Spanish

Spanish cock credit D Scrivener

Key Characteristics

As with the other Mediterranean breeds the Spanish is an active, flighty bred and a non-sitter. It is not as hardy as other Mediterranean breeds, females are long lived , though males rarely live more than two years (the cocks may lose much body heat in the winter through all their facial skin and the comb and wattles) -breeders must therefore never cull down to just a few males in the autumn. As the males are susceptible to extreme cold, outside runs should be protected from wind, rain and extreme sunlight. This is a breed for the specialist, which is those with only a small number of breeds. In order to maintain a prize-winning flock a considerable number should be kept.

There are fewer than 10 serious breeders/exhibitors. The bantams are extremely rare.

History

  • There are records of Spanish fowl in the UK as far back as 1572 and over the centuries there were further imports of the breed from both Holland and Spain.
  • During the 19th century Bristol became a centre for the breed and enthusiasts focused on developing and enlarging the white face that the breed is known for (hence it is classed as a British breed).
  • Their ancestors, which only had white ear lobes, came from Spain. The breed is also known as the White-faced Black Spanish. 
  • It is thought that a Spanish Club was founded in the latter half of the 19th century but the actual date is unknown.
  • The peak period for Spanish, as far as size and length of white face is concerned, was 1885 to the early part of the 20th century, after then the breed’s popularity started to decline rapidly. Today the breed is very rare.

Appearance

  • The Spanish is a slender laying breed with glossy black plumage.
  • The breed’s distinctive feature is the large white face which is particularly impressive on the cocks. The standard gives half of the judging points for the head, thirty-five points out of one hundred for the face and fifteen points for the comb and wattles.
  • All of the facial skin should be pure white without red patches, brownish scabs or other blemishes.
  • The female’s comb is folded but the male’s should remain upright.

Uses

Eggs

The Spanish is a reasonable layer, depending on the strain, at around 180 large white-shelled eggs a year, although they do take a long autumn break for moulting.

Did you know?

The breed is known for its unique white face. The Spanish breed is unlike any other breed. In fact, Recent DNA analysis has shown that the breed is one of the most genetically pure and distinct of all breeds.

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.

Breed Societies

Rare Poultry Society

Support RBST

Your support can help us save the UK’s rarest breeds of farm animals.

Upcoming Events

RBST