Andy Cawthray looks at pure breeds developed for egg laying. This month: the Lakenvelder
The Lakenvelder (also known as the Lakenfelder) is a striking looking breed which is both an excellent layer and has very reasonable table qualities. Its belted markings give it a very distinct appearance and it is believed that the breed dates back over 150 years.
There is debate about the precise origins of the Lakenvelder. Some experts place it as having German roots, whereas others have traced it to Holland as far back as the 1720s. The former believe the name to originate from the fact its colouring resembles the Lakenvelder cow whereas the latter claim its name comes from Utrecht hamlet of Lakenvelt in the Netherlands.
The Lakenvelder is a very attractive looking bird due to the boldness of the colouring and the contrast it strikes with the countryside around it. It is very active, moving around constantly foraging and is quite capable of flight reaching the tops of trees with ease. Despite coming in only the one plumage type is can be very difficult to breed good examples however ones that do meet the mark are extremely handsome to look at.
The Lakenvelder hen weighs 4.5lb (2.0kg). She carries a neat and compact single comb and delicate wattles. Her appearance is spritely and her body is long with the tail carried at a 45o angle.
The Lakenvelder cock has an upright and bold posture. Like the hen his character is spritely and he exhibits a similar plumage pattern allowing for the usual differences in feather form between the sexes. He weighs 6lb (2.7kg)
The egg of the Lakenvelder sits in the white to tinted range. The hens are enthusiastic layers and typically non-sitters meaning broodiness is seldom a problem.
As is the case with the lighter, more country fowl style breeds the Lakenvelder is not easily tamed preferring instead to keep its distance from even the most patient of keepers. As such it is not really suitable as a beginners breed.
Lakenvelders are most definitely better suited to free ranging, in fact their spritely, spirited character can lead to them being quite jittery if kept in a confined space. This in turn can impact their productivity as a laying breed. They are fast growing and vigorous and cope well in all weathers. No special care measures are required other than to ensure boundary fences are high enough as they are competent flyers for chickens.
AVAILABILITY AND PRICE
Lakenvelders are not an easy breed to locate reflected in the fact they are classified as “rare” in the British Poultry Standards. That said if you can locate an exhibition breeder then given the difficultly in producing the correct plumage you may fine they have a number of substandard pullets available each year. Whilst these are unlikely to win any shows they will still be a good example of the breed in terms of characteristics. Expect to be paying around £25-£30 for a reasonable pullet.
ABOVE: This stunning Lakenvelder won a Best of Breed pize at the recent Federation Championship Show at Stafford. It was shown by Kayleigh Freidl.