This breed, called after the North Italian
city of Modena, is mentioned sporadically by a few authors without being
fully described. One may on all accounts suppose it to be similar to the
Livorno and to the Romagnola from the nearby Romagna region (Mazzon
According to other authors, this breed could have been derived from crossing
the crestless Padovana Comune with the white and golden Livorno. Due to
its predominantly buff-chamois colour, the Modenese was also called Fulva
di Modena (Clementi F., 1950).
The University of Parma became recently aware of the existence of a breeding
stock and started a research on the breed's productivity.
A flock of Modenese - Photo Courtesy of A. Zanon
A primitive breed from Campania, the Naples
region, it owes its name to the fact that farmers used to raise their
chickens on left-overs from their table and their production waste. There
are no descriptions of Monnezzara chickens, but one may suppose it to
belong to the Mediterranean type that was being bred in the rest of Italy
(Cortese M., 1978).
There is no precise information on this breed,
as a research by the Technical Committee of the Italian Federation of
Poultry Associations (F.I.A.V.) is still being conducted. The Committee
is carrying out a thorough examination of the available specimens and
considering the possibility to prepare a breed standard. Based on the
available description one may conclude the Mugellese is a bantam breed
with a solid body and proud carriage.
It is possessed with a lively, noisy temper, and extreme aggressiveness
towards other males in spite of its small size.
The cock's comb is erect and rather large
in relation to the body size, as are the wattles; the earlobes are red
or (preferably) white. The female has a rather small comb, folded on one
side when laying. The shanks are rather short and smooth, light in colour;
Both male and female carry their tail high. The male's sickles are not
excessively developed. This breed has been always used for their good
After laying about fifteen eggs, these small chickens are invariably seized
by a strong hatching instinct, that may continue to take place during
nearly the whole year.
The eggs are small, with a white shell. When hatching, the Mugellese chickens
display a pale yellow (nearly whitish) livery, but with the growth of
the first feathers their sex becomes distinguishable.
The cockerels are generally dark gold in colour, while pullets can be
wheaten or gold. In spite of its small size, this is a hardy and long-living
breed. Their raising does not present any particolar difficulty: it takes
place outdoors during the whole year, with no special care required.
As many other bantam breeds, the Mugellese love spending the night on
plants or trees with any weather.
Unfortunately, repeated crossing to other bantam breeds is endangering
the Mugellese as a breed: specimens displaying the correct type are increasingly
difficult to come across. The Mugellese is also called Mugginese.
A breed mentioned by Mr. Quilici when stating
that in the area around Foggia chickens with a black livery are very common
(Quilici R., 1958). Mr. Ghigi himself reports how the Gargano area
was populated by chickens resembling the Valdarno Nera and in his Trattato
d'Avicoltura (Treaty on Poultry Farming) welcomed a possibile attempt
at improving these specimens by using selected Black Livorno or Valdarno
males (Ghigi A., 1968; Taibel A., 1930). The Nera di Capitanata,
currently extinguished, must have had a single comb, white earlobes and
the typical Mediterranean homosomic characteristics.
POLAND OR POLISH
An attempt at investigating the origin of
the Paduan, an old and universally known breed, was recently made by some
French authors, in accordance with the studies carried out in Italy by
Prof. C.L. Fracanzani, a scholar with a passion for this breed. The first
crested chickens seem to have been introduced in Italy around the end
of the Fourteenth century. Marquis Giovanni Dondi dell'Orologio, struck
by the rare beauty and elegance of these chickens 'resembling flowers',
is said to have brought them from Poland, which would explain how come
Paduans are also known under the name of Polish, a denomination used also
by Mr. Darwin. The Dondi family received their title from John the Third,
King of Poland. The old friendship with the Polish royal family was the
reason why these large-crested chickens arrived to the city of Padua,
where Marquis Dondi proudly kept them in his family estate. A famous medicine
doctor and astronomer, Marquis Dondi cultivated the friendship of several
celebrities abroad. Thus, in the Sixteenth century the so-called Paduan
chickens reached Flanders and Brabant (Fracanzani C. L. ,1996; Périquet
J. C., 1994, 1995).
M.me Passy (1885), however, believes the
Paduan to have been introduced into France, more precisely in the Lorraine
region, around 1720 by Stanislaw Leszczynski (1677-1766) when, having
lost the Polish crown, he took shelter in France at his son-in-law's,
Louis the Fifteenth. According to M.me Passy, the chickens brought by
Leszczynski were favoured by Madame de Pompadour and were called 'Pompadour
Pullets' in her honour, which name later changed into 'Padoues'. Louis
Sixteenth's daughters are reported to have engaged with enthusiasm in
the breeding of these curious specimens. Some paintings from the Eighteenth
Century are said to be kept at the Louvre portraitting some poultry braces
that strongly resemble the current Paduans (Giavarini I., 1983, Pozzi
The Padua breed is also mentioned by Ulisse
Aldrovandi, Medicine and Philosophy Doctor at the University of Bologna
in the Sixteenth Century as well as by Mr Borelli, mathematician and medicine
doctor active around 1600, and in some notes by Mr. Tommaseo. Crested
chickens can also be observed in a fresco decorating the Vatican Lobbies
by the hand of Raffaello. Other authors claimed the breed's origin must
be sought even further back in time. Mr. Ghigi, supported by the discovery
of some marble statues of crested chickens (currently preserved at the
Vatican Museums), located the origin of the Paduan in Roman times (Ghigi
A., 1930, 1968; Pochini L., 1894, 1905), claiming for it to have originated
from the evolution of primitive crested chickens such as the Polverara.
Mr. Ghigi carried out several investigations on the mutations that allowed
for the selection of this breed. In 1939 he wrote: "Paduan chickens
display anatomical mutations of the head, such as the so-called cerebral
hernia. This is not a proper hernia, i.e. the result of the brains pushing
through the membrane surrounding them. It is rather a prolongation of
the brains due to the fact that the cerebral hemispheres are located in
front of the remaining parts of the brains on the same level, instead
of partially covering them as is normally the case. Thus prolonged, the
brains do not fit in a regular skull and are compelled to move upwards
in the frontal area, so that the hemispheres end up by positioning themselves
diagonally outside the fore part of the skull. During the embryo's development
there appears a surface of bone material on the outer part of the brains
that gradually extends itself until it becomes a protuberance covering
Together with this peculiarity there may
be observed two more cranial variations due to the fact that the nostrils
do not unite to constitute a single bone tissue along the beak's middle
line but leave an open space. Consequently, while nostrils are normally
laid on a central bone structure on which they are placed in an oblique,
lateral lodging, in Paduan chickens they lack the bone's support and are
placed rather high, looking flat and elastic. The space between the nostrils
and the bone protuberance supporting the crest is extremely limited so
that the normal development of the comb is prevented. This is short, often
irregular in shape, with knobs or double lobes, or even absent. Beside
a crest constituted by extremely long feathers that confer to the head
the appearance of a chrysanthemum flower, Paduans also have a thick beard
and whiskers. We are therefore observing a series of abnormal characteristics
occurring together. These, however, can also occur singularly, each of
them constituting a separate phenotype deriving from the mutation of a
specific characteristic. (Fracanzani C. L., 1996). Based on the
above, Mr. Ghigi, who was convinced the Paduan had originated from the
Polverara, contradicts himself and ends by corroborating the idea that
the several local breeds in the Padua area (Boffa, Cappellona, Polverara,
see above and below) were obtained by crossings with the crested Paduan
chickens. Such distinct breeds, in fact, display in various degrees the
singular mutations that may be observed to be grouped in the Paduan.
Mr. Mazzon however, in a publication from 1905 that was also quoted later
on by Mr. Pascal, stated the Padua and the Polverara to be entirely separate
breeds, arguing that the large-crested Paduans were very rare in Italy,
while Polveraras were not. The Paduan breed had found much appreciation
abroad, especially in Holland where it was most frequently bred (Mazzon
I., 1934; Pochini L., 1905). In fact, the large-crested Padovana was
popular nearly worldwide, and contributed significantly to the selection
of several European breeds (Crèvecur, Houdan and other, minor
breeds in France; Polish and Brabant in the Netherlands; Sultan in Eastern
Europe), so much so that nearly all crested breed seem to have large-crested
Paduans among their ancestors.
The current classification of poultry breeds
displays significant discrepancies which are worth being looked into.
The Paduan is registered in the American Standard of Perfection together
with the Dutch Polish or Poland under the name of Polish as a single breed.
The two varieties differentiate themselves simply by the specification
"bearded" and "non-bearded". This applies also to
the English standard where the official name is Poland. In the most recent
French works the Paduan is called Padoue and it distinguishes itself from
the Polish, a beardless breed where the wattles are well developed, with
a crest that may be of the same colour as the livery or of a colour in
contrast with the livery. Accordingly, the Italian Standard includes the
two breeds separately from one another.
In the Italian Standard of Poultry Breeds
the Paduan recurs in nine colours, six of which are universally known
and included also in the oldest texts: black, white, black-laced silver
and black-laced gold, white-laced buff and cuckoo. The white columbia
and buff varieties are extinct. With their crest and beard, Paduans lack
the comb and the wattles, display very small, whitish earlobes that are
completely covered by the mufflings. The male weighs about 1.8 - 2.3 kg
(previously, 3 to 3.5 kg), the hen between 1.5 and 2 kg (as opposed to
2.5 kg in the past). The shanks are of average length, fine, smooth, with
four toes and bluish grey in colour. Eggs are white, their weight is min
50 grams (Lion G. F., 1893).
In the area around the city of Padua Professor G. Baldan has recently
started a project of selection and re-qualification of this breed's production
characteristics, while the general tendency in the rest of Italy and abroad
is that of selecting a highly ornamental poultry breed. Further information
about the Paduan may be obtained by referring to the Italian Standard
of Poultry Breeds (Various Authors, 1996)
White-Laced Buff Paduan (today)
White-Laced Buff Paduan
Large-Crested Paduan, black
Others interessant strangers site
Also called Padovana del Chilì, with
inverted feathers or simply frizzle, this breed occurs in the first Italian
exhibition catalogues at the end of the XIX century (Lion G. F., 1893).
It was in every aspect similar to the Large-Crested Paduan except for
the frizzled livery which conferred to the breed a very ornamental character.
The frizzle Paduan became soon extinct in Italy, but survived abroad and
especially in the United States, including in its Bantam version. In the
USA this breed is known under the name of Polish Frizzle and is recognized
in the same colour varieties as the Polish (Ghigi A., 1968; Mazzon
I., 1932, 1934).
The Polish Frizzle was imported back in Italy
several times during the Eighties and Nineties, but is currently not included
in the Italian Standard whether as a separate breed or as a variety of
the Paduan. It still is a very curious specimen deserving more attention,
not in the least for its fancy aspect.
A brace of Frizzle Polish - Photograph Courtesy of Mr. A. Bacchella
Introduced to the general public during the
16th Trade and Business Fair in Padua in 1934, it displayed the so-called
lion-like livery (black-tail buff), with yellow skin and shanks, single
comb and white earlobes. The Padovana Lionata could be included in the
group of breeds of the Megiarola type. Due to its livery, the general
aspect resembles the Bionda Piemontese's (Arduin M., 1991).
The breed's name means 'five-toed'. It is
reported to have been common around half way the 1800s in most of the
Veneto region (Mazzon I., 1934). The existing literature reports
five-toed chickend to have been held in esteem by the Romans and in particular
by Julius Ceasar who called it "quinquedigitalis". The various
authors became engaged in a discussion as to whether this breed could
be related to the English Dorking, to which no answer has been given yet.
The "cinquedita", according to Mr. Mazzon's description, was
an attractive chicken with silver livery, for some similar to the Campine
and for others rather resembling the Dorking. A very lively and hardy
breed, it was a rather small sized chicken with thin pinkish shanks, smooth
and endowed with five toes. The fifth of such toes was clearly distinguishable
from the fourth, its tip pointing upwards. A good layer, the Pentadattila
laid small eggs but was also appreciated for its fine and delicate meat.
In his work on chicken breeds in the Padua area, as early as in the first
decades of the 1900s Mr. Mazzon observed how pre-bred Cinqueditas had
become difficult to come across. One may however suppose that the specimens
observed by Mr. Mazzon were no pure-bred Cinqueditas but five-toed chickens
by which such mutation had prevailed due to its being a genetically dominant
characteristic. A common five-toed breed is also mentioned by French authors;
such a mutation can be supposed to have been rather common among the local
poultry (Périquet J. C., 1994).
A Bantam breed originary of the Veneto region,
very common especially in Eastern Veneto and Friuli. This is the only
rural production bantam breed to be currently available on the market.
The chicks are light brown in colour with darker stripes on the back and
the head. This colour, genetically not entirely fixed yet, is the golden
partridge or wheaten one. At the age of four months, pullets and cockerels
both weigh 600 to 700 g. The average adult weight for the males is between
1.3 and 1.5 kg, for the females about 1 to 1.1 kg. The hens between 160
and 180 eggs yearly, each about 40-45 g in weight, have a strong hatching
instinct and are very good mothers (Arduin M., 1991).
Although the name Pepoi seems to recall the
idea of a Bantam breed similar to the "Nana", there are no similarities
betwqeen the two. In my opinion, the Pepoi is a dwarfish chicken type
with no genetic base and with no equivalent among any local breed. Its
lack of fixed morphological characteristics may contribute to conclude
that it is derived by the crossing of chickens of varied and uncertain
The earlobes and shanks vary in colour, and the same can be said for the
comb's shape, which cannot but corroborate the theory concerning the breed's
uncertain ancestors. The Pépoi are currently bred as a hobby and
for the consumption of the so-called one-portion chicken.
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a flock of Pepoi
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Pepoi one day chicks
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According to Mr. Mazzon, the Giant Padua
could be distinguished from other types even by the less expert observers.
It was common in the districts of Piove, Monselice, Este, Montagnana,
as well as around Padua. The grown-up hen reached or out weighed 3 kg,
the male 4 kg; at the age of four months it reached 1.5 kg. The capons
were greatly appreciated as a product of which the farming housewives
of the Veneto were very proud. In spite of being a chicken of the Mediterranean
type, the Giant Paduan laid an annual average of 170 rather large (70
to 80 g) eggs (Mazzon I., 1932, 1934).
Its appearance was majestic, due to the large single comb, erected in
the male and folded in the female, the white earlobes and the powerful
yellow shanks. The most common liveries were white and chamois. As opposed
to other restless breeds of the Mediterranean type, their temper was quiet
and sociable. The breeding of it seems to have been a task that passed
from mother to daughter, breeding specimens often being included in the
bride's dowry (Trevisani G., 1934). Although enthusiastically promoted
by Mr. I. Mazzon, Esq., the Padovana Pesante has not been described by
any other author and remains a rather unknown breed. One may suppose it
to have been very similar to other giant breeds of the Mediterranean type
such as Minorca and Berbezieux.
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A Flock of Padovana Pesante in 1932
Padovana Pesante 1932
Mr. Italo Mazzon names this breed in an article
published on the "Padova" magazine, stating it to be a creation
of an Apulian breeder by the name of Pizzolante. Mr. Mazzon specifies
that information on the subject is brief and insufficient to allow any
description, however approximate, of the breed's characteristics (Mazzon
According to Mr. Attilio Maggiolo, the Polverara
was first mentioned as early as 1560. The first author to descrive it
was Mr Bernardino Scardeone who, in his work called "De antiquate
Urbis Patavii", noticed the abundance of extraordinarily large chickens
nearby the village of Polverara in the countryside around Padua. Mr Tassoni,
in his heroic-comic poem "Secchia rapita", describes the area
as "the kingdom of poultry", and so do Salomonio, Orsato and
Dottori. Mr. Maggiolo added that Polveraras, also known as schiata (pron.
Skeeata) or schata, which literally means "stubble" was one
of the most beautiful and appreciated breeds especially because of their
delicious meat and their great fertility and hardiness. At the time, in
fact, chickens used to patrol open fields and search their food along
ditches, sleeping outside also in winter time, as a cold climate can delay
egg production, but in itself is not cause of diseases. But as early as
1862, Mr. Gloria noticed how the very black chickens of Polverara were
losing the traits of pure bred specimens, and failed to outsize "common"
chickens by more than a third of their size. Mr Gloria was forced to conclude
that no more than three or four families in the area still kept the breed
in purity (Fracanzani C. L., 1996; Périquet J. C., 1994, 1995;
Houwink A., 1910). The general decadence of
the breed was noticed also by Mr. Mazzon in 1888, who deplored the breeders'
habit of crossing their chickens with foreign breeds. In early 1900s the
breed kept losing popularity, with World War I preventing any serious
attempt at breeding it back.
Monsignor Giacomello, the neat and precise
author of Polverara, il suo Podestà, il comune, San Fidenzio e
le sue chiese , published in 1916, reports that in May 1913, with great
enthusiasm, Senator Giacomo Miari de' Cumani, the mayor of Polverara and
others founded a cooperative association the aim of which was to recover
and improve the old original breed.
This first attempt was unfortunately destined to remain unsuccessful,
and the Polverara chickens disappeared from the whole area. It was but
later on, thanks to the engagement of three illustrious citizens of Padua,
among which Mr Antonio Zanon, that one cock and two hens were recovered
and the patient work began which should bring back the breed. The long
and difficult task achieved its first success no earlier than 1932, when
Mr. Zanon was able to present the Mayor of Polverara with six flocks of
breeding specimens to be entrusted to honest and capable local families
for further development (Pochini L., 1894, 1905; Mazzon I., 1932, 1934).
Another talented and probably also lucky breeder was Dr. Fortuny, who
managed to show some groups at the Exhibition of the Fascist Party's Industry
and Agriculture kept in 1933 in Bologna. Mr. Salmaso showed a few white
and black specimens at the Verona and Milan shows, but no later than in
the Forties the breed became once again extremely scarce. Another attempt
at saving the breed was made around 1930 by Gian Antonio Fracanzani from
Este, near Padua. With the supervision of Professor Alessandro Ghigi,
Fracanzani wrote a dissertation entitled "La gallina Padovana"
(The Padua Chicken). Mr Fracanzani's work started by crossing a cock of
the so-called Italian local type to a Large-Crested Paduan, which successful
combination he (1) refers to as the origin of this valued breed. Professor
Ghigi, on the contrary, was inclined to believe the Paduan to have originated
from the original Polverara.
(1) Polverara, its Mayor, Municipality, Saint and Curches.
Movimento, Polverara, 1916
A Brace of Black Polveraras - Photograph Courtesy of Mr. A. Trivellato
This theory is not corroborated
by the present insight in poultry genetics and crossing tests: the tradition
according to which the Polverara is derived by the Padua seems to have
finally found also scientific arguments. Between 1940 and early 1980 the
Polverara was considered irremediably extinct. The only material that
was collected under the name Polverara, far from being live stock, was
of a historic nature, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Antonio Bertin who
spent years in collecting pieces of evidence that could enable him to
outline the history of the breed. But at the same time, a group of enthusiastic
breeders was discussing and planning the breed's comeback. It was Mr.
Bruno Morsetto from Mortise, a village near polverara, who searched the
area and put together the few specimens with typical characteristics that
could serve him to start the breed's reconstruction. Along with him, Mr.
Antonio Fernando Trivellato contributed with his insight in breeding and
genetics to the selection of pure-bred Polveraras in its splendid black
and white varieties. Aware of the role which can be entrusted to governmental
institutions, Mr. Trivellato started an intense exchange of ideas with
the municipality of Polverara, that on January 28th, 2000 resulted in
a conference entitled "The Polverara Poultry Breed". As a result
of this conference, the breed was included in a European aid plan aiming
at preserving the rural inheritance and legacy.
At present, the Polverara is being bred in several municipalities of the
area around Piove di Sacco, and its specific characteristics are protected
by a special committee, President of which is Professor Carlo Ludovico
Fracanzani. One may consequently expect the breed's retrieve to be a long-lasting
one. More specimens of Polverara are involved in the breeding programs
of the Istituto San Benedetto da Norcia in Padua, directed by Professor
The present Italian Standard of Poultry Breeds (Various Authors, 1996),
enriched with the retrieval of an old and typical breed, requires a Polverara
chicken to possess the following characteristics:
||Rather elegant chicken, with homosomic traits
|Comb, Wattles and Earlobes
||Small, V-shaped comb; Wattles, rough in texture, red;
Earlobes of average size, oval shaped, pure white in colour
|Crest, Mufflings and Beard
||Crest, relatively small, carried erect, while eyes remain
free; no cerebral hernia; beard and mufflings rather limited in volume,
not excessively developed
|Beak and Shanks
||Beak, strong, slightly curved, greyish white in the
white variety, bluish black in the black one; Shanks, willow but often
also slate green
||Male: 2.5-3 kg; Female: 1.8 - 2 kg
|Skin and Meat
||Skin, white; Meat, dark (the so-called Moorish meat)
||White in colour, min weight 40 grs., but generally heavier
||White, black; in the past (1893) also pencilled,
turtledove, buff, white-laced buff and black-laced silver.
The Polverara breed displays several characteristics similar to those
of the Dutch Brabanter and the Swiss Appenzeller.
Web Site of Mr. Antonio Fernando Trivellato (italian)
The origin of Polverara with pictures and other text
This dual-purpose breed was obtained in 1965 by means of planned crossings
at the Stazione Sperimentale di Pollicoltura (Experimental Poultry Farming
Station) in Rovigo. The Robusta breed is based exclusively on crossings
between the Buff Orpington and the White America with the successive breeding
of the F1. In fixing the offspring's morphologic characteristics preference
was given to the black-tail buff specimens, which is in Italy the so-called
lion-like colour. The Robusta Lionata is a typical representative of a
dual-purpose chicken, with yellow skin and shanks, single comb of average
size and red earlobes. Less bulky than the Orpington, it is though much
more hardy and less demanding when it comes to feeding (Arduin M.,
1991). At the age of 4 months pullets and cockerels reach a weight
of 1.9-2 kg. The male reaches 3.7 - 4.4 kg, the female weighs in average
between 2.8 and 3.3 kg. The annual production is 160 to 170 eggs weighing
55 to 60 g and displaying a pinkish coloured shell. It was decided not
to eradicate the hatching instinct which can be of use in rural farming
(Arduin M., 1992). The Robusta limonata has therefore a pronounced
hatching instinct and is generally used to rear the chicks of breeds that
are less inclined to hatch. Right after hatching, the chicks clearly dispaly
the Robusta's characteristics: the color is deep yellow-buff with several
little darker mottles on the head, which meks it similar in color to a
lion curb. This breed is currently still bred at local level but must
be considered as scarcely widespread. It could be successfully employed
for the production of organic meat on otherwise hardly exploitable soil.
Robusta Lionata chicks
Ph. Mr. M.Arduin
A Flock of Robusta Lionatas
A brace of Robusta Lionatas
Related to the Robusta Limonata, the Maculata
(mottled or spotted) was also obtained by crossings in 1965. It was obtained
by the same crossings as the Robusta Lionata, that is to say the Buff
Orpington and the White America (Arduin M., 1991). Although the
source of the above information is reliable, based on the results of crossing
tests between the above mentioned breeds one may conclude that possibly
more breeds contributed to the selection of the Robusta Maculata. The
chicks are dark brown with hazelnut-coloured stripes, light abdomen and
an irregularly shaped spot on the head. The adult specimens display a
silver-white livery with irregular black lacing to a variable extent -
as this charachteristic never underwent any strict selection. The white
hackle feathers are striped, the stripes being black with green shading.
The comb is single, average in size, perfectly straight in the male, at
times folded in the laying female. Earlobes red, shanks yellow. At the
age of 4 months cockerels and pulltes weigh 1.9-2.0 kg. The adult male
weighs about 3.8-4.2 kg, the hen 2.8-3.3 kg. The average production is
140-160 pinkish shelled eggs weighing 55 to 60 g (Arduin M., 1992).
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