Photo Credit: Photo by Lynn Stone
Use: The rare Holland chicken is a wonderful dual-purpose breed that thrives in a free-range environment. Hens lay a good amount of white eggs yearly. Photo by Lynn Stone
History: Developed by Rutger’s University scientists in New Jersey in the 1930s, the American variety of the Holland chicken breed was not named after its place of origin. Instead, the bird was named after its ancestry, the result of a cross between Holland stock and several American chicken breeds. At the time, there was a high demand for white eggs, believed to be more delicate in flavor. White-egg laying chickens were lightweight and therefore not seen as dual-purpose. The Holland was the answer to this growing demand and was admitted into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1949.
Conformation: The Holland is a medium-sized, heavy chicken breed with a meaty carcass. Its single comb is moderately large and bright red with six well-defined points. The White Holland variety is a result of crossing imported Holland stock with the White Leghorn, New Hampshire, Rhode Island Red and Lamona. The barred variety is the result of crossing the White Leghorn, Australorp, Barred Plymouth Rock and Brown Leghorn. Standard Holland cocks weigh 8½ pounds and hens weigh 6½ pounds; bantam cocks weigh 34 ounces and bantam hens weigh 30 ounces.
Special Considerations/Notes: Holland chickens grow slowly, but make up for this small disadvantage in their ability to forage for some of its food. Great for hobby farmers, the Holland thrives in backyards and barnyards and does fairly well in varying climates; however, males may encounter some comb frostbite in extremely cold conditions. The Holland chicken is listed in the Critical category of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List. While it’s difficult to find to purchase, those who make the effort to breed it can help preserve the rarest of American chickens.