- 1. Dual Purpose: We wanted to raise meat birds that also produced a good egg.
2. White eggs: Farmer Tom's preference.
3. Hardy: Good free range birds that could also handle captivity and wide weather extremes.
4. Mellow: My preference. I didn't want a frantic or flighty bird. I needed to be able to handle them and I was looking for something on the "quiet" side.
By only raising Barred Holland chickens, I've been able to immerse myself in all things Barred and Hollandish. I have followed every Barred Holland online thread, auction, and site that speaks the term. I have studied the Standard of Perfection by the American Poultry Association (chicken bible since 1873) to determine what our breed should look like. I have contacted the very few private breeders that have retained some of the lost breed traits and acquired hatching eggs from those lines to breed diversity into our flock. It's a work in progress.
So, what are we trying to accomplish with our breeding program? Well, the term heritage breed, just like heirloom (for your garden plants), refers to something that "once was". The Barred Holland, over time, has lost some of its once prized features. They are smaller than they used to be, and if you are raising a bird for meat, that matters. Also, the eggs aren't as crisply white, having been diluted to a buff color through cross breeding. Back in the day, white eggs were a rarity and coveted, due to the belief that they had a more "refined" taste. Of course, we know now that all things being equal, the eggs should taste the same, regardless of color. But, free range white eggs are still uncommon, as the "new" thinking is that brown eggs are healthier. It's funny how egg color falls in and out of fashion. What hasn't changed throughout the years, is the great personality of these chickens and completely go-with-the-flow attitude. We totally love them and we couldn't be happier with our choice.
This year we will be hatching the 2nd generation of our "new, improved" Barred Holland, and at the same time we will be raising a third genetic line acquired from a breeder to incorporate into our flock next year. It's all part of the plan to get these guys and gals back to their original glory. We, along with several other breeders, believe this breed is worth saving, and enjoy the challenge of "fixing up" what almost was lost.
Here they are in the "oven".