It was doubtlessly the most widespread breed
in all Central Italy. The breed's name is derived from the city, not so
much because it has there its sole origins, but rather because it was
from the city of Ancona that a numebr of specimens was sent to England,
where they underwent a careful work of morphological selection which produced
splendidly mottled liveries. It was in 1880 that Mr. M. Cobb succeeded
in reaching his goals, and showed a superb flock of Anconas. Later on,
in 1910, a new, rose-combed strain was shown in Birmingham (A.A.V.V.,
1999; Arduin M., 1992).
The first specimens reached America no earlier
than 1888; there the breed soon found very dedicated fanciers. There still
remain several doubts on the true origin of the breed. Even though the
size is the same as the Leghorn's, there are several differences, such
as the quieter temper and the greenish-black variegated yellow shanks.
Some of the breed's descriptions dated 1890 - 1900 do not mention any
mottling on the legs, while other authors consider this a fault as it
is derived by crossing with the Minorca breed, with the aim to increase
the size (Giavarini I., 1983; Pozzi G., 1961; Ghigi A., 1968,1930;
Taibel A., 1926; Vecchi A., 1944; Trevisani G., 1936).
The original Ancona was presumably a bird
with a black greenish livery, irregularly mottled with white. It was only
thanks to careful selection by foreign breeders that the mottling became
so regularly distributed. If we carefully observe the livery, we'll see
that on a shiny green-shaded black background some feathers - not all
of them - end with a V-shaped white spot. Sickles, main tail feathers
and wing coverts, on the other hand, must all display a white tip.
The comb is single, straight, with five well-developed
points and the comb blade following the neck line without touching it;
in the female it will be carried folded, without covering the eye. The
rose-comb variety will display a kidney-shaped comb, well placed in the
front part of the skull. The ear-lobes are white, of average size; a slightly
creamy colour is admitted. Skin, yellow. Weight: male 2.0-2.5 kg; female
1.8-2.2 kg. The egg weighs minimum 50 grams, with a perfectly white shell
As some authors report, Anconas were superbly bred in Italy by Prof. Ricci
from Valmadrera and more recently by LLM Garagnani in his estate of Zola
Predosa, near Bologna. Once these breeders, around 1950, were no more,
the breed went into decline.
The current interest in local, original breeds
has brought a general improvement, and Anconas are no more a rare appearance
at poultry shows in Italy and abroad.
Unfortunately, Italian fanciers keep buying their breeding stock abroad
rather than concentrate their efforts towards the selection of an authentic
ARGENTATA DI ROVIGO
It belongs to the breeds created around 1930
at the Experimental Poultry Station in Rovigo on initiative of its director
Professor Ghigi with the aim of improving the production ability of local
poultry (Arduin M.,1991). Professor Ghigi used Silver Dorkings,
Light Sussex and Silver Leghorns. He first crossed Sussex and Dorking
in order to fix the broiler type, and introduced later on the Leghorn
to improve egg production and robustness.
Soon enough the breed characters were stabilized;
these are: Silver livery, single comb, red ear-lobes with distinct white
markings, shanks from light yellow to pinkish white and free from the
Dorking's five-toed character.
Interesting was the use of the self-sexing factor obtained by crossing
Argentata di Rovigo hens with Rhode Island Red cocks: the male chicks
hatched with a different colour than female ones. This convenient characteristic
contributed to the large diffusion of the breed before the modern white-livery
"hybrids" appeared on the market.
Later on, the breed constantly decreased
in the number of specimens, because of the creation of the new industrial
broilers on one side, and the increasing inbreeding coefficient on the
other. Shortly afterwards, the breeding of Rovigos was discontinued also
by the experimental poultry studies centre in Bologna, which had been
entrusted with the selection of the breed. It seems to have become extinct
around 1950 (Ghigi A.,1968).
Argentata di Rovigo
a flock of Argentata di Rovigo foto del 1960
BIANCA DI SALUZZO
OR DI CAVOUR
Despite the lack of literature on this breed,
local researchers have ascertained the Bianca di Saluzzo always existed
in the countryside of the Cuneo County. The first specimens to be shown
(1996) were gathered by a group of enthusiast fanciers of old, local breeds,
and are currently being studied in order to establish whether the breed
can be standardised. According to the standard proposed by the local fanciers,
the Bianca di Saluzzo resembles the classic Mediterranean type that was
widely spread on the whole Italian peninsula and often was named according
to the place of origin.
It is a bird of rectangular shape, bred for
egg as well as meat production, with single comb, erect in the male and
folded in the hen while the eye remains free; ear lobes are yellowish-white,
sometimes abundantly variegated of red, a fault due to the lack of selection
and therefore of uniformity. Shanks and skin are yellow, the livery is
white with yellow shades, thus revealing that the breed is far from being
highly bred and still belongs to the primitive type. The male weighs around
1.9-2.4 kg; the female about 1.7-2.2 kg. The tail is rather erect, which
according to the breed's fanciers is one of its main characteristics.
The Bianca di Saluzzo currently counts a few hundreds specimens, bred
by a few local agricultural high schools that took the initiative to revive
and preserve the original type.
i.e. Buff of Piedmont
(or BIONDA OF CUNEO, CRIVELLE RED, BIONDA OF VILLANOVA, NOSTRALINA)
The Bionda Piemontese is a currently still
widespread breed that, in spite of repeated crossing with commercial broilers
or hybrids, has managed to preserve its pure-bred traits to a certain
extent thanks to the favour it enjoys among the inhabitants of its area
of origin. The first studies on the local breeds of Piedmont in North
West Italy were carried out by the Experimental Poultry Center in Turin,
under the guidance of its director Mr Vittorino Vezzani, who took care
of the breed's selection. The Piemontese breed, according to a study by
Mr. Vezzani's dated 1938, constituted 69% of the poultry population in
the area of Novara, 75% in the Aosta County, 85% in the area around Turin
and nearly the whole of the poultry stocks in County Cuneo.
However drastically decreased in the number of specimens, the Piemontese
breed is currently still to be found in its area of origin, and it is
curious enough that only in recent times a few local breeders realised
the breed is in need of support. It was particularly around 1996 that
the Piemontese first made its appearance at local poultry shows. Yet,
the breed has at present no standard yet, perhaps because of the short-sighted
disagreement between fanciers of the Cuneo as well as of the Crivelle
area; due to a difference in the colour of the earlobe, both cities claim
to be the breed's place of origin. This is detrimental to the support
and further development of a breed that, though lacking in uniformity
under certain aspects, on the other hand it displays a noticeable number
of fixed characters.
The Bionda Piemontese has a rather heavy
Mediterranean build, with a strong, yellow beak, occasionally marked by
a darker hue; the comb is single, red and well developed, standing in
the male, folded on one side in the female; earlobes, of average size,
white, often with red veining / streaking; the shanks are free from plumage,
yellow, with red veining / streaking; skin, yellow; the livery is rather
uniform in colouring, the type being "black-tailed buff"; the
male weighs about 2.0-2.5 kg,, the female 1.6-2.0 kg. The weight at the
age of four months is between 1.2 and 1.4 kg. The egg shell is white,
with a slight grey or yellow hue, and a weight between 53 and 60 grams.
The hen is still possessed with the clocking instinct, while the laying
can continue also in the winter.
The Piemontese, as well as the other regional breed, is currently interested
by a breed protection and support project aiming at increasing the number
of breeding specimens. To this project take part hobby breeders as well
as a small number of high schools of agricolture that have undertaken
the task to breed and home young breeding flocks in the area of origin
I myself have been able to provide some further insight in the breed by
studying a large amount of specimens in the areas of Alessandria, Cuneo
and Turin, the result of which can be summarized as follows:
Cuneo Type: it displays red earlobes and heavier build; the female can
have a standing comb. It seems to have been originated by a crossing of
local specimens with New Hampshire chickens, as documented by the aforementioned
Mr. Vezzani, professor of animal sciences.
To this crossing we owe the color of the
egg shell, often other than pure white.
Alessandria Type: it displays a more pronounced Mediterranean type and
build, large white-yellowish earlobes, and a large comb which is carried
folded in the female; beside the tail feathers, also the neck hackles
can occasionally show a black pattern. Naked-neck specimens with identical
livery and build have also been observed.
Turin Type: similar to the Alessandria type, with occasionally a standing
comb in the female (Chieri area).
This valued breed was first mentioned in
1887 in the Italian poultry magazine "Guida del Pollicoltore"
(The Poultry Breeder's Guide), edited by the poultry expert Mr. Italo
Mazzon. At the time, according to the magazine, the Boffa was rather common
in the whole Padua area; the origin, however, was not known. The breed's
characters were a beautiful, standing single comb, regularly pointed in
the male, while the beard ended up with a large collar which hid the white
earlobes and the wattles. The bootless shanks varied in colour from white
to grey and black, green and yellow, the last colour being generally preferred.
The female displayed identical characters, apart from a rather low-set
comb, which was carried folded once the laying had begun. The body was
rather compact, with soft plumage and livery that had no traits in common
to those of other local poultry (Mazzon I., 1934).
The Padua County Poultry Pen managed to gather together a few specimens
in the dark Havana colour, from which flocks were put together. Specimens
from some of these flocks were exported to England around 1930. Common
was also a white variety, successfully shown at the National Exhibition
'del Levante' in Bari, South East Italy.
The Boffa was in fact valued as a layer of
white-shelled eggs with an average of over 160 a year and a weight of
around 70 g. The female could reach a weight of 2.5 kg, the male 3 kg.
Its quiet nature made her apt to be kept in rather small spaces, a quality
sometimes appreciable. A few flocks were kept at the County's Poultry
Pen, a facility that
in 1937 was turned into a Poultry Studies Centre with a governmental decree.
The Padua Poultry Study Centre was born, a facility entrusted to the direction
of the expert in animal sciences Mr. Giuseppe Squadroni, who had faculty
to determine the policy concerning the live stock. Based on the poor results
in terms of productivity, Mr. Squadroni decided to abandon the Boffa and
the other local breeds kept at the Study Centre, which doomed the Boffa
to become extinct. A very similar breed for type and build is apparently
the Thuringer bearded. Should we want to suggest a link between the Boffa
and other breeds from the Padua area, we might suppose it is derived by
crossings between bearded and crested breeds (Padua, Polverara) with common
chickens of Mediterranean type. The Boffa is currently extinct; bearded
chickens, however, are not uncommon in the countryside of Veneto.
white Boffa (with
This particularly appreciated breed is mentioned
by the poultry expert Mr. C. A. Gonin in a letter included in his essay
"Pagine sparse di Avicoltura" (Collected Works on Poultry Keeping)(
Pascal T., 1925). Mr. Gonin reports a rather valued breed to be present
in Lombardy, and more precisely in the area called Brianza, to such an
extent that the chickens from Brianza were sold for a substantially higher
price than other productions on the same Milan market.
Mr. Gonin describes it as very similar to a Belgian breed in its two varieties
called Braekel and Campine, characteristics of which are single comb,
white earlobe, dark shanks and a densely barred livery all over the body
except on the head and neck, which are silver white. He states furthermore
to be experienced in the keeping of this breed, since he was able to buy
some specimens in Merate and kept such flocks in his pens at Chiaravalle
A breeder from the Como area is reported
by Mr. Gonin to have valued the Brianzola breed to such extent as to place
adverts in Belgium, praising the production qualities and great robustness
of his animals.
The Brianzola, although no other bibliographic source can be found to
support the theory, can be considered as related to the Romagnola strain
and in its morphology it resembles breeds such as the grey Bresse and
the French Herginies (Périquet J. C., 1994).
Having its origins in the Padua County area,
the Cappellona seems to have resulted from the crossing of the Common
(crestless) Paduan type with crested breeds like the Padua and
the Polverara. The name "cappellona" (hat-headed) is
derived from a small crest hanging from the base of the comb down on the
nape. The comb itself was buttercup-shaped, although single and very small
combs were not uncommon. This group is genetically interesting because
it displays quite a few similarities with the French breeds Caumont and
Pavilly, thus corroborating the theory by which the crested breeds were
producing - in the areas where they occurred - several phenotypes corresponding
to genetic mutations that affected certain characters singularly and not
as a whole. For instance, there could be observed bearded types, or crested
but beardless types, etc. These phenotypes were subsequently fixed according
to the local breeders' own preferences.
This could explain the existence of very
similar breeds in different areas, geographically separated by a considerable
distance. The Cappellona was never selected according to any particular
criteria or standard; it seems to have had a predominantly black livery,
white earlobes and dark shanks. It never enjoyed great esteem among Italian
poultry keepers. It is reported as still existing around 1940, but disappeared
completely in the course of the following years.
CIUFFINE GHIGI (GHIGI'S
The creation of this breed with its varieties
is owed to the talent and scientific accuracy of Professor Alessandro
Ghigi. During the decade 1920 - 1930 in his capacity of Director of the
Stazione Sperimentale di Pollicoltura in Rovigo, Professor Ghigi decided
to research the hereditary behaviour of certain opposite characters such
as the cerebral or cranial hernia in Padua's - which implies the growth
of a large crest - in concomitance with the peculiar shape of comb and
nostrils. The hereditary behaviour of these features was researched and
compared to the transmission of the corresponding characters in common
chicken breeds. Professor Ghigi was furthermore interested in the genetic
information concerning weight and size in such specimens (Arduin M.,
The first variety he created was the black
one, by means of crossing Bantams with crested Paduas and subsequently
selecting small-sized specimens with a large crest. The selection brought
forth a variety with beard and muffling, and one without these characters.
Both sexes were green-shaded black, with primitive comb, well visible
white earlobes, slate-blue shanks and weight between 500 and 550 grams,
with a strong tendency to hatch and raise their offspring. These strongly
resembled the Bantam type.
The next step was the creation of the white
variety by means of white Paduas, to be followed by the Ancona variety
by crossing the white and black ones, and finally the Gold and Silver
types by means of crossing with Sebrights (Brunoli A., 1972).
Today, the Ciuffina Ghigi has become totally extinct (see the pages
Frauds and News). Besides,
the existence of Paduas in a bantam version makes it unnecessary to retrieve
the Ciuffina, since the two breeds would objectively display several similarities.
However, the Ciuffina Ghigi is still a noticeable example of an ornamental
poultry breed, and repeatedly conferred Professor Ghigi international
recognition / appreciation.
Silkie x Ciuffina (192230)
x White Ciuffina (1940)
x Golden Sebright
Ciuffina x Silver Sebright
As a breed, the Italian Naked Neck is not
unanimously recognised. Very common until World War II, its popularity
decreased later on. It occurs nowadays very scarcely in Italy. It seems
to be derived from crossings between the Transylvania Nude Neck and an
Italian local breed. Mr. Mazzon lists this breed among the ones that are
common in the Padua County area, and describes it as a good layer of large
eggs, while the meet is tender and tasty.
Its main characteristics was obviously the
featherless neck, embellished by a thick cravat in the front; other features
were the single comb, with irregular points, and a small crest of feathers
falling down to cover the nape. According to Mr. Mazzon, the Italian Naked
Neck distinguished itself from other nude-neck breeds by the white earlobe,
a clear sign that the breed belongs to the Mediterranean type. Other peculiarities
to be stressed were: extremely thin skin, feathers that could be easily
plucked, and the ability of the comb to endure frosty weather even in
the coldest winters (1889-90). Mr. Mazzon also reports that the decrease
in pure-bred specimens was due to the habit of using cross-bred cocks.
In spite of this, thanks to the nude-neck factor being genetically dominant,
the offspring was composed by a steadily recurring number of naked-neck
specimens (Mazzon I., 1934).
Around 1980, the Conservatorio Razze Avicole
(Institute for the Conservation of Poultry Breeds) in Rovigo successfully
selected a few flocks of white Italian Collo Nudo. These chickens were
very similar to Leghorns, except for the nude-neck factor. The latter
was punctually inherited also by the offspring, although some specimens
were evidently purebred nude-necks, while others were not. The breeding
of naked necks was subsequently abandoned due to the necessity to reduce
the poultry population.
There are currently a few traditional farms, especially in Piedmont, Lombardy,
Veneto and Emilia Romagna where naked neck chickens can occasionally be
observed, especially in the colours black and gold.
It is important to point out that these chickens have nothing in common
with the nude-neck broilers that have also been marketed for the last
few years in Italy. The following is a synthetic comparison between the
of medium proportions, intense growth
open, standing in the male, folded in the female
with slight red veining / streaking
Male: 2.8-3.2 kg; female: 1.9-2.1 kg; at 4 months: 1.4-1.6 kg
4 kg in both sexes
partridge, mahogany red, barred, white, white columbia
| || || |
a flock of white Collo Nuda Italiana
- foto M.Arduin
a flock of golden Collo Nuda Italiana - foto
commercial Nude-Neck hybrid
A breed that became extinct in the early
stages. According to Mr. Gonin there existed a Piacenza and a Treviso
type; both types' peculiarity was to undergo a sudden moult, after which
there could be observed an exceptional growth and extreme precociousness.
Mr. Mazzon only briefly mentions the breed, adding that it had already
become extinct in 1934.
He compares it to the Grota breed, and expresses his doubts concerning
the genetic characters of these poultry specimens (Mazzon I., 1934).
It seems to have existed in white and black.
It seems to have been a breed of primitive
type, cuckoo-coloured, common in the area around Padua, in particular
between Piove di Sacco, Monselice and Brugine.
It could bear various names, according to the location, among which were
Cucca (cuckoo) or Cenere (ash-coloured).
Rather low set and heavily built, wide and deep in breast, it could reach
a weight of 2 to 2.5 kg. The comb was single, earlobes white, shanks yellow;
the livery was exclusively cuckoo, (Mazzon I.,1932)
Thanks to its good egg production and the noticeable size reached by the
capons - often exceeding 3 kg -, the Cuccola seems to have been quite
common in its area of origin. Around 1940, after the Padua Poultry Study
Centre discontinued the breeding of local breeds in favour of more productive
types, the Cuccola became extinct.
DORATA DI LONIGO
Shown in 1934 by the Itinerant Lonigo (Padua)
Centre for Agricoltural Research at the 16th trade fair in Padua, its
main characteristic was the golden livery, combined to white earlobes,
yellow skin and shanks, white shelled eggs. This type can be associated
to the Megiarola, about which more information is available below.
There still are several doubts as to whether the Lonigo Golden can be
identified with the Vicentina, as proposed by some authors.
ERMELLINATA DI LUCCA
This Columbia-coloured breed was created
by means of selection by Doctor Alfredo Bianchi, Director of the County
Lucca Research Poultry Pen. According to Doctor Bianchi himself, his selection
began with a group of Mediterranean chickens to which Brahma blood was
added, as proved by the Columbia livery and the occasionally booted shanks.
The breed was officially recognised in occasion of a laying contest organised
by the Department of Forrestry and Agriculture.
During a nine-month observation period, the nine Lucca hens laid 1,119
eggs for a total weight of 62.294 kg, with an average of 55.5 g per egg
(Trevisani G., 1936).
As Doctor Bianchi himself reported, his Columbia
breed was far from being pure-bred: the specimens lacked uniformity in
livery as well as in size; the generally yellow shanks could occasionally
be slate-coloured. This data and a still existing original picture allow
us to suppose the valuable laying qualities of the Ermellinata di Lucca
are to be attributed to the typical vigour of hybrids, in this case from
the crossing of local chickens with Brahma, rather than to consistent
selection of certain characters.
silver, with white-mottled breast
folded in the hen
heavily streaked with red
1.8 2 kg
1.5 1.8 kg
ERMELLINATA DI ROVIGO
The Ermellinata di Rovigo belongs to the
more recently created group of breeds. The selection work started at the
Experimental Poultry Station in Rovigo - a city in Northern Italy - with
the aim to obtain a new double-purpose breed, apt to be kept outdoors,
with yellow skin and shanks as requested by the consumer, the hens of
which were to lay dark-shelled eggs. . The Sussex and Rhode Island Red
were the foundation breeds chosen to begin the selection in 1959.
The F1 was subsequently selected by paying
attention to precocity, rapid growth of feathers, egg production and resistance
to diseases. The selection favoured the Columbia-coloured specimens of
the Sussex type, with single comb, carried erect and of average size in
both sexes; earlobes, red; shanks and skin, yellow.
At 3 months, cockerels and pullets reach the weight of 1.7 - 1.8 kg. The
male weighs about 3.5 - 3.7 kg, the female up to 2.4 - 2.5 kg. The hens
lay about 170-190 red-shelled eggs a year, weighing between 55 and 60
g. The chicks are born yellow, but display the Columbia pattern with the
very first feathers.
The Ermellinata of Rovigo is also employable for the production of self-sexing
chicks when using a New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red rooster. The breed
is currently well represented at a local level, even though not in large
amounts; it is particularly indicated for extensive poultry production
thanks to its typical robustness.
a couple of E. di Rovigo foto M.Arduin
a flock of Ermellinata di Rovigo
Ermellinata di Rovigo (chicks)
a flock of Ermellinata di Rovigo
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