For convenience reason we listed the Italian breeds in four pages.

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FIDENTINA PERNICIATA
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.

 
Fidentina Perniciata
   
 
a flock of Fidentina Perniciata 1950
   

FOGGIANA CUCULA
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.

FOGGESE NERA
Mentioned by Clementi F. (1950).

FRIULANA
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.

 
   
 
Gigante Nera d'Italia 1927
   
 
   
 
Gigante Nera d'Italia 1927
   

GIGANTE PADOVANA
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 1932
 
a couple of black Gigante Padovana 1910
 
 
 
 
a flock of white-mottled black Gigante Padovana -1932
 

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 black variety
Grossa di Bologna 1952

GROTA
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., 1934).

LAMOTTA
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 were.


a couple of breed Lamotta 1910

LA NANA
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.


LECCESE
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.

Leccese - Isabella variety
Leccese - Moresca variety
a couple of isabella Leccese 1946
a couple of moresca Leccese 1936
Leccese - Isabella variety
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 purposes.
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 A., 1956).


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.

 
italian Leghorn - white variety
 
 
white Livorno 1927
white Livornos - f. M.Arduin
 
 
 
 
a flock of golden Livornos - f. M.Arduin
a flock of buff Livornos - f. M.Arduin
 
 
italian Leghhorn
 
 
a flock of barred Livornos - f. M.Arduin
 
  italian Leghhorn - black variety
italian Leghhorn - black variety
 
 
a flock of black Livornos - f. M.Morosini
a flock of black Livornos - f. M.Morosini
 
 
italian Leghorn silver variety
 
 
a couple of silver Livornos -  f. M.Arduin
 
 
english Leghorn
american Leghorn
 
 
group of golden Leghorn (english selection)
golden Leghorn  (U.S.A. selection)
 

MAESTA' 57
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 of Pavia.
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 G., 1961).
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:

  
  
  
a couple of Maestà 57
  

Females
at 36 days
437,7 g
Females
at 5 months
1980,2 g
Males
at 36 days
525,4 g
Males
at 85 days
1732,4 g
Males
at 6 months
3295,4 g

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.

MAGGI
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.

Maggi cock
Maggi - hen
Maggi
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

MARSALESE
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)

MEDITERRANEA
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).

MEGIAROLA
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).

MEGIAROLA MIGLIORATA
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 the Veneto.

 
razza Megiarola Migliorata in primo piano un bellisimo gallo sullo sfondo galline
gruppo di Megiarola Migliorata bianca
  
 
a flock of golden Megiarola Migliorata - 1946
a flock of white Megiarola Migliorata - 1937
  
 
  
 
a flock of black Megiarola Migliorata - 1937
  

MERICANEL DELLA BRIANZA
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 consideration.

Mericanel  Della Brianza - white cock
Mericanel  Della Brianza - white hen
Mericanel Della Brianza f. M. Salvaterra
Mericanel Della Brianza f. M. Salvaterra

MILANINO
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 few years.


a couple of Milanino 1930

LONIGO MILLEFLEUR  - (MILLEFIORI DI LONIGO)
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.

 
Lonigo Millefleur - couple
 
 
a couple of Lonigo Millefleur -  f. L.Rizzini
 

PIEDMONT MILLEFLEUR - (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

 
Piedmont Millefleur - hen
 
 
Piedmont Millefleur - f. A.Manassero
 

 

 

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