Have you ever heard of a bird with alfalfa shaped white earlobes? Then they are the Minorca chicken. They came from the Mediterranean region in the island of Minorca that is located southeast of Spain.
Minorca chickens are famous for laying double yolk eggs a rare quality with other chicken breeds. This uniqueness makes these birds a good choice among those who love big eggs.
Anyone looking for a chicken breed that is calm and quiet, this is the ideal bird of your choice.
In the native home of the Minorca in Spain, they are also called Gallina de Menorca or the Menorquina. Here they were widely domesticated and loved by many chicken enthusiasts as they were said to be prolific layers of large white large eggs.
They were later replaced with other modern breeds that had better qualities than they did. In 2004 these chickens were close to extinction in the island of Minorca where these birds come from. This led to conservation efforts by the Spanish government to popularize the breed and raise their numbers again.
After the British occupation on the island of Minorca, this breed began being exported and got a chance to set foot on the outside world.
They were first taken to Britain then Germany and later in the United States where they were officially recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1888.
When you talk of Minorca chicken, what strikes in the minds of many is a medium to large sized black chicken that have large white disc shaped earlobes.
What many don’t know is that there are other varieties of this breed. They are the white and buff varieties and they are recognized by the American Poultry Association.
These large and slender birds are classified as a Mediterranean breed of chicken. Their large size makes them ideal for meat as they are heavy too attaining weights of 7lbs to 9lbs.
The slender appearance with these birds makes them seem like they are small. When you hold them, you will be surprised to realize that they have well built body muscles.
They have a large single comb that is deep red in color with five definite peaks on it. The wattles are medium in size and are all red with large white earlobes you might think that they have earrings on their ears.
They are well feathered but lack feathers on their feet. On each foot there are four toes. Their tail feathers are long and seem to shoot high on the sky.
Minorca chickens are suited to live in warm climate and easily get affected by cold weather because their single combs will suffer from frostbites.
This chicken breed is very famous for its large white eggs. Some sources like thehappychickencoop say that with female Minorca chicken you can have eggs with double yolks.
These chooks are good layers but cannot outlay other breeds that have a prolific laying reputation like the Leghorns and Black star chickens. Minorca’s are among the best chickens for eggs. They lay about 120 large eggs with a white egg shell color in a year.
The bad side of these birds is that they hardly get broody. If you want some Minorca chicks, get an egg incubator or use other breeds that make good foster parents like Silkies, Cochin bantams and Orpington chicken.
When it comes to meat production, they are excellent meat givers as they have more meat to bone ratio. Their meat is lean and does not have strong chicken flavors. This calls the chef to do some improvements on it.
Hardiness and Temperament
Minorca breed is very hardy and does very well when allowed to free range on their own. Here, they get a chance to supplement their diet with green matter. They also gather some extra proteins from worms and insects they get.
They also do well in confinement and easily adapts on every soil type. These birds will roam vast areas to range and will only return in their coop at dusk.
Care is very important when keeping these chickens as they are very flightily like Hamburg chickens are despite being large. They are good on their own and require little attention as they know how to easily evade aerial predators.
Since Minorca chickens are adapted to live in warmer climates, keeping them in cold climates will require you to protect their combs and wattles from frost bites.
You may smear Vaseline on the exposed parts of the bird to act as insulation. Also make sure that they have a heated chicken coop and some heated waterers during the cold season
Some owners who keep these birds say that they are very docile and enjoy company of human beings. They are calm and very active and have no problem getting close to people.
So, with this in mind, it is wise to know that roosters are not the best to young children.
Minorca chickens are easy to integrate with other flock members. These birds are calm and will not cause harm or deny other chickens peace.
Caution ought be taken when introducing y Minorca chickens who have come out of the chicken brooder to the pallet chicken coop. These young birds are easily bullied by other birds because of their small size and lack of confidence.
Putting multiple chicken feeders and water points will give these birds equal feeding opportunities. Make sure your coop is large enough as overcrowding will lead to bullying. It will also ease the spread of diseases and parasites.
Introduce your young birds in the coop at night under the cover of darkness. Put the new birds on roost bars and let them spend the night in the chicken run with the original dwellers.
When dawn comes, the other chickens in the flock will wake up together with the new comers. They will think that they have been living together.
Chickens are members of the jungle fowl family a subspecies that originates from parts of Southeast Asia. They have a lifespan of 5 to 8 years when they have a chance.
There are some cases where some chickens have lived 13 to 20 years. This depends on the care given to them. Female Minorca chicken may have a shorter lifespan than the males. This is because laying for long makes hens develop some reproductive tract issues.
Male birds or cocks may live longer when given the best care they need to survive. Proper nutrition and good housing in an environment that is safe and minimal stress will give these birds a longer lifespan.
Minorca chickens are hardy birds that have no major health issues. However, they adapt well in warm climates and will hardly do well in cold regions. They are likely to suffer from frostbites due to their large combs.
Common parasites like chicken mites and lice will take advantage of the black compact plumage of these birds and hide inside. Slowly they will suck blood and damage the feathers of the host causing weight loss or even death.
Using small amounts of diatomaceous earth in the chicken dust bath or dusting the coop with sevin can help control these parasites.
Your Minorca chicken will at times get infested with internal parasites like chicken worms. Worms will compete for food with your birds and suppress their health.
Seek advice from a qualified vet on the right chicken wormer to administer.
Minorca chickens are a good choice for anyone who wants a breed that can easily adapt in a hot climate. These birds are none aggressive and easily get along with people.
They are easy to tame and are friendly posing no threat to other flock members. You can choose to treat your Minorca chicken pets with tasty meal worms and other treats.
Minorca’s can offer substantive amount of meat and eggs and make a good dual purpose chicken breed.