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45 Heritage Chicken Breeds

Interesting facts about the origins, habits and quirks of a variety of chicken breeds.
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Appenzeller Chickens

The Appenzeller originated more than 400 years ago in the Appenzell region of Switzerland. The breed came close to extinction during World War II, but the dedication of German breeders in the 1950s ensured its survival. A good, hardy but flighty breed, Appenzellers do not do well in confinement and can fend for themselves if they have a good foraging area. Appenzellers are excellent tree climbers and fliers that will happily roost in trees. The breed is common in Europe, but fairly rare in the U.S.

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Pekin Chicken

The Pekin is a true bantam breed and one of the birds featured in Jack Byard's Know Your Chickens. They are small, gentle birds that require little space. One version of its history says they were liberated from the Chinese Emperor Xianfeng around 1860. Another story is that a number of Pekins were given to England’s Queen Victoria in the mid 1800s. Crosses with other breeds have resulted in today’s Pekins. Pekins are broody and only produce about 90 creamy-white colored small eggs a year.

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Faverolles Chicken

The Faverolles are native to Faverolles in Northern France. They were developed by crossing the Houdan, the Cochin and the Dorking. Their ancestry can be traced by their five toes. There are three different types of Faverolles, the original French, the German and the British. They were first imported into the USA in 1901-02 and were met with much enthusiasm, although only the salmon (shown) and white varieties are popular. This genteel bird is ideal for children and has been described as the peacock or French poodle of the chicken world. Faverolles are now found on most continents.

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Andalusian Chicken

Andalusians are native to Spain’s Andalusia region. The breed was further developed in the USA and the British Isles. In 1846, black and white Andalusia-imported birds were crossed, resulting in today’s rare Blue Andalusian, the first original blue fowl. Andalusians can be black, white, splash (mottled) or blue, the only color recognized by the American Poultry Association. This breed is small and active and the Andalusians are extremely fast runners. They tend to be noisy, rarely go broody, and lay about 160 creamy white eggs a year.

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