What are my special features?
The Norfolk Grey (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a rare chicken breed which originated in Norwich but is now reared across the UK. They are a heavy breed, weighing on average between 6 and 7 pounds, but are not particularly large. They have a single comb and a red face with black eyes while the legs are slate or black. The chicken is a dual purpose breed and is thought to be a result of a crossing between “Silver Birchen Game” and “Duckwing Leghorn”, getting its superior flavour from the Game and laying ability from the Leghorn. The breed is particularly suited to free range farming as they are known as excellent foragers, which also positively contributes to their flavour.
What is my history?
The Norfolk Grey was created by Fred Myhill of Norwich, Norfolk, with estimates of their creation being as early as 1908. The first birds were given the name Black Maria (the nickname of a First World War German military shell), but as this name was unpopular it was changed to Norfolk Grey in 1925. In 1926 a society, The Norfolk Grey Club, was formed, but the breed’s popularity declined slowly (partly due to the dark brown colour of their eggs) and the society closed during the Second World War. After this event numbers never really recovered. By the 1960’s the breed was believed to be extinct but in 1974 a private smallholding was found to have 3 hens and a cockerel, and a breeding programme was implemented to resurrect the breed.
Why am I forgotten?
Norfolk Grey Chickens were thought to be extinct in the 1960’s and it has been a very slow process resurrecting the breed. With very few blood lines existing there are now few breeders in the UK, especially in Norfolk. The breed is more popular for private smallholdings rather than for commercial use, but with the numbers of breeders declining this too could be threatened in the long term.
Don’t lose me… cook me!