Which breeds of chicken are almost extinct?

Overview of chicken breeds

Several billion chickens of different breeds are said to exist in the world. This information is very vague, however, as not all chickens are statistically recorded. The number of the individual races can be quantified much better. In the European pedigree poultry standard, over 180 chicken breeds are listed, which in turn come in many different color variants within the individual breeds. Worldwide, however, there are far more chicken breeds, if you just consider the many crossbreeding possibilities of the different breeds!

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The origin of today's races

All domesticated chicken breeds are descended from several species of wild fowl. In the meantime, researchers have genetically compared the breeds of chickens with all current wild chicken species. The researchers came to the conclusion that not only the Bankiva chicken, but also the other wild fowl species have a considerable share in domestic fowl development. Crosses with the Bankiva chicken and the other wild chicken species resulted in sterile crosses, but also fertile lines for further breeding and selection for combined breed characteristics.

Wild chicken species that have now become extinct must also have played a large part in the larger framework of the giant breeds. The Bankiva chicken does not have the silver factor, but the Sunner chicken does. This should only be a small indication of the crossing of the Sonnerathuhn gene into the domestic chickens (the silver color e.g. of the Wyandottes and the Italians). These first crosses of wild fowl species were made by clever breeders around 8000 years ago in the greater Indian area. Nowadays, these domestic fowl and wild fowl have spread widely across the Asian continent and the Southeast Asian island archipelagos.

Hobby chicken breeders receive breeds of chickens

There are around 44 million laying hens in Germany alone. However, purebred chickens are not used for this, but hybrid breeds that are useful for commercial egg production. With these chickens, the main focus is not on the preservation of individual chicken breeds, but on the highest possible productivity of these mixed breed chickens. The same applies to the meat production of the chickens. Here, too, the most diverse races are combined in order to generate the highest possible meat yield. Pedigree chickens hardly play a role in the agricultural industry. The urge for rapid growth and high egg production has shrunk the chickens used to just a few hybrid lines. The preservation of biological diversity (biodiversity) and thus of the different breeds of chickens is therefore usually the responsibility of hobby breeders. They breed chickens according to certain breed standards and less for productivity.

Which breed of chicken for which breeder?

The selection of breeds does not make it easy as a breeder to decide on a specific breed of chicken. The choice for a certain breed should therefore be based on the intended use as well as on the keeping conditions and the desired characteristics of the chickens. Not every breed is suitable for every owner!

Combat chickens - a breed for lovers

Fighting chicken breeds, for example, which only have a few characteristics from the country fowl, are certainly not suitable for hobby breeders. He usually expects a fresh breakfast egg from gentle, easy-care chickens every morning. As the name suggests, fighting chickens are breeds that have a corresponding potential for aggression (however, they are affectionate towards their owner and by no means stormy!). Due to their tight plumage, these chickens also have certain requirements when it comes to keeping conditions. In terms of laying performance, these chicken breeds do not have to hide and some breeds have a high proportion of meat, but they are still mainly bred by lovers as exhibition or sport chickens. In breed and commercial poultry breeding, however, fighter breeds are very important, because these chicken breeds bring fresh blood into the genes. They serve, so to speak, as a freshener of the genetic makeup!

The best chicken breeds for the hobby breeder

The common domestic chicken breeds are particularly suitable for the hobby chicken breeder who would like to benefit from his chickens as well as looking for something “to look at”. Since the 19th century man has tried to breed chickens that lay a particularly large number of eggs, such as the white leghorn chicken, or that provide a lot of meat, such as the brahma chicken, and have an appealing look.

So-called cattle are ideal for the home garden. Not only do these chickens provide eggs, but they also do very well as a Sunday roast. In addition, these chicken breeds also shine when it comes to keeping them, they look chic, are extremely robust and easy to care for. This means that you can search for food outdoors even in winter without catching diseases. The old country chicken breeds such as the Altsteirer or Sundheimer, to name just a small selection, are perfect for keeping in private gardens. By the way, almost all chicken breeds are also available as dwarf breeds, an ideal counterpart for the changed keeping conditions, especially on small plots!