Meet the Chooks - Critically Endangered Chicken Breeds

By SkylineFarms, Feb 4, 2015 | Updated: Feb 5, 2015 | | |
  1. SkylineFarms
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    Critically Endangered Chicken Breeds
    The Livestock Conservancy (formerly The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy) is America's leading nonprofit organization working to protect nearly 200 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction. The Livestock Conservancy has five levels of conservation priority, with Critical being the highest priority. For a poultry breed to be listed as critical, there must be fewer than 500 breeding birds in the United States. http://www.livestockconservancy.org

    The following 12 chicken breeds are listed as Critical. These breeds need more attention from breeders and the public to help keep them from becoming extinct.


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    Golden Campine and Silver Campine. Photos courtesy of MyPetChicken.com and Cirasa Giovanni.
    Campine
    The Campine is a breed of domestic chicken originating in the northern part of Belgium. It is named for the Campine region of north-eastern Belgium and south-eastern Netherlands. It was known there as the Kempisch Hoen. There are two colour varieties of the Campine, Silver and Gold. Both sexes have the same color pattern: the Silver has a pure white head and neck hackles, the rest of the bird being barred with beetle-green on a pure white ground; the Golden variety has the same pattern, but the head, neck hackles and body ground color is rich gold rather than white.
    Egg Production: Good
    Egg Size: Medium
    Egg Color: White

    Cold Hardy

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    Chantecler Pair and Chantecler Pullet. Photos courtesy of Coyote Acres Ranch.
    Chantecler
    The Chantecler is a breed of chicken originating in Canada. The Chantecler was developed in the early 20th century, at the Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac in Oka, Quebec. It is extremely cold-resistant, and is suitable for both egg and meat production. The Chantecler is a large chicken that lays respectably well and is a good meat producer. Roosters weigh around 9 pounds (4.1 kg), and hens are 6.5–7.5 lb (2.9–3.4 kg).The breed possess yellow skin and beaks, and lay brown eggs. With plumage that lies tight against the body but has a good deal of fluff, and an exceptionally small cushion comb and wattles, the Chantecler is one of the most cold hardy chickens. They are gentle birds to taming, but can be temperamental in confinement.
    Egg Production: Very Good
    Egg Size: Large
    Egg Color: Brown
    Very Cold Hardy


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    Crevecoeur Rooster and Hen. Photo courtesy Chickenforum.com.
    Crevecoeur
    The Crevecoeur breed of chicken is a rare and continental breed of chicken originating from Normandy, France during the 17th century. The breed was name after a town, and which also means "broken heart". As beautiful the bird is in appearance, the meaning of its name is as dramatic in nature as well. Classified by most Crevecoeur historians as the country's oldest and most foundational breeding, it has since been moved up to exhibition halls instead of as a meat fowl. The Crevecoeur breed is also said to be the progenitor of the breeds Houdan, La Flèche and Faverolles. Crevecoeurs have black plumage with a V-shaped, a large crest and dark blue-gray legs. The breed does well in a backyard setting - calm and easy to handle with a few aggressive exception. Although active in nature, they rarely forage for food.
    Egg Production: Fair
    Egg Size: White
    Egg Color: Medium

    Not Cold Hardy


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    Russian Orloff Rooster and Bantam Hen. Photos courtesy of Chickenforum.com and sjbmuse of Flickr.com.
    Russian Orloff
    The Orloff is a breed of chicken named after Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov, a Russian Count. Reflecting this origin, it is sometimes called the Russian Orloff or simply Russian. The Orloff is a tall, well-feathered chicken with a somewhat game-like appearance. The head and neck are very thickly feathered. They appear in several recognized color varieties: Black, White, Spangled, Black-tailed Red, Mahogany, and Cuckoo. Their plumage, combined with their tiny walnut comb, small earlobes and minuscule wattles, makes the Orloff a very cold hardy breed. Males generally weigh 3.6 kilograms (7.9 lb) and hens about 3 kg (6.6 lb). Orloffs are primarily suited to meat production, but hens are reasonable layers of light brown eggs and do not usually go broody. In general temperament, they are known to be relatively calm birds.
    Egg Production: Fair

    Egg Size: Medium
    Egg Color: Light Brown
    Very Cold Hardy


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    Sultan Chickens. Photos courtesy of Chickenforum.com and Californiahatchery.com.
    Sultan
    The Sultan is a breed of chicken originating in Turkey. Its English moniker is directly culled from the original Turkish language name of Serai-Tavuk, which translates as "fowls of the Sultan". They have always been primarily ornamental, having been kept in the gardens of Ottoman sultanate. In the West they are bred for competitive showing as part of poultry fancy, and are generally a rare sight. Sultans have a great deal of decorative plumage, including large, puffy crests, beards, long tails, and profuse foot feathering. Their small, V-shaped combs are almost entirely hidden under feathering. Sultans are also one of a minority of breeds to have five toes on each foot. Sultans appear in three varieties: Black, Blue, and White, with White being the most well known. Hens lay small white eggs at a slow rate, and do not generally go broody. In temperament, Sultans are quite docile, friendly chickens, and are content at being kept in confinement.
    Egg Production: Poor
    Egg Size: Small
    Egg Color: White
    Not Cold Hardy


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    Barred Holland Pair. Photo by Blarneyeggs of BYC.
    Holland
    In 1934 white eggs brought premium prices at market because it was believed that white eggs had a finer, more delicate flavor. At that time most of America’s eggs were produced on small farms all across the country, and small farmers preferred dual-purpose chickens as these provide a source of meat as well as eggs. Since dual-purpose chicken breeds tend to lay brown eggs, and white egg-laying breeds available at the time were light-weight and not well fleshed, this prompted Rutgers Breeding Farms to set about producing a dual-purpose breed that would lay white eggs – resulting in the Holland. Hollands have earned a good reputation as being ideally suited to farm conditions. They are good foragers with calm temperaments. The breed is fairly cold tolerant, though during periods of extreme cold the males may suffer some frostbite to their single combs. The hens can become broody and will sometimes raise their own offspring. Hollands also tend to have a slow to moderate growth rate. But this fact must be weighed against their ability to rustle a significant portion of their own food.
    Egg Production: Good

    Egg Size: White
    Egg Color: Large
    Cold Hardy


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    Modern Game Hen and Rooster. Photos by Tamara Staples and Tom of Omlet.us.
    Modern Game
    A tightly feathered bird with long legs and neck, which give it a tall, slender appearance. The males of the Modern Games should have their combs and wattles removed to enhance their long, slim shape. The feathers of Modern Games should be short, hard and held very close to their bodies. They do not stand cold weather well because of their short feathers and need plenty of exercise to maintain muscle tone. The ideal show bird should have a body shaped like a flat iron when seen from above, a relatively short back, fine tail, hard feathering, and a very upright carriage. The breed appears in more than a dozen color variations. The most common being black red, birchen, brown red, duckwing and pyle. The colors can be broadly divided into two groups; those with willow-colored legs and red eyes, and those with black legs and dark eyes. The color of the skin, comb, and wattles varies from red to mulberry depending on variety, but all have a small single comb.

    Egg Production: Poor
    Egg Size: White
    Egg Color: Medium

    Not Cold Hardy

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    Nankin Rooster and Hen. Photos by Colonial Williamsburg History.org.
    Nankin
    The Nankin is an ancient breed of fowl that is thought to be one of the oldest known bantam chickens. The bird’s initial point of origin is obscured in history going back beyond all known records. There is evidence that the bird arrived in England prior to the 1500’s and there is even speculation that it may have been present well before then. Nankins are known for the rich chestnut color of their bodies. The hens are a light chestnut color with the end of the tail feathers being black. The males tend to be darker in color with black tail and black flight feathers. The breed can be found with rose combs or single combs, with both varieties having bright red wattles, faces, and earlobes. Legs should be slate blue, though white leg color will occur. White leg color is considered a fault and occurs because of a hidden recessive gene in the males. Nankins have a calm disposition and a likeable personality; however, the cocks have been known to overcome their gentle nature and will run to the defense of a hen if she calls out in distress. An unusual behavioral characteristic of Nankins is their tendency to stay very close together as a group with individuals rarely wandering far from the rest of the flock. This behavior serves them as a defense mechanism, especially when they are kept along with larger fowl.
    Egg Size: Small
    Egg Color: White

    Not Cold Hardy

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    Redcap Rooster and Hen. Photos courtesy of Lorraine of Omlet.us.

    Redcap
    The Redcap is an English breed of chicken supremely well suited for the production of eggs. Its most distinguishing feature is the very large, rose shaped comb crowning its head, and from which it derives its name. The breed has red plumage tipped with a blue-black, half-moon shaped spangle and leaden blue colored legs. Oddly, though it lays white-shelled eggs, the Redcap has red ear lobes – this is unique because almost all breeds that lay white shelled eggs have white ear lobes. Redcap chicks hatch with a mahogany colored down with a dark stripe. They are easily raised and are very lively. When culling this breed, one should keep in mind that the adult color pattern is not fully revealed until the second or third year. Redcap chickens were recognized by the American Poultry Association as a standard breed in 1888. There is only one variety. Males weigh 7.5 lbs and females 6 lbs.
    Egg Production: Good
    Egg Size: White
    Egg Color: Medium

    Cold Hardy


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    White Faced Black Spanish Chickens. Photos courtesy of Chickenforum.com and Wind Dancer Ranch.

    Spanish
    The Black Spanish chicken is truly the aristocrat of the poultry world. The chicks can be rather flighty, as all Mediterranean breeds can, but the adults hold themselves as benefits a Spanish Don – Head up, one foot forward, calm. No other breed of chicken so embodies the word “aristocrat” in its posture, as does the Spanish chicken. The breed is of ancient and unknown lineage. Spanish chickens have been widely known and recognized for their ability to lay a very large number of very large white eggs – gaining recognition for this even before 1816 in England. The downfall of the Spanish chicken came because of a combination of two attributes: the breed’s delicacy and its white face. As breeders paid more attention to increasing the size of the white faces in the Spanish chickens, a great loss of hardiness was observed. This, combined with the delicate nature of the chicks, soon led to a loss of popularity as hardier breeds began to arrive.
    Egg Production: Good
    Egg Size: White
    Egg Color: Large

    Not Cold Hardy


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    Blue and Black Sumatra Roosters. Photos courtesy of Wanny of Wikipedia and Tim Daniels of Poultrykeeper.com.
    Sumatra
    The Sumatra chicken is distinctive and beautiful, with long flowing curves, abundant feathering, and a rich green sheen. Originally from the Isles of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo in Indonesia, the breed developed through living wild and being shaped by its environment. Sumatra chickens tend to reproduce very seasonally, the males vying for territory and breeding rights a few months of the year and living together in relative harmony outside of breeding season. Historically, the island residents captured the males at the beginning of breeding season and used them to fight, releasing them after the season was over. The seasonal aspect of the Sumatra chicken is still very much a part of the breed today, and one can expect fertility and broodiness to arrive late in the spring. The breed is noted for behaving very pheasant like – moving in a stately manner and preferring to explore around bushes and other areas offering good cover. Sumatra hens lay an abundant number of white, or lightly tinted, eggs and are considered excellent winter layers. They are also among the best of mothers and broodies. Both adults and chicks are very hardy and easy to raise. Sumatra chickens are active and alert and are especially good at launching themselves vertically to escape dangers.
    Egg Production: Poor
    Egg Size: White
    Egg Color: Medium

    Cold Hardy

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    White and Red Shouldered Yokohama Roosters. Photos courtesy of Cacklehatchery.com and Unknown.
    Yokohama
    “Shear elegance,” there are no better words to describe one’s first impression of the Yokohama chicken: brilliant, pure white with plumage; with red across the shoulders and back, red breast with white flecks in the Red Shouldered variety; long flowing type; long saddle feathers; and sickle feathers dragging the ground. In type they much resemble the Sumatra chicken, but with much longer saddle, sickle and tail feathers. They have a walnut-shaped comb, small or missing wattles, orange red eyes, and yellow legs. Like the Phoenix chicken, the Yokohama chicken is a German creation from long-tailed fowls of Japanese descent. Tails of three and four feet in length have been produced on Yokohama chickens. In Japan, the Yokohama’s ancestors are said to have produced tails up to 27 feet in length. The Yokohama chicken is an alert breed with a game-like appearance. They are indifferent layers and are said to go broody after laying only 12-14 eggs. The chicks are hardy, but require extra protein when their tails are growing. The breed is well-suited to estates where it can roam at large, thriving best when given a good deal of freedom.
    Egg Production: Poor
    Egg Size: Small
    Egg Color: Cream

    Not Cold Hardy


    Sources:
    The Livestock Conservacy http://www.livestockconservancy.com
    Chicken Forum http://www.chickenforum.com
    My Pet Chicken http://www.mypetchicken.com
    Wikipedia http://www.wikipedia.com


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  1. Whittni
    Good work!

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