Use: The delicate White-faced Black Spanish chicken breed has a unique white face, making it popular as an ornamental. Hens are non-broody and prolific layers of large, pure-white eggs.
History: The heritage of the ancient White-faced Black Spanish chicken breed is unclear, though it is believed to be one of the oldest Mediterranean breeds as well as the first chicken to arrive in the U.S. Before 1816, Spanish chickens were recognized in England as dependable layers. The breed arrived in America by way of Holland and was known as one of the most popular poultry breeds from about 1825 to 1895. Its decline in popularity came as a result of its lack of hardiness and its white face. As hardier breeds began to arrive, farmers lost interest in the high-maintenance Spanish. The White-faced Black Spanish was admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874.
Conformation: As its name indicates, the White-faced Black Spanish has lustrous greenish-black plumage and a white face. It has a bright-red, single comb with 5 well-defined points, which stands upright on males and falls to the side on females. Wattles are thin, long and bright-red with white on the upper inside in males. Earlobes are white and extremely long and thin, as if their faces have been melted and extended downwards. Shanks are slate. Standard White-faced Black Spanish cocks weigh 8 pounds and hens weigh 6½ pounds; bantam cocks weigh 30 ounces and bantam hens weigh 26 ounces.
Special Considerations/Notes: The White-faced Black Spanish chicken breed is slow to develop. Its white facial coloring needs one molt (approximately one year) to reach full potential. Due to its prolific egg-laying abilities, the breed is a good option for urban and hobby farmers looking to sell eggs on a small scale. The breed is characterized as noisy and curious, though personality varies from friendly to standoffish. The White-faced Black Spanish chicken is listed in the Critical category of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List.