In 1872, even as the enthusiasm for the wonderful, large, feather legged Cochins and Brahmas had crested, a third such chicken breed quietly departed China for England. Named “Langshan” after district around the Yangtszekiang River from which they came – about 100 miles from Shanghai – Major A.C. Croad of England was the first to import this unique breed.
The Langshan had been bred in this damp district for centuries and was prized for good reason. The breed, though smaller than the Cochin and Brahma, is a large breed with males weighing 9.5 lbs and females 7.5 lbs. Langshan chickens lay a large number of very dark brown eggs; the eggs sometimes having a purplish tint. The breed has white skin, full breasts, and an abundance of white meat rich in flavor. The white meat of the Langshan is also particularly white in color.
The breed is remarkable for many reasons. It is a tall breed of chicken. While its height comes partially from somewhat long legs, more importantly it comes from the great depth of body that is unique to this breed. The breed is a good forager, a prolific layer, and has fewer feathers on its shanks and toes than either Cochin or Brahma. The shanks and toes are bluish-black with pinkish color between the scales and white soles. The bones of the Langshan are relatively small for its size. It is a very hardy breed with tight feathering and very dark brown eye color. And Langshans can fly over high fences.
Since the breed exited China via the port of Shanghai, there was immediate confusion as many poultry enthusiasts assumed these to be more Black Shanghai chickens (Cochin). This caused the breed to be bred along four distinct types: Some breeders bred toward a shorter legged version much like the Shanghai in type. These shorter legged birds ended up being used to help create the Orpington chicken breed and contributed to the development of the black variety of the Shanghai chicken. In Germany breeders emphasized the long legs and bred for legs free of feathering. This line became known as the “Deutchman” or “German Langshan”. In England, one group of breeders also emphasized the long legs, losing the large breast and the type becoming more akin to that of the Modern Game. These are now known as the “Modern Langshan”.
The fourth type, and, not surprisingly, the most popular, is that of the original Langshans – fairly long legs, great depth of body, and full, large breast. In England these became known as the “Croad Langshan” in honor of Major Croad and his niece, who continued promotion of the breed long after he had passed away. This is the type we see here in America and is the reason many authors say the Langshan came to us from China with no need of improvement or alteration.
To be sure, Langshans are a most valuable general purpose chicken breed. They can be kept on any soil type, are the only Asiatic breed suited to the Southern States. Langshans bear confinement well. They often do not become broody until April or May, are not too determined sitters, but are most faithful mothers. They are hardy, fast growing, and easily reared. The pullets begin to lay at about 6-7 months of age. The Black Langshan chicken was first recognized as a standard breed by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1883. White Langshan “sports” were first produced from Black Langshan flocks in England in 1885 – these were recognized as a variety of Langshan by the APA in 1893. Blue “sports” occurred occasionally from crosses of the White and the Black Langshans. Blue Langshans were not recognized by the APA until 1987.
Did you know:
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