Poultry Fact File
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From the area around the town of Barneveld in the central Netherlands.
Temperament: Lovely, placid , intelligent birds – including the cockerels. Not adventurous, rarely show any interest in straying or flying (unless alarmed, obviously). Strong, hardy. Easy to live with. The hens are quiet, the cockerels can make their point, especially if I’m late with their feed or to let them out.
Rarity: Fairly common. There is a Barnevelder Club. Latest telephone number: 01630-638630. We have kept Barnevelders since around 2010, with different strains from breeders in Worcestershire and Oxfordshire.
History: Appear to have been local hens crossed with imported Cochin, Brahma and Langshans from the 1850s to 1870s. Some say Wyandottes and Buff Orpingtons were used for further crosses in the late 19th century. The breed standard was created in 1921 by an association of breeders.
Broody ability: Not known as broodies, but usually one of ours will sit during the year. Seem to confine themselves to four or five chicks.
Colours: Ours are double-laced, but they can also be found in black, white/silver and partridge/barred. Single, vertical comb, yellow legs.
Egg laying: 150-200 brown eggs a year.
Weight: Male, 3.20-3.60kgs (7-8lbs) Female, 2.70-3.20 (6-7lbs)
There is a bantam version, first bred in Germany in the 1930s.
Easily identifiable crested, blue-egg laying birds developed in Britain in the 1930s.
Rarity: Plenty of examples around, but not too many that are true to breed, which probably accounts for their continued classification as rare.
Origins: British, first developed in the 1930s following autosexing experiments by Professor Reginald Crundall Punnett and Michael Pease. Gold and silver legbars were the result of crosses between the brown leghorn and barred Plymouth rock, with the cream legbar following with the addition of the Araucana. The cream legbar breed standard was defined by the Poultry Club of Great Britain in 1958. It almost died out in the 1970s but survived thanks to a few dedicated breeders.
Temperament: Inquisitive, like to see what we’re up to, but at the same time quite self-contained. Frugal eaters, but drink more than most. Not aggressive, very rare for a cockerel to do more than a ‘this is my patch’ show-off run even at the height of the breeding season. Light enough to fly but rarely bother. We love having these birds.
Eggs: Pale blue, occasionally we’ll get a hen who lays a more light olive colour. Somewhere between 180 and 220 a year.
Common fault: Some have too much of the gold gene present, which is visible on the feathers on the backs of their necks and shoulders and by deepening the salmon coloured breast to a darker brown. In the cockerels this genetic ‘fault’ shows in too much brown on the back. As we don’t show our birds, we don’t do more than note this fault on the birds and explain to any prospective buyers. We hope to improve our stock and will bring in a new cockerel via the Rare Breed Poultry Society next year but for the time being aren’t interested in culling healthy blue-egg laying hens for the sake of what man perceives to be a fault. NB: We understand that this attitude will draw criticism from those interested only in producing perfect examples of the breed.
Broodiness: Not ‘supposed’ to do this! We’ve had a bird go broody this year but she wasn’t the best of mothers. She smothered one chick and ‘lost’ another one (fortunately we saw it and rescued it before it had chilled too much), and seemed to think she’d done her job when she’d hatched three of the dozen eggs she had beneath her. After a week she managed to somehow smother the female, leaving us with just a male. I think it’s fair to say she’s a disaster area as a mum. If she goes broody again, we’ll have the incubators running for the eggs she can’t be bothered with, and will confiscate any females to rear ourselves!
Weight: Male, 2.70-3.40kg (6-7.5lb). Female, 2.0-2.70 kgs (4.5-6lb)
Our birds were a result of hatching eggs brought in from breeders in Worcestershire and Oxfordshire between 2010 and 2013.
Ardenner Bantam -
See the details for the Ardenner Large Fowl. We introduced our first stock in 2014,depleted by a theft in October 2015, but basic breeding stock remains.
History: Ardenners were first available in Belgium around 1904, thanks to breeding work of a group of seven poultry pioneers who crossed Ardenner Large Fowl with Old English Game bantams and Bassette Liegoise bantams. A breed standard was published in 1913 and they first appeared in an official club show in Liege in January 1914.
Appearance: Compact bodies, large fanned tail, combs single, straight and small.
Weight: cockerel 600-650g, female 550-600g.
Colours: Black, Gold Hackled Black (black or laced breast), Silver Hackled Black (black or laced breast), Gold Partridge, Silver Partridge, White.
Lovely birds from Germany. Classified as a rare breed.
Origins: Developed in the early part of the 20th century in Germany by Oscar Vorwerk, supposedly by inter-breeding Lakenvelders with buff Orpingtons, buff Sussex and Andalusians (from which they have inherited their white earlobes.) The breed was standardised in Germany in 1913, was introduced to Britain in the 1930s but has never really attracted a great deal of interest.
Breeding: Hard to find birds that match the breed standard – and seemingly just as hard to breed to the standard. We aim to improve ours gradually as and when we see good quality birds. Our original stock came from breeders in Oxfordshire and Norfolk. We also bought in two hens from the National Poultry Show in 2014.
Character: Tough, strong. Females are independent, not in spite of their reputation particularly friendly, but docile enough. Frugal eaters. Male can be friendly but can also be aggressive, particularly, of course, in the breeding season. I wouldn’t let children near the mature males at any time.
Colouring: Striking looks, obviously. Head feathers should be black (without any brown or gold). Comb single, upright, not too large, 4-6 serrations. Legs slate grey/blue. Body feathers brown with grey under-feathers. Black tail and black primary flight feathers. Common fault in the male is too much black on the back and chest. Eye orange or orange-red. White ear lobe. Too much red in the ear lobe is another common fault. Males should have black feathers creating a light striping effect on the saddle feathers.
Weight: Male 2.50-3 kg (5.5-7lb) Female, 2-2.50 kgs (4.5-5.5 lbs)
Zingem Laying Fowl
Zingem are named after the town in Belgium where they were first produced in the 1970s by local poultryman Dion De Laporte, who crossed the golden brakel with Rhode Island Reds. The Zingem laying fowl was officially recognised as a breed in Belgium in 1985.
Eggs: Cream, good sized eggs.
Temperament: Ours are inquisitive, tolerate being handled but prefer to be left to their own devices unless food’s about to be served…they like to fly out of their pen to go for a stroll, but don’t tend to wander off too far… none of ours have gone broody. The comb should be single and upright, earlobes white or pale blue, eyes dark brown/almost black, legs grey-blue. The black barring on the rich golden brown feathering is, to us at least, strikingly beautiful.
Rarity: Stuart Sutton in Practical Poultry, January 2013 – “The breed is in a critical state. There are only a handful of breeders in Flanders, led by Leo Vermeir. Currently the Zingem is unknown in other countries.” We were lucky enough to buy some hatching eggs in 2014. This is a special breed for us and we’ll do our best to develop our flock, selling on spare hens and hatching eggs as and when we can.
Indian Runner Ducks
Our four white Indian Runner Ducks arrived in May 2014. Their previous keeper texted to ask if we would take them on as for some unknown reason their feet were being badly bitten. Within 24 hours, Jack had adapted a dog kennel and they came (limping) into their own grassy enclosure, and were demonstrably pleased to be there. The drake is taking a little longer to recover but the three ducks were back to normal within a week or so. All will stay with us now. They are great characters, friendly – and always hungry! Indian Runner Ducks are believed to have come from Indonesia and Malaysia and were brought to Europe in the 19th century. To find out more about them see
Ardenner Large Fowl
Descended from cottagers’ hens in the Ardennes in south-east Belgium. They will forage far and wide if allowed.
Temperament: Wary, fearful of strangers, but ours have (so far) proved gentle and calm once picked up and held. If startled, they will think nothing of flying into the nearest tree. One Belgian poultry writer says: ‘When they are caught they often start screaming until they are released.” Ours are not that bad!
Rarity: Very few are bred outside south-east Belgium and north-east France, where they are still popular. Rare in the rest of Belgium and in the Netherlands. As far as we know this is the only flock of Ardenner Large Fowl in England. We introduced them in 2015.
History: The first breed club for Ardenner was formed in 1893. They were virtually wiped out in world war one but another breed club Groupement Avicole de la Haute Belgique pour la Protection de L’Ardennaise was set up in 1921.
Egg laying: 120-150 white eggs a year. They do sometimes go broody if left to do so.
Origin: Central Italy.
History: An old Italian farmyard breed, brought to England in the 1850s and established with its own breed club since 1899. Anconas were known as prolific egg-layers in the 1930s and 1940s before the arrival of the commercial hybrids changed the ‘poultry landscape’, after which the main laying strains went into decline and more effort was concentrated on the Ancona as an exhibition bird. It has also declined in Italy. The bantam variety was created in the 1940s.
Temperament: Wary and independent, can be flighty, but calm down quickly and friendly once accustomed to being handled.
Rarity: Not especially rare, thanks to the efforts of the Ancona Club, but good examples are hard to find. We were lucky to find our cockerel and five hens for sale at the National Poultry Show in Telford in November 2015. The father won best in class and mother 2nd in her class, so we are confident in the quality of our birds.
Egg laying: Approximately 150 a year, eggs white.
Colours Black, with white tips to the feathers. There is a gold variety in Australia and a blue in the Netherlands but these are rare and not seen in Britain. There is also a rare rosecomb variety, but we haven’t seen any of those. White ear-lobes. Upright single comb on male, female can fold over. Up to seven serrations on comb. Beak yellow with shades of black or horn. Face and wattles red. Legs yellow, some black mottling is ok. White tips to feathers even on tail.
Lovely, extremely rare birds from northern France. We hatched ours in the summer of 2015.
Origins: The breed stretches back at least to the 19th century, from northern France where it was once common. The breed standard was set in 1896 by Jules Lamy. It was developed as a dual purposes bird (i.e for eggs and meat). After WW2 they all-but vanished and it was not until 1974, at a show in Lille, that they were brought back to the public attention.
Colouring: White and black feathering, single red comb, beak short, dark horn-coloured beak, ear-lobes white, with red streaks permissible. Dark eyes.
Weight: Male 2.5-3 kg (5.5-7lb). Female 2-2.5 kgs (4.5-5.5 lbs).
Eggs: The hen will lay up to 250 good-sized white eggs a year. The hens are not sitters. The chicks are fast growers.
Rarity: According to Stuart Sutton (Practical Poultry, April 2013) ‘there are only a handful of dedicated breeders working hard to conserve the breed, and so (it) remains extremely rare in France and virtually non-existent outside of the country’.
The Plymouth Rock was originally produced in and around Massachusetts in the middle part of the 19th century, different strains being reported from the 1840s to the 1860s, with input from Rhode Island Reds, Dominiques and Javas. They were standardised in the USA in 1894. Bantams have appeared in Britain since the first decade of the 20th century.
We bought a Buff Plymouth Rock bantam pair at the National Poultry show in Telford in 2015. They seem quite timid, but gentle once picked up. We have needed to train them to perch.
A reputation for being good mothers with a quiet, docile temperament.
Eggs: Around 180 a year. Brown.
Bantam size: Males up to 3lb, females up to 2.5lb.
They come in a variety of colours. Common birds – great for first time poultry keepers as they’re no trouble at all.