Good Eggs

Pure breeds lay­ers. This month: the An­cona

Your Chickens - - Contents -

OVER­VIEW/ SUM­MARY

The An­cona ex­hibits a marked re­sem­blance to an­other well-known layer of large quan­ti­ties of white eggs, the Leghorn. It is, how­ever, viewed as a breed in its own right with a ded­i­cated fol­low­ing.

ORI­GINS

Debate sur­rounds the ori­gins of the An­cona. It is no doubt an Ital­ian breed and is named af­ter the prov­ince of An­cona but came into be­ing when sailors left the coun­try with white leghorns on board their ship, and re­turned with other breeds from their trading ac­tiv­i­ties. There are no records of what was mated with the orig­i­nal Leghorns to cre­ate the An­cona and it is fair to spec­u­late that it is prob­a­bly a now ex­tinct breed.

FEA­TURES

The An­cona has black plumage with a white mot­tling on the tips of the feath­ers. The black should be a bee­tle-green and the white tip should be as V-shaped as pos­si­ble. There are ‘di­luted’ blue and white vari­ants of the breed. How­ever, these are in­fre­quently seen and not recog­nised in the stan­dards of per­fec­tion in all coun­tries.

HEN

The An­cona is light breed and the hen weighs around 5lbs (2.25kg). The body is broad to the eye with a full tail car­ried high. The head is car­ried well back and the comb is ei­ther rose or sin­gle. In the lat­ter case it should hang el­e­gantly over the face with­out ob­struct­ing vi­sion.

COCK

The An­cona cock is a very typ­i­cal coun­try fowl or light breed. He weighs around 6lb (2.7kg) and has an alert, ac­tive and gal­lant ap­pear­ance. As with the hen he can have ei­ther a rose or sin­gle comb but in the case of the lat­ter it should be up­right, of a medium size and with five to seven ser­ra­tions.

EGG

The egg of the An­cona is white and hens will lay a con­sid­er­able num­ber in a year. They com­peted in many lay­ing tri­als dur­ing the early part of the last cen­tury, gar­ner­ing a strong fol­low­ing with egg pro­duc­ers in some re­gions. They are not prone to brood­i­ness.

TEM­PER­A­MENT

As with all coun­try fowl types the An­cona are busy con­stantly through­out day­light hours and as such it can take some ef­fort to tame them. Given the cor­rect treat­ment though, by a pa­tient keeper, it is pos­si­ble to gain their trust.

CARE

De­vel­oped for their egg lay­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and en­hanced for­ag­ing skills it is easy to un­der­stand that An­conas are high ca­pa­ble of flight. They are best suited to free range en­vi­ron­ment and this hus­bandry tech­nique will see them flourish. They are very tol­er­ant and fit well within most cli­mates need­ing lit­tle in terms of ad­di­tional or spe­cial care.

AVAIL­ABIL­ITY AND PRICE

Once quite com­mon­place, the An­cona can take a bit of find­ing as a breed these days. It is pop­u­lar but tends to be owned and bred by peo­ple who firstly have the space to free range, and se­condly recog­nise its egg lay­ing abil­ity. Like the Leghorn as a breed it is rel­a­tively easy to sex at young age so it is pos­si­ble to pur­chase grow­ing stock for you to rear on. A point of lay pul­let from a good lay­ing strain can cost around £20-£30.

A young An­cona breed­ing trio

An An­cona hen

An­cona grow­ers, with males on the left

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