Monday, January 3, 2011

Rare Poultry Breeds by David Scrivener

David Scrivener is an English poultry fancier and experienced judge. His research on poultry history, presented in his Rare Poultry Breeds,, is invaluable.

He chairs England's Rare Poultry Society and is dedicated to historic breeds. His research on hundreds of breeds makes this volume unique. Now that I've got it, I wouldn't be without it.

I often research historic breeds for the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities. Much material is unavailable or even completely lost, drawing the curtain on the origins and history of many breeds. Mr. Scrivener acknowledges the gaps. Perhaps publication of this book will unearth presently unknown resources and we will fill some of them in future.

He has decided to leave all Game Fowl breeds out, because so much has been written about them separately, giving them attention and documentation, and to avoid the inevitable controversy surrounding cock-fighting. I agree that's a wise decision. He has more than enough breeds to describe that have little attention elsewhere.

Because he is English and working from that national perspective, there are some differences between English, other countries' and United States Standards. Mr. Scrivener includes those details, although breeders should rely on their Standards for all particulars. The international differences may be helpful in understanding variations that appear in their flocks, though.

Mr. Scrivener's explanation of the differences among Langshans is very helpful. Providing the historical context for the development of varieties such as Croad and Modern, in the U.S., Chinese Langshans in the Australian Standard and the German Langshan is the best explanation I've found for this confusing breed.

Illustrated with 237 color photos, it's also well indexed, making it a ready reference. Imposing order on breeds is always a challenge. Mr. Scrivener settles on 14 categories: European Light Breeds; Egyptian Breeds; Long-Tailed and Game-Related Breeds; Rumpless Breeds; Long-Crowing Breeds; Crested Breeds and Their Relations; Cup-Combed Breeds; Frizzled and Naked Neck Breeds; Short-Legged Breeds; Langshans; European Medium/Heavy Breeds; American and Canadian Breeds; True Bantams and Autosexing Breeds. He even includes mention of Extinct Breeds, helpful in tracing down obscure mentions of breeds such as Bucks County Fowl, which were melded into Buff Plymouth Rocks in 1894.

All this historic detail has previously been unavailable, or at best, difficult to locate prior to publication of this book in 2006. It found its way into my hands in 2010 and I am profoundly grateful. I foresee beginning research into many breed questions with it in future.

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