I have four breeds of chickens (hopefully) hatching this week along with a few of my own barnyard mixes, and I’d like to take the next few days to introduce them. As you know, the first group to hatch will be my Euskal Oiloa or Basque Hens. I wrote a piece about the history and development of the breed, but I’d like to share a bit more of what I’ve learned in recent months.
Most generally, Basque Hens are a dual-purpose breed. Hens lay about 180-220 large or extra large brown eggs per year, and roosters can weigh up to 9 pounds. The hens rarely go broody which contributes to their overall productiveness. They have yellow beaks and shanks, an unusual upright stance, red earlobes, and a medium-sized single comb. The most common variety in North America is the Marraduna, a barred reddish-brown in the males with a more golden coloration in the females.
Because the breed is so new to North America, it is not yet recognized by the APA. However, it can be shown as “Mediterranean Class, Any Other Variety.” The North American breed standard is under development and can be found here.
The most distinctive thing about the Euskal Oiloa seems to be their temperament. Owners frequently exclaim how friendly and intelligent these chickens are; some even come when called by individual names! Basque Hens are also curious and make for excellent foragers. For more information, check out my history page linked in the right-hand column. I also include a list of links with more information and breeder contacts.
I cannot wait for these to hatch later this week! I have 12 eggs still developing, due to hatch this coming Thursday! Wish me luck!
I would love to know – What do you have hatching soon?