Good Eggs

Andy Cawthray looks at the pure breeds de­vel­oped for egg lay­ing. This month: The Mi­norca

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Pure breed lay­ers: this month, the Mi­norca


The Mi­norca is a strik­ing look­ing Mediter­ranean breed of chicken that is well known for its huge prom­i­nent white ear lobes sur­passed only per­haps by those of the white-faced black Span­ish fowl. It is a typ­i­cal-look­ing south Euro­pean lay­ing breed and has a strong ded­i­cated fol­low­ing on the ex­hi­bi­tion cir­cuit


The Mi­norca is a de­vel­op­ment of the com­mon black fowl of Spain known as the Castil­lian. Its name is be­lieved to have been de­rived from the port, Ci­u­tadella de Menorca on the west­ern end of the Balearic Is­land of Mi­norca. It is from there where many of the birds were ex­ported to other Euro­pean coun­tries such as Bri­tain and Ger­many.


The Mi­norca is one of the heav­i­est light breeds around and is a pop­u­lar breed on the show bench. Pre­dom­i­nantly seen with black plumage, the cur­rent stan­dards also cover blue and white plumage va­ri­eties. The main char­ac­ter­is­tics of ex­ag­ger­ated lobes, combs and wat­tles re­main sig­nif­i­cant in the re­mark­able ap­pear­ance of the bird.


The Mi­norca hen weighs 6lbs (2.7kg) and has an up­right car­riage with a grace­ful ap­pear­ance. This is ac­cen­tu­ated by the lop of the sin­gle comb which drops down over one side of the face, but not as to ob­scure the bird’s vi­sion.


The Mi­norca cock weighs 7lb (3.2kg) and shares the same the alert and grace­ful ap­pear­ance as ex­hib­ited by the hen. How­ever, the sin­gle comb stands up­right and is evenly ser­rated with five ser­ra­tions. Rose combs are ac­cept­able in the large fowl ver­sion of the breed but they are less fre­quently seen.


The Mi­norca is fa­mous and highly prized for its abil­ity to pro­duce ex­tra-large white eggs. The hens sel­dom go broody so eggs need to be hatched by another breed or in an in­cu­ba­tor.


As with most light breeds the Mi­norca is quite ca­pa­ble of short flight and can eas­ily fly rather high. They can be a lit­tle skit­tish but a re­laxed and pa­tient keeper will be re­warded with friendly birds.


They are a hardy breed and can cope with most cli­mates, but care must be taken with the head­gear of the Mi­norca dur­ing the win­ter months. The ex­posed skin of the large lobes, wat­tles and combs should be treated with pe­tro­leum jelly to pro­tect them from frost­bite plus drinkers need to be adapted to avoid the wat­tles, and the comb of the hen, from get­ting wet. As a light breed that is ca­pa­ble of flight, a roof will be re­quired if the birds are to be kept con­tained within a run. If the birds are to be free ranged then suit­able bound­ary fenc­ing may be needed.


The Mi­norca is a spe­cial­ist breed and has a strong, but very lim­ited fol­low­ing. As a con­se­quence, de­spite their ex­cel­lent lay­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, it can be dif­fi­cult to source good qual­ity stock. A show stan­dard bird can cost any­where from £50-£100. How­ever, the stan­dards of per­fec­tion are such that any­one who breeds for show will po­ten­tially have a large num­ber of birds that don’t meet the mark. As a re­sult you may well be able to pick some dis­carded or be­low par pul­lets for £10-20.

ABOVE: Pho­tograph­ing the Mi­norca

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