Asselby Chucks - Rare Breed Poultry

Rare Breed Poultry in East Yorkshire

The History of Shetland Poultry

Shetlands are usually black with either gold or silver lacing around the neck. Their size is mid-way between a bantam and a medium size fowl. The most sought after hens have tufted heads (tappet in the Shetland dialect), and the cockerels have a large floppy single comb. The hens lay a blue/green medium sized egg, usually more evenly rounded at both ends than normal, and have a long laying season.

 

They are almost certainly bred from Araucanas, an ancient South American breed from Chile and Peru. This breed arrived in the Mediterranean in the 16th century, and legend has it that chickens carried by the Armada were shipwrecked near the Shetlands. These “galleon” hens were bred with the local chickens to produce the Shetland. However, this is now thought to be unlikely as the Spanish favoured white eggs at that time.

 

It is more likely that Araucanas were brought from Chile with the nitrate trade in the 1880’s to 1930’s.  These tall sailing ships sailed from Northern Europe to Chile to collect "white gold" - valuable nitrate desperately required for agricultural use. The ships carried poultry for fresh provisions, and it is thought that they were traded with the Islanders, as Araucanas were preferred to European birds due to their ability to cope better with the climate change.

 

The use of indoor housing due to bad winter weather, and the good shipping links to Aberdeen meant that the Shetland Isles were major winter egg producers from Victorian times. By the mid 1950’s many of the flocks on the Islands had been dispersed due to industrialisation of egg production.

The use of indoor housing due to bad winter weather, and the good shipping links to Aberdeen meant that the Shetland Isles were major winter egg producers from Victorian times. By the mid 1950’s many of the flocks on the Islands had been dispersed due to industrialisation of egg production.

 

                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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