A brief history of heritage chickens

Andy Cawthray.png Andy Dawthray and friend
As you might expect, we get a lot of questions at CLUCK the Chicken Store about which among the hundreds of chicken breeds are best. As always, the answer is "it depends," but we do lean toward a few heritage breeds as the best choices for backyard chicken-keepers, especially those with little or no chicken experience. Many of those breeds were developed in Britain in an explosion of chicken interest in the 19th Century.

So we were please to find this blog in The Guardian by Andy Cawthray, who explains a little bit about how the heritage breeds originated. Here's a preview:

The frenzy of fancy fowl in the mid-19th century significantly changed the western perspective on chickens, putting poultry in a new light within modern culture. No longer were they simply a farmyard forager, they had wider appeal, reflected in a new "hen fever" that cut across the classes of Victorian Britain.

The influx of new breeds not only delivered aesthetic appeal and a price tag beyond anything that had been seen before, but also egg laying and meat capabilities that could raise an eyebrow. It was both of these practical functions that would become more pivotal over the next 100 years

It's worth a read, if only because there seems to be a charming connection between Brits and animals of all sorts. They don't apologize for being sentimental about other creatures, for one thing.

Andy also writes his personal blog, called the chicken street, which he calls "confessions of a chickeneer." It's right up our ally because it's all about sustainable small-scale agriculture, both animal and vegetable.