Breed: White Faced Black Spanish; Also known as
Spanish; Clown Faced Chickens, and historically as Fowl of Seville
This ancient and once well know breed is now rare and little known outside the showing world. The White Faced Black Spanish is a very distinctive breed, with the cockerels in particular immediately recognisable by the characteristic pendulous white face and earlobes.
The breed was widely kept prior to the advent of large scale commercial egg farms but during the 20th century declined massively in popularity to the point where it is now classed as rare and included in the critical lists for breed preservation in many countries. Origin & History:
The white faced black Spanish has a long breed heritage, both as a type, and as a recognised show breed. The first record of the type dates back to the Roman era, when in his accounts of the conquest of Spain, Julius Caesar refers to a particularly black chicken with large red combs, white faces, and a haughty carriage(http://www.hpbaa.com/White_Faced_Spanish.html
). White faced black Spanish chickens are thought to have been introduced into the UK via Holland, during the rule of Spain in the Netherlands. There are British records of the breed which date back to 1572.The breed was introduced into the US from Spain via the Carribean islands and it is the oldest breed of chicken in the USA. I am not aware of the route of introduction into Australia.
White faced black Spanish were very popular worldwide during the 1800's both due to their excellent egg laying characteristics (thought to have been 200-250 large eggs per year at the time) and their unique appearance. They were widely shown in the 19th century after the commencement of poultry shows. The breed was extremely popular at the early shows. In England, it was the first breed for which classes were maintained at all the poultry shows. In America, the breed was exhibited as early as 1854, at the New York State Poultry Society show by Mr. J.P. Childs of Woonsocket, RI.(http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/spanishchicken.html
). During the 20th century popularity of the breed declined, due to adecline in small scale chicken keeping and “heritage” breeds generally and also due to a decline in the utility aspects of white faced Spanish chickens because of a breeding focus on appearance for shows. Classification:
Soft Feather light (Mediterranean type)Appearance:
The large area of pure white skin surrounding the face and wattles is what defines the breed. For exhibition purposes this should be smooth and wrinkle free. The white face and earlobes, are most prominent in the males and tends not to fully develop until the second year.
The prominent comb and wattles should be bright red at maturity. Eyes should be dark.
Plumage is glossy black with a beetle-green sheen. The feathers should be tightly held against the body and the tail is long and full. Legs are long, and the breed has an upright stance. Shanks and legs are slate coloured. Skin colour is white.
The adult weight is approximately 3.5Kg for cocks, 3Kg for hens. :
A bantam version of the breed exists and is present in Australia, at least in Tasmania.Colours:
Black is the only recognised colour, however white faced white Spanish (albino or splash) and white faced blue spanish (bred from the latter or perhaps from Andalusian stock) have been produced.Egg laying:
Hens today lay approximately 160-180 large chalk white eggs per year. This was previously better, approximately 200-240 eggs, with record sizes up to 4.25oz (120g) in 1852.
Hens are non-sitters and unlikely to go broody.Suitability:
Spanish are an interesting and beautiful breed. They have a gentle temperament and can be tamed well with handling. They are suitable for mixed flocks but care should be taken to ensure that they are not bullied by aggressive chickens. They can fly well which needs to be considered in housing arrangements (or wing clipping). Comments:
This is a unique breed which has sadly now become critically rare and should be promoted both as a fabulous breed of laying chicken and as a historical part of poultry heritage which should be preserved.
White faced black Spanish as well as white faced blue spanish appeared in the 2008 film “Rare Chicken Rescue”.Bibliography/Information links:
Poultry breeding and management William W Broomhead ([19--]) http://archive.org/details/cu31924003077199
Spanish as number seven of top ten rare poultry breeds - Rare Breeds Trust of Australia http://www.rbta.org/poultry.htm
Spanish on Poultry Club of Great Britain : http://www.poultryclub.org/breed-gallery/chickens/rare-soft-feather-light/
Black Spanish on American Livestock Breeds Conservancy : http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/spanishchicken.html
Heritage Poultry Breeders Association of America: http://www.hpbaa.com/White_Faced_Spanish.html
Black Spanish on Chickscope http://chickscope.itg.uiuc.edu/resources/standard_varieties/black_spanish.html
Academic Paper Evaluation of diversity between different Spanish chicken breeds, a tester line, and a White Leghorn population based on microsatellite markers http://ps.fass.org/content/88/12/2518.full.pdf
White Faced Black Spanish on Feathersite http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CGP/Spanish/BRKWFBS.html
Rare Chicken rescue (film) http://vimeo.com/42320861
(information): http://nfsa.gov.au/collection/film-australia-collection/program-sales/search-programs/program/?sn=9194 Gallery of images on BYP : http://gallery.backyardpoultry.com/show ... hp?cat=542
Images of development of a young white faced black Spanish Cockerel:
Chicks are born with a large portion of white fluff, like an australorp chick. This is still visible on the underside of this two week old cockerel:
The same cockerel at two weeks sticking close beside his broody mum, a silkie hen.
Three weeks later at 5 weeks old.
At 9 weeks the feathering is beginning to develop well and the cockerel is beginning to develop the proud adult stance.
At 12 weeks this cockerel has a glossy plumage with beetle green sheen and a full tail developing.
The same young cockerel now at 5 months looking and acting very grown up.
Two more pictures of the same cockerel at around 8 months. Although the white is not fully developed until around two years, the white face is already a very prominent feature at this age.