The Java is considered the second oldest breed of chicken developed in America. Its ancestors were reputed to have come from the Far East, possibly from the isle of Java. Sources differ on the time of origin of the Java, but the breed was known to be in existence in America sometime between 1835 and 1850, although it is possible 1835 may even be late for the development of this breed. They did not reach Britain until 1885, and this is important as those who claim they originated in pure form directly from the island of Java cite England as their source of stock (from Java by way of England).
The Java is a premiere homesteading fowl, having the ability to do well on free range. While slower in rate of growth compared to some more modern breeds, in the mid-1800s, the Java was noted for its meat production. The Plymouth Rock and Jersey Giant breeds owe much to the Java, as the Java was used in the creation of both of these breeds, though they later supplanted it in popularity.
Javas come in four varieties: Black, Mottled, White, and Auburn. The Black Java is noted for the beetle-green sheen of its feathers – a green sheen more brilliant than that of any other black fowl except the Langshan (speaking in terms of English and American experiences). The Blacks have very dark eye color, from dark brown to nearly black. Black Javas have black legs with yellow soles on their feet. Mottled Javas should have very intense red eye color, and their feathering is black with splashes, or mottles, of white. The legs of the Mottled Java should be a broken leaden-blue with yellow foot soles. The White Java was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection, but was removed prior to 1910 as it was felt that the White Java and White Plymouth Rock were too similar. White Javas have yellow leg color. The Auburn Java has never been recognized by the APA, but is mentioned as a color sport of the Black Java in writings as early as 1879. It is most noted for its use in the development of the Rhode Island Red chicken breed. All Javas have yellow skin and lay brown eggs. Although the APA only recognizes the Black and the Mottled Java colors in its Standard of Perfection, White and Auburn Javas are being actively bred by a core of dedicated producers interested in bringing these colors back into the breed.
The body type is one of the most distinguishing features of Javas. They have a rectangular shape, much like the Rhode Island Red, but with a sloping back line. The back should be long – in fact Javas have the longest backs in the American Class. Javas have full, well-rounded breasts. Originally this breed, like the Buckeye and the Rhode Island, had tight feathers. The single comb on all Javas should not have a point too far forward on the comb (the first point should be above the eye, not above the nostril). While this characteristic is of no economic value, it may be important in identifying the purity of the stock. It also points to a single combed bird that was produced from pea-combed ancestors.
Did you know:
The Livestock Conservancy is America’s leading organization working to save over 150 heritage breeds from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants, and donations from the public to raise the $700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare breeds of farm animals. Click here to learn how you can help.