In 1934 white eggs brought premium prices at market because it was believed that white eggs had a finer, more delicate flavor. At that time most of America’s eggs were produced on small farms all across the country, and small farmers preferred dual-purpose chickens as these provide a source of meat as well as eggs. Since dual-purpose chicken breeds tend to lay brown eggs, and white egg-laying breeds available at the time were light-weight and not well fleshed, this prompted Rutgers Breeding Farms to set about producing a dual-purpose breed that would lay white eggs – resulting in the Holland.
You may wonder why an American breed of chicken is called “Holland.” The answer lies in the ancestry of the breed. Breeders began with light-weight stock originally imported from Holland, and mated it with White Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire, and Lamona. Through careful selection the White Holland was created. Simultaneously, the Barred Holland was created by mating White Leghorn, Barred Plymouth Rock, Australorp, and Brown Leghorn. The breed was admitted to the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 1949.
Hollands have earned a good reputation as being ideally suited to farm conditions. They are good foragers with calm temperaments. The breed is fairly cold tolerant, though during periods of extreme cold the males may suffer some frostbite to their single combs. The hens can become broody and will sometimes raise their own offspring. Hollands also tend to have a slow to moderate growth rate. But this fact must be weighed against their ability to rustle a significant portion of their own food.
In its time, the Barred Holland was much more popular with the farmers than was the White Holland. This may have been because of the popularity of the Barred Plymouth Rock, or it may have been for the practical reason that a chicken with a pattern is less likely to suffer predation than a white chicken. The less popular White Holland may well be extinct now. While the Holland has never enjoyed widespread popularity, it is an excellent choice for homesteaders or use on small acreages. These chickens have yellow skin and legs, so will produce a carcass with the skin color most Americans favor. The Holland will produce plenty of medium-large white eggs, and one can enjoy the fact that they are helping to conserve what is likely the rarest, living breed of American chicken.
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