Also known as “Shadow on a Sheet,” Lakenvelder chickens are as beautiful as they are useful. In Dutch, their name translates to ‘white spread over a black field;” with laken meaning sheet and veld meaning field. This is a wonderful description of these stunningly white birds accented by their black hackles and tails. They’re an attractive breed of chicken with blue legs, deep red eyes, and long flowing tails. The breed is found only with a single, medium-sized comb that, for hens, stands uniquely erect.
The history of Lakenvelder chickens is a bit clouded, but reveals an ancient lineage. The breed may have been developed in southern Holland, just over the German border. 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 in 1835 in West Hanover.
By 1860, Lakenvelders were well known and bred in Westfalen and the Northern part of the Rhine province. The breed was first shown in England in 1902 shortly after their arrival in the country. Although the breed arrived in the U.S. around 1900, they weren’t admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection until 1939.
While it may be true that the Lakenvelder chicken as we know it was developed in Holland and Germany, it’s also true that its ancestry is much older. Around 2,000 BCE, there was an immigration of Indo-Aryan wise men who 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 people to incorporate chicken eggs into baking was the Semites – creating the bagel. Around 1 CE, Jewish immigrants to Holland and Germany brought with them their Tel Megiddo chickens. So it’s 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 pounds and females 4 pounds. Lakenvelders are a non-broody breed of chicken.
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.