The New Hampshire
As might be expected, the New Hampshire chicken breed originated in the state of New Hampshire in the United States, although poultry breeders in Massachusetts were also involved. Selective breeding of Rhode Island Reds resulted in birds that matured earlier, reached full plumage earlier while still producing large brown eggs.
The New Hampshire is a relatively new breed and was admitted to the Standard of Perfection in 1935. There is also a bantam version. Unfortunately the New Hampshire chicken is now on the 'watch' list of breeds on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy with less than 5000 breeding birds listed in 2003.
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Mature cocks weigh around 8 ½ pounds and hens 6 ½ pounds. Bantam New Hampshire cocks weigh around 34 ounces and hens 26 ounces.
Adult birdsare more even in colour and a slightly lighter shade than the Rhode Island Red. A line of red is sometimes seen down the sides of the shanks of the males. When in lay, the legs of the females may lighten off in colour. The plumage often fades a little in the sunlight. The baby chicks are also lighter in colour. The breed is heavily feathered. The soft plumage varies from a chestnut to a brilliant red-bay. The undercolour of the plumage is a light salmon and there is often a smoky tinge to the under feathers. The black tail feathers are edged with red and the neck hackles edged in black. The skin colour is yellow with the pin feathers showing as a reddish buff.
The comb, face, earlobes and wattles are red and the eyes are bay. The legs and toes are a rich yellow. The body is deep and broad. The single comb is of a moderate to large size. The comb of the female often flops to one side a little. In some strains the large eggs are dark brown in colour. Otherwise they are light brown.
The New Hampshire is friendly and easily handled. They cope well with being confined and are docile although somewhat noisy. The hens are inclined to go broody and make attentive mothers. They can be quite aggressive and will readily compete with other breeds in the fowl yard.
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The New Hampshire chicken is a dual purpose breed but with a slight emphasis on meat production. It is of moderate weight, dressing out as a plump carcass as a broiler or a roaster. They lay around 120 eggs per hen per annum.
New Hampshires cope with all types of climate and make a great backyard chicken.
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