Uses: Utility - mainly eggs and for show.
Origin: Menorca / Spain / Portugal. Eggs: 230 White.
Weight: Cock: 3.2-3.6Kg.Hen: 2.7-3.6Kg.
Bantam Cock: 960g, Hen: 850g.
Colours: Black, White and Blue (Standardised UK), Buff, Barred, Rose combed black.
Useful to Know: The heaviest of the 'light breeds', the Minorca was one famous for its large white eggs. Good temperament but can be flighty.
Photo: A Minorca bantam male.
The Minorca was thought to originate in part from Holnicote on the island of Minorca, (several early imports came from here) but Spain and possibly Portugal also supplied some of the first birds. Many of the original imported strains varied considerably in weight so over time, the breed was refined and standardised in England.
The author Lewis Wright in his book "Lewis Wright and his Poultry" names some of the early importers and suggests there was a Mr. Leworthy of Barnstable breeding Minorcas in 1830 and provides dates of 1834 or 1835 for further imports. They were being bred exclusively in small numbers in the west of England and were being called 'Red faced Spanish' or 'Black Spanish' at this time. In 1853, the first separate class appeared for Minorcas at the Bristol Agricultural Show but they were still very much a local breed to the west country at this time.
By the mid 1870's the breed started to grow in popularity as breeders sold their birds further afield and by the early 1880's there were classes for them at the main Crystal Palace show in London. The Minorca Club was formed in 1888 and a number of other local clubs sprang up around the UK such as the Bristol Minorca Club, London Minorca Club and Northern Minorca Club to name a few.
The breed had been fairly untouched in the West of England but as the breed spread to the North of England, it was the Northern fanciers who wanted to increase the size of the breed and crossed the Minorca with Langshans and possibly Orpingtons.
Minorca chickens broadly speaking resemble Spanish fowl without the white face and smaller white ear lobes although the Minorca is visibly bigger and is the heaviest of the light fowl classes. Minorcas usually have a good temperament. They can be nervous, prefering to avoid humans and like many mediteranean breeds can be flighty so care needs to be taken with fencing to ensure they can't escape when startled. If allowed to free range, Minorcas will do well, covering large areas and in areas where buzzards or other birds of prey are a problem, they are usually left alone due to their large size. As a utility breed, they do not tend to go broody. Minorcas lay well, laying large white eggs. Care needs to be taken with large combs, (especially in the males) which are prone to frost bite.
The bantam version of the Minorca was created in England (the first reasonable bantams being seen at the Crystal Palace show in 1901) but they had a lot of ups and downs with their popularity and then two World Wars. It wasn't until after the Second World War that they started to finally gain some ground. Almost all bantams are heavier than the standard weight and don't particularly look to be bantam size. Ear lobes on the bantams can be bigger than is specified by the standard.
Crossing with other heavy breeds such as the Orpington or Langshan does not improve egg production. Increasing comb size also seems to effect egg production.
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