The Barnevelder Chicken
Like the Hamburg chicken, the Barnevelder is an ‘old’ breed which had its origins in the Netherlands. For many years it supplied brown eggs for Dutch consumers.
The Barnevelder is a mix of several breeds. It takes its name from the town of Barneveld. Between 1850 and 1975, local birds were crossed with Brahmas, Cochins, Croad Langshans and Malays. One strain was kept as a meat bird and later crossed again with Brahmas and Langshans. This resulted in improved toughness, increased winter production and brown eggs.
The standard for the breedCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BarnevelderHenSleeping.jpg was fixed in 1921 by the Association of Barnevelder Breeders. The birds at that time were good producers laying good numbers of dark brown eggs. With the interest in exhibiting Barnevelders, breeders concentrated more on colour and external traits at the expense of production.
The original colour was the double-laced and this is now the most popular. Different countries recognise different varieties. Black, partridge, silver, white, dark brown, double-laced blue and blue are some of the types available. Bantam Barnevelders appear in most of these colours.
The Barnevelder is a medium to heavy bird with a compact, well-balanced body, upright stance and broad breast. The wings are short and carried high as is the head which is neat and bears a single comb. Barnevelders are friendly and docile and a good choice as a backyard chicken. However the chicks are quite shy and can sometimes be bullied by other breeds. They are best if kept in small groups of their own kind.
The Barnevelder is a dual purpose bird and a good winter layer. Between 180 and 200 eggs are laid each year. Nowadays, the eggs may be dark brown or somewhat lighter, depending on the strain. The Barnevelder is popular as an egg producer and is exported to many countries.
They are a heavy breed with cocks weighing around 8 ½ pounds and the hens about two pounds less. Bantams range from 1.6 to 2 pounds depending on sex, with cocks being at the larger end of the scale. Barnevelders are robust and produce a well-fleshed carcass when dressed for the table. They are happy to forage and will fossick for their own food actively and efficiently. Being docile, calm birds, foraging will also give them some exercise. The hens will go broody and make attentive mothers. Because they are so calm, they adapt well to being penned.