A Buckeye rooster in British Columbia
|Country of origin||United States|
|PCGB||Rare soft feather: heavy|
The Buckeye is a breed of chicken originating in the U.S. state of Ohio. Created in the late 19th century, Buckeyes are the only American Poultry Association (APA) standard breed of chicken known to have been created by a woman, and the only one in the American Class to have a pea comb. As of 2014, Buckeyes are listed as "Threatened" by The Livestock Conservancy. The breed's name is derived from Ohio's nickname of "Buckeye state", and their mahogany color is said ideally to resemble the seeds of the Ohio Buckeye plant (Aesculus glabra). They are a dual-purpose chicken that have a decent laying ability and strong meat production characteristics. Buckeyes are yellow skinned chickens that lay brown eggs.
The Buckeye was first bred and developed in 1896, by a Warren, Ohio resident named Nettie Metcalf. They are the only American breed of chicken known to have been developed by a woman, despite the fact that women were customarily given charge of the household poultry flock throughout much of U.S. history. Metcalf crossbred Barred Plymouth Rocks, Buff Cochins, and some black breasted red games to produce the Buckeye. Her goal was a functional breed that could produce well in the bitter Midwest winters. Contrary to popular belief the Buckeye breed was created before the Rhode Island Red breed and Metcalf actually sent birds to the RIR breeders for them to improve their breed.
The Buckeye was admitted to the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1904. Entrance into the Standard of Perfection signifies official certification as a breed by the Association, and thus allows Buckeyes to be entered into poultry shows and judged according to the breed standard (as outlined in the Standard of Perfection).
The recognition of Buckeyes in the Standard has been a significant factor in its survival. In the past, largely due its lack of color variations, the Buckeye has not been an especially popular exhibition breed, but there is growing interest in the exhibition poultry fancy for this dual-purpose variety of bird. Not adopted by commercial operations, the Buckeye has generally been a bird of smaller farm flocks. Today the breed status is listed as threatened by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, threatened being defined as: Fewer than 1,000 breeding birds in the United States, with seven or fewer primary breeding flocks, and estimated global population less than 5,000. The breed is also included in the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, a catalog of heritage foods in danger of extinction.
The Buckeye male weighs an average of 9 lb (4.1 kg), and the hen 6.5 lb (2.9 kg). The breed has yellow skin and lays brown eggs. Its primary color is a mahogany red with black tails; sometimes males have other dark feathering. According to the breed standard, a Buckeye's plumage should ideally resemble the hue of an Ohio Buckeye's seeds. Especially in the hen, the breed is very similar in appearance to the Rhode Island Red. The Buckeye can be differentiated by a bar of slate color on the back feathers close to the body; the body is also much more compact, with a short yet broad back.
The Buckeye is the only purely American breed to sport a pea comb, and this, combined with its stocky build, makes it a supremely cold hardy chicken. Other breeds of fowl developed in the U.S. (such as the Ameraucana) may sport pea combs, but these chickens were primarily created from foreign birds. It also bears some traits of Game fowl in frame and disposition, being assertive in character and a very good forager. Generally calm, the cock birds in rare cases may become aggressive. Despite its game heritage, it tolerates confinement well, although it will be much happier and produce better if allowed to range on grass. The Buckeye is said by breeders to be disinclined towards feather picking. A good meat producer and layer of between 150 and 200 eggs per year, the Buckeye is a dual purpose chicken well–suited to small farmyard and backyard flocks.
- The Livestock Conservancy
- Ekarius 2007, pp. 80
- Heinrichs 2007, p. 56
- Ekarius 2007, p. 79
- Ekarius 2007, pp. 79–80
- Ekarius 2007, p. 80
- Ekarius 2007, p. 19
- "Buckeye Chicken", Ark of Taste, Slow Food USA, April 2009, retrieved 2010-03-25 – Scholar search
- Heinrichs 2007, p. 57
- Heinrichs 2007, pp. 56–57
- Ekarius, Carol (2007), Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds, North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-58017-667-5
- Heinrichs, Christine (2007), How to Raise Chickens, St. Paul, MN: Voyageur, ISBN 978-0-7603-2828-6
- APA Recognized Breeds and Varieties as of January 1, 2012. American Poultry Association. Accessed August 2014.
- Breed Classification. Poultry Club of Great Britain. Accessed August 2014.
- Conservation Priority List. The Livestock Conservancy. Accessed August 2014.
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