Hamburgh

Hamburgh cock

Key Characteristics

The Hamburgh is relatively long lived. It is slow maturing and it is not known as a table bird. The breed needs a self- contained free range lifestyle. They are active and good fliers so they should be kept in a secure roofed run. It has an excitable feisty character, it is not best bred around young children or in an environment where noise and frequent disturbance are a regular feature. There are sometimes bullying and feather pecking problems. Fertility levels are not usually a problem and all colours tend to breed well. The large fowl hens do not go broody. Bantams are more inclined to broodiness although they can be unreliable in the early stages. Bantam mothers can be fiercely protective of their young. The Hamburgh is generally pretty resistant to most of the common poultry problems with the exception of Marek’s disease, especially in the Pencilled. 

History

  • The Hamburgh breed was created from two distinct strains, the Pencilled Hamburghs imported from Europe and a group of breeds developed in Lancashire and Yorkshire including the Bolton Grey, Lancashire Mooney and Yorkshire Pheasant.
  • Due to problems at shows in the mid 1800s when these strains came together, leading poultry experts, notably Rev. E. S. Dixon, decided to group them together under the umbrella of the Hamburgh breed.
  • It was controversial and may have been one cause of the old Yorkshire Pheasant revival in 1914 as ‘Old English Pheasant Fowl’. 

Appearance

  • Hamburghs are small, active birds.
  • Birds should have a rose comb, blue legs and an upright tail.
  • There are large fowl and bantam varieties that come in 5 colours, including Black, Gold Pencilled, Silver Pencilled, Gold Spangled and Silver Spangled.
  • The most popular types are Gold Pencilled and the Silver Spangled bantams. The rarest are the large Blacks and the large Silver Pencilled.  

Uses

Eggs

It is a useful layer, the Black and Pencilled versions seem to produce the highest number of eggs. Depending on the strain around 150 white eggs per year are laid.

Did you know?

Breeders who select their patterned birds for showing usually keep two separate strains for producing well marked males and females. “Cock-breeder-hens” are kept with well-marked males to produce more well-marked males and more “cock-breeder-hens”. “Pullet-breeder-cocks” are kept with well-marked hens to produce more well-marked females and more “pullet-breeder-cocks”. Showing Hamburghs is a challenge but novices can seek help from expert breeders.

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