This 1923 history of the Lamona is reprinted from the March 2004 SPPA Bulletin. The Lamona was admitted to the Standard in 1933. Breeders are now working to re-create it.
Creation of the Lamona
Editor’s Note: SPPA member Brian Tibbot located the following account, published by the U.S. Bureau of Animal Husbandry (USDA) ca. 1923. Lamonas enjoyed very brief popularity, but quickly disappeared as commercial egg production changed from colony housing to caged birds. The Lamona was a favorite of former SPPA Secretary, Marion Nash, who concentrated considerable effort to its preservation. Today, less than a century after its creation, the Lamona has most likely vanished.
The country will soon have a new breed of poultry, a white fowl with red ear lobes, that lays a white shelled egg, developed by the poultry experts of the United States Department of Agriculture at the Government Experimental Farm at Beltsville, Maryland. Heretofore, it is said, all breeds with red ear lobes have laid brown shelled eggs. The project was conceived by Harry M. Lamon, Senior Poultryman of the Bureau of Animal Industry, and at the suggestion of the chief of that bureau Secretary Wallace has named the new breed Lamona for the originator.
The new fowl possesses characteristics of great merit. It has sufficient size to fit the demands of the great number of consumers who want a bird weighing 4 to 6 pounds. The body is long and of good depth, giving a large capacity for the reproductive organs.
The Lamona fowl is larger than the Leghorn, approaching in size fowls of the American class. It is white, which is most desirable from the marketman’s viewpoint. It has a comb and wattles of medium size, which are not easily frosted, thereby checking development or egg production. It is well feathered, which makes it resistant to sudden changes in temperature. These points all combine to make it an exceptionally good winter layer of white eggs.
The project resulting in the creation of the new Lamona was started in 1912 when the idea was conceived of combining three varieties of fowls to produce a breed having the shape and the market qualities of the Dorkingg, with a yellow skin, white plumage, and four toes and laying a white egg. A low stationed, close-feathered White Plymouth Rock male was mated to a Silver Gray female; and a Single Comb White Leghorn male, having a rather small, low comb, was mated to a Silver Gray Dorking female.
The second year the offspring of these crosses were mated separately, the females were trap nested, and only the high producers of the largest and whitest eggs were used for breeders. Only males from high producing females have been used at any time. The third year the results of the crosses of the second year were mated, and in addition care was taken to select white specimens with yellow skins having only four toes. Since then it has been a task of careful selection and breeding.
By selecting according to Mendelian law most of the fowls have come white with yellow legs and four toes. White shelled eggs and red ear lobes have been more difficult to fix. There have been many hens that laid white shelled eggs, but they did not have red ear lobes, and there have been many hens with red ear lobes that laid tinted eggs. But a considerable number of hens have been raised that meet the requirements and several cocks have thrown daughters with red ear lobes which laid white shelled eggs. With these fowls of known quality and breeding mated together progress toward the ideal should be more rapid.
The second variety of this project is a Pyle colored fowl. The females have pale buff breasts, while the males are white with rich red wing bows and back, which makes them very attractive. They have not been so fully developed as the whites and some lay tinted while others lay white eggs. They have such unusual color markings that it undoubtedly prove worthwhile to develop them further. In this case an effort will be made to intensify the color in the females which at present is rather pale and unattractive. They should add a very noteworthy color combination in a breed of distinctive merity.
The new breed is not yet ready for introduction, and no specimens or eggs will be sold until the characteristics sought have been more firmly fixed. It is as well or better developed than were several of the breeds and varieties when they were introduced by their breeders, but the specialists of the department believe that it is not sufficient to have a few specimens that measure up to the ideal. They want the characteristics so well fixed that the fowls will produce a high percentage of progeny of the ideal type. When sufficient stock of such birds has been obtained specimens will be sent to State agricultural colleges and experiment stations to test their adaptability to different sections and conditions.
It would take an exceptionally keen sense of taste to distinguish any difference between white and brown eggs at breakfast but human beings are such faddists that in the opinion of some, the difference is there just the same. In New York the demand is for white shells while in Boston the brown eggs is just as popular. “Some men will have only Dutch Belted cattle or Hampshire hogs,” said one of the poultry specialists in the Department of Agriculture. “They are color enthusiasts. The liking for white shelled eggs may have grown from associating the egg with the white poultry an agreeable picture suggesting cleanliness. Actually, however, the brown shell egg is every bit as good as the white until you arrive at the price in New York. The defference there sometimes is considerably in favor of the white. At present all the general purpose breeds of chickens are layers of brown eggs. Some of the leading markets demand the white egg, however, and as the price favors the white product it is important to supply it, if possible, and at the same time produce a fowl having weight in meat. The new Lamona is designed to do these things.