Chicken Breeds : ‘Ancona Chickens’
“These fowls are a rather small Mediterranean breed and are inclined to be wild and timid; they are wonderful foragers, and require plenty of space for their activities. Anconas provide a regular supply of large-sized white eggs. The chicks grow rapidly, and are very precocious, their independent habits making them suitable for rearing in foster-mothers. Eggs may be set as late as July, for the chicks (which are black and canary colour) mature quickly. They require frequent feeding.”
The Ancona breed of chicken was first brought into the UK in the late 1880s because of its good all-year-round egg laying abilities. In fact they were such strong egg layers that there were many commercial egg laying flocks of Anconas producing eggs around the time of the first and second world wars. Hybrid egg breeds have since exceeded the output of the Ancona so they are no longer used commercially, but they still have a very valued place in the backyard flock and at poultry shows. Their eggs are very similar to leghorn eggs in size, weight and colour of shell. They can lay around 300 white eggs each year.
A Video from the poultry tent at the Royal Show which includes an interview with Philip Smedley, owner of the winning ‘Best In Show’ Ancona. Mr. Smedley explains a little more of the history of the Ancona breed and also gives some tips for the markings and qualities to look for in a ‘perfect’ Ancona.
Ancona chickens, as their name suggests, originated from Ancona, Italy. They were imported into England and then later America in the mid to late 1800s. Anconas were originally imported into Europe because of their known ability as winter layers. There are two varieties; rose and single comb, with absolutely no difference except in the comb itself.
In the classic text ‘Origin and History of All Breeds of Poultry’ the Ancona is described as being “of the Spanish group, being somewhat larger than the leghorn. The plumage is beetle-green ground (almost a jet black), the feathers tipped with white, evenly mottled throughout, with no tendency to lacing. Shanks and toes yellow or yellow shaded or mottled with black. Wattles red, ear lobes white. They are non-setters, and exceedingly good layers.”