The Catalana chicken was developed in Catalonia, Spain, near Barcelona. It takes its name from Catalonia and is sometimes referred to as the “Prat,” in honor of a farming area of El Prat de Llobregat (commonly known as “El Prat”) which is located southwest of Barcelona. The breed was developed over a long period of time using the landrace fowls of the area, likely Castilian chickens, with an admixture of Asian stock during the second half of the nineteenth century.
It’s unclear if the Asian stock were Cochin chickens or Cochin China chickens; the latter being the common dual-purpose landrace chickens found around Asian seaports during this time period. Spain, being a sailing nation, certainly had access to both.
The breed was introduced to the rest of the world at the 1902 World’s Fair in Madrid, Spain. It was favorably received and by 1949, had been admitted to the standard in America as a recognized breed. The Catalana chicken attracted a limited following in the United States and Canada but was popular in Latin America. During the 1920s, the breed was successfully used in the commercial industry in Argentina. In fact, in 1998 an Argentine man brought hatching eggs to the 10,000-bird show held in Columbus, Ohio. His family was still using the Catalana commercially and he made the eggs available to help spread the breed. Several poultry fanciers secured a start in them from this importation.
As a hardy dual-purpose breed, Catalana chickens have the style, alertness, activity, and foraging ability typical of Mediterranean chickens. The breed also has an excellent heat tolerance. They lay plenty of large white eggs and rarely become broody. Cockerels and cull layers are noted for having very good carcasses and succulent meat. Cockerels are also used in the production of quality capons in Spain. They have rich buff plumage and black tails, with males having an iridescent green sheen on their sickles and a reddish buff color in their hackles, back, and saddle feathers. Chicks are hardy and have a buffish color, sometimes akin to a faint chipmunk pattern along their backs. In Spain, a white variety of Catalana is recognized in addition to the buff.
Catalana chickens should have white ear lobes, large red combs that lop over in the females, reddish bay eyes, bluish slate shanks and toes, pinkish-white skin, and light horn-colored beaks. Males weigh 8 pounds and females 6 pounds.
Did you know:
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