British Poultry Standards 6th Edition. Who is this book for? Some may think it is only to inform poultry judges of the finer points of each breed, and of course this is a valuable function, but there is a wealth of information for the student of history, the conservationist, the exhibiting fancier and those who just want to keep hens or waterfowl as a hobby.

British Poultry Standards 6th Edition

British Poultry Standards

Breeders of commercial poultry rarely acknowledge their debt to the pure breeds, but they are only too willing to use a particular aspect, such as resistance to a certain disease, to increase the profitability of their commercial birds. This is only possible due to the dedication of fanciers in keeping bloodlines pure over many generations. Since all chickens are man-made, their ancestor being the Red Jungle Fowl (a galliforme), it is possible, of course, to influence their type, characteristics and colour easily, which is why the commercial world made such enormous strides so quickly in being able to produce cheap and plentiful high-protein food on demand from the 1950s onward. Such was the quantity of research done that the feeding of poultry then became a science and commercially produced, scientifically formulated rations made life much easier.

Before the innovation of the hybrid – usually graced with a number rather than a name – commercial flocks consisted of Rhode Island Reds, white Leghorns, white Wyandottes and light Sussex for eggs, plus Indian Game crossed with white Sussex for meat. There are still some small flocks of these pure breeds being run commercially, ensuring that utility aspects are maintained, because in today’s cost-conscious society there are not many who can afford to keep the purely decorative birds. Not all useful attributes consist of egg or meat production, however. The larger, maternal breeds such as the Cochins and Brahmas are valuable as broodies, geese as watchdogs and ducks as slug eaters. The foragers such as Leghorns and other light breeds keep insect numbers under control, remove weeds and, of course, provide rich nitrogenous fertilizer.

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