Heritage Livestock: Chickens

I’ve decided to do a string of blog posts regarding heritage breed livestock via The Livestock Conservancy (TLC). Each post will cover a specific “genus,” further broken down into breeds, primarily those who are listed as “threatened” or “critical” by TLC.

This post is going to cover livestock that I am quite familiar with, and still finding myself learning new things. Chickens! I love my chickens dearly, and while I had never considered heritage breeds when I first got into chickens, I definitely think I will be adding some heritage breeds for both meat and eggs once I decide to further expand my flock.

Currently, TLC lists 11 breeds of chickens as critical, 11 as threatened, and an additional 21 listed under “watch” status.

I’m going to cover the first 11 critical breeds in this post with pictures and some facts and information.

  • Campine – lays medium to large white eggs, vigorous forager, originated in Belgium, brought to US in 1893
  • Crèvecoeur – dual purpose eggs & meat, medium to large white eggs, originated in France, developed for the quality of its flesh
  • Holland – dual purpose, lays large white eggs, American breed, calm, cold hardy, good foragers
  • La Fleche – name means “the arrow” in French, dual purpose with medium to large white eggs, large breasts for the size of the bird, known for thin skin and delicate flesh
  • Malay – meat breed, heat tolerant, tallest of all chicken breeds, “gigantic Asiatic fowl”
  • Modern Game – an “ornamental” breed, neither beneficial for meat nor eggs but pretty to look at, do not tolerate cold weather, need plenty of exercise and room to roam, Asiatic bird
  • Nankin – one of oldest known bantam breeds, used for eggs and because the hens go broody frequently, unknown origin first appearing in England, listed as “exceptionally good setters”
  • Redcap – egg laying breed with medium to large white eggs, English in origin, they are great egg layers in warmer climates, have a large rose comb, only one color variety
  • Spanish – bred to lay large chalky white eggs, active, noisy, curious, good layers, Mediterranean breed, “aristocratic” looking bird, meat considered a delicacy, has a unique white face
  • Sultan – aka Serai Taook, originated in Turkey, ornamental breed, good forager and for garden pest control as it does little to no damage to plants and grasses, lays small eggs
  • Yokohama – German in origin with Japanese descent, ornamental, brilliant to look at, lays small tinted brown eggs, tail feathers of roosters can grow 3′ per year

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