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Farmyard bantams

Chooks

The English language contains no single word that refers to the domestic cock and hen collectively and exclusively. The word “chooks” is used throughout New Zealand to describe this poultry species, and is accordingly used on this website.


Press the ‘PageDown’ key or use the scroll bar to see details of the various breeds of chooks in New Zealand, or click on the group opposite to go directly to the one you want.

» Light Breeds
» Heavy Breeds
» Game Breeds
» True Bantams
» Bantamised Breeds


LIGHT BREEDS: These breeds were developed primarily as egg-producers. Most of them will not go ‘clucky’ or ‘broody’.
ANCONA. From Italy, the Ancona is essentially an egg-layer. A striking bird with beetle-green feathers tipped with white, it has a bright, alert carriage.
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ANDALUSIAN. From Spain comes the blue Andalusian, a layer of large white eggs. The slate blue coloration, laced with black, occurs in about fifty percent of birds, the remainder being black or white.
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ARAUCANA. Best known as a layer of blue eggs the Araucana is the only South American breed. It has a characteristic pea comb, with a crest and ear tufts, and in its original form was often 'rumpless' (tail-less). The most popular colour is lavender.
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CAMPINE. The rare Campine, which comes in both gold and silver, is arguably the most spectacular of all chook breeds. Developed in Belgium as a producer of both meat and eggs its unique feature is the feather-barring which extends down the back and tail in both sexes, contrasting with the clear-coloured neck hackles.
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FRIZZLE. A purely ornamental or exhibition chook, covered in a profusion of 'frizzled' feathers turning upwards and curling backwards towards the head.
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Silver-spangled Hamburgh
HAMBURGH. Another truly beautiful breed which, despite its name, originated in England. A very alert, active bird, with gold and silver colouring variously pencilled and spangled.
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Houdan
HOUDAN. Probably the oldest French breed, it is characterised by its large crest, muffled face and glossy green-black colouring, mottled with white.
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Brown Leghorn LEGHORN. The Leghorn may well be the most popular egg-producer ever brought into this country. Leghorns come in a wide variety of colours, and are still regarded as the best layers of the purebreds.
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Black Minorca
MINORCA. The black (occasionally blue or white) Minorca is the largest of the Mediterranean 'light' breeds, and famous for its extra-large white eggs. A proud and stately chook which does surprisingly well in confined surroundings.
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POLISH. An unusual and very old breed with a spectacular head crest and virtually no comb. It is almost entirely a 'fancy' or show bird today. It is, however, an active breed which can do well in the farmyard.
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SICILIAN BUTTERCUP. An extremely rare breed of chook of Continental origin. It features a cup-shaped comb and long wattles.
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SILKIE. First described by Marco Polo in 1298, the origin of the Silkie chook is still uncertain, although it is often called the 'Chinese' Silkie. Its dominant features are soft, fluffy feathering, blue skin, five toes, and persistent broodiness. White is the most common colour, but black, blue and gold birds are also known.
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WELSUMMER. The Dutch Welsummer is noteworthy as a producer of deep brown eggs. Most birds are of the standard brownish or 'partridge' colouring, but this can be variable, especially when they are rare, as in this country.
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HEAVY BREEDS: Heavy breeds of chooks were historically bred as meat producers, but today include the utility breeds – table birds that will also lay well.

AUSTRALORP. The ultimate utility chook, excellent for both meat and eggs. Always a rich green-black in colour, it was developed in Australia from Black Orpington stock.
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BARNEVELDER. A very dark brown egg has always been the chief attraction of the Dutch Barnevelder. The most popular colour variety is the double-laced, the lacing being black on a rich red-brown ground.
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Silver-grey Dorking hen (Trotter/McCulloch photo) DORKING. One of the oldest of the British breeds is the Dorking. Essentially a meat breed, with a long, low, deep body, short legs and five toes it comes in a variety of attractive colours.
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FAVEROLLE. Bred for meat, the large French Faverolle has a build described as 'cloddy.' It is a five-toed breed with distinctive muffles on the lower face. There are a number of acceptable colours.
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Indian Game
INDIAN GAME. This massive Cornish bird was developed in Britain to produce abundant breast and thigh meat. It has been described as the 'macho' of the poultry world.
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Croad Langshan
LANGSHAN. There are two breeds of the Asian Langshan, the Croad and Chinese, developed along different lines from the original imports to Britain. Layers of brown eggs, both have feathered legs and are mostly black.
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NEW HAMPSHIRE RED. The New Hampshire Red was developed from Rhode Island red stock for rapid growth for meat and early, large, better-than-average egg production. It is always a good bright red in colour.
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Black Orpington rooster (Trotter/McCulloch photo) ORPINGTON. The largest of the English breeds, developed as a dual-purpose chook. It comes in black, blue, buff and white, is attractive, hardy, easy to keep, and excellent eating. Although reputed to be a good winter egg producer, this does not appear to be the case in New Zealand.
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Barred Plymouth Rock PLYMOUTH ROCK. Usually called the 'Barred' Rock (but it does come in a number of other colours), the Plymouth Rock is among the best dual-purpose breeds of American origin. The popular barred variety is attractive and a good producer of both eggs and meat.
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Rhode Island Red RHODE ISLAND RED. One of the most popular breeds, the Rhode Island Red was developed in the USA. The colouring is always a rich dark red, and it is an active, fine-looking chook ~ a very good choice for all round utility.
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SUSSEX. An old British breed, a moderate layer, but primarily developed as a meat breed. The 'Light' Sussex is the popular colour, its pure white body set off with a black tail and black-striped neck hackles. A good all-round backyard chook.
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Golden Wyandotte WYANDOTTE. The popular Wyandotte combines usefulness with good looks. The striking gold and silver laced varieties are the best known, but the white is often regarded as the best all-rounder. There are also black, blue, buff, red, partridge, pencilled and Colombian colour variations.
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GAME BREEDS: Game or ‘hardfeather’ chooks were originally purpose-bred for cock-fighting – which was abolished in 1849.

OLD ENGLISH GAME. There are more than thirty colour varieties of Old English Game; they are considered to be the aristocrats of the chook breeds.
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Black-red Modern Game MODERN GAME. These long-legged game chooks were produced by crossing the Old English breed with the Malay chook. Half-a-dozen colour varieties are recognized.


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TRUE BANTAMS: These are naturally-small birds that have no counterpart in the larger varieties. Four true bantams are found in New Zealand.

Japanese Bantams JAPANESE. The striking, extremely rare Japanese Bantam is purely ornamental, with very short legs and a remarkably long and erect tall rising well above head height. It has been developed by fanciers into a variety of colours.
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White Pekin PEKIN. The best known of the true bantams. Quiet, friendly, and easily handled it has great appeal with its round, dumpy outline and feathered feet. It has been developed into a wide range of colours.
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Black Rosecomb ROSECOMB. Physical perfection in straight out proportion and balance is the salient characteristic of the British Rosecomb. Most popular in pure black with a brilliant green sheen, with face, comb and wattles of bright cherry red.
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Silver and Golden Sebrights SEBRIGHT. The Sebright, another ornamental bantam, was produced in Britain about 1800; the cock bird is 'hen feathered,' that is, it has no neck hackles or tail sickles. It comes in gold and silver varieties, both black-laced.
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BANTAMISED BREEDS:   Most breeds described as bantams are, strictly speaking, ‘miniatures’, having been reduced in size from larger chooks. They have the same breed description as their larger counterparts – except for weight. See above for breed details.
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[The Website compilers would greatly appreciate more photographs of chooks to add to this page.]

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