Tony Brown is a keen poultry fancier from Wales who has kept birds for more than 20 years. He talked to Terry Beebe The birds are now very popular for exhibition and look amazing in the show pen.
A game bird
Tell us about your favourite breed?
It is the Grey Oxford Large Game fowl
What first attracted you to the breed?
Initially I wanted some feathers to use for my fly-fishing, and the Oxford suited the purpose. The hobby of keeping the breed snowballed from there.
What is it about the breed that most appeals to you?
It is the general appearance and the character of the breed plus the fact that keeping them helps to conserve the breed for the future.
Do you have any fond memory of a particular bird?
One that comes to mind is a Grey stag that looked amazing …. unfortunately I was not able to show him as he was stolen before I had the chance!
What is the breed like as an egg producer?
They are quite a good layer, although not as much as a commercial laying hen; they will also lay eggs for most of the year.
Are there any particular challenges in keeping this breed? Do they have any special needs?
The breed is reasonably easy to keep, but you have to be careful about keeping them together. They are fine unless separated as, once apart, they do not go back together very well; this also includes the hens.
What is their temperament like?
Generally, they are easy to handle, but you do get the odd birds that can be quite aggressive and need to be handled with care. As with any breed, they can be protective when brooding young.
Have you bred from them, and was this a success?
Over the years I have had very good success breeding the Oxfords. The results have shown through the quality and standard of the birds. Keeping to the standard is very important, therefore breeding correctly has to be the top priority. I have tried using incubators but the results were not too good, so I try to get the hatching to be natural and use broodies, and this gives me good results.
Tell us about your show success
I have shown the birds at many shows and had many successes and show wins.
I try and attend as many shows as possible, especially a number of local shows.
Do you have any tips for others who might try this breed?
Gain some knowledge before starting to keep them. Make sure you source good quality birds. The breeders who keep them are very careful whom they sell the birds to. Once you have acquired some birds then make sure they are secure as they will fly high and roost in trees. Keeping them in aviary-type accommodation with a roof will keep them more secure.
I would recommend anyone who wants to start with chickens to try several breeds and get as much advice as possible. You can then decide what breeds are suitable as your own favourite. I would not advise buying from markets or sales; instead, go to a good recognised breeder.
Tony Brown is a member of the Poultry Club of Great Britain and the Midland Game Club, Gwynedd Poultry Club and the Oswestry Poultry Club.
ABOVE: Tony Brown holding one of his Grey Oxford stags BELOW: Another Grey Oxford male
One of Tony’s Oxfords
An Oxford stag in a show pen
More Oxford stags