Poultry Breeds

The Java Chicken

While the exact forebears of the Java breed of chicken are not known for certain, it is very likely that they were imported chicken breeds from Asia. While the Dominique was the first breed to be developed in America, the Java was the next. In its turn, the Java has played a major role in the development of the Jersey Giant, Plymouth Rock and Rhode Island Red.
Java Chicken
Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black_Java_male,_1905.png
The Java was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1883. There were three types, the Black, White and Mottled. In 1910, the White Java was removed from the Standard of Perfection because of its resemblance to the White Plymouth Rock. It then virtually disappeared from the poultry scene but has since been revived by a few enthusiasts including the Garfield Farm Museum in Illinois and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

The build of the Java is similar to the Rhode Island Red although the Java has a broader, very long back and plump breast. The overall impression is of a large, solid rectangular fowl. The earlobes, combs and wattles are all red. The comb is single and the earlobes small. Javas are heavy birds with cocks weighing around 9 1/2 lbs and hens 6 ½ to 7 ½ lbs.

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Three colourways are recognised. The Black has mostly black shanks and black beaks, dark eyes and black plumage with a dark green sheen under certain light conditions. The White and Mottled both have mostly yellow skin, reddish-bay eyes and horn coloured beaks. The Mottled type has black-based feathers with white markings on the tips. This gives them a spotted look. The bantam type is recognised by the American Poultry Association and the American Bantam Association but it is not included in the ‘Bantam Standard’ of the latter. Bantams weigh from 32 to 36 ounces with the hens generally weighing less than the cocks.

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Although slow-growing compared to today’s broilers, once mature, the Java  has a very acceptable a meaty carcass. The hens lay well, giving dark brown eggs. They go broody relatively easily and are excellent and attentive mothers. The Java is a particularly good forager and does well on free range. They are docile and gentle and not inclined to be affected by adverse weather.

Unfortunately today the Java is regarded as rare and its listing on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is ‘critical’. A critical listing is given when there are fewer than 500 breeding birds in 5 or less known primary breeding flocks. The Java is also listed on the Ark of Taste. This is a catalogue of heritage foods which are in danger of extinction, put out by Slow Food USA.