Chickens

German New Hampshires

You may have noticed my new hatch countdown in the right-hand column.  Although I have been very busy with my chicks and chickens, I absolutely cannot wait for this hatch because I am incubating… German New Hampshires!  Like the Euskal Oiloa Marraduna Basques I just hatched, these German New Hampshires are a genetic treasure.

New Hampshires were developed from the Rhode Island Red in New England just after the turn of the century.  According to Janet Dohner’s article, reprinted in Mother Earth News from the Encyclopedia of Endangered and Historic Livestock and Poultry Breeds, RIR breeders were focusing on the rich and challenging mohogany color at that time while those who eventually developed the NH focused on production traits and early maturation.  Rather than the brick-shaped body type of the RIR, New Hampshires were more open and triangular.  Dual-purpose but emphasizing meat traits, New Hampshires’ lighter pigment makes for a cleaner-looking dressed bird, and they lay over 200 brown eggs per year.  They forage actively, and hens will set.  Dohner describes the breed beautifully:

The New Hampshire is a medium-sized bird with a broad, deep body. Cocks weigh 7.5 to 8 pounds and hens 5.5 to 6.5 pounds. The single comb, wattles, and earlobes are red. The comb of the hen may lop over. The beak is a reddish horn color, and the shanks and toes are rich yellow. A red line of pigment runs down the sides of the shanks to the tips of the toes. The yellow skinned New Hampshire is colored rich chestnut red with buff highlights, although the red color can fade out somewhat in sunlight. The tail feathers are black, and the hen’s lower neck feathers are tipped with black.

New Hampshires were accepted by the American Poultry Association in 1935.  Not long after, the United States joined the World War II war effort in Europe.  After the war, the German people were literally without chickens, having eaten their poultry when food was scarce.  The US sent many chickens overseas to help the people to recover, and the New Hampshire was among them.
By Fxnick at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

An American New Hampshire (not German)

Not long after, US poultry keepers turned to hybrids and sex-links in their effort to create the ultimate factory-farm fowl for meat and for eggs.  In fact, the New Hampshire itself played a role in this: The first “Cornish cross,” a New Hampshire X Cornish hybrid, won the “Chicken of Tomorrow” contest for its capabilities as a broiler.  (Read more here.)  As hybrids came to center stage, dual-purpose heritage breeds were neglected.  However, the German people continued to value and improve their livestock, and the German line of New Hampshires remained productive, robust, and handsome.  For this reason, as interest in heritage and dual-purpose breeds reemerged in the US, a German line of New Hampshires was imported back into the United States.

The German line differs from the American lines and does not meet SOP exactly.  The body color is darker than the American standard seems to call for, and females’ hackles have less black ticking.  People seem to do the best in shows by combining the lines, although I prefer the look of the Germans as they are.  The body shape is fantastic, and the tails are thick and shiny.  There are only a small number of breeders and, correspondingly, a small number of photographs, none of which are public domain which is why they are not included here.  The best place to learn more about German New Hampshires and see many fabulous and drool-worthy pictures is the BYC thread, linked below.

German New Hampshire resources:

General New Hampshire resources:

Other:

  • An interesting read – A history of the use of chickens in the US, definite emphasis on SOP and production characteristics of turn-of-the-century breeds

6 thoughts on “German New Hampshires

  1. Pingback: German New Hampshires at 18 Weeks « Scratch Cradle

  2. Pingback: Which Rooster? « Scratch Cradle

  3. Pingback: German New Hampshire | Sunbird Farms

  4. Pingback: Hatchery vs. heritage bred hens | Seven Trees Farm

  5. Pingback: Hatchery vs. heritage breed hens | Seven Trees Farm

  6. Pingback: Update on the Big Move | Scratch Cradle

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