The Dutch Owlbeard (or Uilebaard) is a remarkable old country fowl breed from the Netherlands dating back to the early seventeenth century. During this time it was depicted in many old paintings by the Dutch Masters
They have a very distinct look with no wattles but a beard and muffs, which cover the “chin and cheeks.” They also have a very striking horned V-shaped comb. It is a large, ornamental breed with a proud and upright stance which comes in a wide variety of colours from solid whites and blacks to cuckoo’s and spangles, culminating in the ‘moor’s head’ variety where the bird carries a solid black ‘beard’ in contrast to its body colouring. The chicks have a remarkable appearance too hatching with what appears to be a snood of fluff already around the face which will moult out into a full feathered beard as the chick develops.
It is a healthy and hardy breed, which is an excellent forager when kept free range. You can expect the hens to produce around 200 white eggs per year and they are known for their winter laying qualities, whilst the male birds will reach a good sized table weight given the right conditions. They have a calm temperament and if handled correctly by the keeper they will become trusting and feed from the hand. There is also a bantam version of the breed.
It is sad to say though that despite all their delightful qualities, they are a very rare sight these days and without the dedication of a handful of breeders they could very easily become extinct, something which has almost happened to the breed already once in its lifetime…