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The Hamburgh Chicken

History

No one is really sure where the Hamburgh chicken originated but it is most likely to be the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. In Yorkshire 300 years ago, the spangled were bred under the name Pheasant and they had a neat head, white earlobes and crescent shaped markings. In Lancashire, they went under the name Mooney and had round black spangling on a white background and red earlobes. The Mooneys were better egg layers and were slightly larger than the Pheasants. Black Pheasants were recorded in the North of England as far back as 1702. The Hamburgh was an extremely good layer in its time but it tends to be kept more for exhibition purposes today. They are graceful birds with long, compact bodies and wide flat shoulders. They have a long sweeping tail, well rounded breast and the large wings are neatly tucked. The beak is short and curved and they have a medium sized rose comb which gradually tapers into a long fine spike. The ear lobes are smooth, round and flat and the wattles are also round and smooth. The neck is fully feathered. The unfeathered legs are slender and they have four toes.

Behaviour

The Hamburgh is a good layer of fairly small white eggs, especially in the bantam version which actually lays better than the larger breed. The active chicks feather up fast and mature quickly. They are happiest free ranging due to their active nature and are very good fliers and can fly fairly large distances so fencing needs to be adequate to prevent them from escaping. They can be kept in a run but it needs to have adequate space to keep this lively chicken happy. They can become bored easily and can take their frustrations out on other hens, causing injury. They like a lot of space and love to forage for food. They also like roosting in trees. They are wild birds which are not easy to tame but can recognise their owners from strangers easily. They are not good table birds because they have a greyish skin which is rather unappetising. Cocks weigh in at around 5lbs and hens at 4lb.

Varieties

Black, gold pencilled, silver pencilled, gold spangled, silver spangled. The different colours also have different sizes. The pencilled birds are small and delicately built while the self-coloured and spangled birds are a little less refined. The eyes of heavily pigmented birds are brownish red while the lighter ones have reddish bay. The ear colour is white and the actual ears are medium sized so they are fairly conspicuous. The legs are slate blue.

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