Best of Both

Andy Cawthray con­tin­ues his new se­ries on the pure breeds that have been de­vel­oped for egg pro­duc­tion and the ta­ble with a look at the Ix­worth

Your Chickens - - Contents -

The Ix­worth

THE LOW DOWN

The Ix­worth was per­haps one of the last pure breeds of chicken de­vel­oped to serve the egg and meat mar­ket. De­vel­oped be­fore World War II, it was well re­garded as an ex­cel­lent dual pur­pose bird. How­ever, its fame was short lived as post war de­mands for high vol­umes of eggs and meatier birds meant that its demise came quickly once the de­vel­op­ment of hy­brids gath­ered pace.

IN THE BEGIN­NING…

The Ix­worth was de­vel­oped in Eng­land in the 1930s by Regi­nald Ap­p­le­yard (of Ap­p­le­yard duck fame). De­signed to ap­peal to the UK small­holder, the aim was to cre­ate a good lay­ing bird with ex­cel­lent ta­ble qual­i­ties. It also needed to have white skin and flesh. Cre­ated from a vast variety of breeds, its suc­cess was cut short by the ap­pear­ance of func­tion spe­cific hy­brids within the com­mer­cial sec­tor and it is now con­sid­ered a rare breed. How­ever, it does still have a small, ded­i­cated fol­low­ing.

WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?

The Ix­worth is a sturdy look­ing breed with a long but com­pact body. It has a mus­cu­lar ap­pear­ance that draws com­par­i­son with breeds such as the In­dian Game. It has a full breast and wide stance that gives it a well-meated car­cass. Quick to feather, with a close tex­ture, the breed ma­tures quite rapidly and it is also known for be­ing an ex­cel­lent egg pro­ducer.

LADIES…

The Ix­worth hen weighs 7lb (3.2kg). She has a keen ap­pear­ance with bright or­ange or red eyes and a small, neat pea comb. Quite heavy set in pro­file, the fe­males of the breed were in­tended to carry quite a bit of meat, but they were pri­mar­ily de­vel­oped to lay suf­fi­cient eggs to be com­mer­cially vi­able.

… AND GEN­TLE­MEN

The Ix­worth cock is a pow­er­fully built bird with a deep body that is well rounded. He is an alert and ac­tive look­ing crea­ture, but he does have a slightly stocky ap­pear­ance for his 9lb (4.1kg) frame. His wings are held close to his body and his tail is com­pact and car­ried fairly low, which gives the im­pres­sion of quite a long bird.

EGG-CELLENT EGG PRO­DUC­ERS?

The eggs of the Ix­worth are a tinted off-white colour and good ex­am­ples of the breed will lay a con­sid­er­able num­ber of eggs. Un­like a num­ber of breeds, the util­ity pur­pose of this breed is val­ued be­yond ap­pear­ance. Con­se­quently, im­pres­sive show lines tend to be good util­ity ex­am­ples as well.

DOCILE OR DOM­I­NANT?

The Ix­worth is a cau­tious breed by na­ture. They can be tamed, but do not make good pets. They al­most ap­proach their day with a pur­pose, mak­ing them an ex­cel­lent ‘work­ing’ bird. Good blood­lines can pro­duce heavy lay­ing hens. How­ever, they rarely sit, but if they do go broody they make very good moth­ers.

DO THEY NEED COSSETING?

De­signed to func­tion well within the small­hold­ing en­vi­ron­ment, the Ix­worth makes a great for­ager and he/she is ide­ally suited to a free range sit­u­a­tion, be­ing ca­pa­ble of han­dling the Bri­tish weather. Con­fine­ment can re­sult in re­duced lay­ing abil­ity and fatty birds. De­spite its heavy size, the Ix­worth has strong wings and is ca­pa­ble of get­ting off the ground. As such, good fenc­ing or a roofed in run is a must.

HOW MUCH?

De­spite its early fame and for­tune in the late 1930s, the Ix­worth is now a very rare breed and good qual­ity ex­am­ples are hard to find. They are avail­able, but they need care­ful track­ing down and, as a con­se­quence, a premium may be charged for a good breed trio. Ex­pect to pay in the re­gion of £35-£50 for good spec­i­mens. This ap­plies to both the males and fe­males.

The Ix­worth is a cau­tious breed by na­ture. They can be tamed, but do not make good pets

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