Originally called the Red Faced Black Spanish, the Minorca chicken is the largest and heaviest of the Mediterranean breeds. It originates from Spain in the 1780s and is named after the island of Minorca. The breed was only really popular as an egg producer until the 1900s in the south west of Britain but was exhibited at the Crystal Palace show in 1888 where it was rated very highly. They were also a particular favourite of T.E.Lawrence, otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia. Today, the breed is kept mainly for exhibition purposes but they are also producers of very large eggs. Their appearance is striking with their long, strong bodies, full tails, upright red combs and wattles and white ear lobes. Black is the most popular colour variety and there is also a rosecomb version. They are very long birds with narrow bodies and are not good as table fowl. Minorcas are also available in a bantam single combed form which originates from Germany and Britain in around 1910.
The Minorca thrives on human contact and has a wonderful temperament. They can be flighty and can actually reach distances of 2m so care needs to be taken with boundaries. They prefer to free range as they are excellent foragers and make perfect farmyard fowls but will adapt to confinement and would also be well suited to a suburban setting. They do not tend to go broody and lay very large, white shelled eggs all year round, especially during the winter months. They are usually hardy birds but their large combs are prone to frostbite, however, they are also very tolerant of hot weather and prefer dry conditions. Males weigh around 8 lbs while the females are 6 ½ lbs in weight.
Black – single comb and rose comb, White – single comb and rose comb, Blue – single comb.