R is for Rare Breeds of Chickens

RRare Breeds, of chickens, or any other animal, are those variations that are no longer popular with the agricultural industry, which by definition are not as ‘productive’ as the specially bred varieties that populate most ‘factory farms’.  I don’t even know what breeds of chicken are used for ‘our chicken dinners’ or the caged egg birds.  I suppose I could look them up?

illustration from an old book "Poultry of the World"

illustration from an old book “Poultry of the World”

Well I just spend quite a lot of time trying to find out, and the best I can come up with is this!

A commercial chicken house in Florida, with open sides raising broiler pullets for meat

A commercial chicken house in Florida, with open sides raising broiler pullets for meat

Since their domestication, a large number of breeds of chickens have been established, but with the exception of the white Leghorn, most commercial birds are of hybrid origin.[10] In about 1800, chickens began to be kept on a larger scale, and modern high-output poultry farms were present in the United Kingdom from around 1920 and became established in the United States soon after the Second World War. By the mid-20th century, the poultry meat-producing industry was of greater importance than the egg-laying industry.

Battery hens in Brazil

Battery hens in Brazil

Poultry breeding has produced breeds and strains to fulfil different needs; light-framed, egg-laying birds that can produce 300 eggs a year; fast-growing, fleshy birds destined for consumption at a young age, and utility birds which produce both an acceptable number of eggs and a well-fleshed carcase. 

Both of the illustrations show well kept facilities, and yet, how can you compare the welfare of those chickens with these?

chicken in grass pasture

an idyllic photo I found on the web!

Well I intended to give you some information on Rare Breeds today, but I seem to have got distracted!  I will continue on this subject tomorrow – in the meantime, if you want to see a list of Rare Breeds, with photos, you can’t go far wrong if you look at this page on the website of the Poultry Club of Great Britain.

 

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