North Holland Blue

North Holland Blue cock

Key Characteristics

The North Holland Blue’s very quiet and docile nature makes them a pleasure and easy to manage. They love to forage and are ideal for free-range living. They are efficient converters of food.  Mature birds that are not in lay, confined and overfed can easily run to fat. The breed is almost ‘auto sexing’, most cockerel chicks are much lighter in colour than their sisters, although about 20% of chicks are difficult to sex until older. They are now a very rare breed. 

History

  • The North Holland Blue (British type) is included in the RBST’s list of native breeds because it differs from its ‘parent breed’, the Noord Hollandse Hoender which is from the Netherlands.
  • Development of the Noord Hollandse started about 1900, where Belgian Malines, which were big but not hardy were crossed with smaller, hardier local breeds to produce table birds for the Amsterdam markets.
  • Some of them were imported to the UK in 1934 but they were still variable. UK North Hollands were standardised with feathered legs and Dutch-Noord Hollandse with clean legs.
  • From 1934 until 1960 North Holland Blues were bred in considerable numbers in the UK’s then infant broiler chicken industry.
  • However they fell out of favour are were replaced by American hybrid broilers.
  • The breed was conserved virtually single-handedly by Les Miles in his modest back garden at nearby Enfield. He kept them until only a few years before his death, aged 92, in 1992. Les was a classic example of how one person, with just a normal garden, really can make a difference to poultry breed conservation.

Appearance

  • The North Holland Blue is a heavy meat breed.
  • There is only one colour variety, cuckoo.
  • The male has slightly lighter colouring than the female.
  • British birds should have lightly feathered legs.

Uses

Eggs

Depending on the strain they could lay about 150 - 180 good sized light brown eggs in a year.

Meat

They mature quickly and to a heavy size and make good white-skinned table birds (males weigh 3.8-4.8 kg).

Did you know?

As there is only one colour variety, the cuckoo, it seems confusing that this breed is called blue. The breed was called North Holland Blue because they were said to look blue from a distance.

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.

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