When breeding chickens at home and on small farms, their indicators such as egg production and nutritional quality come out on top. Both of these characteristics depend on both the breed of birds and the correct breeding. Therefore, it is worth considering the main features of Minorca chickens and finding out what conditions need to be created for their maintenance.
History of appearance
These birds got their name in honor of the Spanish island of Minorca, where farmers first crossed several breeds of local black chickens. In 1708, the island was captured by joint Anglo-Dutch forces during the War of the Spanish Succession. The British highly appreciated the achievements of Spanish breeders, so several chickens were transported to foggy Albion, where the development of this breed continued.
By 1780, the full export of these chickens from Minorca to England was established. By the end of the 19th century, the breed firmly established itself in Great Britain under the name "Barbesier".
In the seventies of the XIX century, the first Minorcs appeared in Germany, and 15 years later they were first brought to the USA. In 1885, such chickens appeared in the Russian Empire (it is interesting that they were a gift from the Sultan of Turkey). The first domestic standard defining the characteristics of this breed was developed in 1911. Due to its relatively low mass, the Minorca is rarely considered an industrial species, but it is popular among farmers and connoisseurs of beautiful birds.
Description of the species
Currently, there are 3 varieties of Minorocs, differing mainly in their exterior.
- Black Spanish. Differs in a coal-black plumage with a slight emerald tint. It has a small head relative to the body with a leaf-shaped comb, on which there are 4 to 6 teeth. Under the beak there are pronounced long earrings of rich red color. They look especially impressive in roosters, which, moreover, do not have facial plumage, and the skin is also red.
The beak color of the "Spanish flu" is necessarily black, although males may have a light tip. The claws of this breed are also black. The eyes of these birds are brown or black. The figure is characterized by a long neck, a rounded chest, a trapezoidal elongated torso, powerful wings, and a pronounced belly. The female weighs up to 2.5 kg, and the males can weigh up to 3 kg.
- White British. The standards for this subspecies define the only acceptable color for it: white with a slight silvery sheen. Their crest is generally the same as that of the black variety, only flatter in shape and less saturated red. Among the white minorcs, there are also owners of a pink crest. Its presence means that representatives of Hamburg chickens were among the ancestors of this bird. Unlike the black breed, the British variety has a pinkish eye color, and its claws and beak are painted in light shades of yellow or pink. The mass of females reaches 3.5 kg, and males can reach a mass of 4 kg.
- Dwarf German. Most of the outward signs of the dwarf variety coincide with the characteristics of the British Minorc. Only their weight differs, which for an adult female is up to 800 g, and for a male - 1 kg.
Regardless of the subspecies, all Minorcs have pronounced earlobes, painted white. And also in all females of this breed, the crest necessarily hangs to one side, and in males it stands straight. Towards the end, the comb should be slightly rounded, and all its teeth must certainly be of equal length.
The dwarf breed is usually grown for decorative purposes, so all data are given for the white and black varieties. The average number of eggs obtained from one Minor chicken per year reaches 200 units, which significantly exceeds the characteristics of meat breeds, but is noticeably inferior to the recognized Leghorns, which can produce up to 360 units per year.
The egg-bearing period in these birds begins when they reach the age of 5 months and lasts all their life. Their life expectancy is biologically about 15 years. In practice, the fertility of all chickens declines with aging by an average of 15% per year. Therefore, keeping poultry more than 5 years old becomes economically unprofitable. In addition, up to half of them begin to suffer from ovarian cancer by this age.
Therefore, most owners slaughter layers for 3 years of their life.
An important difference between the Minor cats and the more familiar breeds for Russia is that with the onset of winter, these chickens do not stop producing eggs, since the formation of the breed began in a warm island climate. The mass of one egg laid by such a hen is usually in the range from 70 to 80 g. The color of their shell is necessarily bright white, and the surface is smooth.
Minoroc meat is also highly valued: it is very nutritious, has high taste and uniformity, and all its fibers are white. It is important to know that all these figures are valid only for birds that fully comply with breed standards.
The presence of at least a small marriage or crossing with other types of chickens can significantly reduce the egg production of a Minorca.
Advantages and disadvantages
The main advantages of the Minorca over other breeds focused on obtaining eggs:
- in minorocs, no more than 3% of chickens die, and the surviving individuals quickly gain weight;
- chickens of this breed begin to lay at the age of 5 months, while giving eggs all year round;
- these birds have a soft character and get along well in the chicken coop with each other and with other breeds;
- the productivity of the Minorca is on average higher than that of other breeds, and its eggs have a high nutritional value;
- despite the fact that this breed is not usually classified as meat, its meat tastes very good.
Minoros also have a number of disadvantages:
- low temperatures and high humidity can quickly lead to the development of diseases;
- this breed prefers spacious chicken coops and needs an aviary;
- a soft character also has a downside: these chickens are very shy;
- the fertility of chickens directly depends on their purebredness, which is not very convenient when keeping different breeds together;
- having laid eggs, the chicken completely loses interest in them, so to breed a Minorca, you have to put its eggs under other breeds or use an incubator.
How to distinguish a non-pedigree individual?
The main external signs that make it possible to distinguish a bird to be rejected from a quality one are:
- straight back;
- narrow body;
- the presence of bulges on the back;
- the structure of the crest inappropriate to the sex (it hangs down in cockerels, straight in chickens);
- non-standard shape of the ridge (teeth of different lengths, the number of teeth is less than 4 or more than 6, no rounding in the back);
- small size of earlobes, violation of their color (red or pink instead of white);
- gray scalp;
- discrepancy between the color of the bird and the color of the beak and claws (light claws in a black individual, dark claws in white);
- white, brown, yellow and other low tide colors other than silver for whites and green for black birds;
- the presence of stains;
- insufficiently saturated color of feathers and their short length.
So far, relatively few chickens that fully comply with the standard are available on the Russian market.
The most important requirement for the content of the Minoros is to provide them with the warm dry climate familiar from the days of island life. Drafts, a leaking or leaking chicken coop roof can cause serious illness or even death for the entire livestock. The minimum temperature that the minorks can tolerate is + 8 ° C.
The scallops of these birds are especially vulnerable to cold weather, so in freezing it is worth lubricating them with petroleum jelly or fat.
Minorks are shy, so they need to be protected from harsh and loud sounds. And also do not try to take them in your arms. These birds are very demanding on the amount of space provided to them, so the chicken coop should be quite wide for them. It is better to arrange the roost at a height of 75 cm from the floor. In summer, an aviary should be organized for the Minoros. To prevent them from escaping, a fence up to 1.6 m high will be enough.
It is best if the aviary is separated from the street not by an ordinary fence, but by a hedge.
You can feed Minoroc chickens in the same way as representatives of other breeds: in the early days with a boiled egg, then with a mixture with an increasing content of bran, yeast, herbs, grains, grated vegetables (potatoes, beets, carrots). Feeding of adults can be organized using standard chicken feed or mixtures of grain with sources of vitamins and minerals. Make sure that the diet of birds contains animal products: meat and bone or fish meal, cottage cheese. Even if you feed chickens with compound feed, it will be better for their digestion that there are always containers with gravel or sand in the chicken coop or aviary.
For the offspring, you need to take eggs from females whose age is 2 years. At an early age, the first sample of chicks is taken for general health and weight. Then, when the characteristic features of the breed begin to appear in the birds, a second sample is made - already according to compliance with the standard. For males, this time comes when they have a well-defined comb, and for chickens, the sample is made when they reach 5 months of age, when it is already possible to assess their productivity.
About Minorka chickens, breed characteristics and conditions of detention, see the video below.