The Dorking is recognized as the oldest breed of chicken, originating in England as part of the Roman occupation. They are a five-toed breed that is dual purposed. Dorkings come in both a standard and a bantam, the standard weighing 6.5 pounds and the bantam weighing one. They are good layers of smallish eggs and are fairly uncommon in the poultry would. They fatten easily which is why they are a good dual purpose bird and often do well in confinement. Having a Dorking in your flock is like introducing Julius Cesear to your backyard!
Old English Game
Seen even in the medieval times, these birds were used in cockfighting rings in the medieval castles. They are a very rare and aggressive bird. Small, weighing in at four pounds, and very poor layers; perhaps due to their personalities. They are hardy but not built for harsh winters and slow to mature. The Old English is not a chicken for the novice owners and they are quite rare and expensive.
This birds are widely accepted as the oldest truly American breed. They are likely a crossbreed of the grey birds kept in the New England area. They are a dual purpose bird with feathers that are sought after for fly fishing lures. Perhaps our founding fathers caught many of their fish with the feathers from these chickens? Uncommon, they are good layers of average sized eggs and do not struggle with winter weather. They are mostly calm and adaptable. They have the pleasure of being named the first American chicken.
America’s second oldest breed, the Java is in danger of extinction and groups are in the midst of bringing it back from the brink. It has a distinctly recognizable body that is rectangular in shape but with a sloping back. It comes in black, white, mottled and auburn. They are a hardy breed, poor layers or average eggs. If you are looking to get into the chicken fancy world, this breed definitely deserves some attention.
Though not one of the oldest breeds internationally, the Chantecler is both the oldest and only chicken to hail from Canada. These birds are exceptionally rare, even in their home land, and are considered a dual purpose breed. They are good layers of large eggs and were developed specifically for cold weather. They are good for confined spaces and known for their docile nature though some are skittish. Frequently broody, they are known for being good mothers and certainly deserve a spot on the list for being the oldest and only truly Canadian chicken.
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