Dual purpose chickens typically lay brown eggs with the exception of the Hollands. Rutgers Farms bred the Holland to lay white eggs and produce a meaty, yellow carcass preferred by most Americans. Unlike today’s egg producers, Hollands thrive in a small farm settings. They withstand confinement well but prefer foraging for their own food. Adaptable, they can live in all latitudes with standard precautions to protect from frostbite. Hollands have a slow growth rate unacceptable in commercial operations but entirely adequate for backyard farmers. Hens go broody when needed and make excellent mothers.
Farmers describe the Holland as calm and docile with a cheerful disposition. Hollands, the product of several other breeds, has taken the best from many worlds to produce an independent but pliable chicken. They eat commercial feed but can just as easily forage for themselves. They display few of the irritating traits such as flightiness or aggression seen in other egg layers. They get along with each other in confinement. Quiet, the Holland can live in settings with human neighbors. Changing appetites in eggs and meat have threatened the existence of Hollands rather than any defect in their character.
Hollands come into two basic varieties; White and Barred. White Hollands have pure white plumage without any other colors. The Barred Holland has black and white barred feathers covering the entire chicken. Holland hens have a darker plumage than the cocks. The cocks weigh eight pounds, and the hens weight six. Holland have a single, red, six-point comb. All six points stand erect on the cock. The hen’s last five points droop. The Standard of Perfection dictates red earlobes for the breed, but most Hollands have white center in their lobe. Medium red wattles dangle from their cheeks.
Hollands need sufficient room to forage for food. Make a large, dry run with available organic feed grains. Supplement their diet with extra protein and calcium to support their egg laying. Provide extra space for nesting. Holland hens prefer raising their own brood. Protect the rooster’s comb in the coldest months using petroleum jelly or better yet by providing insulated housing. Hollands face extinction. In fact, the White Holland may not exist. Buy good quality stock from reliable Holland keepers and make the effort to advance the survival of the breed.
Hollands demonstrate the changing world of poultry tastes. In 1930 consumers came to believe that white eggs had a finer texture and better flavor than brown eggs. Unfortunately, in 1930 white eggs came from lightweight chickens. All the decent dual-purpose chickens laid brown eggs. To meet the demand for white eggs and to still make money, chicken farmers needed a dual-purpose, white-egg chicken. Rutgers Breeding Farm took a bird from Holland and crossed it with White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, and Lamonas to create the White Holland. Later they created the Barred Holland. In 1949 both varieties gained acceptance in the American Poultry Association. Today they face extinction.