It was a primitive breed with build and size
of the Mediterranean type in build and size. The Fidenza Partridge
had a single comb, white earlobes, yellowish shanks and obviously partridge-coloured
livery. It is mentioned in various texts, all of which stress the breed's
peculiar characteristic of laying very heavy eggs (70 g. and more). Original
pictures show that the Fidentina does not differ from the Livornese (Leghorn)
in any of the morphological aspects (Bonadonna T., 1951; Cornoldi G.,
1948). Replaced by the multiple-purpose breeds which were introduced
later, the Fidentina became completely extinct.
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a flock of Fidentina Perniciata 1950
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This breed is mentioned in the documents
collected during the national laying contests that were kept regularly
in the previous century. It was in fact customary that the several county
poultry pens (i.e. governmental organs created with the aim of improving
poultry keeping) entered groups of laying hens of the most valued local
breeds to promote the selection of the best layers. The Foggiana was a
hardy strain of the Mediterranean type that - however - did not display
such peculiar characters as to differentiate itself from other local varieties.
It had cuckoo livery, yellow shanks, white earlobes and a very noticeable
single comb. The region of origin of the Foggiana is Puglia; in this area,
according to various authors (Ghigi A., 1968), poultry farming
was more advanced than in the rest of Southern Italy. In fact, there are
records that the Poultry Experimental Centre in Rovigo had several times
young cockerels from selected strains delivered in Puglia, predominantly
black Leghorns, in order to improve the local poultry population.
Mentioned by Clementi F. (1950).
Very similar to the current Italian strains
of Livornese, it was a Mediterranean chicken of average size, presumably
with yellow shanks and white earlobes, mainly bred for egg production
(Cortese M.,1978). According to some verbally delivered information,
it existed in various colours, the most common of which was "gold".
The available sources mention this primitive breed among those taking
part to the laying contests that were kept to select the most productive
breeds and strains. The Friulana is currently extinct.
GALLINA CON GRANATELLO
This "Feather-Brush Chicken" is
not a breed but a strain in which a curious mutations had occurred, as
the poultry expert Mr. Mazzon reported (Mazzon I., 1934). Mr Mazzon
once observed a group of pullets kept in the countryside of Veneto at
the beginning of the 1900s that had allegedly been received from relatives
up "in the mountains". The pullets were possessed with a curious
"brush" on their breast, similar to the one we can observe in
the male turkey. This limited group of specimens could certainly not constitute
a breed nor a population, since no other mention can be found in any other
source. It is however interesting to record this mutation, which has never
been observed in the species Gallus.
GIGANTE NERA D'ITALIA
Selected by the Genua County Pen by the expert
Frau Sanna in 1929, also author of several texts on poultry keeping, the
Italian Black Giant was a double-purpose breed. The selection aimed at
obtaining chickens of uncommon size: the heaviest cock weighed 6.5 kg
at two years of age. The pictures on the magazine "Bassa Corte"
(farm yard) show a heterosomic type, with single comb, red earlobes and
bootless, whitish shanks. The livery was uniformly black with green shading.
Presumably, the breeds that contributed to the creation of the Gigante
Nera d'Italia belonged to the same type and, based on the preferences
at the time, we can reasonably suppose such breeds were the black Orpington,
the Croad Langshan and the Australorp, which were very valued in Italy
at the time.
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Gigante Nera d'Italia 1927
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Gigante Nera d'Italia 1927
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It made its first appearance at the Padua
Poultry Show in 1880 thanks to the selection carried out by the Mazzon
family, among which was Italo Mazzon, Esq., a famous and appreciated poultry
expert in the past century (Pascal T., 1905, 1915). Doctor Mazzon
Senior began in 1850 by crossing three different breeds in order to obtain
a type of exceptional size. He used the common (crestless) Padua - very
similar to the current Livorno -, the Polverara and the Cochin. He first
obtained animals of different conformations, since some resembled the
Asian heterosomic type of the Cochin, while others were more similar to
the homosomic Mediterranean type. This is a description by Doctor Mazzon
himself: "The cock has a black, smooth and strong beak; the comb
is single, regularly pointed, and the wattles very long. The ear lobes
are white with red streaks, the eyes are lively and betray a fierce temper.
The shanks are normally booted, but often
also featherless; the colour is black, even though a pinkish hue is desirable.
The female displays a rather well-developed single comb; sometimes, though,
there may be a small crest and a smaller comb, thus revealing some Polverara
blood." The Paduan Giant could have liveries of different colours,
the most common of which was the black one; in this case, the cock showed
some red feathers in the hackle, saddle and rump. Appreciated colours
were white and white-mottled black; some show catalogues from 1893 report
also a partridge variety, as well as one with a small crest and five toes.
The Gigante Padovana had no hatching instinct
and laid rather large eggs. The cock weighed 4 to 4.5 kg, the hen 3 to
3.5, but heavier specimens were not uncommon. The breed was initially
appreciated for the large size, but the breeding presented some difficulties
and before 1930 it had already become very rare. (Trevisani G., 1907,
1912, 1919, Mazzon I., 1932; Houwink A., 1910).
black Gigante Padovana
a couple of black Gigante Padovana 1910
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a flock of white-mottled black Gigante Padovana
GROSSA DI BOLOGNA
The Bologna Large was created by crossing
various breeds thanks to a project which involved the Stazione Sperimentale
di Pollicoltura in Rovigo and the Poultry Experimental Center in Bologna
(Ghigi A., 1968).
Initially, some Leghorn specimens were crossed to the Cornish breed in
order to obtain a well-laying strain that resembled the Cornish in its
build. The result was an extremely well built chicken with a very favourable
growth ratio; the laying ability however gradually but constantly decreased
in the following generations.
There were three varieties; white, cuckoo
and black, that were lost during World War II (Bonadonna T.,1950-51).
One may suppose this bird to have looked like a heavier Livorno, with
shorter and thicker shanks, saffron-yellow in colour, with a broad chest
rich in meat inherited from the Cornish Game. The earlobes were creamy
white, the comb single and of average size.
See also Frauds and News.
Grossa di Bologna
This is supposed to be a poultry population
of primitive type; the only distinctive character was the so-called "feather-crisis",
that is to say a heavy first moult that left the specimens 'naked' for
quite some time. After the molt, the growth resumed very favourably, so
much so that the 'type' became popular among the rural class. This strain
was widespread in the Padua County and resembled the Crottone from Piacenza
and the Trevisana, that also displayed a very peculiar moult. One may
reasonably suppose this genetic late plumage growth was very similar to
the one of the Valdarnese Bianca's. This characteristic though has always
been typical of heterosomic Asian breeds, therefore it is plausible that
the so-called Grota was the result of some crossing aiming at obtaining
more precocious and heavier birds than the pure-bred ones (Mazzon I.,
It is an old breed that, notwithstanding
its Italian origins, has never been mentioned in any Italian literature
on poultry. It was mentioned abroad, however, in the beginning of the
previous century (Houwink A., 1910). The author reports it as existing
in two colours, black and white, and according to some it was derived
from the mottled variety of the Leghorns. Apparently it was a poultry
trader who created this breed by selecting a variation of his mottled
Leghorns and slightly modifying the name into Lamotta. The birds were
very similar to Leghorn specimens, except for the shanks; instead of being
yellow, these were grey or white. It was mentioned in a few German and
Dutch magazines at the beginning of the previous century, but it soon
disappeared from the poultry scene. There is no literature mentioning
in which areas the breed was to be found nor what the production characteristics
a couple of breed Lamotta 1910
The Dwarfish - in the Padua area also known
as the "Pepola"- Hen was to be found in good quality in several
farms (Mazzon I., 1934). The origin of this short-legged breed
is unknown, but the short legs are found to be a characteristic of several
breeds in Europe as well as in the Eastern part of the globe (Kruper,
Courtes Pattes, Scots Dumpy, Chabo). According to Mr Mazzon, the breed
was larger in size than the common "Megiarola". It was a docile
bird, very appreciated as a hatching hen because - due to its very short
legs - it would rather stay in the neighbourhood of the farmer's house
than walk large distances, thus avoiding to tire out the young chicks.
The general appearance was the typical Italian bird's with a single comb,
wattles of average length, white earlobes and black plumage with a metallic
green and blue shine. The body carriage was rather stretched forward,
described by some as similar to that of a duck. The shanks were featherless,
slate-coloured; eventually though, the habit of choosing a male of a different
breed or strain caused the Nana's type to alter, so that some specimens
might have booted shanks and a less typical build. It seems to have been
a great layer, to such an extent that in the rural areas of the Veneto
there used to be a saying which has not disappeared yet: "la galineta
pepola la fa tre ovi al dì; se non la fosse pepola la gh'in faria
de pi" (The Pepola hen lays three eggs a day; weren't it a Pepola
it'd more they say).
The breeding of the Nana presented some difficulties,
especially with the young chicks, due to the legs being so short that
the birds' abdomen nearly touched the ground. This and the humid climate
of the Veneto region were cause of frequent diseases. There is no trace
left of the Nana in the Italian poultry population; on the other hand,
this substantial decrease in number of specimens is common to all European
short-legged breeds. The name "pepoi" is currently associated
to a few strains of Bantam-sized chickens with golden livery that are
bred in Veneto, that have however nothing in common with the Nana-breed.
This retained the size of a regular chicken and displayed a mere reduction
in the length of the shanks.
According to Mr. Jovino, the breed was selected
from the birds that hatched from a number of eggs collected in 1931 in
the countryside around the Agricultural Technical school of Lecce. The
school's County Centre for Poultry Studies undertook the task of selecting
the Leccese breed.
Its noteworthy production characteristics were those of rather precocious
development until the age of five to six months and the tasty meat. The
eggs, however, were rather small, in spite of attempts at improving their
size by means of selection (Bonadonna T., 1951; Pozzi G., 1961).
It included two types, the so-called Moresca
(Moorish) which was known in a very dark partridge colour, and the Isabella
that implied a wheaten hue in the hen and a rather golden one in the male.
The Leccese was a chicken of Mediterranean type, with yellow shanks, white
earlobes, a well-developed single comb which was carried folded on one
side of the head by laying hens. The tail was carried rather high, with
moderately developed sickles; the general appearance was that of an elegant
bird (Trevisani G., 1936). The Leccese is nowadays extinct; its
wheaten colour was a very unusual one in Mediterranean chickens.
a couple of isabella Leccese 1946
a couple of moresca Leccese 1936
a couple of isabella Leccese 1936
LIVORNESE OR LEGHORN
In order to better clarify the complex history
behind the origins of this peculiar breed, represented by different strains
worldwide, it is important to begin by the poultry population present
in whole Italy, called "Italiana" and also widely known as "Poulette
d'Italie". These birds had a single comb, white earlobes, yellow
skin and shanks; being prolific and fast growing, they were initially
greatly appreciated especially in France and Belgium. They were described
by Beyer as follows: "They can be seen everywhere. Whether in large,
average or small poultry shows, Italian chickens are always there.
These chickens are superior for their excellent productivity, fast growth
and ability to adapt to the most diverse environmental conditions".
Blanchon reminds us that originally six varieties were known: partridge,
silver partridge, cuckoo, buff, back and white. In spite of the above
mentioned diversity in colours, the Italian poultry population was quite
homogeneous as far as the morphologic characters were concerned, and was
fully entitled to a membership in the so-called Mediterranean group of
breeds, i.e. the native breeds of Spain, South France and Italy (Giavarini
I.,1983, 1986; Pozzi G., 1961; Ghigi A., 1930, 1968).
In the first half of 1800s, Italian chickens
left the harbour of Leghorn, Tuscany to reach the United States, the city
of Leghorn being at the time the preferred base for all trade between
the two countries. It was then customary for cargo ships to carry chickens
in order to provide the crew with eggs and fresh meat. Once at destination,
the remaining birds were sold or taken home by the sailors. This is undoubtedly
one of the several ways domestic poultry breeds were introduced in the
American continent. According to John Oldbird, as quoted by Mr. Brown,
the first import of Italian chickens from the United States took place
around 1828 or 1829, followed two years later by a second one.
These birds, all with a white livery, were
initially called "White Spaniards" or "White Italians".
About 1835, Mr. N.F. Ward had a flock of golden chickens sent to New York
from Italy, which he greatly valued for their high egg production and
the very limited clocking instinct. Enthusiast about his birds, Mr. Ward
gave some eggs to Mr. J.C. Thompson, a passionate breeder who had some
more golden-coloured birds come from Italy. In autumn 1871, Mr. Reed Watson
imported the black variety from Italy to East Windsor Hill, Connecticut.
In spite of its quality as a layer, this variety did not become popular
because of its rather wild character (A.A.V.V., 1989, 1999).
In 1868, the white Leghorn - as the chickens imported from Leghorn were
called in America - was introduced to England, followed by the gold partridge
variety which Mr. Lewis Wright imported in 1870, a strain that was awarded
at the Crystal Palace Exhibition held in London in 1875. In 1876 the English
Leghorn Club was founded, the first special club in poultry breeding.
One year later, white Leghorns were showed at the "General Context"
held in Paris. In 1871 the first flock of black Leghorns had reached England.
Between 1871 and 1872, some flocks of golden and white Leghorns were exhibited
by Sir Warten in Switzerland and later in Germany (Périquet
J. C., 1995; Voitellier C., 1915).
The breed was also crossed with Wyandottes
in America, and White Minorcas and Malaysian Game in England. Especially
in Canada, the Leghorn was crossed with the white Wyandotte in order to
reduce the comb's size, which could easily freeze due to the country's
climate. From such crossing the rosecomb Leghorn was obtained, which was
recognised in the States in 1886. In 1912, Professor James Dryden of Oregon
State University selected specimens with exceptional laying abilities
(over 300 eggs a year).
Also the Ottawa Experimental Farm was obtaining important results in their
selection work. As early as 1950 one could distinguish between well recognisable
strains, such as the American, Canadian and English Leghorn, the latter
being bred in two different types, one for production and one for export
As years went by, each country created their own national standards, so
that one refers to Dutch Leghorn, German Italiener, English and American
Leghorn. It was only recently that Italian breeders were enabled to refer
to the Italian standard of the Livorno's native type. With the Italian
breeds being generally neglected, Italian breeders were forced to buy
their breeding specimens in nearby Germany, so that the German selection
of the Italian chickens - the Italiener - became the only variety to be
found in Italy. It is a rather heavy bird, similar to the Livorno, but
quieter and slower compared to the original type (Ghigi A., 1968; Marley
The native Livorno is a leaner and taller
breed compared to the Italiener selected in Germany. The neck is carried
upright and slightly arched, which confers to the bird a lively and alert
appearance. The tail is carried with an angle of 40 to 45° in the
male and 30 to 35° in the female. The body has the shape of a cylinder,
of average length, slightly sloping towards the rump. The shanks are fine-boned,
of a beautiful deep yellow, the abdomen is well developed, especially
in the female. Comb single, five-pointed, of medium size, carried erected
in the male, and folded after the second point in the female. The comb
blade follows the neckline without touching it. Wattles oval-shaped, of
medium length, earlobes white, stretched and smooth, with no trace of
red. The cock weighs 2 to 2.5 kg, the hen 1.7 kg to 2 kg. The Leghorn
is an excellent layer, with an average of up to 280 eggs a year, with
peaks of up to 320 eggs. The minimal weight of the egg is 55 grams, but
there are strains of layers producing much larger eggs, the shell of which
is invariably brilliant white. The native Leghorn is currently bred in
several varieties, to be distinguished merely by the plumage colour. These
are generally bred for sport and only rarely for production purposes.
Consumers generally prefer buying eggs with a pigmented shell, which is
probably the main obstacle preventing a return to more consistent and
substantial breeding of the Livorno in Italy. The currently revived interest
for typical and country-specific products, however, could be the answer
to the lack of massive demand from the marketplace (A.A.V.V., 1996).
Considering the high number of varieties, one should refer to the Italian
Poultry Breed standard for further details.
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- f. M.Arduin
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a flock of golden Livornos - f. M.Arduin
a flock of buff Livornos - f. M.Arduin
a flock of barred Livornos - f. M.Arduin
a flock of black Livornos - f. M.Morosini
a flock of black Livornos - f. M.Morosini
a couple of silver Livornos - f. M.Arduin
group of golden Leghorn (english selection)
Literally called Majesty 57, this doubtlessly
belongs to the group of breeds created in recent times. It was selected,
in fact, in the "Maestà" pens in Pavia by its owner Dr.
M. Meriggi and the geneticist Dr. R. Scossiroli, Professor at the University
It is derived by crossing three breeds: White Leghorn, New Hampshire Red
and Rhode Island Red.
The selection started in 1948. The first goal was to obtain some degree
of hereditary immunity to the pullorum disease (salmonella) and of resistance
to chronic respiratory disease and avian leucosis. The second purpose
was the improvement of productivity, with a goal of over 180 eggs a year
per laying hen. The third one was improving fertility and hatching figures,
aiming for an average of 85% or more.
The Maestà was created according to
the following proceedings:
A first crossing took place in 1953 between (probably) New Hampshires,
notoriously very precocious and productive, with Rhode Island Reds in
order to fix the characters of hardiness of these two breeds. In 1954,
the cross-bred birds were mated again to New Hampshires in order to retrieve
the type, thus basing the selection on anatomy, production and rapid feather
growth. During the third year (1955) the birds were crossed to White Leghorns
with the aim of introducing the dominant white factor in the New Hampshire
type, as well as the production qualities and the rapidity of body and
feather growth that characterize the Leghorn. In 1956, specimens of the
F1 were crossed with each other based on a line-breeding scheme in order
to determine which breeders were pure-bred for the white livery. These
were subsequently selected on characteristics such as conformation, resistance
to environmental conditions, production and rapidity of feather and bodily
growth. The breed's characteristics were loosely fixed in 1957 (Pozzi
The Maestà 57 can be defined a semi-heavy breed, with yellow skin
and shanks and dominant-white livery in 100% of out-crossings to New Hampshire
and Rhode Island Red specimens. The single comb is rather developed in
the cock, smaller aNd sometimes folded on one side in the hen. The earlobes
are mostly red, with traces of white inherited from the Leghorn. The average
production was of 230 eggs a year, about 52 of which were laid in the
winter. Laying began at or around 183 days of age. The egg's average weight
was gr. 59 (with 56 for the first egg), about 96% were fertile and an
average of 92% hatched. The mortality rate among chicks up to 45 days
of age did not exceed 0.2%, while among layers between 6 and 18 months
was 0.4% (Pozzi G., 1961).
The weight among 200 specimens for each sex, born in the first week of
April, was as follows:
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| || ||
a couple of Maestà 57
| || |
at 36 days
at 5 months
at 36 days
at 85 days
at 6 months
This breed, obtained by means of planned crossings, lacked competitiveness
in the long run when faster growing and more productive breeds were created
and is now to be considered as extinct. It is worth mentioning as it is
one of the last breeds created in Italy.
This breed is named after Mr. Ubaldo Maggi,
Esquire, who enjoyed considerable notoriety in the history of Italian
poultry breeding. His efforts towards the improvement of the Italian poultry
industry did not go unnoticed especially because of the incipient transition
from rather empirical breeding methods to more scientific ones which the
industry was experiencing in those years (Pascal T., 1905, 1925).
Mr. Maggi was a real pioneer in the creation of breeds by means of out-crossing.
It was in fact around 1848 that he started crossing his Valdarno hens
with a rooster of the modern La Flèche-type imported from France.
The crossing plan continued with the F1 to involve breeds such as the
Dark Brahma, Creve Coeur, black Cochin and supposedly also the Dorking.
The specimens obtained displayed the dominant conformation of Asian fowls
derived from the Brahma and were rather slow in developing, but by far
faster than any Asian large breed.
The Maggis reached an extremely large size,
so much as to sometimes outweigh the bulkiest Brahmas. The male had a
single comb, even though there are some texts by Dutch authors reporting
specimens with a pea comb. The wattles were rather long, earlobes small
and white (or red, according to some authors); the shanks were pinkish
in the most valued specimens, but could often be lead black. Normally
booted, they are also reported as featherless by the aforementioned Dutch
writers (Houwink A., 1910). The hen displayed a very small comb,
and sometimes a small crest in the occipital area, a characteristics inherited
from the the crested Crevecoeur. The rooster's livery was black with a
green and purple shine, while the head, neck and back were 'salt and pepper'
since they were irregularly mottled with yellow. The hen often displayed
a regular, black livery, but could also be brown with very dark brown
lacing, which was preferred by most breeders. The Maggis had a very good
production and were excellent hatchers.
The regular weight was between 4 and 4.5
kg for the male and 3.5 to 4 kg for the female (Pascal T., 1915).
One should not be surprised by the lack of uniformity among these specimens,
considering the high number of breeds that were crossed and the limited
knowledge of genetics at the time.
The breed constituted a doubtless innovation
within the Italian poultry industry, normally accustomed to the small
fowls of Mediterranean-type, and enjoyed some degree of fame also at international
level. Once the most experienced and devoted breeders passed away, the
breeding of Maggis was abandoned and the breed became completely extinct.
An Old Print of a Maggi Cock 1929
An Old Print of a Maggi Hen 1929
An Old Print of a couple of Maggi 1910
Also known as Black Marsalese, it owes its
name to the facts that it originates from the city of Marsala, Sicily.
A gold variety has been observed to exist in the Sicilian city of Trapani.
(Clementi F. 1950)
A breed of homosomic type having its home
in the Calabria region, Southern Italy, and bred in two colour varieties,
the yellow and the red one (Clementi F. 1950).
Such is the name of a primitive strain of
Mediterranean type that could be found in the Veneto region, especially
in the countryside around Padua. The Megiarola owes its name to the vernacular
term "mégio", that is to say 'millet seed' with reference
to its reduced size, which prevented a conspicuous utilisation of the
breed for meat production; at four months, in fact, the young specimens
did not weigh more than a pound, with the final weight not exceeding the
1.5 kg; however, the hens of the Megiarola strain were good layers of
rather small eggs (50-57 g).
The breed's characteristics were Mediterranean under all aspects, such
as a single comb, white earlobes, yellowish shanks and a number of different
liveries, among which the most common were black, white and gold (Trevisani
G., 1936; Bonadonna T., 1951; Ghigi A., 1968). In later years, the
local farmers began replacing the typical males with the so-called 'improvers',
i.e. cocks of valued breeds such as the Livornese or Italian Leghorn,
thus creating the breed that was to be called Megiarola Migliorata, i.e.
improved (Mazzon I., 1934).
Basing its selection work on the local poultry
strain of the Megiarola type, the Padua County Poultry Centre (Pollaio
Provinciale) began to cross with breeds carrying the desirable characters,
thus obtaining since 1927 larger specimens, reported to have reached an
increase in weight of 50% compared to the Megiarola strain.
The laying improved in terms of number -
with an average of 150 up to 160 a year - and in terms of weight of the
eggs, which with an average between 62g and 69g was sensibly higher than
the Megiarola's. Based on the documentation kept by the Padua Centre,
such an improvement was due to the successful choice made by its director
Mr.Giuseppe Squadroni. Dissatisfied with the poor results at the Padua
County Centre, Mr. Squadroni decided to start crossing the local specimens
with Golden Livorno males which he bought in the mountain areas of Val
d'Adige and Val di Non, where the Livorno was widely appreciated and successfully
bred (Fracanzani C.L., 1996; Mazzon I., 1932; Squadroni G., 1932).
The Megiarola Migliorata was given later
the more generic names of Medio Pesante with reference to the (improved)
weight, Padovana Comune - i.e. regular Padua to be distinguished from
the classic Padua - and Padovana Collo di Pernice (Partridge Neck Padua);
all of this denominations indicated though the same breed. The most common
liveries were white, white-laced buff, gold, black-tailed buff and cuckoo;
the weight was usually 2.7 kg in the male and 2 kg in the female. The
remaining characteristics of the Megiarola Migliorata were those of the
regular Mediterranean poultry breeds, i.e. single comb, white earlobes,
yellow shaks and skin. The Megiarola Migliorata, in spite of its great
qualities, was subsequently neglected to such an extent that chickens
of the Mediterranan type are nowadays rarely seen in the countryside of
| || ||
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a flock of golden Megiarola Migliorata - 1946
a flock of white Megiarola Migliorata - 1937
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a flock of black Megiarola Migliorata - 1937
| || |
It is a bantam breed commonly observed in
the area of the hills North of Milan. It seems to have been obtained at
the beginning of the Twentieth century from a rural type of bantam feral
poultry used in the breeding of feather game thanks to its particularly
strong hatching instinct. A group of local breeders decided later on to
select according to certain typical characteristics which would enhance
the breed's type and peculiarities. Reason for this was also the fact
that Italy - in spite of its increasing interest in poultry breeding -
officially did not have yet any native original Bantam breed.
The Mericanel della Brianza's characteristics
are a cylindrical body, single red comb, the blade of which is clearly
distinguishable from the neck line; the hen's comb can be carried folded
on one side without covering the eye, but is often simply erect. Shanks
yellow, earlobes red, almond shaped. This breed can be compared to the
French Pictave, the English Bantam Game and the German Bantam, but it
differentiates itself clearly on the ground of its featherless yellow
shanks, the typical characteristic of Italian poultry. The cock's weight
varies between 700 and 800 grams, the hen's between 600 and 700 grams.
There are several liveries, the most common being gold and black-tailed
buff. The Mericanel is still not very common as a show breed but it deserves
Mericanel Della Brianza
f. M. Salvaterra
Mericanel Della Brianza
f. M. Salvaterra
This breed has been obtained from an initial
crossing between the white Orpington and a single specimen of the Valdarno,
white with green shanks, which was held in great esteem by the author
of the selection. Mr Bianchi in fact - whom we can consider as the breed's
creator - decided to use this specimen in order to obtain a valuable double-purpose
type, unaware that some of the characteristics it displayed were different
to those of the Valdarno breed. On all accounts, thanks probably to some
genetic peculiarities of the Orpington, such as the dominant pinkish white
colour of the shanks and the solid build, half way in the Twenties Mr.
Bianchi quickly managed to obtain specimens that were satisfactorily homogeneous.
The breed was widespread in the whole area around Milan and a large part
of Lombardy. Both the cock and the hen displayed abundant soft and perfectly
white plumage. At a year of age the cock weighed 3.5 kg and the hen between
2.5 and 3 kg. It was well proportioned, with an impressively wide breast,
a single comb very well developed in the cock - as were also the wattles
- and folded on one side in the laying hen. Earlobes creamy white and
sometimes lightly stained with red, shanks perfectly smooth, pinkish white.
The tail displayed well developed sickles and was carried rather erect.
The hen's fertility was extraordinary, and the hatching instinct remarkable.
This breed was much less demanding than the truly Mediterranean ones in
terms of space and could easily adapt to living in confinement during
those months in which poultry was considered to damage crops. The Milanino
breed was particularly resistent to diseases and could adapt well to the
cold and humid climate of the Pianura Padana, i.e. the large plane along
the river Po in Northern Italy, as opposed to pure-bred Orpingtons that
could scarcely adapt to such a climate. There are reasons to believe that
the hens kept laying also in the winter.
As many other breeds originating from densely inhabited areas, the Milanino
repeatedly underwent crossing to other breeds and disappeared within a
a couple of Milanino 1930
- (MILLEFIORI DI
First shown in 1934 at the Sixteenth Padua
Trade Fair by the Itinerant Lonigo Centre for Agricultural Research, the
Millefleur had the characteristic livery by the same name, single comb,
white earlobes, yellow skin and shanks (Arduin M., 1991).
The Millefiori di Lonigo seems to belong to the Megiarola type, to which
one may refer for further information.
The breed has once been reported as still existing.
a couple of Lonigo Millefleur - f. L.Rizzini
- (MILLEFIORI PIEMONTESE)
The Millefleur of Piedmont is currently extinct,
however, according to local experts, it seems to have still existed in
the beginning of the 1990s although genetically altered by out-crossing.
According to the available description, it seems to have been quite similar
to an irregularly mottled Ancona, heavily built and with red earlobes
but still quite similar to the typical homosomic Mediterranean chickens
- f. A.Manassero
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