Often referred to as the “King of All Poultry,” the Brahma chicken is appreciated for its great size, strength, and vigor. By 1901 some individual birds were documented to have reached the incredible weights of 13-14 pounds for hens and 17 to 18.25 pounds for cocks – though 10 pound hens and 12 pounds cocks were the rule.
Brahmas are large chickens with feathers on shanks and toes, pea comb, smooth fitting plumage with dense down in all sections, and broad, wide head with skull projecting over the eyes – termed “beetle brow.”Brahmas are believed to be the largest chicken breed of all. They are also one of the most docile if not the calmest of all breeds. Also known as the Gentle Giant.
From the beginning Brahmas have been recognized not only for their unusual appearance and size, but also for their practical qualities. First and foremost Brahmas are found to be extremely hardy chickens. They are also good egg-layers for their size. Considered a superior winter-layer, they produce the bulk of their eggs from October to May. The eggs of the Brahma are large and uniformly medium brown in color. The hens tend to go broody in early summer and will sit devotedly on their nests
The breed is easy to contain, not being able to fly low fences very easily. They also stand confinement extremely well – having calm and docile personalities.
The Breda never made it into the APA standard. The primary reason it is poorly remembered in North America has to do with a confusion of names.
Although usually considered a Dutch breed, the Breda may be French in origin. The Dutch call the breed Kraaikops, leading some English writers to confuse it with the Kraienkopp (Kraienkoppe for English speakers). The other names are based on the region of Holland where it was most common and where most experts believe it originated.
Prior to the Civil War, the Breda was a fairly common breed in the U.S., where they were usually called Guelderlands or sometimes Guelders. As recently as 1867, Solon Robinson in the poultry section of his book, Wisdom of the Land, mentions them as a common breed. The Guelderlands were to a considerable extent displaced by early Asiatic imports in the U.S. Following the Civil War the great explosion of American produced breeds nearly swept them completely from public notice. They experienced a considerable decline in Europe at the same time, but in the early 1900s began to recover both as a show fowl and in economic importance. This led to additional American imports, but they never obtained a long term following.
Robinson and most other early writers mention them only as a black fowl. Most 20th century imports were Cuckoo, but a limited number of blue and white Bredas were present also. The term Breda probably was not in use in North America until after 1900.
The Breda is a medium bodied fowl, with a well-developed prominent breast, strong thighs, rather long closely feathered legs, vulture hocks, broad slightly sloping back, short well arched neck, long strong head with a stout well curved beak and no comb. A tassel or small tuft of feathers (usually very small) rises from the head at the rear of the flat depressed area where the comb should be. Bredas also have large cavernous nostrils.
The Breda is generally conceded to be a composite breed, but a rather early one. No definite records exist as to how it was produced. That it has some crested ancestry is obvious. It is considered a Dutch breed, but minority opinions argue for a Belgian or French origin. The Malines is often mentioned as a probable ancestor and certainly would account for the feathered legs. That leaves us without a ready explanation for the vulture hocks. Suggestions have been made that Sultans crossed with Malines or Asiatics could have produced them, but this is a fowl that developed long before any Sultans or most Asiatics appeared in Western Europe.
Breda are my favorite type of chicken. With their exotic, almost prehistoric looks and their sweet and intelligent disposition they are a perfect bird for a pet or small flock. After being extinct in the U.S. for nearly a century, new imports of the breed were brought in about 2010. They have been slow to gain popularity because people either love their appearance or hate it. Recently however they have gained popularity and are very difficult to find.
In 1872, even as the enthusiasm for the wonderful, large, feather legged Cochins and Brahmas had crested, a third such chicken breed departed China for England, named “Langshan” The breed, though smaller than the Cochin and Brahma, is a large breed with males weighing 9.5 lbs and females 7.5 lbs. Langshan chickens lay a large number of very dark brown eggs; the eggs sometimes having a purplish tint. The breed has white skin, full breasts, and an abundance of white meat rich in flavor. The white meat of the Langshan is also particularly white in color.
The breed is remarkable for many reasons. It is a tall breed of chicken. While its height comes partially from somewhat long legs, more importantly it comes from the great depth of body that is unique to this breed. The breed is a good forager, a prolific layer, and has fewer feathers on its shanks and toes than either Cochin or Brahma. The shanks and toes are bluish-black with pinkish color between the scales and white soles. The bones of the Langshan are relatively small for its size. It is a very hardy breed with tight feathering and very dark brown eye color. Langshans can fly better than the other large breeds.
To be sure, Langshans are a most valuable general purpose chicken breed. They can be kept on any soil type, are the only Asiatic breed suited to the Southern States. Langshans bear confinement well. They are said not to become broody until April or May, are not too determined sitters, but are most faithful mothers. However I have some very determined girls who have gone broody and are doing a tremendous job. They are hardy, somewhat slower growing, and easily reared. The pullets begin to lay at about 6-7 months of age. The Black Langshan chicken was first recognized as a standard breed by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1883. Blue “sports” occurred occasionally from crosses of the White and the Black Langshans. Blue Langshans were not recognized by the APA until 1987.
My great Grandparents were major importers of the black Langston in the U.S. in the late 1800s. In honor of what they achieved I have decided to raise these rare birds that are now on the watch list. Giving my customers some diverstity I am also raising Blues.
The Orpington is a breed of chicken named after the town of Orpington, Kent, in south-east England. It was bred for superior egg laying while retaining meat quality Its large size and soft appearance together with its rich color and gentle contours give it an attractive appearance, and as such it is grown more often as a show bird rather than a utility breed. Hens often become broody and are good mothers. Although rather heavy, Orpingtons are able to fly small distances but rarely do so.
The original colors are black, white, buff, blue and splash. Although there are many additional varieties recognized throughout the world.
There are two similar but different standards for Orpingtons. We try to keep the larger English type but breed as well toward American standards.
It was said that at one time Orpingtons were capable of laying as many as 340 eggs per year. A decline in production was due to breeders selecting for looks over utility.
In 1874 the Cayuga duck was accepted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection. The breed was raised in large numbers on duck farms in New York until the 1890’s, when the Pekin duck came to dominate the duckling market in the big cities.
The Cayuga is recognized as one of the hardiest of the domestic ducks and are easily tamed if hand-raised. They tolerate harsh winters and can produce many offspring. The Cayuga averages 7-8 lbs. and has the ability to obtain much of its diet from foraging, when given appropriate areas to explore for food. The meat of the Cayuga is reputed to be of excellent taste and fine quality . I personally quit raising all other types of domestic ducks because there is no comparison in the flavor. Even though they are a dark feathered duck I have found them much easier to pluck than other breeds with fewer pin feathers.
Cayuga ducks can lay 100-150 eggs per year that can be used for general eating and baking purposes. Eggs can be initially black in color, to green, to white. The plumage of the Cayuga is uniformly greenish black and may become mottled with white as they age.
Guineas are Nature's best pest control. They eat bugs of all sort and shapes, and are especially effective against ticks and grasshoppers. They will eat mice and other small rodents. They will circle and attack a snake.
They can be beautiful with gorgeous feather patterns and colors. But there's no denying they do have an ugly head. They are tough and have a built in disease resistance. Once they start growing there is very little that will kill them. ( Aside from predators.) A hen will lay around 100 eggs a year. This occurs late spring through summer.
They can be excellent watch dogs and will let you know when someone shows up or if a predator is lurking around. By the same token, they can become really noisy in those same situations.
They will learn where home is if confined there for awhile and will return there at night. Mine tend to sleep in the trees in summer but go sleep in the hen house in winter.
A guinea will never become a tame bird you can hold on your lap but they will adjust to your situation.
Midget White Turkey
The Midget White turkey was created in the early 1960s at the University of Massachusetts. It was developed to meet an anticipated demand for a small version of the broad breasted turkey. Since this market did not develop as predicted, the Midget White never become widely popular.
Soon after the development of the Midget White, the University of Massachusetts had to reduce its poultry holdings. The Midget White turkeys were dispersed. Dr. Bernie Wentworth, who had taken a position on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, found some of these turkeys, with University of Massachusetts’ wing bands in the flock of a backyard fancier. These birds were added to the University of Wisconsin’s poultry program, which continued to refine and then fix the standard for the Midget White variety we know today. Dr. Wentworth is largely credited in preventing the breed’s extinction. As Dr. Wentworth prepared to retire in the late 1990’s, the university decided to disperse the flock. Some were passed to poultry hobbyists, but the majority of the flock was sent to the USDA poultry facility in Beltsville, Maryland. The flock was dispersed in April of 2005 and the remaining birds were distributed to poultry enthusiasts located in the eastern US. The survival of this breed now lies completely in the hands of private individuals. It is important to note that the Midget White turkey does not have any genetic relationship to the Beltsville White and that the two breeds are distinct and should be managed separately.
I was lucky enough to obtain stock from these original lines. The Midget White, with its broad breast, has the appearance of a miniature of the commercial Broad Breasted White turkey. This quality provides the variety with good meat production and makes the Midget White a fine table fowl. Midget White toms average 13 lbs., hens average 8 lbs. In Wisconsin, the birds were selected for higher egg production, fertility, and hatchability. The hens laid an average of 60-80 large eggs per year, weighing only three to five grams less than those of the broad breasted white turkey.
These diminutive turkeys are unusually friendly and will approach people and pets without much concern.
The mandarin, is widely regarded as the world's most beautiful duck and is a native of China. The drake's stunning plumage has made it an artist's favorite that is widely depicted in oriental art. In nature, Mandarins favor small wooded ponds and avoid lakes or large bodies of open water. They are extremely maneuverable fliers, able to fly through trees with remarkable agility. Mandarin males chose a duck for the breeding season. There is some discrepancy as to whether a male will breed with a second female. I have never seen a male breed with any other than his chosen duck. The drake mandarin's display is highly ritualized, and includes raising the crest and the orange sails, and ritualized drinking and preening behind the sail. The so-called sail is an elongated tertial feather.
The duck chooses a hole or cavity in a tree trunk in which to lay her eggs, but will accept appropriate next boxes. After hatching, the ducklings jump to the ground. Then, once the mother has gathered her brood, she leads them straight to water.
In summer after the mating season, the plumage the drake moults and looks almost identical to the duck, only his bright pink beak indicating his sex.
China historically exported hundreds of thousands of mandarins, but the export trade was banned in 1975.The mandarin is a member of the genus, which has only one other member, the North American wood duck. Though the drakes are very different, the plumage of the females is very similar. Despite the closeness of the relationship with the wood duck, no hybrids have ever been recorded. This is because the mandarin has a chromosome aberrance that makes it impossible for it to produce hybrids with other ducks.Female mandarins don't quack, but they do make a series of clucking calls that are uttered when they see danger
The term for these birds is “peafowl.” The males are “peacocks” and the females are “peahens.” The babies are called “peachicks.”
Peacocks are not noisy birds as many believe. They only make their loud calls during mating season and when a predator is nearby.
With its massive tail and iridescent colors, this bird has long fascinated human observers. When a peacock fans its ornamented train for the ladies during mating season, its feathers quiver, emitting a low-frequency sound inaudible to human ears. Depending on whether they want to attract females from far away or up close, they can change the sound by shaking different parts of their feathers. When peacocks mate with peahens, they give out a loud “copulatory call.” The birds can “fake” this call to attract more females. By pretending they are mating when they are not, the birds can convince females they are more sexually active—and therefore genetically fitter—than their rivals.”
The male peachicks don’t start growing their showy trains until about age three. It’s difficult to tell the sex of a peachick because they’re nearly identical to their mothers. At around six months, the males will begin to change color.
Because of the courtship dance, male peacocks usually cannot breed until their third year. Females usually lay some eggs in their second year.
Due to specialized breeding peafowl produce all white feathers. This is called leucism, and it’s due to a genetic mutation that causes loss of pigmentation. These peafowl are often mistaken for being albino, but instead of having red eyes, animals with leucism retain their normal eye color.
There are other color mutations and breeding crosses being created or discovered in these gorgeous birds. The newest mutation is the Opal Peacock. I believe I will have my first offspring from this group this year.
I also have India Blue, White, Black Shoulder, Pied IB and BS, Purple pied white or silver.
The Sebastopol goose originated in southeastern Europe near the Black Sea. They were named after Sebastopol, a Russian city from which they were imported to the United States. The breed was recognized by The American Poultry Association in 1938.
The Sebastopol is readily identified by its feathers. Long, soft-quilled, curling feathers drape elegantly from its wings, body and tail. This modification in plumage is an example of breeding for a specific trait. The white variety of the Sebastopol is best known. Both males and females have pure white feathers that contrast with their bright blue eyes and orange bills and feet. We have available a number of different colors: White , Gray, Blue, Splash, Buff, and Saddle Back.
Sebastopols are medium-sized geese, weighing 12 - 14 pounds when mature. They have large, rounded heads, prominent eyes, slightly arched necks, and keelless breasts. The plumage of the head and upper two-thirds of the neck is normal, while that of the breast and underbody is elongated and well-curled. The soft, fluffy feathers of the back, wings and tail have flexible shafts, are attractively spiraled, and in good specimens are so long that they nearly touch the ground. The curled feathers prevent flight making them easier to confine. Sebastopols produce 25-35 eggs annually. They have a quiet and pleasant disposition. They breed only in the spring for a short period.
Great care must be taken to insure that vigor and fertility of breeding stock is not overlooked. Robust health and adequate size should be the foremost selection attributes. Secondarily, select for birds with well-curled breast feathers, flexible flight feathers, and back and tail plumes that are long, broad and spiraled. Avoid selecting breeding stock with crooked toes and slipped wings.
While Sebastopols are hardy and are being raised successfully in cold climates, it is a good idea to provide more protection during wet, cold, and windy weather than normally afforded other breeds, as their loose fitting feathers do not provide as much warmth, nor do they shed water as well.
Sabastopols tend to tear out feathers while breeding or by getting them bogged down in mud and ice. But in fall produce an entirely new set of beautiful feathers.
La Bresse were purposed into this country as a outstanding meat chicken. But I have found that their greatest attribute is the number of eggs they lay. They are outstanding layers who seem to lay in spite of weather and season. The following information on the breed is taken from the GreenfireFarms website.
*Bresse chickens have a long and colorful history. They are reputed to be the best-tasting chickens in the world. In order for a chicken to taste like a Bresse chicken however, it must be an authentic Bresse chicken that can directly trace its genetic lineage to the flocks of eastern France. Bresse belong to a genetically distinct chicken breed that metabolize feed in a certain way, distribute certain types of muscle across their frames in a certain pattern and at certain rates, and produce meat with a unique and distinct flavor. Bresse are known to have unusually light bones and thin skin. These many physical differences flow from the singular genetics of Bresse. More than a half-millennium of breed selection has produced a Bresse that cannot be replicated by simply crossing other unrelated breeds of chickens.
About 500 years ago, Bresse (rhymes with “bless”) emerged as a distinct chicken breed in the former province of Bresse in eastern France. Somewhere between the Rhone River and the French Alps sits a 60-mile by 25-mile swath of fields and woodlands. Here the breed was formed from a now-forgotten mix of local fowl. Through a combination of luck and selective breeding, small flocks of poulet de Bresse that dotted the French countryside soon earned the reputation of having a unique and exquisite flavor.
There are four varieties of Bresse: white, black, blue, and gray. The white variety is the best known and mirrors the red, white, and blue pattern of the French national flag with its large red comb, bright white feathers, and steel-blue legs. (As newly hatched chicks their legs are yellow.)
As early as 1825, the prototypical epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin described Bresse as “the queen of chickens, and the chicken of kings.” Bresse have been said to possess “the tastiest, the firmest and most succulent flesh of any chicken anywhere.” And so, because of its legendary meat quality, Bresse command a huge premium compared to conventional commercial poultry and are the basis of a thriving agricultural industry in France. There is a single center in France that is in charge of producing the finest Bresse breeding stock. These breeders are distributed to three hatcheries that use them to produce more than 1.5 million Bresse chicks each year. The Bresse chicks are sold to about 400 small farmers. The birds are raised according to the exacting Bresse production protocol and processed by a small number of butchering facilities.
The French argue that for a Bresse to be called a Bresse it must have been raised in France. (For this reason at Greenfire Farms we make a clear distinction from French-hatched birds by referring to our chickens as American Bresse.) Americans can, however, approximate the traditional methods of raising Bresse in this country by providing them access to pasture and finishing them on organic grains and dairy products. Greenfire Farms has imported white Bresse a few times and most recently in 2017. We keep the imports in separate flocks, but the chicks you receive will be a mix from the flocks in order to maximize the genetic diversity of your birds. We do not band the chicks to distinguish the flock of origin.
The Yamato Gunkei is usually considered to be, and shown as, a bantam Shamo breed (a totally different breed from the Ko Shamo). The most important attribute of this breed is "exaggeration." When adult it has a massive frame, strong chunky legs and feet, and a large head with pendulous dewlap and very wrinkled skin, which gets more wrinkled and grotesque with age. Colour of plumage is not important, but it must be hard and sparse with bare red skin showing at throat, point of wing, down the keel and around the vent. The wings are held away from the body at the shoulders, and the shoulder coverts should show clearly on the back, giving the characteristic "five hills" as seen from the back: wing / shoulder coverts / back / shoulder coverts / wing. The "prawn" tail is short and should point down and inwards between the legs. The females are not usually as exaggerated as the males, but in both sexes the aim is for as much exaggeration as possible within the weight limits. Very rarely seen the breed is in very few hands. It seems that birds or eggs are difficult to obtain, even from Japan where, although they have specialist shows for small Shamo breeds, stock is jealously guarded.
La Flèche are thought to be close relatives of the Houdan and Crèvecœur. They were a relatively popular breed in France and Germany through the 20th Century. They are instantly recognizable with their two distinct ‘spikes’ for a comb. In more recent times, La Flèche has been re-introduced from France and Germany. La Flèche chickens entered the American Standard of Perfection in 1874. During the 60s and 70's they had become nearly extinct. They are now on the critically endangered list.
There are various accounts which indicate the birds here are Pekins crossed with other breeds to make bantam cochins. Other accounts suggest they are Pekins and there is no difference. You will get as many different answers as you can spend hours researching them. So, these adorable little birds remain a mystery. They do tend to be fairly poor layers. To complicate matters they also tend to be broody most of the time which further reduces the eggs they produce. My bantam cochins are currently kept in a mixed color group. I originally purchased them to use for peafowl egg hatching. I will however offer a few chicks for sale. No color choice and they are currently not being bred for show qualities.
East Indies Duck
East Indies Ducks are pure black bantam ducks and only weighing as little as 1 pound to as much as 5 pounds depending on the strain. My line is larger but in time I hope to breed down in size . They look like a smaller Black Cayugas, although they have a much more intense shine and green sheen. Bills, feet, and Legs are black.
East Indies Ducks are the second most popular bantam duck at poultry shows, (Call Ducks being the first). East Indies Ducks only come in black but they are quieter by far than Call Ducks and are friendly and easy ducks to keep.
They are raised for decoration, as pets, and for showing. East Indies Ducks are also often chosen for pest control purposes. They are excellent hunters and foragers of bugs including mosquitoes and spiders. They don't require as much room and space as larger ducks.
The stunning look of the green sheen is more beautiful than can be described. Males and females are both pure black with the green being particularly strong on the heads of the males. Male East Indies Ducks have a slightly fuller and more masculine head. Females develop white spots as they age but this is a factor that can't be bred out.
The first eggs of the laying season can be almost black with the color fading to very light gray by the end of the laying season. These gray eggs make a real statement of diversity in a dozen eggs! They only lay a couple clutches a year normally though, so mostly raised as ornamental birds or as pets.
East Indies Ducks are a bit shyer than Call Ducks but gentle and sociable. They do fly very well. My breeders have been pinioned so they can free range and include bugs in their diet.
E.I. Ducks were created and developed in the beginning of the nineteenth century in the U.S. Then, the breed made its way over to England. In England it was improved during the later part of the 1800's. The Black East Indie Duck breed was finally perfected in the later half of the twentieth century in the U.S. One might be tempted to assume that these ducks were descended from the wild American Black Duck or Cayuga Duck. Evidence suggests that the original East Indies Ducks descended from a Mallard mutation.