Photo Credit: Photo courtesy American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
Use: The Java is a dual-purpose, heritage chicken breed. Hens are decent layers of large to medium-sized, brown eggs and are broody. Photo courtesy American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
History: Despite its name, the Java is an all-American chicken breed developed using breeding stock of Asian extraction. It was known to exist between 1835 and 1850 but is thought to have been a distinct breed long before that. The Java was especially prized for meat production during the 1800s. The breed was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1883. It nearly became extinct by the mid-20th century but is enjoying a revival, largely due to the efforts of Garfield Farm Museum in Illinois, where conservators began breeding Black Javas.
Conformation: Java chicken-breed varieties approved by the APA are Black and Mottled, though White and Auburn Javas have been around since the 1800s and are staging a comeback, too. Javas are rectangular in shape with long, broad backs and full, meaty breasts. Standard Java cocks weigh about 9½ pounds and hens weigh 6½ to 7½ pounds. Bantam cocks weigh 36 ounces and hens weigh 32 ounces.
Special Considerations/Notes: Javas are calm, personable chickens that adapt to confinement or free range. They are cold-hardy except in the far-northern states, where their medium-sized single combs are somewhat prone to frostbite. The breed is listed as Threatened on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List. They are also listed on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste.