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Basque Hen - Chicks of the Rare Marraduna Euskal Oiloak Chicken Breed

By Edited Aug 19, 2016 0 0
Two Euskal Oiloa Basque Hen Chicks - Calm and Friendly at a 3 days old.
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

Marraduna Euskal Oiloa Chicken Breed

The Marraduna Euskal Oiloa is a beautiful and unusually marked chicken that make awesome pet chickens.  The red or blonde barred chicken is similar-looking to the Barred Rock but instead of the grey or black bars, they have brown. 

'Marraduna' is basque language for  brown line.   'Euskal Oiloa' is simply Basque language for Basque Hen or chicken, the local farmhouse breed.  'Oiloak' is plural for hens/chickens!

They are an extremely friendly, hardy, vigorous, dual purpose chicken breed that lays lots of big brown eggs.  The breed has been available in Canada since 2008 (estimated population in the few hundred range), and has become available in the USA this year.   The breed is extremely rare even in its original place of development in Spain.

There is getting to be more information on the rare Basque Hen Euskal Oiloak breed all the time.  Google translate has opened up a new world to Euskal Oiloas fanciers as a lot of the information is written in Basque or Spanish.

Marraduna Euskal Oiloa hen - a Real Pet

Marraduna Euskal Oiloa hen - a Real Pet
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

Euskal Oiloa Chick Temperament

The Euskal Oiloa chick is a determined and greedy little chicken, in a good way.  Some chicks are extremely friendly right from day one, others become more friendly as they mature and may start to be friendly around 2 to 3 weeks old.  Generally the Euskal Oiloa chicks are inquisitive and bold and will investigate new sights, sounds and food. 

Usually when chicks are raised by broody hens, they are less tame and more wild.  Even raised by broody hens, Euskal oiloa chicks are quite tame.  These chicks and the adults too make wonderful pets and love a cuddle and attention.

Appearance of Euskal Oiloak Chicks

The Euskal Oiloak day-old chicks are big, fluffy and yellow, some have a reddish tinge to them and even a fuzzy dark line on the top of the head. By day two or three, the grey, beige and white, mottled wing feathers appear. 

By the time the chicks are one to two weeks old, the tiny white mottled tail feathers emerge. Once the chicks reach two weeks of age, some of the fluff starts to be replaced by body  feathers on the shoulders.  The colour of these body feathers, whether mainly mottled grey or mainly beige- brown, will give some idea all the sex of the chick.

Marraduna Euskal Oiloa Chicks 3 days old, showing variation in Colour

Marraduna Euskal Oiloa Chicks 3 days old, showing variation in Colour
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

Sexing Euskal Oiloa Chicks

The Euskal Oiloak chicks are pretty well impossible to sex for the first two weeks. Around 2 weeks old, the cockerals combs start to grow bigger than the pullets combs.  The wing feathers on both sexes are a mottled beige/buff/grey.  Sexing is tricky before the comb starts to come up. 

Sexing is easier to confirm by 3-4 weeks when the fluff is replaced by body feathers.  Both sexes are just as friendly, so variation in temperament doesn't mean variations in sex.

The males are lighter with more grey and a small amount of red and the pullet chicks more honey coloured with less white.  Ideally the males should have more red or brown on them than we are seeing in North America.  The Euskal Oiloak males in Spain,  have less grey and more brown overall.

Male Marraduna Euskal Oiloa Chick 2 and half weeks old, showing comb starting to grow

Male Marraduna Euskal Oiloa Chick 2 and half weeks old, showing comb starting to grow
Credit: Skeffling Lavender Farm

More Information on Basque Hens?

As the Euskal Oiloak are relatively new to North America, Basque Hen information and forums are becoming available.  Advice on breed traits, qualities and temperament are [rightly] being asked by people interested in adding these to their flock.  Breeders are listed. 

For those hungry for more information, there are very few articles on Euskal Oiloa, Back Yard Chickens poultry forum has some threads on them by the newest USA breeder.

The enthusiasm for this breed is wonderful to see as Euskal Oiloas are a most deserving and worthy breed.  They have everything desired in a dual purpose poultry breed; productive, great temperament, hardy and friendly.

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