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Greenmeadow Poultry

Breeds

I try to breed my large-fowl for utility, selecting the Barnevelders and Faverolles from the most prolific hens that lay early and late in the season and from the cockerels which grow fastest. Traditional utility breeds will not lay as much as a purpose-bred laying hybrid in it's first year. But hybrids are often 'spent' by the time they are two years old (which is why 'ex-battery' hens are dumped when they start to moult after twelve months). A traditional utility hen will live longer and be productive over a longer time period.

Barnevelders

Barnevelder hens Barnevelders originated in the Netherlands near the town of Barneveld, at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. They were first brought to Britain in the early 1920s and were bred as a good utility bird until after World War Two. Since the 1950s, like all pure breeds, they have largely been replaced by hybrids for utility purposes and are often better lookers than they are 'do-ers'. Despite that, if you can get a utility strain, I would recommend them as the ideal smallholder's bird, or for someone starting with chickens for eggs and meat who does not want to go the hybrid route.

Purebred double-laced Barnevelders from a good strain will produce around 200 eggs each hen per year and the cockerels make a good killing weight of about 7lb after about six months. Their plumage is a rich brown with the characteristic 'lacing' in black around the outside of each feather. The cockerels and pullets have bright yellow legs, as do the hens at the start of the laying season, although they pale as the season goes on. Barnevelder eggs are dark brown, again very dark at the beginning of the season and paling slightly towards the end.

They are a good-tempered, inquisitive, friendly breed suitable as garden hens as well as a free-range flock.

Salmon Faverolles

Salmon Faverolles Hens Salmon Faverolles lay light coloured eggs ranging in shade from white to tinted. They are good winter layers and the cockerels fatten well. They are very gentle and get very tame. It is possible to sex them by colour from a couple of weeks old - the cockerels are much darker than the hens, which should be pale 'salmon' colour - hence the name.

The Faverolles was originally bred in central France during the 1860's by crossing heavier breeds such as the Croad Langsham and Brahma with the local Houdan layers. There was also Dorking bred in to the mix, which is where their characteristic five toes comes from. The different Faverolles breeds were standardised in France in the 1890s and came to the UK a few years after that.

Both hens and cockerels have feathered feet and beards and they also have feather bonnets around their faces - which often led people to described them as having 'the head of an owl'. The feathers around their head can make them susceptible to panic attacks when their view of the rest of their flock gets obscured.

Combined with their utility and their friendliness, what's not to like?

Bantams

Mr Pekin For people with limited space, bantams are an ideal solution. Bantams are much more seasonal layers than large fowl and really only lay between March and October at best. However they do produce well during those months and make very pretty pets. They are also small enough for young children to handle easily.

Pekin Bantams are the largest of the bantams I keep. They are very fat and fluffy, with feathered legs and almost look like a walking tea-pot, plus tea-cosy. They lay small tinted eggs and they are very friendly, even compared with the other bantam breeds. I keep Millefleurs, which are speckled ginger and white, with a little black in them.

Barbu d'Anvers are tiny little bantams about the size of a pigeon that lay little white eggs. They get extremely tame and need protecting from buzzards. Mine are 'quail' coloured, which are black and gold.

Pretty Eggs

Cheryl Arvidson,
West Bagborough
Nr Taunton
Somerset
TA4 3EQ

email: info@thegreenmeadow.co.uk
telephone: 0797 0594 226

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All the information and photos on this website © Cheryl Arvidson 2010.