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ZINGEM LAYING FOWL
March 9, 2015
The development of our Zingem Laying Fowl is becoming more and more interesting. We'll be testing the eggs for fertility in the next week or so and hope to have some available for sale this summer. In the mean time I had an email from Leo Vermeir, who has been intent on saving this beautiful, useful breed in Belgium. I'll take the liberty of quoting from his letter as some of the information contained in it, explains more about the history and requirements of the breed. Technically, we are talking about the Zingem Laying Fowl, named after the area where it was first perfected by Dion De Laporte in the 1970s. There was a white meat bird named Zingem, so the addition of 'laying fowl' was more important then. However, the meat bird no longer exists, so the distinction is, to my mind, less crucial.
The Zingem are placid, don't usually try to escape over anything around 1.5 metres high unless frightened into flight. "Zingem laying fowl grow a bit slower than most. You have to be patient with them." The eggs are white/cream/very light brown. Leo said the cockerel we have in our gallery photos is excellent, of a similar quality to one by Benoit Hubert who won the European show in 2013 with 97 points. Leo's own bird had 96 . "Be sure that the cockerel I can see on your photograph would have 96, even 97! He is also perfect."
Leo began working with Zingem laying fowl in 2003 when he bought 3 hens and 1 cockerel from different breeders at a local show. By around 2010 all the other local breeders had died out, which left Leo, and some friends and family to whom he had given some of his own stock. In 2012 he found 83-year-old Guy Colson, who had some Zingem. He bought eggs from Guy and began hatching - just in time as it turned out, as at the end of the year all of the Colson birds were wiped out by a fox. In 2013, he sent eggs to two breeders in the UK, from a mix of hens and cockerels from the two strains, and I bought my eggs from one of those, Ken Lomas, in 2014.
Thankfully, Leo Vermeir's efforts in Belgium are bringing the birds back. He sells hatching eggs and birds and now estimates that there are seven breeders at work, with more taking an interest each year. For the last two years Zingem laying fowl have returned to shows.
He has set out the basic standards:
'Cockerel - upperchest uniformly red brown without black barring, underchest equal red brown or with some black in it (both are ok), flanks have to show some black barring
'Hen - the brown parts have to be as wide as the black parts (barring) so that the overall view is brown rather than black - comb must be standing (as distinct from the falling comb of the Brakel hens, which are similar) - the upperchest has no, or very little, black in it.
'Weight adult cockerel 2.8kg, weight adult hen 2.5kg.'
I'm so pleased to be a very small part of the story of the re-emergence of the Zingem Laying Fowl. We've already had interest from people who want to see them, and two have shown an interest in buying when we have some available. By all means contact us if you would like to come and take a look.