Heritage Breeds - Poultry


The Ancona is an Italian breed. It is primarily a laying hen. Its dark green-black colouring and quick, alert nature makes it a good outdoor chicken where predators are an issue.

The Chantecler breed was developed by Brother Wilfrid, the poultryman in charge of the flocks at the Cistercian Trappist Monastery at Oka, Quebec in the early 1900s. He set out to create a truly Canadian breed, a project that took him nine years. The Chantecler has a small comb and wattles that make it less susceptible to frostbite. It is a good winter laying hen, and is dual purpose, so it can be used as a meat bird at the end of its life. Quebec has recognized the Chantecler as a provincial heritage animal.

Black Jersey Giant was developed in the late 1800s in New Jersey as a large meat bird. It is dark in colour, and was created as a breed by brothers John and Thomas Black, thus the name.

The Barred Plymouth Rock is a robust, cold-hardy dual purpose bird with distinctive black and white striped markings. It has a docile temperament and is popular for backyard flocks.

The Houdan is a dual purpose breed that originated in France. It has ornamental plumage, featuring a crest, muff and long tail,

Silver Grey Dorking is an ancient breed, brought to Britain by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago. They are large meat birds, as well as good layers, with a docile temperament.

The White Wyandotte was developed in the USA. There are several colour varieties of Wyandotte, and white is the rarest. The birds are good layers as well as meat birds.

The Hungarian Yellow is one of three traditional barnyard chicken breeds from Hungary. It is primarily a layer, and the birds are not very large. The eggs are brown and often speckled.

Rhode Island Red was developed in New England, and is a top-notch laying hen. It is well suited to outdoor, pastured production - though it is susceptible to frostbite of the comb.

The Brown Leghorn is a very hardy bird, well-suited to outdoor production.

Light Sussex chickens are originally from Sussex, England. They are dual purpose birds that are alert and good foragers.


The Beltsville Small White was developed in Beltsville, Maryland in the 1930s in order to provide a good small to medium-sized bird with white pinfeathers. Commercially, it was eclipsed by larger breeds, but the Beltsville Small White is still able to reproduce naturally so is a good choice for small flocks.

The Broad Breasted Bronze (Naturally Mating) was developed in BC in the 1920s, based on the original wild turkeys of North America. Later breeding led to the males being so large they could no longer mate naturally. The heritage breed is from older stock that do not require human intervention to reproduce. The Broad Breasted Bronze looks very much like a wild turkey, and is similarly hardy.

Bourbon Red were developed in Kentucky and became popular in the 1930s and 40s. They are relatively large birds with beautiful rusty red plumage, with light coloured pinfeathers. They are good foragers, suitable for pastured production.

The Norfolk Black, also known as the Spanish Black, was developed in Europe from the first turkeys brought back from Mexico by explorers. Settlers to North America brought this breed with them from Europe, ironically. It is now extremely rare.

The Ridley Bronze was developed by George Ridley, a Saskatchewan Farmer, from the 1960s to 1980s. Dr. R. D. Crawford of the University of Saskatchewan took over the breeding program until his retirement in 2008 when the flock was dispersed with support from Rare Breeds Canada. The Ridley Bronze turkey is descended from unimproved Broad Breasted Bronze and is very hardy - able to survive Saskatchewan winters outdoors.

The Narragansett was developed in New England in the mid-1800s from the Norfolk Black and local wild turkeys. Their appearance is similar to Bronze, but with more white and grey and less coppery colours. They have mild dispositions, are active and prefer to roost in trees at night.

The Standard Bronze also resulted from crossing the European bred turkey with wild turkeys in New England. The appearance is similar to the wild turkey. The Standard Bronze is smaller than the Broad Breasted Bronze, and is able to mate naturally.