Guest blog Hans Krudde: One chicken is not the other! Chicken breeds
We know chickens with leg feathers, with tufts, with all kinds of comb forms, with very short legs or on the contrary with enormous stilts, with various feather structures and what about all the different colors and drawings….? Yet all these creations of chickens descend from that one primal chicken; the Bankiva Fowl.
The chicken migrates into the wide world.
These Bankiva fowls were domesticated about 6,000 years ago in Pakistan and India. Through wars, crusades and trade journeys, these domesticated chickens gradually spread throughout the world. At first they were gifts to nobles and other dignitaries but gradually chickens became available to ordinary people.
Useful or merely beautiful?
Through selection and crossbreeding, more and more variety emerged and breeds were created. In addition, the chickens adapted to the climate of the region and/or to the wishes of the people of such a region. Sometimes this was mainly about external features that people found beautiful; the creation of ornamental breeds. In other cases it was mainly about utility properties such as egg production and muscling (meat). These utility breeds became popular after the agricultural crisis at the end of the 19th century when many European farmers switched to poultry. Between 1850 and 1925, most of the ornamental and utility breeds we know today were created. The utility breeds can be divided into laying breeds, meat breeds and the combination of both; the dual-purpose breeds. The ornamental breeds can be divided into the large bantam breeds and the dwarf bantams. We know bantam breeds that only occur in the dwarf form, such as the Dutch Sablefoot bantam and bantam breeds that, by selection, have been bred from large bantams, such as the Barnevelder bantam. At exhibitions and shows the breeds are usually divided by country of origin.
Dutch breeds are usually named after the region or place where they were developed. In the case of the Barnevelder, Welsummer and Noord Hollands Hoen, these were initially utility breeds, but in the meantime these breeds have been largely overtaken in terms of productivity by commercial crosses, and are now included among the ornamental breeds. In addition to the breeds native to the Netherlands, some 150 foreign breeds, bantam and large, are recognized in our country. And if we then consider that of each breed there are on average 7 different color varieties (of one breed only one color variety but of another breed more than thirty) then there are thus more than 1000 possibilities……..!
The choice is vast, but choose a breed that suits you! More on that in a future cluck.
Note: The Silkie in the picture is hairy, 5-toed, has blue skin and blue flesh, a crest and leg feathering.