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Breed Facts

Status:
Critical

Use:
Eggs

Egg Color:
White

Egg Size:
Medium to Large

Market Weight:
6 – 7.5 lbs

Temperament:
Active, alert

Characteristics:
Great egg layers for warm climates, huge rose comb

Redcap Chicken

Redcap chickenThe Redcap is an English breed of chicken supremely well suited for the production of eggs. Its most distinguishing feature is the very large, rose shaped comb crowning its head, and from which it derives its name. The breed has red plumage tipped with a blue-black, half-moon shaped spangle and leaden blue colored legs. Oddly, though it lays white-shelled eggs, the Redcap has red ear lobes – this is unique because almost all breeds that lay white shelled eggs have white ear lobes.

During the early to mid-1800’s the Redcap chicken was considered one of the most profitable fowls a farmer could have, providing there was an egg-market nearby. The breed lays white-shelled eggs of good size, and has delicate flesh; thus spent hens could be used to feed your family. It is the high rate-of-lay combined with superior foraging and survival skills that earned the Redcap chicken a place on a farm or homestead. It is also the breed’s Achilles’ heel. You see, this is a breed whose value was based upon production; it had not been refined for fancy points, had a somewhat “wild” temperament, and a most difficult color pattern in an unrefined state. Though very useful, the Redcap chicken fell out of favor and became nearly extinct in its native England by 1900.

It is unknown when the Redcap chicken was brought to America. There is reason to speculate that the so-called Red Dorkings at early American shows were actually Redcap chickens. The breed was widely distributed across America before 1870. Up through the 1890s, there were many large flocks of Redcap chickens being kept by farmers and poultry fanciers for their egg-laying ability. Then, within a few years, the breed almost completely disappeared.

Redcap chicks hatch with a mahogany colored down with a dark stripe. They are easily raised and are very lively. When culling this breed, one should keep in mind that the adult color pattern is not fully revealed until the second or third year. Redcap chickens were recognized by the American Poultry Association as a standard breed in 1888. There is only one variety. Males weigh 7.5 lbs and females 6 lbs.


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