Also known as “Shadow on a Sheet,” Lakenvelder chickens are as beautiful as they are useful. The name “Lakenvelder” translates as white spread over a black field; “laken” meaning lac, or varnish, “feld” meaning field. This is a wonderful description of the Lakenvelder chicken breed – the birds being white with black hackles and tails. They are an attractive breed of chicken with blue legs, deep red eyes, and long flowing tails. The breed is found only with single combs of medium size and, interestingly, those of the females uniquely stand erect.
The history of Lakenvelder chickens is a bit clouded, but reveals an ancient lineage. The breed seems to have been developed in the area of southern Holland and just over the border in Germany. The Dutch painter Van Gink wrote that as far back as 1727 the breed could be found near the village of Lakervelt, in the southeastern corner of Holland. The breed’s first appearance in poultry shows was 1835, in West Hanover, and by 1860 was quite well known and bred in Westfalen and the Northern part of the Rhine province. Lakenvelder chickens were first shown in England in 1902, shortly after their arrival in that country. Although the breed arrived to America about 1900, they were not admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection until 1939.
While it may be true to say that the Lakenvelder chicken breed as we know it was developed in Holland and Germany, it is also true that its ancestry is much older. Some 2,000 years before the birth of Christ, there was an immigration of Indo-Aryan wise men whom upon arrival in Mesopotamia, became known as the Holy men of the Brahmaputra River, or Ah-Brahman. These men brought with them, from the Indus Valley, the first domestic chickens. Some of the Ah-Brahman settled in Palestine, at the city of Armageddon, also known as Tel Megiddo – where they breed their fowl, valuing it primarily for the crow of the roosters and, later, for the eggs. One of the first peoples to incorporate chicken eggs into baking was the Semites – creating the bagel. Around 1 A.D., Jewish immigrants to Holland and Germany brought with them their Tel Megiddo chickens. So it is that the ancestors of the Lakenvelder chicken arrived in Europe. Like their ancestors, Lakenvelder chickens are noted for egg production; their porcelain white eggs being quite plentiful and nicely shaped. They are great foragers, very active, and vary wary. Their active and wary nature is not unlike that of the Leghorn chicken breed. Lakenvelders have delicious tasting meat, though they are not plentifully fleshed with males weighing 5 lbs and females 4 lbs.. Lakenvelders are a non-broody breed of chicken.
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