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White Barnevelder

The Barnevelder is a medium heavy breed of chicken named after the Dutch town of Barneveld. It is a cross of 19th century Dutch landrace chickens with Asian breeds imported to Europe in the mid-late 19th century. It is an amazing mix of genetics- purpose bred to suit the harsh english pollution of the industrial age.  Bred to look good in London's sooty atmosphere, black Barnevelders were all the rage and most prized in 1860.

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Genetics of the Brahma, Cochin, Croad Langshan, Wyandottes,  Buff Orpingtons (themselves a crossing of Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks)  Malay and Cornish Indian Game all came together in a few short decades of the mid 1800's to create a new hybrid bird and many of these characteristics are reflected in the beauty and stature of the standardised Barnevelder breed today.Overall the Croad Langshan continued to have the biggest influence and contributed hardiness, brown eggs and good winter production.

This makes the Barnevelder a good example of the nineteenth century obsession with novel originality (poor birds!) and later the twentieth century’s focus on breeding for production production production and were bred both as a utility breed and a show breed. They are medium heavy dual-purpose chickens laying a good number of eggs but also yielding a reasonable carcass. They are hardy birds and good foragers. 

The original and most well known Barnevelder is the double laced brown variety with a single vertical comb and yellow legs, but occasionally naturally occurring recessive white birds are hatched and this is where my interest lies. We are fortunate to have a small number of White Barnevelders.

While they became famous for their dark brown eggs in the first half of the 20th century most birds now appear to be in the hands of show breeders and not much attention has been given to maintaining the dark brown egg colour or to productivity with the focus being on external characteristics instead. Many flocks now lay eggs of a much lighter brown than before and are sometimes not quite as productive as befits their reputation. They are good winter layers and have a quiet disposition.