Chickens of this breed have a meat – egg orientation and were bred at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the outskirts of the town of Barnevelder, which is located in the Netherlands.
This rare and very beautiful breed has a unique dark chocolate shade of feathers, and each feather has a cute pattern with a double edging, which ultimately gives the birds a special chic and decorative effect.
Despite the fact that the Barnevelder breed is considered universal (meat – egg), in terms of egg production it is not inferior to even purely egg varieties of chickens, while the quality of juicy dietary meat is beyond praise.
History of the creation of the breed
At the end of the last century, Dutch poultry breeders crossed local chickens with the then popular Cochinchins and produced offspring that lay eggs with a rich brown shell. As a result, the demand for eggs with this color has increased sharply, and accordingly, the price for them has risen. The winner was the one who offered the market the most colorful shell color.
This circumstance forced the breeders of the town of Barnevelder to continue the work begun, and soon scientists conducted a number of experiments on crossing local layers with the Langshan, Brama, Rhode Island and Indian fighting chickens breeds. As a result, an original breed of birds with a unique decoration and terracotta color of eggs was obtained.
In 1910 the Barnevelder breed was named after the town where it was bred. The species was standardized and after that gained fame and recognition throughout the world.
Description of the breed
The Barnevelder hen looks large and strong, with a proud bearing and good health. Its plumage is dense, thick and iridescent on the neck. The shoulders are broad, the chest is low, strong and round. The wings are short and tight to the body. The head is neat with a scarlet leaf-shaped crest. The earrings are bright red. The eyes are bright orange.
The unique chocolate color with a characteristic plumage pattern is inherent exclusively in this breed, since, as mentioned above, the feathers of the birds are edged with double dark stripes, which gives the chickens an original decorative appearance. Sometimes the dark chocolate color is “diluted” with feathers with a dark blue tint.
The Barnevelder cockerel usually has a gorgeous resinous black bushy tail. The crusts have a lacy tail and wider than a rooster. Legs are yellow, may have a slight smoky shade.
Currently, there are several color varieties of this breed: black, white, partridge, silver with a dark border (grown by an English breeder named Chris Milward), there is also a variety with a blue border of feathers, but the classic dark brown color is still the most popular plumage.
Chickens of the Barnevelder breed have a unique vitality. They are hardy and unpretentious, perfectly tolerate cold, quickly gain weight and are excellent winter layers.
Birds of this species have a lively character, are friendly, easily tamed and quickly get used to their owners. And the cockerels and hens of the breed are not shy and not cocky.
It is noteworthy that the Barnevelder hens are excellent and caring mothers.
To obtain meat, chickens of this breed are kept no longer than two years, based on the principle: the older the chicken, the worse the quality of its meat. As for the egg productivity of laying hens, after three, four years from the date of birth, it begins to decline sharply. This factor should also be considered when breeding this breed.
Of the minuses of Barnevelder chickens, it should be noted that birds love to dig in the ground and dig holes, so they can easily damage plants and crops in the backyard and in the garden. To resist this trouble, the birds need to create special conditions for walking (preferably a large area).
In addition, chickens tend to take off from time to time, therefore, they require rather high fences made of metal mesh.
Maintenance and care of chickens
Chickens of the “Barnevelder” breed do not have special resistance to frost, but they survive the cold quite persistently, so there are no special requirements for the chicken coop for keeping these chickens.
It is desirable for the house to be warm, clean, spacious, well lit and free of drafts. Winter keeping of birds (in case of frost) occurs without walking in the fresh air. But the straw bedding indoors should be changed as often as possible.
Chickens must have individual perches and nests. It is important not to forget about the feeders and fill the containers with clean and fresh drinking water in time.
It is not recommended to keep chickens of this breed in cages or in a limited and confined space, because due to a lack of physical activity in birds, muscles atrophy, as a result of which blood circulation in the legs is impaired and joint diseases are possible.
In general, Barnevelder chickens are unpretentious in food and their diet is no different from that of ordinary domestic chickens, especially since while walking, the hen herself will find something to satisfy herself.
The herd should be supplemented at least twice a day (preferably in the early morning and evening). At this time, it is advisable to give the birds more grain, since it is digested for a long time in the stomach of the birds.
It is necessary to feed chickens with fresh greens (clover, alfalfa, nettles, onion feathers), green tops, grain mixtures, corn, combined feed, vegetables and root crops. As a mineral supplement, chalk, bone meal, shells, crushed eggshells, which are a source of calcium, should be put in the feeding troughs. You can read more about chicken nutrition here.
If you are lucky enough to become the owner of Barnevelder chickens, you will receive not only a beautiful, intelligent and hardy bird that can decorate any backyard with its decorative appearance, but also excellent performance indicators of eggs and high-quality meat.