Poultry

Rare Breeds Trust of Australia Poultry Lists

Our Rare Breed lists are constructed from the data collected in our national poultry survey which is run every three years.  Our next poultry survey is due to be conducted over May and June 2024. The most recently was conducted in 2021 and our lists below reflect that survey.  We would like to thank everyone who participated in the 2021 survey. This was the third time we have run this very ambitious survey. We responded to feedback from the poultry community and included extra breeds known to be in Australia and also colour data.  This made the 2021 survey the largest ever conducted. There were some concerns with the size of the survey making the data set too large and unwieldy and this was found to be the case. The Survey Monkey website was unable to process the size of the data file and it had to be downloaded and processed manually on a high performance computer. In the future it is recommended that the survey be broken into parts or reduced in detail. 

This survey endeavours to reach as many poultry keepers as possible as we hope to capture a sample that enables us to get a good idea of what breeds may be at risk in this country. In 2021 the survey was distributed via bulk emails to all States of Australia, shared through social media channels and included in the Australasian Poultry magazine. Responses were received via email, through the Survey Monkey website and also in paper form through the post. 1842 respondents completed the 2021 survey which is not far below the responses of 2012 in 2019. This has once again given us a reasonably reliable sample from which to draw some conclusions.

Poultry is eligible to be included on the RBTA Poultry Red List if their status is regarded as being Critical, Endangered, Vulnerable or At Risk. Special priority is also given to those breeds that have been on the Red List but have shown recent increase in numbers.  These breeds are given an Amber status to reflect the need to watch and maintain support as there can be reasons for transient alterations in numbers.  All breeds monitored by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia and included in our lists are recognised in the Australian Poultry Standard 2nd Edition (plus Addendum). We also collect data on newly imported breeds, locally existing breeds and development breeds and varieties. Data on these extra breeds can be found in our spreadsheets.

   
 
   

 

 

Critical

Endangered

Vulnerable

At Risk

Poultry

<100 Breeding Birds

<200 Breeding Birds

<300 Breeding Birds

<500 Breeding Birds

Waterfowl

<100 Breeding Birds

<200 Breeding Birds

<300 Breeding Birds

<500 Breeding Birds

 

 

 

 

   

It is also important to recognise that higher numbers of birds in the hands of a smaller number of breeders may also render a breed at high risk. We will continue to review our data to attempt to identify breeds that fall into the 'low breeder number' risk category.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

The Rare Breeds Trust of Australia Poultry Lists

 
         
  Poultry Critical  Poultry Endangered Poultry Vulnerable  Poultry At Risk   
 3 Old English Pheasant Fowl 106 Crevecoeur 216 Cochin 315 Andalusian  
 27 Redcap 126 Asil Any Colour 242 Frizzle 324 Campine  
 35 Sicilian Buttercup 132 Lakenvelder 229 Legbar 343 Croad Langshan  
 55 Sultan 139 Sumatra 298 Rosecomb 369 Minorca  
 75 Shamo 164 Dutch Bantam 287 Transylvanian Naked Neck 370 Australian Game  
 78 American Game 170 Jungle Fowl     385 Welsummer  
 92 Houdan 183 New Hampshire     387 Phoenix  
 92 La Fleche 186 Spanish     440 Australian Pit Game  
 93 Rhode Island White         461 Faverolles  
 93 Scots Grey         465 Malay Game  
 99 Red Saddled Yokohama              
                 
  Waterfowl Critical  Waterfowl Endangered  Waterfowl Vulnerable  Waterfowl At Risk   
 0 Abacot Ranger 106 Australian Settler 244 Mallard 341 Cayuga  
 0 Pommern (non-existent?) 124 Welsh Harlequin     341 Sebastopol  
 9 Bali Duck 125 Blue Swedish     363 Chinese  
 18 Magpie  127 Elizabeth          
 18 Rouen Clair 138 Crested Duck          
 20 Brecon Buff  147 Toulouse          
 27 Pomeranian  149 Silver Appleyard          
 30 Black East Indian  154 Aylesbury          
 43 Roman  155 Orpington          
 53 African  166 Pekin          
 74 Watervale 191 Campbell          
 96 Saxony              
 97 Rouen              
                 
Turkeys Critical Turkeys Endangered Turkeys Vulnerable Turkeys At Risk  
 7 Black-Winged Bronze 110 Bourbon Red          
 14 Buff 176 Bronze          
 15 Blue              
 36 Black              
 47 Slate              
 55 Narragansett              
 68 White              
 87 Royal Palm              
                 
Guineafowl Critical Guineafowl Endangered Guineafowl Vulnerable Guineafowl At Risk  
 0 White (non-existent?) 105 Cinnamon     308 Lavender  
            386 Pied  
            414 Pearl  
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breeds in Recovery

 

  Breed name Survey result 2017 Survey result 2019

 

Survey result 2021

 

  Vorwerk 172 858 502
  Sebright 298 635 553
  Indian Game 355 1149 520
  Ancona 387 914 636
  Polish 406 1319 740
  Modern Game 434 1041 555
  Australian Call  402 1366 514
  Indian Runner 493 1201 515
       

 

 

 

 

 

Chickens

 
   

American Game

Origin: United States of America                                

Classification: Light Breed, Hardfeather

Colours: Birchen, Blacks, Reds, Duck Wings, Dark Greys, Blues, Duns, Piles. Whites, Brassy Backs, Furnaces, Polecats, Spangles, Creels,

Uses: Originally bred for cockfighting, Ornamental, Table bird

Egg Colour: Brown

Comb: Single, small, smooth and fine. Straight, Pea or Rose is acceptable in undubbed birds.

Facts: Bred in a wide variety of colours, the roosters have long sickle feathers. The hens are protective and smart and make great mothers. The roosters are amiable towards the hens and chickens but can be aggressive towards each other. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were proud owners of American Game.

Ancona

Origin: Marche region of Italy

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather

Colours: Black mottled with white. All primaries, sickles and tail feathers should have white tips. Australia recognises a Red variety with a chestnut to red bay ground colour. The comb is of medium size with five well marked points. In hens it should fall gracefully to one side.

Uses: Eggs

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Single or Rose. Medium size.

Facts: Rustic, lively and hardy, the birds will range widely and take flight easily. They are good layers, laying an average of 220 eggs per year, with little tendency to broodiness.

Andalusian

Origin: Andalusia, South west Spain

Classification:  Light Breed, Softfeather                       

Colours: Blue (Laced) The ear lobes are smooth, white and almond shaped. The comb is single with five well-defined points.

Uses: Eggs

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Single, medium with five well defined points.

Facts: Closely feathered, active and good layers. They are not cold hardy but tolerate heat well. When two Blues are crossed only 50% of the progeny will be blue, with 25% being white and 25% being black. The Andalusian was used by Mendel in his genetic experiments.

Rooster bred & owned by David Pickles. Photo also courtesy of David Pickles.

Asil

Origin: South Punjab and Sindh area of Pakistan, Indian States of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil nadu

Classification: Light Breed, Hardfeather                                

Colours: No fixed colours. Generally Red, Grouse coloured and Red-Wheaten females, Grey, Spangle, Black, White, Duckwing and Pile. No colour disqualified.

Uses: Originally bred for Cockfighting, Table

Egg Colour: White or Tinted Light Brown

Comb: Triple, small, hard fleshed and set low.

Facts: Compact and muscular with a distinctive upright stance, the Asil is considered one of the most pugnacious of breeds. Even the hens will often fight for hours and day old chickens will spar to the point of wounding. The name Aseel or Asil, means high-caste, high born, pure and original in Hindi and it is a sign of high respect that these birds have been given this name.

Australian Game

Origin: New South Wales, Australia 

Classification: Heavy Breed, Hardfeather                                          

Colours: Black Breasted Red, Duckwing Golden, Duckwing Silver, Pile, Wheaten, Blue Reds, Blue Duckwing, Golden Creel, Brown Red, Birchen, Spangle and Black

Uses: Originally bred for cockfighting, Table, Exhibition

Egg Colour: Tinted

Comb: Pea comb

Facts: Developed from the Australian Pit Game, but different in stature, the Australian Game's plumage is hard and brittle.They are large, solid and muscular and are considered a good meat bird. They were orignally called Colonials and were highly prized for their stamina and great courage.

Photo by J.T Dale

Australian Pit Game

Origin: New South Wales, Australia

Classification: Heavy and Light Breed, Hardfeather

Colours: No set colours

Uses: Originally bred for cockfighting, Exhibition

Egg Colour: Tinted

Comb: Pea, Single or Triple, Small

Facts: Developed in the 1900's, for cockfighting, by British soldiers in New South Wales, the Australian Pit Game is one of the most loosely standardised breeds in Australia. It can be large or small, single or pea combed, any colour and cock feathered, hen feathered, tasselled or muffled. Due to their ancestry as fighting birds the standard does not regard colour as important but instead focuses on health and vigour. Carriage should be proud and aggressive looking, with movements quick and "ready for any emergency". They have been standardised since 1936.

http://australianpitgameclub.webs.com/

Campine

Origin: Northern part of Belgium

Classification: Light breed, Softfeather          

Colours: Gold or Silver. Both sexes have the same colour pattern.

Uses: Eggs, Exhibition

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Single, upright, medium size

Facts: The Campine in Australia is bred in a manner consistent with the intentions and practices that resulted in the "hen-feathered" English Campine developed in the 1900's. This was the Type of Campine imported into Australia and provided the foundation of the pure bred Campines today. Campines are considered to be a flighty, hardy breed with active, inquisitive natures.

The Campine Club have some very good information on their web site:

http://www.campines.org/

Photo of Gold Campine pullet courtesy of Mark Porter

Cochin

Origin: China

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather

Colours: Buff, Black, Blue, White, Cuckoo. Partridge, Gold Laced, Silver Laced, Creole

Uses: Meat, Eggs, Ornamental

Egg Colour: Brown

Comb: Single, upright, small and straight

Facts: Despite their large size, Cochins are noted for their gentle, docile dispositions. They have an abundance of feathers that extend down to cover their feet. They feather slowly but are a hardy breed and are noted for being broody. Their large size makes them perfect for hatching duck or turkey eggs.

Photo by Hagen Graebner

http://brahmacochin.webs.com/

Crevecouer

Origin: North West France  

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather                                                                            

Colours: Most commonly black with dark blue-grey legs  

Uses: Meat, Eggs, Exhibition

Egg Colour: White

Comb: V-shaped

Facts: The Crevecouer is among the oldest of the French breeds and it was thought to have virtually disappeared after the Second World War. Recovery of the breed commenced in 1976 by Jean-Claude Periquet. Like the Houdan it has four toes, but a V shaped comb like that of La Fleche. The Crevecouer was imported into Australia in 2014 by AVGEN.

http://www.backyardpoultry.com/directory/http--auscrevecoeurpoultryclub-450.html

Croad Langshan

Origin: Rudong, China

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather

Colours Black, Blue, White

Uses: Meat, Eggs

Egg Colour: Buff

Comb: Single, upright, straight

Facts: Imported in the 1880's, with the Club formed in 1904, the Croad Langshan is a heavy bird that is intelligent, strong and active. The hens are good sitters and attentive mothers who are also good layers. They are quiet, docile and friendly. The comb, earlobes and wattle are bright red. The male can stand 90cm in height and has very long tail sickles. They are a slow maturing breed that requires plenty of room and feed. It is one of the breeds used to create the Black Orpington.

Photo Courtesy of Sue Rutschmann

https://www.facebook.com/groups/CroadLangshan/about/

Dorking

Origin: Surrey, England

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather                                                                                                 

Colours: Most commonly Silver Grey, but also Blue Silver Grey, Dark, Cuckoo, Red, White

Uses: Table, Eggs, Exhibition

Egg Colour: White or Tinted

Comb: Single or Rose comb

Facts: One of the oldest of the British breeds, the Dorking has short legs and five toes. The skin colour beneath the feathers is white and it is one of the few breeds with red earlobes that produces white eggs. Dorking pullets are slow to come into lay but will lay all Winter. The breed does not wander far from home and likes to roost in trees if given the opportunity

Dutch Bantam

Origin: The Netherlands                              

Classification: True Bantam

Colours: Gold Partridge, Yellow Partridge

Uses: Table, Eggs

Egg Colour: Tinted

Comb: Single with five points

Facts: The Dutch Bantam is a true bantam with no large counterpart and is one of the smallest bantams. Historically it is thought these tiny chickens were selectively bred because peasants were only allowed to keep chickens that laid small eggs with the larger eggs having to go to the landed gentry. Having relatively large wings for their diminutive size Dutch Bantams can fly quite well. They are surprisingly good egg layers, although the eggs are a small size. The original colour pattern was partridge but there are now many colours. All varieties should have a five pointed comb and white earlobes.

Photo courtesy of Jill Weaver

Faverolles

Origin: France

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather                                                                              

Colours: Salmon, Ermine, White, Buff, Cuckoo, Black, Blue, Birchen

Uses: Table, Eggs, Exhibition

Egg Colour: Tinted, Light brown to Pinkish

Comb: Single, Upright

Facts: The Faverolles takes its name from the village of Faverolles in France and is classified as a heavy breed. It has a beard, muffs, feathered feet and five toes per foot. Faverolles were developed by crossing  many other breeds including the Dorking, Houdan, French Rennes, Brahma, Flemish Cuckoo and Malines. They are known for their extreme docility and even the roosters are gentle, friendly birds. The most common colour is Salmon, with the hens being mainly brown and white and the cocks darker with black, brown and straw coloured feathers.

Photo courtesy of Anne Sim

https://faverolles-australia-inc.webnode.com/

Frizzle

Origin: Asia

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather                        

Colours: Black, Blue, White, Buff, Columbian, Red, "Any recognised colour"

Uses: Exhibition

Egg Colour: White or Tinted

Comb: Single, medium and upright

Facts: The Frizzle has curled or frizzled plumage and is clean-legged. It is quick growing, hardy and a good forager. The hens are fair to good layers and the chicks appear to be normally feathered when hatched. The gene for the curling feathers is incompletely dominant over normal plumage, meaning not all members of the breed will have the frizzled feathers. Mating Frizzle to Frizzle gives 25% smooth feathered, 25% over frizzled and 50% frizzled. Smooth Friizle birds should be kept for mating to a frizzled Frizzle to avoid brittle feathers and/or lack of feathering in the over frizzled birds. Breeding a frizzled Frizzle to a smooth Frizzle will result in 100% frizzled Frizzles. 

 

Hamburgh 

Origin: Britain

Classification: Light Softfeather Breed

Colours: Silver Spangled, Silver Pencilled, Gold Spangled, Gold Pencilled, Black, Blue, White.

Uses: Eggs, Exhibition

Egg Colour: White

Facts: Hamburghs were kept and bred to feather among the peasants of Yorkshire and Lancashire in England, and by them exhibited at the small town and county fairs in their neighborhood. Of course they were then known under different names, the Blacks being called Black Pheasant Fowls and the Spangled varieties Lancashire Mooneys and Yorkshire Pheasants. Penciled varieties formed a part of the Hamburgh family, although our earliest positive knowledge traces them to direct importations from Holland, where they were brought in great numbers, and were originally known under the names of Dutch Everyday Layers or Dutch Everlasting Layers." (Book of the Hamburgs, L.Frank Baum, 1886, p.5 as quoted by www.openpoultrystandards.com). 

Hamburghs are a vigorous fowl - resilient in the Australian climatel, useful as an egg producer and a fine specimen in the show pen. For more information go to: http://www.openpoultrystandards.com/Hamburgh

Photo courtesy of P. Still 2005

Houdan

Origin: France

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather

Colours: Mottled, White

Uses: Table, Eggs, Exhibition

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Leaf type, Butterfly shaped, fairly small and well-defined

Facts: Houdans have small earlobes and wattles, a backward facing crest, five toes, and facial feathering consisting of a beard and muffing near the ears. In the hens, the feathering can sometimes obscure the combs and wattles. Originally a dual purpose bird, kept for meat and eggs, the Houdan is now primarily kept for exhibition. The breed is calm and placid with a docile nature.

 

Indian Game

Origin: Cornwall, England

Classification: Heavy Breed, Hardfeather

Colours: Dark, Jubilee, Double Laced Blue, White

Uses: Table

Egg Colour: Tinted

Comb: Pea type in undubbed birds, Small, closely set on the head.

Facts: The breed has been developed for its abundant quantity of breast meat. The Indian Game is upright, commanding and courageous. A powerful and broad bird that is active, sprightly and vigorous. They are also known as Cornish and are used for cross-breeding.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Birchall.

Jungle Fowl

Origin: Asia

Classification: Light Breed, Hardfeather                       

Colours: Black Red

Uses: Table, Eggs

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Single, medium size, erect and set firmly and evenly on the head

Facts: The Red Jungle Fowl is the primary progenitor of the domestic chicken and was first domesticated in Asia over five thousand years ago. The male's tail consists of long, arching feathers whereas the female's plumage is cryptic and adapted for camouflage. Males make a food related display called, "tidbitting" in the presence of a female, constantly picking up and dropping the food until the female accepts his gift.

La Fleche

Origin: La Fleche, France

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather                                                 

Colours: Black, White, Cuckoo, Blue Laced

Uses: Table, Exhibition

Egg Colour: White

Comb: V-shaped comb and the remains of a small crest. Often referred to as a Devil's Head due to the horn-like parallel points.

Facts: Poule de la Fleche is a rare French breed that was once famous for its fine quality meat, the skin of which is also particularly white. They are good foragers but can be flighty and tend to shy away from human contact. They like to roost in trees and require two metre+ fencing to contain them. Numbers fell heavily after the Second World War and there has been gradual recovery thanks to a French rescue effort. The hens are good layers and not known for being broody.

Lakenvelder

Origin: a little clouded but appears to be Southern Holland and over the border in Germany.

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather                                                        

Colours: White with black hackles and tail, Blue Marked

Uses: Eggs, Table

Egg Colour: White to Tinted

Comb: Medium sized, single with five points

Facts: The Lakenvelder name is Dutch and translates to "Shadow on a Sheet" which describes their black and white colour pattern. Their legs are featherless and slate blue and they have long flowing tails. The comb of the hen is unusually erect. They are confident, robust birds that tend to avoid human contact. The hens are good layers but not good sitters. The chicks grow vigorously and mature quickly but do not gain their characteristic black and white markings until after their third moult.

Legbar

Origin: Britain

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather                               

Colours: Golden, Silver, Cream

Uses: Eggs

Egg Colour: White or Cream unless for the Cream Legbar which lays Blue or Green eggs

Comb: Single, large, perfectly straight and erect with five or six deep and evenly serrated spikes.

Facts: The Leghorn is the second of the auto-sexing breeds developed in the 1930's specifically for egg production, by Professor Punnett and M. Pease at the Genetical Institute in Cambridge. The first being the Cambar. The Legbar chicks can be visually sexed at one day old by their colouring. The breed was developed by crossing two excellent egg laying breeds, the Barred Plymouth Rock and the Leghorn. The Gold Legbar was created by crossing the Brown Leghorn with the Barred Plymouth Rock. The Silver Legbar by crossing the Gold Legbar with White Leghorn and Silver Cambar. The Cream Legbar was created by crossing the Gold Legbar with the White Leghorn and Creme Araucana, which introduced the crest and the blue eggs.

 

Malay Game

Origin: Asia (India, Mauritius, Malay Peninsula)

Classification: Heavy Breed, Hardfeather                                   

Colours: Black, Black Red, Duckwing, Pile, White. Other colours are known but the Malay is judged more on type and quality.

Uses: Table, Exhibition

Egg Colour:  Tinted

Comb: Small, shaped like a half walnut or strawberry and set well forward.

Facts: One of the oldest breeds and a giant amongst its peers, the Malay Game is fierce and lean with a characteristic cruel expression. It stands above 90 cm in height and has a long neck and long legs, often sitting on its shanks when resting. The breed can be quite quarrelsome especially when confined and although the hens are good with their chicks, the same cannot be said for the cocks.The Malay Game is one of the progenitors of our two national breeds of game...the Australian Game and the Australian Pit Game.

https://www.facebook.com/malaygameaustralia/

Minorca

Origin: Mediterranean, Southern Spain, Minorca, Majorca   

Classification: Light bred, Softfeather                         

Colours: Black, White, Blue

Uses: Eggs, Exhibition

Egg Colour: White and very large

Comb: Single - large, evenly serrated   Rose - Oblong, upright and firmly carried (Rose comb is not acceptable in Spain)

Facts: Originally called the Red-Faced Black Spanish, the Minorca was once famous as a prolific layer of large, pure-white eggs but is not a sitter. It is a hardy and rugged fowl and is the largest and heaviest of the Mediterranean breeds. It is a long bird with a narrow body and as such does not make a great table fowl. The Minorca has a good temperament and thrives on human contact. It is a good forager and copes well with warm, dry conditions. The large comb can be prone to frostbite in cold climates.

 

Modern Game

Origin: Britain

Classification: Heavy Breed, Hardfeather            

Colours: Birchen, Black Red, Black, Blue Red, Brown Red, Golden Creel, Silver Creel, Blue Creel, Cuckoo, Golden Duckwing, Silver Duckwing, Blue Duckwing, Ginger, Lemon Blue, Pile, Spangled, Silver Blue, Self Blue, Wheatens, White

Uses: Exhibition

Egg Colour: Tinted

Comb: Single, small, upright, fine texture, evenly serrated

Facts: The Modern Game is purely an ornamental chicken bred for exhibition, from the Old English Game and the Malay Fowl. When cockfighting was outlawed, chicken fanciers turned their attention to exhibiting and the Modern Game was bred to epitomise the visual appeal of the gamecock. Modern Game bantams developed over the same time and their popularity unlike their larger counterparts has never diminished. The Modern Game is a tall, handsome and active bird that is curious and can be tamed and handled easily. It is tightly feathered and quite small so is not good for the table or laying.

http://www.mgpsinc.com/

New Hampshire

Origin: North America (New Hampshire)

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather                   

Colours: Chestnut Red

Uses: Meat, Eggs

Egg Colour: Tinted to Brown

Comb: Medium sized, single, well-developed, perfectly straight and upright with five well-defined points

Facts: The New Hampshire was developed as a specialised selection of the Rhode Island Red. It was developed early in the twentieth century in its namesake State, by using the Rhode Island Red and selecting for rapid growth, fast feathering, early maturity and vigour. They were originally developed for eggs but have gained a reputation as a good table bird as well. The hens lay well and are placid and friendly. The feathers are a deep chestnut red and are fluffy and full.

Old English Pheasant Fowl

Origin: England

Classification: Light breed, Softfeather          

Colours: Gold, Silver

Uses: Eggs, Meat

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Rose shape, red in colour

Facts: The Old English Pheasant Fowl bears no relation to the pheasant but is so named because of the spangled plumage of the female. The Gold variety has a mahogany hue with darker lacing around the edges. The Silver variety has white feathering with beetle green/black markings. It is an active and fairly wild breed that likes to roost in trees but is hardy and used to the cold Winters of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Chicks are vigorous and strong but slow to mature.

Phoenix

Origin: Japan, Germany

Classification: Light breed, Softfeather          

Colours: Mainly Black Red, Blue Red and Gold Duckwing but any plumage following Old English Game is acceptable.

Uses: Exhibition, Feathers

Egg Colour: White or Tinted

Comb: Medium sized, single, fine textured, upright, firm with 4-6 serrations

Facts: The Phoenix was developed in Germany by Mr Hugo du Roi from the long tailed, Japanese Onagadori birds. The Onagadori has a recessive gene which prevents it moulting each year in the usual way and gives the male incredibly long tail feathers, which can exceed six metres in length. This gene was not passed on to the Phoenix which, although has beautifully long tail feathers, does not reach the lengths of the Japanese stock. The Phoenix is an alert breed with a pheasant like appearance which thrives best when free ranging. The chicks are hardy but require extra protein when their tails are growing.

Photo courtesy of J.T Dale

Polish

Origin: Eastern Europe

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather                  

Colours: Black, Buff, Chamois or Buff Laced, Cuckoo, Gold Laced, Lavender, Silver Laced, Splash, White, White Crested Black, White Crested Blue, White Crested Cuckoo, White Crested Splash Frizzled Polish

Uses: Exhibition, Eggs

Egg Colours: White

Comb: Horn type and very small if any. Preference given to no comb

Facts: This ancient breed is of uncertain ancestry although poultry historians believe the Polish chickens were brought from Spain to Holland when the Spaniards occupied the Lowlands. Credit is given to the Dutch for refining the colour patterns and developing the crests. Varieties may be smooth faced, muffled or bearded. The white crested varieties must be smooth without muffling, the laced varieties must be bearded and muffled and all other varieties may be muffled, bearded or smooth faced. Their full crests can make them easily surprised and tending towards the timid side as well as being more prone to attack from aerial predators. The hens are productive egg layers.

Redcap

Origin: Derbyshire, England

Classification: Light breed, Softfeather

Colours: Red tipped with blue-black, half-moon shaped spangle

Uses: Eggs, Table

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Large, Rose-shaped comb, giving the bird it's name

Facts: Also known as the Derbyshire Redcap, this breed is a native, English breed that have always been a barnyard type fowl, being popular on farms until the mid 20th Century. The Redcap is a dual-purpose bird being used for egg and meat production. The hen lays white eggs, which is unusual for a bird with red ear lobes. This is unique as most birds that lay white eggs have white ear lobes. Redcaps are a hardy, active breed that do well in free range conditions. Redcap chicks hatch with a Mahogany coloured down with a dark stripe and do not reveal their full colour until their second or third year.

Photo courtesy of Jill Weaver.

Rosecomb

Origin: South East Asia

Classification: True Bantam, Light Breed, Softfeather

Colours: Black, Blue, Cuckoo, White, Other colours as for Old English Game

Uses: Exhibition

Egg Colour: White or Cream

Comb: Rose shaped, neat and long with square, well-filled front

Facts: The Rosecomb is a true bantam whose origins go back to the early nineteenth century importations from the island of Java.Their popularity as an ornamental bird rose when King Richard III began to raise them. They are particularly noted for their comb and lobe, quality of feather, lustrous plumage and distinctly proud and tylish type and carriage. Being an ornamental chicken they are poor egg layers and not suited to meat production. They are a hardy and active breed and although usually friendly, the cocks can become aggressive.

Photo Courtesy of Nicholas Round

https://sites.google.com/site/rosecombbantamau/

Scots Grey

Origin: Scotland

Classification: Light Breed Softfeather  

Colours: Barred plumage with steel grey ground colour and black barring with a metallic sheen

Uses: Eggs, Meat

Egg Colour: White or Cream

Comb: Single, bright red

Facts: The Scots Grey, formerly the Scotch Grey, is a breed of chicken from Scotland, where it has been bred for over two hundred years. It is a tall, upright chicken that is active and does well under free range conditions. It is hardy and forages well, but may become destructive in confined conditions. Hens are not inclined to go broody and are usually darker in plumage than the males. The breed was imported into Australia in 2014 by AvGen.

Scots Grey bred by Cynthia Andrews

Photo courtesy of Sarah Burgess

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ScotsGreyPoultry/about/

Sebright

Origin: Britain

Classification: True Bantam, Light Breed, Softfeather          

Colours: Gold, Silver

Uses: Exhibition

Egg Colour: White or Cream

Comb: Rose, square fronted, firm and evenly set. The top is covered with fine points, narrowing behind to  a spike, turned slightly upwards.

Facts: Sir John Saunders Sebright developed the breed in 1810 and his work with the Sebright was cited                                                              by Charles Darwin in his books. Sebright set out to create a very small bantam with laced plumage that would breed true and the breed he produced is now one of the ten most popular bantam breed according to the American Bantam Association. The Sebright's short back, large breast and downward facing wings give it a jaunty look. The feathers are all laced around the edges with black, on a base of either dark gold or whitish-silver. It is one of the few breeds where the male is hen feathered. They are generally kind birds although the male may be protective of his hens.

Photos Courtesy of Damon Sherriff

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Shamo

Origin: Japan

Classification: Heavy Breed, Hardfeather        

Colours: Black Red is the most common colour. The "Red" may be any shade from Yellow to Dark Red. Females are Wheaten or Partridge which can be any shade from Cream to Dark Brown, with or without dark markings. Ginger, White, Black, Splash, Blue or Duckwing are all recognised and any colour or combination of colours is acceptable.

Uses: Originally a fighting bird, Exhibition.

Egg Colour: White or Tinted

Comb: Triple and firm, Walnut comb rare but acceptable

Facts: The Shamo is a Japanese breed originally inported from Thailand in the seventeenth century. It was developed into a fighting bird of unmatched courage and ferocity. In Japan there are seven recognised breeds of Shamo all of which are designated Natural Monuments of Japan. The Australian Poultry  Standards have only one form of Shamo. The Shamo is a tall, upright almost vertical bird with a well muscled body and thighs. The feathers are sparse but strong and shiny and often do not cover the whole body. It is friendy to humans but may not be to other poultry of the same gender.

Sicilian Buttercup

Origin: Mediterranean, Sicily, Italy

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather                                   

Colours: Golden, Silver, Other colour patterns applying to Leghorns

Uses: Eggs, Exhibition

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Saucer shaped cup, beginning at the base of the beak with a single leader and joined to a cup-shaped crown, set firmly on the centre of the skull, surmounted with well-defined and regular points, of medium size and fine texture, free from obvious spikes in the centre or cavity.

Facts: The Sicilian Buttercup breed is unique on account of its saucer-shaped cup comb. Buttercups were first imported into the United Kingdom before the First World War and they came to Australia between the wars. The breed is known to mature early but the comb takes longer to develop. The birds are active, tending towards wild in nature and are happy in warm climates but tend to suffer frostbite in colder areas. The breed is very rare and seldom seen on the show bench.

Spanish

Origin: Spain

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather                                           

Colours: Black, Blue, White

Uses: Eggs

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Single, red, erect and straight, firm at the base but rather thin at the edge

Facts: The Spanish breed originated in Spain but was very popular in Britain in the mid nineteenth century, and from around 1825 to 1895 was one of the best known breeds in the United States of America. It was highly regarded as an abundant layer of large, white eggs. Aristocratic in looks, this breed is set apart by its deep, broad white ear lobes and white on its face. Unfortunately breeders began to place more emphasis on breeding for the white face and a loss of hardiness was observed. It wasn't long before the hardier breeds became more popular and the Spanish numbers began to decline. The Breed is considered active, noisy and curious.

Sultan

Origin: Turkey

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather                                  

Colours: White

Uses: Exhibition

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Very small, consisting of two spikes only, almost hidden by crest

Facts: The Sultan is an ornamental breed, first found strutting around the Sultan of Constantinople's palace garden. It has been a rare breed since 1854 when some arrived in England, sent to the editor of The Poultry Chronicle, Mrs Elizabeth Watts, by a friend in Constantinople. Legend has it that Sultan chickens were used as living ornaments in the gardens of the Sultans. The breed is unique in that it has more distinguishing features than any other breed, having a V-shped comb, crest, beard muffs, large nostrils,wings carried low, vulture hocks, feathered shanks and toes and five toes on each foot. Sultans are pure white in colour with blue shanks and toes. They are said to be tame and content birds, happier to eat grains and insects than vegetables. The breed is extremely rare in Australia.

Sumatra

Origin: Asia, Sumatra

Classification: Light Breed, Hardfeather                       

Colours: Black, Blue, White

Uses: Exhibition, Eggs

Egg Colour: White

Comb: Pea, low in front, fitting closely, the smaller the better

Facts: The Sumatra comes from a feral background and has a pheasant like carriage and a long flowing tail that is carried horizontally. The plumage is very full and flowing but should not lean towards soft and fluffy, the Black variety has a rich beetle-green sheen. The breed tends towards seasonal reproduction when the males will vye for territory but for the rest of the year they will live together in relative harmony. The Sumatra is used to living in the wild and is active and alert and especially good at launching itself vertically to escape danger. They were at one stage used for fighting, when no other birds were available, and although the males will sometimes sport three spurs on each leg, they are not particularly suited to the task. The hens are prolific layers and excellent sitters.

Transylvanian Naked Neck

Origin: Europe, Hungary

Classification: Heavy Breed, Softfeather                   

Colours: Black, White, Cuckoo, Buff, Red, Blue

Uses: Table, Eggs

Egg Colour: Tinted

Comb: Medium, single, straight and erect, with well formed spikes

Facts:  One of the most unusual looking breeds, the Transylvanian Naked Neck's neck and face are completely devoid of feathers. Although originating in Hungary, it was in Germany that the breed was perfected and the lack of feathering is a dominant gene. The bird has half the number of feathers of other birds making it easier to pluck and more popular as a table bird. They are hardy, vigorous birds with long, elongated bodies and are currently one of the main breeds of the French broiler industry. Easy to tame, they are placid, calm birds and are happy to free range or to be confined, with their weight restricting their flight. The hens are good layers of tinted eggs. Care needs to be taken in colder climates due to the lack of feathering.

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Vorwerk

Origin: Germany

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather                                    

Colours: Buff and Black

Uses: Table, Eggs

Egg Colour: Cream to Tinted

Comb: Medium size, single, serrated

Facts: The Vorwerk originates from Hamburg, Germany and was developed around 1900 by Oscar Vorwerk who gave his name to the breed. It has the same belted pattern as the Lakenvelder only with buff replacing the white. They are thought to have been developed from the Lakenvelders, Orpingtons, Ramelslohers and Andalusians and were first shown in 1912. They are good utility birds, powerful and compact with broad backs and a deep, rounded breast. They were nearly lost altogether after the Second World War and are still considered rare. The breed is hardy, adaptable, alert and active with an economical appetite. The hens are good layers of cream coloured eggs.

Welsummer

Origin: The Netherlands                                                

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather

Colours: Partridge, Silver Duckwing

Uses: Eggs, Table

Egg Colour: Brown

Comb: Medium size, upright, firm upright and free from any twists or excess around the nostrils. Five to seven even serrations.

Facts: The Welsummer was named after the town of its origin, Welsum, in The Netherlands, and has much diversity in its pedigree including the Cochin, Partridge Wyandotte, Partridge Leghorn, Barnevelder and Rhode Island Red. It is a true dual purpose bird producing good meat and large, rich brown eggs, which are sometimes mottled with dark brown spots. They are friendly, easily handled birds who love to free range and forage but are also happy confined in runs. The chicks are strong and easily sexed as the females have much darker head and back markings than the males.

Photo courtesy Andrew Brown

Yokohama

Origin: Japan and then Europe

Classification: Light Breed, Softfeather

Colours: White, Red Saddled

Uses: Exhibition

Egg Colour: White and Tinted

Comb: Walnut, Medium sized

Facts: The Yokohama was developed in Germany from Japanese ancestral stock in common with the Phoenix. A stunning looking bird, the breed is characterised by its pheasant shaped body, extremely long tail feathers and profuse side hangers. The tail is carried low in a graceful arch. Yokohamas have been known to have tails measuring over one metre in length, which is small compared to their ancestors, who were said to have tails up to twenty-seven feet long. The saddle hackles are also long and abundant, often trailing on the ground in mature males. Imported from Japan to Paris in 1864, the Japanese Long-Tails were named Yokohama after the port city, rather than Minohiki, their breed name in Japan. Some were imported to Germany but of the two shipments, only males survived the trip, necessitating out-crossing to Malay, Phoenix, Common Game and later Sumatra to reinvigorate the breed. The Yokohama is an alert breed and thrives on large estates where they can wander at large. The hens are not known as good layers and tend to go broody after a small number of eggs. The chicks are hardy but require extra protein while their tails are growing.

Photo courtesy of Hagen Graebner

Waterfowl

 

Abacot Ranger Duck

Origin: Great Britain

Classification: Light Breed

Colours: Only one variety

Male: Brown, black and white overlaid with intensive green iridescence. Silver-white neck ring and silver-white lacing. White underdown. Yellowish-green bill with black bean at the tip. Legs and webs are bright orange.

Female: Fawnish-buff with the brow crown strongly grained with dark brown.Sharp white division between neck and upper breast colour. White underdown. Bill, legs and webs to be as dark grey as possible.  

Uses: Eggs, Table, Exhibition

Facts: Developed as a utility breed by Mr Oscar Grey, of Colchester, England between 1917 and 1922, the Abacot Ranger is a striking looking duck and is both a good layer and good for the table. It has Indian Runner and Khaki Campbell in its bloodlines. It is lively, active and an excellent forager, making it happier in the garden than in a pen.

 

African Goose

Origin: China

Colours: Ashy brown, Fawn and White with dark Slate wings and light Slate coverts

Uses: Table

Facts: The African goose is a larger relative of the Chinese goose and both breeds have developed from the Wild Swan goose. The African goose varies from the Chinese goose in being larger and having a larger dewlap and different shaped knob. It is a very large bird with a reasonably upright stance, its head held high and proud. The plumage is tight and sleek on the body, the neck plumage is smooth, like velvet. The ganders have a higher pitched call than the geese and are taller. The female is shorter and stockier. Two origin theories exist....the first being the African is a cross between the Wild Swan goose and the Chinese goose, and the second is the African is the pure derivation of the Swan goose and its unique traits are the result of selective breeding. The African goose produces high quality, lean meat and is considered a great roasting bird. For this reason it is preferred for the bird to be keelless. Males can be a little aggressive. The geese lay large white eggs but are not prolific layers producing around 25-40 eggs per year. The breed can withstand quite cold temperatures but require shelter to stop the knob on the beak from getting frostbite.

Australian Call Duck

Origin: Australia

Classification: Bantam                                                  

Colours: Apricot Mallard, Apricot Silver, Bibbed, Blue Mallard (Formerly Blue Fawn) Blue Silver, Dusky Mallard, Magpie, Mallard Coloured (Formerly Brown),Pied Mallard, Silver, White

Uses: Originally used for hunting where their calls would attract other ducks, now Ornamental or Pets

Facts: The Australian Call Duck is a true bantam waterfowl and was developed in Australia from dwarf sports identified in a Mallard flock in South Australia. The breed is slightly larger than its Northern Hemisphere counterpart. It is a small, compact bird that is lively and talkative. Its high pitched call can carry over a large distance, so this may need to be kept in mind if you would like to keep Call Ducks but have neighbours. The birds are easily tamed and although rare in the first half of the century have become quite popular.

Photo Courtesy of Lachlan Nelson

Australian Settler (Formerly Pilgrim Goose)

Origin: Australia            

Colours: Males: White with small amounts of Grey allowable, Eyes: Blue.     Females: Light and Medium Greys, Eyes: Dark Brown

Uses: Table

Facts: The origin of the Australian Settler or Pilgrim Goose is one of conjecture. One school of thought believes it was developed in the United States during the 1930's by Oscar Grow. A second says it was developed in Europe by several breeders. The plumage of the breed is sex linked and the sexes can be distinguished on hatching. The males are almost white, while the females are completely grey apart from their spectacles and stern. They are considered personable, docile birds but will quite vigorously defend their nest and young if challenged. Like most geese, they are constantly alert and are great sentinels, as well as being good foragers and excellent natural parents. The geese will lay around 45-50 eggs per season.

Photo courtesy of Wayne Paternoster, Gaggles of Geese World

Aylesbury Duck

Origin: Britain

Classification: Heavy Breed

Colours: Male and Female both White    

Uses: Table

Facts: The Aylesbury duck is a large, pure white duck that derives its name from the town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. It is an unusually shaped bird with it's legs placed midway along its body and body parallel to the ground giving it a body described as "boat-shaped". White ducks were very popular in England in the eighteenth century as the feathers were used for quilts. This led to the development of the Aylesbury which was dual purpose as it was also a good table bird. In 1873, the Pekin Duck was introduced and being hardier and cheaper to raise, brought a bit of a decline to the Aylesbury. The First and Second World Wars did more damage to the duck industry of Buckinghamshire and by the 1950's only one significant flock of Aylesburys remained. By 1966 there was no remaining duck industry at all in Aylesbury and the breed remains critically endangered worldwide. In the United States, there are two types of Aylesbury.....exhibition and utility. The exhibition type has a very deep keel which makes it difficult for the bird to mate naturally whereas the utility type is able to breed normally. The breed is said to be good natured and friendly with quite a good "quack".

Photo courtesy of Marissa J. Gilbert, Whitevalley Suburban Farm

Bali Duck

Origin: Indonesia

Classification: Light Breed

Colours: White. Bill: Orange-Yellow, Eyes: Blue, Legs and Webs: Orange. Any other colour as described in the Australian duck standards is acceptable.

Uses: Ornamental, Pets

Facts: The Bali duck is similar in appearance to the Indian Runner duck but has a distinctive crest on the top of its head. The crest is formed from a gene that is thought to be a lethal one, meaning that if two ducks with the same bloodline breed the eggs will either not hatch or the ducklings will have deformities such as arched neck, back and balance problems and complications in the formation of the skull that will lead to death before hatching. The breed is an excellent forager and pest controller in the garden and they are good layers, capable of producing between 120 to 250 eggs per year. They are friendly in nature and make good pets but they are rare outside their native country of Bali.

 

Black East Indian Duck

Origin: United States of America

Classification: Bantam    

Colours: Both Male and Female are a lustrous Black with a beetle Green overlay

Uses: Ornamental, Exhibition

Facts: Little is known for certainty about the origins of the Black East Indian Duck. It was written about in the United States in the early 1800's and appeared in the first British Book of Standards in 1865. Some believe it developed from a northern Mallard sport while others prefer the theory the black gene may have developed from the American Black Duck. The Black East Indian in Australia has been recreated by local waterfowl enthusiasts. The breeding aim is for solid black colour, as the beak and legs are also black. The breed is flighty and good at flight, being viewed by some as a semi wild bird rather than its domestic classification. It is not a good egg layer but interestingly, the early eggs may be covered in a sooty black deposit, but will eventually return to dull white.

Photo Courtesy of Tony Glasson

Blue Swedish Duck

Origin: Europe

Classification: Heavy Breed    

Colours: Medium blue with darker blue lacing, and an unbroken, tear-shaped bib on the lower neck and upper breast, slightly smaller on the duck

Uses: Exhibition, Utility with well-flavoured meat and laying from 100 - 150 eggs yearly

Facts: Blue ducks that became the foundation of the Blue Swedish were found in Pomerania in 1835, which was then part of Sweden but now covers north-east Germany and north-west Poland. The Blue Swedish is a medium sized bird with a calm personality making it a good pet or beginner's bird. It matures fairly slowly and is happiest if allowed to forage in orchards, gardens and paddocks, where the natural feed allows for succulent flesh. They are great at keeping the insect population down. The Blue Swedish does not like confinement and although they can fly they rarely do. The eggs are large and although generally white, can also be green or blue tinted. Even when kept singularly, the breed is inclined to go broody.

 

Campbell Duck

Origin: England

Classification: Light Breed

Colours: Khaki, Dark, White

Uses: Eggs, Exhibition

Facts: The Campbell was developed by Adele Campbell in Gloucestershire as a utility bird to provide meat for her family. The breed was produced by crossing a Rouen drake with a fawn and white Runner duck. The progeny proved to be excellent layers with top strains laying up to three hundred and forty eggs per year although you can generally expect around two hundred. In a later attempt to create the buff colour which was a fad at the time, Mrs Campbell bred her Campbell drakes back to a Penciled Runner duck. The resulting progeny colour reminded her of the British Army uniform and thus, she called them Khaki Campbells. The white variety was developed by Captain FS Pardoe in 1924 and the Dark variety by Mr HRS Humphreys. The original Campbell was standardised around 1901. They are a medium sized bird and their Runner genes give them a slightly upright stance. They are busy, hardy birds and are very adaptable, being able to withstand hot, cold, humid and arid climates very well. They do not shine as mothers and are not often broody so eggs may need to be hatched by incubator or another broody duck. They love water and are great gardeners, ridding the garden of slugs and snails and the pond of mosquitoes. Their eggs are said to be excellent in taste. The breed has a good temperament and makes a great addition to the backyard. They may however need to be watched in the veggie patch as they are apparently keen on salad greens.This could be a small price to pay for organic bug control.

 

Cayuga Duck

Origin: North America

Classification: Heavy breed

Colours: A very dark, lustrous green-black free from purple or white, with the wings being more lustrous than the body. the bill is slate black with a dense, black saddle in the centre, but not touching the sides or coming within 2.5cm of the end. The bean is black, the eyes are dark brown and the legs and webs as black as possible.

Uses: Eggs, Meat, Ornamental

Facts: The breed takes its name from Lake Cayuga in New York State where it was popularised. The history of the breed is a little hazy but everyone seems to agree there is wild black duck in the genetics with people suggesting maybe Mallard, maybe Rouen, maybe Crested. Whatever the history, the Cayuga produced a good natured duck prized for both meat and eggs, with the ducks laying 100-150 eggs per year. The meat is purportedly flavoursome but the carcass difficult to clean due to the black feathering, which is why the Cayuga was overtaken in meat popularity by the Pekin. However the Pekin is a much noisier option, if you like backyard ducks but have neighbours. The eggs of the Cayuga often start out black in colour but this lightens to white by the end of the laying season. The breed is an excellent forager and a good help in the garden enjoying a feed of slugs and snails. The Cayuga also changes colour as it ages, adding white feathers to the black.

Chinese Geese

Origin: China

Colours: Brown or Grey is the most commonly seen colour,  White: all white with orange bill, knob and legs

Uses: Table, Eggs     

Facts: The Chinese Goose descended from the Wild Swan Goose and the Brown/Grey shows similar colouring with the dark stripe down the back of the neck although they are a larger breed than the Wild Swan Goose. It is a bird of stylish beauty with its long, graceful neck carried upright but in a graceful arch. The domesticated breed also has a large basal knob on the upper side of the bill, which is more prominent on the gander than the goose and can be used to sex the goslings at 6-8 weeks of age. They are excellent as table birds and are prolific layers for geese, having been known to lay up to one hundred eggs annually, although fifty is around the norm. They are also known for being great "watch dogs" and can be very noisy when there are intruders or anything with which they are unfamiliar. The breed is a great forager and consequently needs less supplementary feeding than some of the other breeds. Temperaments vary but generally if they are raised well and handled from being goslings they remain friendly and will even follow their owners around. A word of warning though....it is never a good idea to approach the goose sitting on eggs as the gander can be quite protective and aggressive if he is nearby.

Crested Duck

Origin: South East Asia

Classification: Light Breed

Colours: Black, White or any recognised duck colour.

Uses: Exhibition, Meat, Eggs

Facts: Crested Ducks were present in the seventeenth century and can be seen in paintings by the Dutch Masters. The two main colours ars white and black but all "duck colours" are acceptable. The Crest must be centred and symmetrical and the overall appearance of the bird is balanced and relatively upright. Unfortunately the crest is a genetic defect and is actually fatty tissue covering up a gap in the skull. The gene is also linked to seizures and neurological isues and the lethal allele combination producing it, can cause 25% of embryos to die when Cresteds are pure bred. This happens when two pure Crested ducks are mated together, along with other possible issues such as twisted necks and the brain growing outside the skull. Some non-crested ducks will also be hatched. The recommended breeding strategy is to breed a heterozygous Crested to a non-crested bird. The resulting offspring will be 50% Crested while the others will be normal ducks. The other thing of which to be aware is aggressive breeding behaviour in the drakes as if he grabs hold of the duck's crest too hard when mating it can cause serious damage. Cresteds are good layers and the meat has strong roasting qualities but they are more popular for pets and decorative value in the garden. Care must be taken to protect the skull when transporting and exhibiting them.

Elizabeth Duck

Origin: Australia

Classification: Light Breed     

Colours: Male: shades of brown, grey, claret, off white with an iridescent green head and neck. An off white cleanly cut ring encircles the neck. Legs and webs are: duck - bronze, drake - orange. Female:shades of fawn and brown, peppered with grey. Iridescent blue-green on speculum with distinct black bar and fine white edging.                                                               

Uses: Table

Facts: The Elizabeth duck is our own home grown duck, first bred at Merrylands, New South Wales, in 1972 by Mr Lance Ruting and named after his wife Ann Elizabeth Ruting. It was thought to have been developed by crossing the Rouen Clair breed with brown farm ducks of a Mallard type  to create a small, fast growing, meat duck. It is a pretty duck with similar colouring to the Welsh Harlequin but smaller and stockier than the Welsh. It is currently only bred in Australia. Although primarily a table bird, the ducks are good layers and are capable of laying one hundred to one hundred and fifty eggs per year.

Photo Courtesy of Jill Weaver

Embden Goose

Origin: North Sea area of Northern Europe

Colours: Glossy white, with orange bill, legs and webs and eyes of ocean blue

Uses: Table, Commercial meat production

Facts: The exact origin of the Embden Goose is unknown. One train of thought is the breed was created by crossing the German White with the English White while another theory suggests that the great size and weight of the Embden goose is due to selective breeding with the Toulouse goose breed. Most probably the Embden goose originated from the town of Embden in Lower Saxony, Germany. They are also known as the Bremen goose in Germany. The Embden is classified as a heavy breed and boasts a large and long body. With its fast growth and large size it is ideally suited to the table and is also used in commercial meat production. It is a hardy breed that grows quickly and matures early, but they are not good layers, producing only twenty to thirty eggs per year. They are, however, cold hardy and can cope with mild, sub zero temperatures. The birds are herbivores and good foragers, preferring to live close to water. They are excellent mothers being very protective against predators. They have strong wings, so can fly but do not migrate. The ganders can be aggressive and will threaten with their wings.

Magpie Duck

Origin: Wales

Classification: Light Breed

Colours: White and Black. The head and neck are white with a black cap covering the whole of the crown almost to the top of the eyes. Breast and underbody white,and solid black down the back from shoulders to the tip of the tail. The primary and secondary feathers are white. When the wings are closed there is a heart shaped mantle of black feathers formed over the back. The outline of the coloured feathers should be sharp, well-defined and symmetrical. The bill is pale yellow to deep orange, the eyes are dark grey or dark brown and the legs and webs are orange. Drake and duck are both the same colour. 

Uses: Eggs, Table

Facts: The Magpie Duck was developed by Reverend Gower Williams and Mr Oliver Drake in the years following the First World War. It is named for its distinctive black and white colouring. The breed is considered rare worldwide and the challenge in breeding the Magpie Duck is producing the even markings as the genetics of the colourings is complex. Despite the difficulties in producing the perfect colourings, the breed is easy to keep. The ducks are good layers, producing 220 to 290  mainly white, but sometimes blue or green eggs per year. The compact size makes the Magpie Duck a good table bird as well, with its meat considered gourmet quality. The breed is an active forager, happily searching for grass, seeds, insects and aquatic life. They are great gardeners, eagerly consuming slugs and snails. They have also been effective in removing liver fluke infestations from farms. Although generally a docile breed, individuals can be highly strung, so handling early is advisable. The drakes have a high libido, so a ratio of 1:5 drakes to ducks is recommended.

Mallard

Origin: Northern Hemisphere

Classification: Bantam                       

Colours: Normal, Blue Fawn, Brown, Dusky, Fawn Laced Fawn, Silver, Yellow Billed White, White Billed White

Uses: Table,

Facts: The Normal Mallard occurs naturally in the wild throughout the Northern hemisphere, where it is widely distributed. It has been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, South America, The Falkland Islands and South Africa. Colour mutants have been recorded in the wild from time to time. It is understood that most, if not all of the Mallards in Australia have been developed from the English type.

Orpington Duck

Origin: Britain

Classification: Light Breed

Colours: Buff, Blue                        

Uses: Table, Eggs

Facts: The Orpington ducks were developed by the famous poultry breeder Mr William Cook of Kent in the late nineteenth century. The Buff and Blue versions were likely to have emerged after 1894. They were believed to be the result of crossbreeding Indian Runners to Aylesburys, Rouens and Cayugas.The Buffs were standardised in 1910 and the Blues in 1926. The breed is a handy dual purpose bird gaining weight quickly and producing good meat, as well as laying around 220 white eggs per year. The body is long and broad and the head is trim and oval in shape, while the breast is full and round. In both the Buff and Blue, the head and neck of the drake should be at least two shades darker in colour than the rest of the body. The Orpington is an active bird but docile in nature. Its stance should be slightly elevated at the shoulder but not upright.

Champion Orpington owned by Shayn Faehrmann, Photo courtesy of Ambleside Poultry Photography

Pekin Duck

Origin: China

Classification: Heavy Breed

Colours: Cream or creamy white throughout with a bright orange bill, legs and webs and  dark leaden blue eyes.

Uses: Table, Eggs                

Facts: The Pekin duck is the quintessential duck, being white with an orange bill and orange legs and webs, vocal with its quacking and starting out as a fluffy yellow duckling. It was originally bred in China where it is known as the Beijing or White Lake duck. It was taken to England and the United States in the early 1870's. The breed is dual purpose producing a high number of eggs, around two hundred per year, as well as being one of the best meat producers. The Pekin has quite an upright stance and a chubby, wide appearance. They have become a popular duck as they are hardy, highly fertile, grow quite quickly and are one of the larger sized ducks, which also means they are generally unable to fly. They are friendly and easy to tame but are also gregarious and one of the noisiest ducks to own.

Pomeranian Goose

Origin: Northern Germany

Colours: Grey, Buff,   Male and Female colour markings are the same They should have pinkish-red bill, reddish-orange legs and blue eyes.

Uses: Table, Eggs, Watch   

Facts: The Pomeranian is an ancient breed dating back to around 1500 and one of the descendants of the Greylag goose, specifically bred for a single lobed paunch. The breed has a chunky body, protruding breast, giving a large amount of breast meat and a rounded body. The markings should be well-defined and when looked at from behind or above the coloured areas of the back and shoulders should resemble the classic heart shape. Solid coloured heads are preferred. They are quite social and chatty birds and although some are quite docile, they are good at reading nervousness and may become aggressive accordingly. They greet visitors noisily so also make great "watch dogs". The Pomeranian goose is a seasonal but good layer, producing around seventy eggs per season. The breed is another breed that requires careful breeding to attain the perfect colouring and marking, so this can be a challenge to breeders, as is the declining number in Australia.

Pommern Duck

Origin: Germany

Classification: Light breed

Colours: Blue, Black Both the Blue and Black have an inverted heart shaped bib on the upper breast of both sexes. Beaks should be dark, preferably black.

Uses: Meat, Eggs

Facts: The Pommern is a landrace, found on home farms in the Pomerania district on the border of Germany and Sweden. They are kept for their beauty, but are also a dual purpose breed, used for meat and eggs. They are social and chatty birds and make great watch-birds as they tend to welcome visitors loudly. They will lay around 70 -100 eggs per year. They are great foragers but are considered very rare and are listed as Critical on our Watch List.

 

Roman Goose

Origin: Italy                                    

Colours: Male and Female are both glossy white with an orange-pink bill, light blue eyes and orange legs and webs  

Uses: Table, Ornamental, Watch    

Facts: According to legend these were the birds that saved Rome from attack from the Gauls in 365BC. As the Gauls tried to steal into Rome under cover of darkness, it was the honk of the Roman goose that awoke Marcus Manlius and saved the capitol. They were also considered sacred to Juno, the Goddess of Marriage. The Roman goose is a smaller sized bird with a full and well rounded breast and abdomen. It has a dual lobed paunch and is bred for its fast growth and meaty carcass. They are moderate egg layers, averaging around 25-35 eggs per year. Temperament wise they are generally calm and pleasant, although as with most geese, the ganders can become aggressive. The Roman makes an excellent "watch bird".

There is also a Tufted variety, which is identical in size, colour and type to the Roman, only with a conical tuft on the crown, beginning just over the eyes and inclined somewhat backwards. Both types are exhibited in Australia.

Photo courtesy of Alex Zandra

Tufted Variety Photo courtesy of Wayne Paternoster

Rouen Duck

Origin: France

Classification: Heavy Breed

Colours: Similar in colour to the Mallard, White variety also acceptable 

Uses: Table, Exhibition

Facts: The Rouen is named after the town in Northern France. Although once a favoured table bird, it is now kept mainly for exhibition. The plumage colouring of both Rouen duck and drake are nearly identical to that of the Mallard duck and drake. Rouen drakes have a gray body, white collars, black tail feathers, green heads and a deep claret breast. While the female Rouens are of mottled light and dark brown with a black crown and eye-stripes. Female Rouens can be much darker brown in color than the female Mallards. Both drakes and ducks also have blue speculum feathers. The speculum feathers of the Rouen duck are brighter in color and larger in size than the Mallard. The Rouen drake like the Mallard goes into an eclipse moult in the Summer and changes his brilliant plumage for that of the duck. The Rouen breed is a docile, heavy weight breed that is slow to mature, which is why they are not suitable for the commercial meat market. The meat is leaner than a Pekin and is good for roasting. The Rouen makes a great backyard duck as it is a good forager and a keen insect eater, but it is only considered moderate in the egg laying department, laying around 125 extra large eggs per year.

Photo courtesy of Marissa J Gilbert, Whitevalley Suburban Farm

Rouen Clair Duck

Origin: France

Classification: Heavy Breed

Colours: Mallard colouring but lighter shades

Uses: Table, Eggs

Facts: The Rouen Clair is a separate breed from the Rouen and was standardised separately. It is considered the modern development of the  Mallard coloured ducks from the Rouen area of France. The breed is largely due to the efforts of Monsieur Rene Garry between 1910 and 1920 who selected and crossbred the Rouen ducks, using the lighter ground colour from the farms in the region. Which other breeds are in the mix is a little foggy but the Pekin is suspected to be one, due to the shape of the head, which was unknown in Europe before the Pekin arrived. The Rouen Clair is a calm and docile bird that cannot fly well. It is a good layer, producing up to two hundred eggs per year. It is slightly more erect in carriage than the Rouen and is a long bird measuring up to 90cms from beak to tail. The bird is a good forager but needs space to roam so it doesn't become overweight. A pond is essential as the heavier breeds find breeding more difficult out of water.

Photo courtesy of Jill Weaver

Saxony Duck

Origin: Germany

Classification: Heavy Breed   

Colours: The drakes have blue-gray colored back, head and wing markings. The breast feathers are a rich chestnut-burgundy, the neck and ring are white and their underbody and flanks are of cream color. The legs and feet of the Saxony drakes are orange or reddish-brown in color. Their bill is yellow or orange in color, often with pale green shading. The females are a buff color with creamy white neck ring, facial stripes and underbody.

Uses: Table, Eggs

Facts: The beautiful Saxony duck was originally bred by Mr Albert Franz by crossing Blue Pomeranians, Rouens and German Pekins in the 1930s. He was trying to create a meat breed that would mature in ten weeks and have lighter feathers underneath. He introduced the breed at the 1934 Saxony Show but all of his stock was lost during the Second World War. He renewed his breeding program after the War and Germany recognised the Saxony breed in 1957. The colours of the drake are unlike any other breed although they do typically exhibit Mallard patterns. The birds have a gentle and calm disposition and are not flyers. The meat is excellent, being known to have more flavour and less fat than other meat breeds. They love to forage for insects so make good gardeners. The ducks are good layers, laying up to two hundred eggs per year. They are broody and will sit on eggs until they hatch. The females are quite noisy and although they do not quack as such, they make a raspy sound if excited.

Sebastopol Goose

Origin: Eastern Europe, the drainage basin of the River Danube and the Black Sea

Colours: Curly, white plumage, bright blue eyes and orange bill. The legs and webs are a darker orange

Uses: Table, Ornamental, Exhibition   

Facts: Curled feathers are the main characteristic of the Sebastopol goose, although it also comes in a Smooth Breasted variety. The breed is descended from the European Greylag and by the nineteenth century was found in all countries surrounding the Black Sea. It arrived in England in 1860 and was exhibited as the Sebastopol goose, although it is also known as the Danubian goose. The Sebastopol goose is a medium sized breed with long, white curly feathers. It is easily identified by its distinctive feathers. Feathers of the neck are smooth. Feathers may be curly (frizzle) or smooth on the breast. Their eyes are usually bright blue and the legs and shanks are a dark orange color. Their heads are large and rounded, and the plumage of the head and upper two-thirds of the neck is normal.The birds are quite hardy but will need shelter from the cold wind and rain. They also require a constant source of water to keep the feathers clean. The feathers make it difficult for them to fly and their quiet nature makes them a good choice for pets and showing. The geese will produce around thirty large, white eggs per year.

Silver Appleyard Duck

Origin: Britain

Classification: Heavy Breed

Colours: The bill of the drakes is greenish or yellow with a black tip. Their eyes are brown and head and neck are greenish-black (sometimes exhibiting striping with age). The breast, flank, shoulders and sides on a drake are reddish-chestnut with white frosting and lacing. Their legs and feet are orange and the tail is blackish bronze. The underbody of the Silver Appleyard drake is creamy or silvery white and the wings are gray and white with a blue cross-stripe. The female Silver Appleyards have a yellow or orange bill with a black bean, and their eyes are brown. Their legs and feet are orange with dark toenails. The plumage of the females is usually whitish with gray, brown, fawn and buff speckling and markings. There is a blue cross-stripe on their wings.      

Uses: Table, Eggs

Facts: The Silver Appleyard is named after its breeder, Mr Reginald Appleyard from the famous Priory Waterfowl Farm in England. His object was to "breed and make a beautiful breed of duck, with a combination of size, beauty and lots of big, white eggs." A variety of crosses were used to accomplish this including the Rouen, Pekin and Aylesbury. The breed is described as being active, but calm, docile and friendly and will make a good pet. They like to stay close to home if being fed well. They are fast growing, reaching around 3kg by nine weeks of age and are a good meat breed, with their meat being lean and flavoursome. The ducks are also one of the best layers of the heavy breeds, laying around two hundred and fifty large white eggs per year. They will often go broody so are happy to hatch out a brood.

Photo courtesy of Marissa J Gilbert, Whitevalley Suburban Farm

Toulouse Goose

Origin: France

Colours: Male and female both have the same plumage....Grey neck, light grey breast and keel, shading darker to the thighs. Grey back, wings and thighs with white laced edgings to the feathers.The flight feathers are without white. The stern, paunch and tail are white and the tail has a broad band of white across the centre. The bill, legs and webs are orange and the eyes are dark brown or hazel.

Uses: Table

Facts: Toulouse geese were first developed in Toulouse, France as a table bird and were imported into England by the Earl of Derby in the 1840s. The breed underwent further development outside France and the British and American breeders were responsible for increasing the overall size and enlarging the keel and dewlap. The breed is an important meat producer and with its oversized liver is a source of foie gras. Its fluffy feathers are also a good source for down, but the goose is not good for egg production, laying only around 20-40 large white eggs per year. Like most of the heavy goose breeds the Toulouse is typically docile. They are known for the massive, deep bodies, pendulous dewlap and fast growth rate, particularly when there is abundant food and little exercise. The pendulous dewlap extends in folds from the lower mandible. The breed is not a good forager and requires an adequate supply of concentrated feed with good protein levels, as well as water in which to swim, and access to green feed to maintain peak health.

Watervale Duck

Origin: Australia

Classification: Heavy Breed        

Colours: Drake: Multicoloured with shades of chestnut brown and fawn to brownish-grey. Head and neck are iridescent green with no indication of a neck ring. The bill is yellowish olive green with a black bean. Legs and webs are orange. The duck is shades of fawn and brown with dark orange-grey legs and webs.

Uses: Exhibition

Facts: The Watervale is one of only two waterfowl, along with the Elizabeth, that originated in Australia. It was developed in the 1980s on a property in Watervale, South Australia, by Mr Holder, from a colour sport from a flock of Cayugas. Matings of Watervales back to unrelated Cayugas has proven the Watervale is a recessive mutant colour. Their size and type should be identical to that of the Cayuga. One of their characteristics is the beautiful green and black eggs they lay. The Cayuga is used to improve size and type of the Watervale but the back cross will produce all black ducklings. It is not until the subsequent generation that the colours are shown. The Watervale is extremely rare even here in Australia and is listed as Critical.

Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Nelson

Welsh Harlequin Duck

Origin: Wales

Classification: Light Breed

Colours: The drake has a green and bronze head with a white circle around his neck and his breast and shoulders are a laced, rich red mahogany brown. The wings have a tortoiseshell effect. The duck has a honey brown head and neck and her main body is fawn to cream with lacing on her wings, making them a handsome pair.     

Uses: Eggs, Table (but lean meat)

Facts: The Welsh Harlequin is a relatively new breed of duck developed in 1949 by Group Captain Leslie Bonnet, using Khaki Campbell sports. They were a utility breed and proved popular until disaster struck and a fox wiped out Bonnet's whole flock that were the direct descendants of the original sports. It was thought they were lost forever until it was found that Mr Eddie Grayson of Lancashire still had some of the originals that he had bought, so the breed was saved. The Welsh Harlequin is an attractive breed. It is a friendly, docile and placid breed that does not tend to fly, so is happy to forage enthusiastically for insects in the garden. They are known as being much calmer than their relative the Khaki Campbell and are hardy to most climates. The Welsh Harlequin is a good egg layer, laying up to 250 large, white eggs per year so can be used for commercial egg production. The drakes have high libido, so it is advisable to have multiple ducks to drake so the ducks do not get injured. The ducks tend to broodiness and they will happily hatch out their brood without human intervention. The gender of the ducklings can be determined with 90% accuracy shortly after hatching, by bill colour. The males will have darker bills and the females will have lighter bills ending with a spot.

Australian Heritage Turkeys

What is a Heritage Turkey?

A heritage turkey is one which:

1. can mate naturally.

2. is adaptable to variations in its surroundings e.g. food, weather.

3. has a life-span of at least five years.

4. has played a role in the development of the Australian turkey industry.

Unlike chickens, ducks and geese, which are made up of a number of different breeds, domestic turkeys comprise but one breed, with a number of varieties (colours). The Australian Poultry Standards (2nd edition) recognises nine varieties.

 

Black

Male and female: The plumage is a solid black with greenish lustre throughout. The undercolour is black. The presence of purple, brown and white in the plumage is undesirable but does not disqualify the bird. Legs and feet are black on young birds and pink in adults. The eyes are brown-black and the beak is also black.

 

Blue

Male and female: The plumage is a deep grey-blue and free from black or off-coloured markings. The legs and feet are slate in young birds and blue-pink in adults. The eyes are brown-black and the beak is grey-horn.

 

Bourbon Red

Male: The plumage is rich dark brownish-red, narrowly edged with black allover except for the large wing and tail feathers and the neck. The primaries and secondaries are solid white. The main tail feathers are white except for an indistinct bar of red crossing each feather near the end. The neck feathers are brownish red without black edging and the undercolour is red fading to salmon. Faded red to buff colours in the plumage is undesirable. The beak is horn and the eyes are medium brown. The legs and feet are pinkish red.

Female: The plumage is similar to that of the male except there is not black edging and there is a narrow edging of white on the breast feathers.

 

Bronze

Male: The plumage on the upper breast and neck has a black base with a surface colouring of iridescent red-green bronzing. The lower breast, wing bows, fronts and secondaries coverts are similar to the former markings except for an edging of velvety black and red-green bronzing. The front half of the back is similarly marked, while the rear half is black, with each feather having a broad copperish-bronze band, extending across it, near the end. The feathers end in a distinct black band, the black gradually narrowing as the tail coverts approach. The tail, when spread for strutting, shows perfect formation, the exposed portion being black with evenly pencilled, narrow stripes of brown, until near the tip of the tail, where there is a broad band of brilliant copper, bordered front and rear with black. The tips have a wide edge of white forming the outer edge of a fan, the white band being duplicated half-way down towards the base of the tail. On the wings, the primaries and their coverts display uniformly wide, dull black and white barring. The secondaries are similar but those closest to the body have indistinct barring, the black portion enlarged and the white portion reduced. The upper thighs are black and the lower thighs are also black but edged with grey. The fluff is dull black.

Female: The plumage is similar to that of the male but displaying narrow white edging on the breast, widening on the wing bows, secondary coverts and on the back.

In both sexes the beak is horn, the eyes are dark hazel with a blue-black pupil and the legs and feet are black on young birds and greyish-pink on adults.

Photo of Bronze hen displaying  courtesy of Sergio Bestulic

Buff

Male and female: The plumage is a deep cinnamon brown, free from cream. The primaries and secondaries are white and free from buff markings. The beak is light horn, the eyes are dark hazel with a blue-black pupil and the legs and feet are pink and flesh.

 

Naragansett

Male: The plumage on the neck,breast and body is black on the unexposed part of the feather, whereas the exposed surface of each feather is steel-grey terminating in a distinct black band, narrow at the throat and becoming wider at the lower breast. The fronts and bows of the wings are light steel-grey ending in a narrow band of black. The coverts are a light steel-grey forming a broad band across the wings when folded, with the feathers terminating in a distinct black band, forming a glossy ribbon-like mark, which separates them from the secondaries. The back is metallic black while the saddle is black with each feather ending in a broad steel-grey band approaching white, the light band increasing in width as the tail coverts are approached. The primaries are barred black and white and the secondaries are alternately crossed with parallel black and white bars. The main tail is is dull black with each feather regularly pencilled with parallel lines of tan, ending in a broad band of metallic black, free from brownish cast and edged with steel-grey approaching white. The tail coverts are as for the tail with a wide edging of light steel-grey approaching white.

Female: The plumage is similar to that of the male except for white edging to the feathers on the back and breast.

In both sexes the beak is horn, the eyes are brown and the legs and feet are slate in young birds and dull salmon in adults.

 

Royal Palm

Male and female: The plumage on the neck, breast, body, wing coverts, fronts and bows is white with a narrow band of black running the entire width of each feather, and free from brown or chestnut markings. The edging becomes greater in width on the breast. The back and saddle are rich metallic black, forming a sharp contrast of black against the white base colour of the body plumage. On the wings, the primaries are dull black and the secondaries are white edged with black. The tail is white with a wide band of metallic black about 3.75cm in width termintaing in pure white at the end of the tail. The tail coverts are white with a broad band of metallic black across the feathers terminating in a wide edge of white. The black bands on females in all sections are usually less intense and contrasting than in the males. The beak is light horn, the eyes are light brown and the legs and feet are deep pink or pinkish-white.

Photo Courtesy of Jill Andrews

Slate

Male and female: The plumage is slate-blue with lighter shades preferred. The males are generally a darker shade than the females. The beak is grey-horn, the eyes are medium dark brown and the legs and feet are slate-pink in young birds and dull pink in adults.

 

White

Male and female: The plumage is white throughout and free from creaminess and other off-colours. The beak is pinkish-horn, the eyes are medium brown and the legs and feet are pale pink.

 

All Varieties:

In both sexes the beard is black and may be present in females but is preferably absent. The head, including the face, dewlap, throat, wattles and caruncles, is brilliant red, changeable to blue-white.

If you would like more information on these amazing birds, the Australian Heritage Turkey Society has a fabulous website, which you will find here:

http://www.turkeysaustralia.com.au/

and an equally good Facebook page, you will find here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AHTSI/

 

SHOWING HELP :  Excellent Australian video about preparing poultry for a show, made by Kait Shultz and Jack Murphy of  Pittsworth Show Society, and used with  heir kind permission  Preparing Poultry for a Show