam liked Light Sussex at that time and later she was responsible for importing the lively Appenzeller Spitzhaubens from Switzerland to this country. Diana fancied Anconas and Black Minorcas. The eggs were an important source of pocket money for us all.
My Rhode Island Reds were succeeded by Dorkings and Derbyshire Redcaps. Now I am delighted with free range Welsummers and White Leghorns, which cause a great deal of interest when they hurry to share the picnics of our summer visitors to the park at Chatsworth.
In the garden there are a number of Buff Cochins at large. They wander about near the potting shed. People are fascinated by them, their feather ‘trousers’ and their slow, stately gait. They must be the most photographed birds in these islands!
Chickens are a source of endless interest and amusement, and the reward of fresh eggs for most of the year is well worth the effort.”