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History of Breeds

History of Breeds

University of Illinois Extension Incubation and Embryology

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Class I - American

Plymouth Rocks

The Plymouth Rock was first exhibited at America's first poultry show, in 1829 in Boston. It is believed that these original fowls lost their identity and that the progenitors of our present Barred Plymouth Rocks were first exhibited in 1869 at Worcester, Massachusetts. These were composites of several blood lines. The first and most prominent cross was that of a Dominique male with Black Cochin or Black Java females, which was originally made at Putnam, Connecticut. The Dominique male used was not the American or Rose-Comb Dominique, but rather a single-combed, hawk-colored fowl commonly found in that locality. This Plymouth Rock was recognized as a distinct breed and was admitted to the first American Standard of Excellence, in 1874.

Whether the Plymouth Rock originated from a Dominique-Black Cochin or from a Dominique-Black Java cross is a debatable question. Both have been used synonymously in show classifications.

White Plymouth Rocks were white sports of the Barred variety, other strains trace their ancestry to other white fowls.

Buff Plymouth Rocks originated in Rhode Island, not far from Fall River, Massachusetts, and were first exhibited as Golden Buffs. Buff Cochin blood was introduced in some strains in New York State.

Silver Penciled Plymouth Rocks originated in the state of New York. Dark Brahma and Silver Penciled Wyandotte blood were used to produce this variety.

Partridge Plymouth Rocks are a result of Partridge Cochin, Dark Cornish, Single-comb Golden Wyandotte males, Brown Leghorns, Golden Laced Wyandottes and Barred Plymouth Rocks being amalgamated to form the new variety.

Columbian Plymouth Rocks originated in Ohio as the result of crosses between Light Brahmas, Barred Plymouth Rocks, White Plymouth Rocks and Columbian Wyandottes.

The Plymouth Rock is a dual purpose fowl for the production of eggs and meat. The color of the skin is yellow, the egg shell is brown. There may be considerable difference in the shades or tints of shell which vary from a very light to a dark brown, depending on the strain and the stage of production.


There is no reliable data on the origin of the American Dominiques. It is probably a selection from the many hawk colored or gray fowls kept in the New England States. The type of the breed indicates composite blood lines, possibly of the Asiatic and Hamburg breeds.

The Dominiques is a dual purpose, medium weight fowl, for the production of meat and eggs. The skin is yellow and the egg shell is brown.


The Silver Laced Wyandotte is the parent variety of the Wyandotte family. It originated in New York State. It was first known as "American Sebright" and "Sebright Cochin." The true origin is shrouded in mystery. The Dark Brahma and Spangled Hamburgs were used by the originator of the "American Sebright" was evidenced by the cropping out of the Hamburg comb and Dark Brahma color markings in some of the earlier Eastern strains.

Golden Laced Wyandottes originated in Wisconsin. They were produced by mating Silver Laced Wyandotte females with a cross-bred Partridge Cochin-Brown Leghorn cockerel.

The color pattern of the Sebright Bantam has been more or less of an ideal for breeders of Silver and Golden Laced Wyandottes. It is one that should conform to the larger size of the fowl by having more sharply defined and wider black lacing to harmonize with the broader oval center of the feather.

White Wyandottes originated from sports of the Silver Laced variety in New York State. The texture of feather is important in Wyandottes, especially in the White variety, where broad feathers and smooth fitting plumage are necessary to preserve the characteristic curvilinear breed type of the true Wyandotte.

Buff Wyandottes are light colored Rhode Island Reds, but though lacking in type and off in color, they laid the foundation of a Buff Wyandotte for breed, type and color. Golden and White Wyandotte crosses and Buff Cochin-White and Golden Wyandotte crosses dominated in other strains.

Black Wyandottes originated from black sports of the Silver Laced variety.

Partridge Wyandottes originated in the East and West. The Partridge Cochin furnished the color patterns for both the Eastern and Western strains, but the varieties with which the Cochin were crossed were somewhat different. The Eastern strain was the result of a Partridge Cochin-Golden Wyandotte cross; the Western strain was produced from Partridge Cochin-Cornish-Golden Wyandotte crosses.

Silver Penciled Wyandottes were produced by blending two strains; one a Partridge Wyandotte-Dark Brahma cross, the other, a cross of Silver Laced Wyandottes and Silver Penciled Hamburgs cross.

Columbian Wyandottes were named for the 1893 Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. This variety was produced by crossing a White Wyandotte and a Barred Plymouth Rock.

Wyandottes are of medium weight, dual purpose fowl for the production of meat and eggs. The skin is yellow and the eggs shells vary in color from very light to a rich brown, depending on individual, strain, and the stage of production.


Javas are one of the earliest breeds known in the United States. It is not an American-made breed, but came from the Isle of Java in the East Indies in 1835.

Javas are a general purpose fowl for the production of meat and eggs. The skin is yellow and the egg shells are brown.

Rhode Island Reds

The origin of the Rhode Island Red dates to a fowl bred in the section of New England that is located between Narragansett Bay and Buzzard's Bay. The name Rhode Island Red was given the breed in honor of the state where it originated from crossing the Red Malay Game, Leghorn and Asiatic native stock.

The earlier Rhode Island Reds sported both single and rose combs, some even having pea combs, due to their mixed ancestry and because they were being bred primarily for market purposes. This is an important dual purpose breed, capable of excellent egg production.

Rhode Island Whites originated in Rhode Island from which they took their name. They are a result of crosses of Partridge Cochins, White Wyandottes and Rose-Comb White Leghorns. The distinct shape characteristic of both Rhode Island Reds and Rhode Island Whites is the horizontal, oblong body.

Rhode Island Reds and Whites are general purpose fowls, bred for the production of meat and eggs. The skin color is yellow and the eggs shells are brown to dark brown.


An American breed originating in Ohio with the color similar to the richly colored buckeye nut. Their blood lines include the Dark Cornish, Black Breasted Red Game, Buff Cochin and Barred Plymouth Rock. In body shape, as well as comb, they resemble the early Cornish of the 1905 period with stout muscular thighs, broad and well rounded breast carried well up but without the extra breadth of shoulder of the Cornish. An active dual purpose breed.


The Chantecler is the first breed of Canadian creation. It originated in the Province of Quebec. It is the result of efforts to obtain a fowl of vigorous and rustic temperament that could resist the climatic condition of Canada, a "general purpose fowl," a good winter layer, and especially with comb and wattles reduced to a minimum.

In the production of this breed two crosses were made in 1908, a Dark Cornish male mated to a White Leghorn female and a Rhode Island Red male mated to a White Wyandotte female. The following season, the pullets from the first Class, the Dark Cornish male and the White Leghorn female, were mated with a cockerel from the Rhode Island Red and White Wyandotte cross. Selected pullets from this last mating were then mated with a White Plymouth Rock male and the subsequent matings produced the typical fowl sought for as it is today.

The Partridge variety originated in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In the production of this variety four crosses were made, Partridge Wyandotte, Partridge Cochin, Dark Cornish and Rose Comb Brown Leghorn.

This is a general purpose fowl for egg and meat production. The skin color is yellow and the egg shells are brown.

Jersey Giants

The Jersey Black Giants originated in New Jersey by crossing Black Javas, Dark Brahmas and Black Langshans. In recent years, Cornish blood was introduced in some strains. As the name implies the Jersey Giants are large and a very heavy fowl.

The Jersey White Giants were sports of the Black variety.

The Jersey Giant is a general purpose fowl for heavy meat and egg production. The color of the skin is yellow and the eggs shells are brown to dark brown.


Lamonas were originated at the United States Government Experiment Station at Beltsville, Maryland. They are the result of crosses of Silver Gray Dorking, White Plymouth Rocks and Single Comb White Leghorns. A heavy breed fowl.

General purpose fowl for meat and egg production. The skin color is yellow and the egg shells are white.

New Hampshires

New Hampshires developed over a period of years beginning around 1915 from a foundation of Rhode Island Reds, first brought into New Hampshire from Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts. There is no record of any outside blood having been introduced and the breed has been developed by farm poultrymen of New Hampshire by the continual selection of breeding stock for early maturity, large brown shelled eggs, quick feathering, strength and vigor during its evolution. Special meat type strains are now developed featuring extreme rapid growth and increased weights. This type has a very light shade of surface color for better dress, but extreme meat type strains do not have the egg production qualities of the dual purpose Standard New Hampshire. A very popular general purpose utility fowl for egg and meat production. The skin color is yellow and the egg shells are brown.


Hollands are the offspring from previous mating of fowls imported from Holland crossed with White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires and Lamonas that were selected for desired characteristics, resulting in the breed known as the White Hollands.

During the same period, selected matings of the progeny from White Leghorns, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Australorps and Brown Leghorns were bred to produce a fowl with the same characteristics with a barred feather pattern, thus the Barred Hollands were originated.

These breeds were admitted as a standard in 1949.

A heavy general purpose fowl for meat and eggs. The skin color is yellow and the egg shells are white.


Delawares were first developed in 1940 from off-colored sports which occurred in the cross between Barred Plymouth Rock males and New Hampshire females. They are named for the state in which they originated. These sports lacked the black extension factor that would normally have been transmitted from the Barred Plymouth Rock male with the results they became almost white, showing a slight indication of barring in the hackle, primaries, secondaries and tail.

A dual purpose fowl with well developed egg and meat characteristics. Excellent as broilers with an abundance of vigor and fine market quality. Delaware males may be mated to New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red females and produce chicks of the Delaware feather pattern. Delaware females may be mated to New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red males, and sex-linked chicks result; the males have the Delaware pattern and the females have solid red feather pattern of the male. These day-old chicks may be separated according to sexes by their color.

Class II - Asiatic


An Asiatic breed of fowl, called Chittagongs, Gray Shanghais, and Brahma Pootras, later shortened to Brahma, thought to have been a cross of the Malay and Cochin in India. Imported from Shanghai, China, in the early 1840's, they landed in New England much later. American poultry fanciers made over and refined the original parent stock into the large stately and useful Light and Dark Brahma varieties.

The Buff Brahmas are of more recent origin.

The head and skull are important breed characteristics. Texture of the feathers is also of great importance, for the plumage, should be smooth fitting and not loose-feathered and soft as in the Cochin.

A general purpose fowl for heavy meat production. The skin color is yellow and the egg shells are light to dark brown.


The Chinese Shanghai fowl came to England and America in 1845. The name of this Asiatic breed was later changed to Cochin. The earliest Cochins were more or less buff in color. Its striking appearance, due to great size and profuse soft feathering, distinguished it from all other known breeds at the time. Cochins created a sensation in England, resulting in a great boom for the "Cochin China," as it was called in the days of the "Cochin craze."

Currently, the American Poultry Association recognizes Buff, Partridge, White, Black, Silver-laced, Golden-laced, Blue, Brown and Barred varieties of the Cochin.

Both male and female are massive in appearance, with an extraordinary profusion of long, soft plumage and a great abundance of down fiber in the under-fluff, producing a rather bulky appearance and conveying the idea of even greater weight than actually exists.

Primarily bred for exhibition, the Cochin is capable of being bred as a meat type fowl. The skin color is yellow and the egg shells are brown.


The Black Langshan originated in China, where it has been bred over a long period of years. Its predominant reproductive qualities indicate it to be a pure race of domesticated poultry. Black Langshans were imported from China into England by the late Major Croad, so there is a Class of "Croad Langshans" in the English Standard.

Langshans are dual purpose fowls of the Asiatic Class and are smaller than the Brahma and Cochin and more active. The male develops a large well-spread tail with feathers of great length, the sickles often attaining a length of sixteen or seventeen inches. The closely-fitting saddle feathers, full hackled neck and upright carriage give the effect of a short back. The surface plumage throughout is close and smooth. The body in both sexes should be evenly balanced on firm, straight legs, with very little backward bend at the hocks. The height of the Langshan should be gained by depth of body and erectness of carriage, and not from what may be described as stiltiness of legs.

This is a general purpose fowl for production of meat and eggs. The skin color is white and the eggs shells are very dark brown.

Class III - English


The Dorking is one of the most ancient of all domesticated races of poultry. It was brought to Great Britain by the Romans with Julius Caesar, but was known and described by the Roman writer Columella long before it became a popular breed in England. He speaks of the hens as being "square-framed, large and broad-breasted, with big heads and small upright combs," adding that "the purest breed are five-clawed."

This is a dual purpose fowl for meat and egg production. The skin color is white and the egg shells are white.


Redcaps originated in Derbyshire, England, probably from Hamburg crossed with other breeds. The very large rose-comb is the most striking characteristic of the breed. They are good producers of eggs.

The skin color is white and the egg shells are white.


The Cornish fowl originated in Cornwall, England. This was the Dark Cornish, the parent breed generally known abroad as "Indian Game," although the name Cornish is the more correct. It is a composite of several different blood lines--Asell (or Asil), Black-Red, Old English, and Malay. A distinguishing characteristic of the Cornish is that the body of both male and female is of the same conformation.

White Cornish were produced from White Malay - Dark Cornish crosses in 1890.

White-Laced Red Cornish were produced in America in 1893, from a Shamo Japanese - Dark Cornish cross.

This is a super-heavy meat producing fowl, valuable also for crossing on other breeds for the production of market poultry. The skin color is yellow and the egg shells are brown.


The Black Orpington produced in 1886 at Orpington, County Kent, England, from a Black Langshan-Black Minorca-Black Plymouth Rock cross, is the original Orpington. The Buff and White varieties were produced from crosses other than those which were used to make up the Black Orpington. Cochin blood was introduced into some of the earlier strains of Orpingtons as evidenced by some of the more loosely feathered specimens. The original Black Orpington came to America in 1890.

The Blue Orpingtons were produced from crossing the Black and White varieties in 1923.

This is a general purpose fowl for heavy meat production and for eggs. The skin color is white and the egg shells are light to dark brown.


The Sussex is a very old English breed, which originated in the County of Sussex more than a century ago. It was primarily bred for market purposes, Sussex being famed for its production of table fowls.

This is a dual purpose fowl for production of meat and eggs. The skin color is white and the eggs shells are brown.


The Australorp is a production bred Australian Black Orpington, noted for its splendid egg production.

The breed was developed in Australia where it has been bred principally for egg production rather than meat as has been the case with its predecessor, the Orpington.

It is a medium weight, active bird laying a tinted egg and is a valuable fowl for those who desire an abundance of eggs without sacrificing too much value in meat quality.

Class IV - Mediterranean


The original breed came from Italy, but its many subvarieties originated or were developed in England, Denmark and America. They comprise a group characterized by great activity, hardiness and prolific egg-laying qualities. The females are non-sitters, very few of them exhibiting a tendency to broodiness. Aside from the manifold points of beauty in type and color found in all varieties of Leghorns their excellent productive qualities are valuable assets of the breed.

Especially noted for their production of eggs. The skin color is yellow and the egg shells are white.


Minorcas, originally called Red-Faced Black Spanish, are the largest and heaviest of the Mediterranean breed. The distinct characteristics of the Minorca breed are their long strong bodies, large combs, long wattles, large white ear-lobes, large and full tail moderately elevated, with firm muscular legs set squarely under the powerful looking body.

An excellent producer of large white eggs. The skin color is white and the egg shells are a chalk-white.

White Faced Black Spanish

This is probably the oldest breed in the Mediterranean Class. The large, smooth, white face and ear-lobes are distinct characteristics of this Spanish breed, but these features should not be subjected to abnormal development.

A non-sitting fowl noted for the reproduction of large chalk-white eggs. The skin color is white.

Blue Andalusians

Blue Andalusians are credited with being natives of Andalusia, a province in Spain. They originated from crossing a black fowl with one of its white sports, these two colors producing a bluish-slate fowl. In Cornwall and Devon, England, similar blue fowls were produced by crossing black and white sports. This was before Andalusians were imported into England. They resembled the earlier Andalusians in type and color. The modern Andalusian should be symmetrical, graceful, compact, medium in size, and stately in carriage. The dull and uneven blue colored fowl of the past has been transformed into the attractive, laced breed of today by years of scientific breeding.

This is a non-sitting fowl, laying large chalk-white eggs. The skin color is white.


The Anconas takes its name from the City of Ancona, a port in Italy, from which the first Anconas were shipped to England. They originated from crosses of Italian fowl common in Central Italy is evident by their close resemblance in type and size to the Leghorn breed.

Anconas came to America from England in 1888.

This is a non-sitting fowl. They are excellent layers of white shelled eggs and have yellow skin.


The Sicilian Buttercup, as its name implies, originated in Sicily, the first importation from the island coming to America in 1835. The work "Sicilian," has been dropped. The Buttercup owes its name to the cup-shaped comb, its most characteristic feature, and the golden ground color of its plumage. The eggs for hatching were not imported into America until 1892. It was from these eggs that the present stock descended.

Buff Catalans

The Catalana Del Prat first came into being as a natural breed among the farmers in the district of Prat, near Barcelona, Catalana, Spain. This breed is very popular in the Latin American Republics.

Noted for its vigor and hardiness. A dual purpose breed, producer of both meat and eggs of large size. The skin is a pinkish white and the egg shells are white or a very light tint.


The Hamburg is a very old race of domesticated poultry. The name of the breed is German, but the origin is Dutch. They were originally Classified among the Continental breeds, although, they owe their present shape and color qualities to the English fanciers, who, over a century ago, began the work of refining the "pheasant fowls" of that period into modern Hamburgs. The Black and Spangled varieties were evolved in England; the Penciled varieties came from Holland via Hamburg, Germany.

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