Best of Both
Andy Cawthray kicks off his new series on the pure breeds that have been developed for egg production and the table with a look at the Croad Langshan
Breeds by Andy Cawthray
THE LOW DOWN
The Langshan breed group has a complex history filled with twists, turns and intrigue more becoming of a who done it novel than the pages of a poultry magazine. The Croad Langshan, believed to be the parent of all other Langshans, is a graceful, alert looking and, some would argue, intelligent breed of chicken
IN THE BEGINNING…
Major Croad was responsible for the first imports of this breed into the UK in 1872. They reached the shores of the US in 1898 and quickly established themselves as a useful dual purpose breed that produced a good number of eggs, plus a sizeable bird for the table. Originally a black plumage bird, whites were developed, but are infrequently encountered. A tall, upright stance combined with its weight gives the bird a striking and graceful appearance.
WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?
Croad Langshans are a strong and vigorous bird with an intelligent and inquisitive nature. They are officially classified as a heavy, soft feathered breed, broad in appearance with a saddle well filling the angle between the neck and the tail that gives a stunning profile. Croads are black, with white plumage versions known as White Langshans (Croad Type)
The Croad Langshan hen weighs 7lb (3.2kg) and carries a neat single comb which is evenly serrated. Her tail carries less plumes than the male, plus she may or may not have the hock feathering of the male. The dark eyes set within a well-balanced head make for an attractive character. Bantam versions are available weighing 23-28oz (650-710g).
… AND GENTLEMEN
The Croad Langshan cock cuts a statuesque figure with an active, upright carriage which belies his 9lb (4.1kg) frame. His feathers are soft and loose which help to make him appear even larger than he is. A larger single comb balances well with the medium sized wattles and gives the head a nice shape, while the leg feathering disguises the long legged nature of the breed. Bantam cocks weigh in at 27-32oz (770-910g).
The eggs of the Croad Langshan are brown and, as is common with the dual purpose breeds, the hens are reasonably good layers. As with most pure breeds, however, be sure to pick a bloodline that values utility over the show bench to avoid egg production disappointments.
DOCILE OR DOMINANT?
The Croad Langshan is docile and easily tamed by the keeper, showing tolerance towards others within a flock. It shares a lot of the qualities encountered with breeds such as the Brahma, Cochin or Orpington, and they make wonderful pets for families.
DO THEY NEED COSSETING?
The heavy weight of the Croad Langshans means that they are unlikely to take to the wing and can be easily contained by a low fence. They are a hardy breed that manages well in most weather conditions but, although the leg feathering isn’t profuse, care should be taken in muddy conditions.
The Croad Langshan has a dedicated following on the exhibition circuit, but in terms of sales or auctions it is not widely encountered. As such, a buyer is likely to need to source directly from a breeder. On account of their size and relative slow maturing, they can be quite costly to rear to adulthood, so expect to pay around £30 for a good looking pullet.
The Croad Langshan is docile and easily tamed by the keeper, showing tolerance towards others within a flock