The breed offers a generally friendly and docile character. The ‘farmyard fowl’ heritage ensures the Norfolk Grey remains a hardy bird that is perfectly capable of dealing with inclement weather without too much trouble. While they can fly, they are not known as ‘fliers’ so high fencing is not necessary. The limited numbers mean that in-breeding can be an issue with a knock-on effect on fertility in some cases. Hatching should be completed by May so the chicks can benefit from the longest possible growing season.
The Norfolk Grey is not known as a sitter, it is only very occasionally that a hen turns broody. The docile character means mixing with other breeds isn’t usually a problem. The breed’s hardiness means that it isn’t particularly susceptible to any of the common poultry complaints. They love to free-range and are good foragers, which helps to keep food costs down. There is no bantam variation.
- The breed was developed as by Fred Myhill of Norwich between 1910 and 1912 under the name Black Marias.
- He went off to fight in the First World War and came back to find all his work undone. He started again and took them to the 1920 Dairy Show.
- In about 1925 he changed the name to the more appealing Norfolk Grey.
- They were mainly the result of a cross breed between Silver Birchen Game and Duckwing Leghorns.
- Unfortunately this bird, which was developed as a hardy utility breed, never caught on and in the 1970s stocks reportedly dwindled to just 4 birds which were acquired by Andrew and Sue Bowden.
- By the 1980s the breed was seldom seen. Roland Axman came across a trio at the Malpas Show in Staffordshire.
- These birds had been bred by Andrew Bowden and the then owner sold them to Roland Axman who still has them.
- The Norfolk Grey is a medium-heavy breed.
- Birds should be fairly upright with dark grey or black legs.
- There is only one colour variety, black and silver-white. The male is the more striking with silver-white feathering on the neck.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit www.rbst.org.uk to see how you can help.