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Poultry Breed Information

  • Silverudd’s Blue (Isbars) - Martin Silverudd, a priest who in the tradition of Gregor Mendel before him plumbed the depths of genetics and created a number of chicken breeds in the 1950s and 1960s. Silverudd had in mind the goal of creating auto-sexing breeds that laid a high volume of unusually colored eggs. To an astonishing degree Silverudd was successful in his quest and along the way created breeding protocols that would later be studied and adopted by sophisticated university geneticists and animal scientists. But, perhaps his greatest achievement was the creation of the Isbar (pronounced ice bar), a breed as practical as it is beautiful and one that has the unique distinction of being the only green-egg-laying single combed chicken breed in the world.

Roosters have shimmering metallic hackles that overlay deep blue body feathers. The hens are also striking with their blue feathers, and splash color patterns are common within the variety. Because of the genetics of the blue coloring, the auto-sexing feather patterns in chicks are not as pronounced (and may be altogether absent) when compared to other auto-sexing breeds like the Cream Legbar. Weights average: Roosters 5.5lbs, hens 4.5lbs.

These cold-hardy birds are thrifty foragers that will produce 150-200 green eggs a year. The eggs vary in shade of green from a dark olive to a lighter moss green. Some eggs also have small brown speckles against a green background, and many chicken aficionados think Isbar eggs are the most beautiful of any egg. Whether speckled or pure green, the Isbar eggs are as fantastic and exotic as the birds themselves.

  • Ameracaunas - What is an Ameraucana Chicken? A chicken is an Ameraucana when it meets the American Poultry Association’s (APA) Standard Ameraucana breed description and meets a variety (color) description or breeds true at least 50% of the time, whether the variety is recognized or not. The breed comes in both bantam and large fowl varieties in the same accepted colors. APA recognized colors are: Black, Blue, Blue wheaten, Brown red, Buff, Silver, Wheaten, and White. There are people in the Ameraucana Breeder’s Club who have been working on getting the Lavender color accepted but when it is the name will be Self-Blue. Ameraucana large fowl are in the APA “All Other Standard Breeds” (AOSB) class of chickens. They were admitted to the Standard in 1984. Ameraucana is a general purpose fowl and has a distinctive blue eggshell coloration. STANDARD WEIGHTS for LARGE FOWL Cock………………6½ lbs. Hen……………….5½ lbs.Cockerel………….5½ lbs. Pullet……………..4½ lbs.

AMERAUCANA SHAPE (Large Fowl & Bantam Males)

COMB: Pea, Beak: Curved, FACE: Nearly hidden by muffs. EYES: Expressive.WATTLES: Small, preferably absent, EARLOBES: Small, MUFFS AND BEARD: Full, well-rounded, medium length, HEAD: Medium size, NECK: Well-arched, HACKLE: Full, BACK: Medium length, SADDLE: Medium in length, TAIL: Well spread, medium length, carried at 45º above horizontal, WINGS: Fairly large, tips carried above the hock joint, BREAST: Prominent, BODY AND STEARN: Body of medium length, stern well-tucked up, LEGS AND TOES: Medium length set apart, four toes

AMERAUCANA SHAPE (Large Fowl & Bantam Females)

COMB: Pea, BEAK: Curved, FACE: Nearly hidden by muffs, EYES: Expressive, WATTLES: Small, preferably absent, EARLOBES: Small, MUFFS AND BEARD: Full, well-rounded, medium length, HEAD: Medium size, NECK: Medium length, HACKLE: Full, BACK: Medium length, CUSHION: Moderate, TAIL: Medium length, well spread, carried at 40º angle above horizontal, WINGS: Fairly prominent, carried above the hock joint, BREAST: Full, BODY AND STEARN: Full but trim, fluff well-tucked up, LEGS AND TOES: Medium length, four toes.

  • Marans (the name is always spelled with the ‘s’ whether talking about a single bird or many birds) are fine dual-purpose chickens from France. Marans is a port town in France, and the breed originated from a now untraceable mix of chickens that were left in the town by seafarers in the 1800s. The birds were originally bred as fighting cocks, but some random combination of matings produced a bird that became popular for the barnyard. By the early 1920s the breed had been clearly established. From France the breed migrated to England and then in the past few decades to America. In 2011, black copper Marans were accepted into the breed standard by the American Poultry Association. 

    Although Marans are an excellent meat bird, their outstanding and unique attribute is the shell color of the plentiful eggs that they lay. Marans lay an egg that has a shell the color of dark chocolate; so dark that at times it borders on being black. And when cracked open, the yolk of free-range birds is bright orange, bursting with vitamins, protein and fats from its healthy lifestyle. While a typical store-bought egg has a yolk that is runny and flaccid, the free-range Marans produce yolks that have ‘muscle tone;’ little orange domes that jut skyward from the egg white. Marans have the reputation for laying the best-tasting chicken egg in the world. (Perhaps, for these reasons, the author Ian Fleming identified Marans eggs as those most preferred by James Bond.) 

Marans chicken is a dual purpose breed and known for both of it’s fine meat qualities and extremely dark eggs. They grow large enough to be used for meat production as well as for eggs. On an average, Marans hens produce about 150-200 eggs per year. There are many color varieties available of Marans chicken. The recognized colors in the French Standard are Black, Black Copper, Birchen, Black-tailed Buff, Columbian, Cuckoo, Golden Cuckoo, Wheaten and White. Cuckoo and Black Copper are the most common of all these breeds. Black Copper Marans appears in black with copper feathers on the neck. And Cuckoos are of barred feathers, giving a black and white speckled appearance. There are also some other colors exist which are not officially recognized. Such as Blue, Blue Copper and splash. This breed should have orange eyes. The shanks are usually slate or pink, the soles of the feet should always be white as Marans have white skin, not yellow. They have red colored single comb and red wattles.

The English standard of Marans chicken calls for clean legs, the Australian standard recognized both feathered and clean-legged, the Marans Club of America only recognizes feather-legged birds and the French standard calls for feathered legs. On an average, Marans roosters weight about 3.5-4 kg and hens about 2.5-3 kg. There is also a bantam variety available of Marans chicken (male about 1100 grams and female about 900 grams). 

Marans chickens are a fast growing breed and extremely hardy that will thrive in almost all climates. They are generally docile and quiet in nature and pretty active. They are good foragers and do well in free ranging system. They are also tough and disease-resistant. But they can be lazy and get fat very easily if raised in confinement. So it’s best to keep them as free range as possible. Marans chickens are very friendly and are easy to look after. Neither the roosters nor the hens are aggressive. Hens are good layers and lay rich chocolate brown colored eggs. They go broody and hens are great mothers.

  • Orpingtons - Orpington chickens reached America by 1891. In 1903 William Cook himself brought over a large importation and showed them in America. Farmers of the mid-western states favored the Buff Orpington chicken for its generally superior table-qualities, and its unique color – different than most general-purpose breeds. Orpingtons continued to boom until the poultry industry experienced a depression about 1912.

The qualities that won all the Orpington chicken varieties recognition were fast rate of growth, excellent egg production, and excellent table-quality. Historically, Orpington chickens made excellent broilers weighing 2 to 2.5 lbs at 8-10 weeks of age, excellent roasting chickens at 5 months of age, and excellent old fowl for the table as well. They are first-rate layers of large light to dark brown eggs. In fact, they were entered into the first egg-laying contest, held at the North Yorkshire farm of Simon Hunter of Northallerton, England, in 1887.

Orpington chickens were recognized by the American Poultry Association as a standard bred in four varieties: Buff, 1902; Black, 1905; White, 1905; and Blue, 1923. Males weigh 10lbs, females 8 lbs.

Use: Eggs, Meat

Egg Color: Brown

Egg Size: Large to Extra Large, approx. 190 eggs per year

Market Weight: 7 - 8.5 lbs

Temperament: Calm, friendly disposition

Characteristics: Excellent rate of growth in some lines

  • Leghorns - The origins of the Leghorn are not clear; it appears to derive from light breeds originating in rural Tuscany. The name comes from Leghorn, the traditional anglicisation of Livorno, the Tuscan port from which the first birds were exported to North America. The date of the first exports is variously reported as 1828, "about 1830" and 1852. They were initially known as "Italians"; they were first referred to as "Leghorns" in 1865, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

In Italy, where the Livorno breed standard is recent, ten colour varieties are recognised.There is a separate Italian standard for the German Leghorn variety, the Italiana (German: Italiener). The Fédération française des volailles (the French poultry federation) divides the breed into four types: the American white, the English white, the old type (golden-salmon) and the modern type, for which seventeen colour variants are listed for full-size birds, and fourteen for bantams; it also recognises an autosexing variety, the Cream Legbar. Both the American Poultry Association and the American Bantam Association (ABA) recognize a number of Leghorn varieties including white, red, black-tailed red, light brown, dark brown, black, buff, Columbian, buff Columbian, barred, and silver. In Britain, the Leghorn Club recognises eighteen colours: golden duckwing, silver duckwing, partridge, brown, buff, exchequer, Columbian, pyle, white, black, blue, mottled, cuckoo, blue-red, lavender, red, crele and buff Columbian. Most Leghorns have single combs; rose combs are permitted in some countries, but not in Italy. The legs are bright yellow, and the ear-lobes white.

The Italian standard gives a weight range of 2.4–2.7 kg (5.3–6.0 lb) for cocks, 2.0–2.3 kg (4.4–5.1 lb) for hens. According to the British standard, fully grown Leghorn cocks weigh 3.4 kg (7.5 lb), hens 2.5 kg; cockerels weigh 2.7–2.95 kg and pullets 2–2.25 kg; for bantams the maximum weight is 1020 g for cocks and 910 g for hens.

Leghorns are good layers of white eggs, on average 280 per year, sometimes reaching 300 to 320. Egg weight averages 55g.

  • Speckled Sussex- The Sussex chicken is a dual purpose breed of chicken that originated in England around the time of the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43 that is a popular garden chicken in many countries.

The Sussex chicken, whatever color, should be graceful with a long, broad, flat back and a rectangular build, the tail should be at a 45 degree angle from the body. The eyes should be red in the darker varieties but orange in the lighter one and they sport a medium-sized, single, erect comb. The earlobes are red and the legs and skin white in every variety. Cocks should weigh approximately 4.1 kg and hens about 3.2 kg. The Brown and red varieties are rare but the others are more common.

The plumage of the Speckled variety all have a mix of mahogany and black with white tips. Sometimes the amount of white increases as the bird moults each year. This is the most common variety in the US. However, the Light is far more common in the UK.

The Sussex chicken is an alert, docile breed that can adapt to any surroundings. They are comfortable in both free range or confined spaces and in the presence of humans, although they will mate and breed better in larger spaces. The breed frequently goes broody in the warmer months. They are good foragers and are generally vigorous and hardy as a garden fowl.

Primary use: dual-purpose meat/eggs

Egg production (annual): average 250

Egg size: Large

Temperament: Alert, Docile

Recognized variety: Red, Buff Columbian, Brown, Coronation, Buff, Speckled, Silver, Light, White

Egg color: Brown, Cream, Tan

Approximate weight - Cock 4.1 kg, 9 lbs. Hen 3.2 kg, 7 lbs, Cockerel 3.4 kg, 7.5 lbs, Pullet 2.7 kg, 5.9 lbs - Bantam Variety Sussex cock 1.5 kg, 3.3 lbs, Hen 1.1 kg, 2.4 lbs

  • Wyandottes - The Wyandotte is an American breed of chicken developed in the 1870s. It was named for the indigenous Wyandot people of North America. The Wyandotte is a dual-purpose breed, kept for its brown eggs and its yellow-skinned meat. It is a popular show bird, and has many color variants. It was originally known as the American Sebright.

The Wyandotte is a fairly large bird, but compact and rounded. The weight range is variable but typically 5 ½ to 8 ½ pounds for pullets to cock birds respectively. The breast is deep, full and well rounded. The body of a Wyandotte is described as medium length but very wide, carrying that width across the back and into the tail. It is clean-legged and fairly close-feathered, and has a broad skull with a rose comb. The skin and shanks are yellow, and the ear-lobes, face and wattles are red.

In the United States, nine colors are recognized in the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association: black (1893), blue (1977), buff (1893), Columbian (1905), golden laced (1888), partridge (1893), silver laced (1883) and silver pencilled (1902). For bantams, the same nine colors are recognized, with the addition of buff Columbian.

In Europe, the Entente Européenne lists thirty colors. The Poultry Club of Great Britain recognizes barred, black, blue, blue-laced, blue partridge, buff, buff-laced, Columbian, gold-laced, partridge, red, silver-laced, silver-pencilled and white.

Primary use: dual-purpose meat/eggs

Egg production (annual): 200

Egg size: Large

Temperament: Docile

Egg color: Brown, Tan

  • Bantam Cochins - Imported to England from China in the 19th Century. Weight: Cock: 30 oz Hen: 26 oz Cockerel: 26 oz Pullet: 24oz

The Cochin Bantam came from a different place (Peking) in China and was really quite different to their larger counterparts. In the UK was renamed to the Pekin Bantam after much debate over many years. Around the rest of the World, Cochin Bantams are very similar in appearance to the British ‘Pekin Bantams‘.

Bantam Cochins come in blue, black, golden laced, white, silver laced, partridge, buff, and splash. Breeders in Ohio are also currently working on developing other colors for exhibition or for pet purposes. This breed is mentioned to be docile and is also considered to be highly personal and full of character. Cochins are breeders' favorites. They are not just for the show but are also known to be excellent pets and even one of the friendliest breeds of chicken. Originally bred in China, exporters have brought this breed to America and even to Britain and have been loved globally. They lay medium-sized brown eggs and are candidates to be foster moms to other breeds. However, there is a limited time for Cochin hens for laying eggs since they cannot produce egg for an extended time. Whether you're a poultry owner or simply a pet-lover, the Bantam Cochin is advisable to keep since they are very calm, tame and very easy to handle. They take very little space to house as well. The eggs are small & this is not their strong point. They are broody frequently & are very good little mothers.

 

  • Guinea Fowl - (from Guinea Fowl International) These very noisy birds look like a bunch of AWOL army helmets as they run across the yard. They are said to be good for controlling the Lyme Disease-bearing deer tick. I don't know any research on this, but lots of folk believe it and I sure hope it's true. They certainly range well and eat lots of small things. In fact, if you keep bees, you don't really want to keep guineas. They'll stand by the hive and snap up the bees as they come out.

Guineas often lay their eggs out in the fields and hatch their young by themselves. If you do find the eggs and wish to incubate them, the time period is 26 to 28 days and you treat them like chicken eggs. Young guineas are called "keets." Being native to dry areas of Africa, they are very susceptible to dampness during their first two weeks, and can die from following the mother through dewy grass. After two weeks of age, they are probably the hardiest of all domestic land fowl.

Sexing guineas is not easy to do by looking at the birds, although in older adults the helmet and wattles of the males are usually larger. The easiest way to sex them is by voice. Both males and females make a single syllable, machine-gunlike alarm call, but only the females have a two syllable call. It sounds like they're saying "buck-wheat."

When you get new guineas, don't let them out right away or they may well disappear down the street. The best way to acclimate them is to pen them where they can see the area where they'll be living. After they've been penned a week or two, let one out. Guineas hate to be alone, so that one won't go far, but it will learn its way around your place. After a few days, let another out to run with it. If they stay around it's usually safe to let the rest out soon thereafter. I use this same method with Peafowl, letting a new hen out before the male as the hens are more social.

Do not confine male guineas with chickens if there are roosters in the same flock. If the birds have free range during the day it's OK to keep them in the same coop at night, and even for a while if they're confined because of a blizzard or something, but the male guineas will run the roosters ragged and keep them from food and water. I lost my first 2 favorite roosters this way until I learned what was going on. Female guineas do not cause the same problems.

Domestic Guinea Fowl are found in many varieties, including Pearl (the wild type), White, Buff Dundotte, Royal Purple, Porcelain, Slate, Chocolate, Violet or Mulberry, Lavender, Pied, Coral Blue, & others. Here is a link to the color chart: http://guineas.com/colorchart/

The female guinea fowl builds a nest out of twigs and leaves on the ground, often somewhere where it is more sheltered. The female guinea fowl lays between 8 and 15 small eggs which hatch after an incubation period of around a month. The guinea fowl chicks, known as keets, remain with their mother until they are big enough to fend for themselves, however they are not known to be the best mothers.

A domestic guinea hen lays seasonally, just as her wild cousins do. Some time between March and May, when she is 26 to 28 weeks old, an average hen will lay about 100 eggs. She will continue laying that number each year until she is five years old (or even older). Her eggs will be light-brown, sometimes speckled, with shells that are three times tougher than the shells of chicken eggs. Guinea eggs have a sharper point than chicken eggs have, and they're smaller (three guinea eggs roughly equals two chicken eggs).

Hens lay in late morning or early afternoon and prefer to steal a nest in some secluded spot rather than lay in any fine nest you provide. If you confine your hens until they've finished laying for the day, you won't have to hunt for their eggs. But even when confined, most hens shun nests and deposit their eggs on the floor. Egg fertility is rarely a serious problem. If you keep one cock for every four or five hens, you can expect nearly 100 percent fertility (as long as the cocks are three years old or less).

Often I am asked if a guinea will mate with a chicken. Yes, casual mating does occur, but it's infrequent, and the rare cross-bred offspring (which are sometimes described as looking like vultures) are usually sterile. An interesting side note: Guineas that are raised among chickens are tamer than guineas that are not, and they are easier to entice indoors at night.