Region of origin: France
Profile: The combination of the deep red horned comb, strong beak, cavernous nostrils and beetle black plumage coupled with the solid stature of this breed means it well suited to it nick name of “Satan’s Fowl”. It is quite a large chicken which makes a good layer but grows quickly making an excellent table bird well-known in its country of origin.
Behaviour and upkeep: These birds benefit from being able to free range as they are excellent foragers and will cover large distances in search of food. This makes them a very economical breed ideally suited to their dual purpose function. They are also capable of flying quite high despite their size so do need high fences or roofed areas if they are not to be found roosting in trees. Wary by nature they do not tame easily though they are not an aggressive breed.
Eyes: Black/Red, Comb: Double spike, Feet & legs: Clean, dark slate or black
Cock: Large Fowl 8-9lb (3.6 –4.1 kg) Bantam 36oz (1020g)
Hen: Large Fowl 6-7lb (2.7-3.2 kg) Bantam 28oz (800g)
Egg production: Medium to high
Egg Colour: White
Classification: Heavy; Rare
I think I’ve just about fit them all in there…. anyone want to check if a breed is missing?? 😉
I write, in fact looking back over the decade of magazine, newspaper and book contributions I seem to write quite a bit. I’m not sure quite how many words I’ve written but each piece always seems to be a relatively short or succinct journey. Even the book I was involved with last year was broken down into sections that at times it felt like I was penning a series for a magazine as opposed to writing a substantial chapter of a book.
Then there was the mini guide I did for Your Chickens, again it was a segmented delivery that could well have been run in a periodical publication. That’s the beauty I guess of feature writer or columnist versus that of being an author. In fact it’s not until you sit down with an idea, the idea you just pitched successfully to a publisher, that you realise the difference.
Why this little blogette? Well today I have sat in front of me the 40,000 word final draft manuscript of a book, this time though I’m the sole author and despite the invention of computers and word processing, I still feel a little like Samuel Johnson with the first ever Dictionary, wondering if I’ve covered all that I wanted to cover….
A couple of blogs ago I mentioned I’d been out a few of the Royal agriculture shows working with The Rare Breeds Survival Trust promoting the UKs rare breed poultry as a part of their 40th Aniversary celebrations. Even with all the recent food scares and the general greater awareness of the public with regard to food production I hadn’t anticipated the level of interest there would be with huge numbers of people wanting to learn more in order for them to be able to ‘do their bit’ for poultry too.
Most folks don’t have the space to keep a few sheep, goats or other larger livestock so feel they are a little inhibited when it comes to hands on breed conservation, but when they started to learn about the UKs endangered poultry and in particular chickens, people started to realise that they are far more accessible and with the right knowledge it would enable many more people to play a direct role in conservation.
It was a brief appearance on BBC Countryfile and has already led to a number of questions on where to source stock and how to help the work of the RBST, but lets hope it, and the wider the campaign, raises awareness of the dozens of poultry breeds in need of help as their preservation for the future is as vital as any of the traditional farm livestock.
For a full list of the poultry breeds at risk then click here.
If you subscribe to this blog, follow me on twitter or have bumped into me when I’m out and about then you might know I write for the poultry press & magazines. It was one of the magazines, namely Your Chickens, that approached me recently about working with them to put together a mini pocket guide on keeping chickens. I’m pleased to say the final product is now available… and best of all it’s completely free!
Simply click on this link and you will be taken to the full online version where you can flick through the booklet at your leisure.
Hard copies are available however you’ll need to visit the Your Chickens stand at this years Pet Show at Stoneleigh to grab your copy 😉
I’ve been having a right Royal time of it recently and have been lucky enough to attend three of this years Royal Agricultural Shows.
NFU Countryside magazine invited me and a few of my chickens along to join them at the Royal Bath & West show at the very beginning of the month after we’d had such a successful Edible Garden Show working together and the event was excellent fun.
Next they teamed up with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and I was invited along (again with chickens) to the newly appointed “Royal”, the Royal Three Counties. Another fantastic event and it was brilliant to be surrounded by a number of Britains rarest breeds of livestock. It was also an honour to be involved with such an important agricultural & conservation charity, founded by Joe Henson and now heavily involving his son Adam (probably better known for being a presenter on BBC Countryfile), as it began celebrating its 40th Aniversary
It was a particular honour too to have the opportunity to spend a few minutes talking to the Countess Of Darnley JP who was this years Show President. Her interest in understanding the importance of utility breeds and the value they have to the small scale keeper provided us both with plenty to talk about, in particular the value of the Sussex and Ixworth.
Next up came the Royal Norfolk. Now it’s quite a drive from North Shropshire to Norwich but after being invited once again to join the RBST on their stand (along with the NFU Countryside crew) and being told that this particular time the stand would have 40 examples of rare livestock breeds of cattle, horse, goat, sheep, pigs and poultry currently under threat, the distance was no obstacle at all!
It was not only a fantastic opportunity to see such an excellent collection of beasts (all kindly donated for the duration of the show by RBST members around the country) but also a superb chance to be part of the celebration of some the best things about our heritage livestock breeds (and natter on about chickens to anyone wanting to listen).
The RBST Facebook page has a ruck of photos on it if you want to have a closer look
Finally to cap off what has been a fantastic month talking about & promoting British rare breed poultry for me, along came BBC Countryfile who shoved a camera in my face (actually they politely asked) giving me the chance to put them squarely in your living room…. so look out, one Sunday evening you might end up getting close up & personal with an Ixworth pullet!