Poultry Breeds

The Holland Chicken

Today the Holland chicken breed is one of the most rare chicken breeds in the United States but such a state wasn’t always the case. The Holland chicken had its heyday during the 1930s and 40s, when white eggs suddenly became much more desirable than the more easily available brown eggs. In those times, egg production was mainly on free range farms throughout the country rather than concentrated in large commercial concerns.

There was less specialisation at that time and generally the breeds were dual purpose breeds, laying well while young and still producing an acceptable carcass when egg production declined.  Growers could not afford to have all their eggs in one basket so to speak but needed their animals to produce in one way or another throughout their lifetime. When the animals or chickens were too old to produce, they became food for the table.

Rare Poultry Breeds
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This is a reference guide to the rarest
breeds of chickens and bantams.
There is a strong historical content.

Any birds which laid white eggs were lightweight chickens with insufficient covering to look attractive as a table bird.

In an effort to produce an acceptable, fleshy chicken which would lay white eggs, chickens were imported from Holland and crossed with larger Lamonas, New Hampshires, Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns. The new breed was known as the White Holland. Further crossing with White and Brown Leghorns, Australorps and Barred Plymouths produced the Barred Holland. The barred cocks are not as dark as the hens. The Barred Holland was the more popular, possibly because of the popularity of the Barred Plymouth and also the better camouflage qualities afforded by the darker birds on free range farms.

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In 1949, both the White Holland and the Barred Holland were recognised by the American Poultry Association and entered into the Standard of Perfection.

The Holland does well under free range or confined situations. It is an ideal choice for a smallholding if you can find any. They have docile temperaments and the hens sometimes go broody in which case they are good mothers to their chickens. The birds are quite tough and will winter well although the frost may sometimes affect their combs. They can be slow to mature. Cocks reach 8 ½ lb in weight and hens are slightly lighter. They have a single comb and yellow skin and legs. The medium to large eggs are white in colour.

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has classified the status of the Holland chicken as ‘critical’.