The Minorca chicken takes its name for the Island of Minorca, off the coast of Spain, in the Mediterranean, where it once could be found in large numbers. Spanish tradition relays that the breed came to Spain from Africa, with the Moors. In fact, it was sometimes referred to as the “Moorish fowl.” Another popular history is that it came to Spain from Italy with the Romans. What we do know is that fowls of this type were widely distributed throughout the region known as Castile – the tablelands north of Madrid. It is clear that the Minorca chicken descends from the old Castilian fowl.
The Minorca chicken came to America from England. We know that the breed was imported into England by Sir Thomas Acland in 1834. But we also know that it was to be found in Devon and Cornwall before this time, possibly as early as 1780. Minorca chickens were imported into America in 1884 by Mr. J.J. Fultz of Mount Vernon, OH. White Minorca chickens were imported the following year by Francis A. Mortimer, PA. In America, rose comb versions of the Minorca chicken were developed, the first of these by George H. Northup of Raceville, NY, around 1900.
Minorca chickens are the largest of the Mediterranean class. They are non-sitters, excellent layers of large white eggs, laying perhaps the largest such, and very hardy and rugged fowls. The breed has proven excellent on all soil types and adapts readily to range or confinement. In America, the breed made a name for itself due to its great egg laying ability combined with its hardiness and proclivity to excel on range. The breed produces a large carcass, but the meat tends to be dry. Historically Minorca chicken breasts were stuffed with lard, that is, “larded,” before roasting.
Minorca chickens were admitted to the American Poultry Association standard as a recognized breed in the following varieties: Single Comb Black and Single Comb White, 1888; Rose Comb Black, 1904; Single Comb Buff, 1913; Rose Comb White, 1914. Males weigh 9 lbs and females weigh 7.5 lbs.
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