To the glory of mighty Menorca

I kept poultry from Grande Menorca for several decades. To me they are a wonderful breed combining good looks with an active constitution and a producer of large white-shelled eggs.

Cockerels being of good size, potentially excess stock could be used for table poultry.

I have a fondness for black-feathered fowl so the Menorca has it all with its elegant shape, broad crests and pure white lobes. Very dark eyes and legs highlight this wonderful breed.

Like most other Mediterranean breeds, they fall into the category of soft-feathered light breeds, but would be considered the largest of the light breeds.

To raise good show specimens, you need to pick from two bird pens. One would be the rooster breeding pen where the males and females would have large straight combs. From afar, it would look like a rooster pen. The majority of females would often have spurs in their second year.

The pullet rearing pen would have a rooster with a drooping crest and the females would also have large crests tucked to one side.

From these two enclosures you should be able to produce both males and females to show off.

I always select the largest birds to breed by combining a good quality crest, large lobes and very dark eyes.

Pullets before maturity have dark faces which often in my strain go hand in hand with the required dark eyes. I would never use a light-eyed or red-eyed Menorca or a bird with bent or twisted lobes in the breeding pen.

Most of the Great Menorcas here are from my stock, which goes back so long.

I was fortunate enough to acquire birds of the David Barriskill strain over 30 years ago. They were amazing birds.

The Barriskill strain was considered the best in Menorca and was kept by David just outside Portadown, County Armagh.

About 10 years ago David’s son Jim, who still had Menorca, helped me get a rooster from his stock which was again a very good big bird.

A few years ago at the East Antrim Bantam Club, while in Ballynure, Robert McConnell, who kept quality birds, kindly presented me with the last of his large Minorcas, which was an old hen he had bred from a wonderful rooster he had bought in Scotland.

Although she was an old bird, she continued to lay eggs and I was able to hatch from her.

I started several poultry farmers in Menorca, some of whom still have them today.

I started my neighbor and good friend William Moorcroft in Menorca a few years ago and over the past few years his birds have excelled at local shows.

His latest crop of Minorcas I believe is the best he has ever produced male and female and certainly a sight to behold. His hard work has paid off and I wish him the best of luck when the shows resume.

Here in Northern Ireland the large black Menorcas are kept by a few poultry keepers, but unfortunately the other two standard colors, blue and white, are very rare indeed.

We are trying to produce these colors again with the use of a large white rooster bird, a large cuckoo rooster and a large blue hen which will be crossed with each other and with the black variety so fingers crossed that we can possibly produce the blue and white variety to the required standard. This project continues.

n If you want to know more about this wonderful breed of yesteryear, contact me via Facebook or by phone on 07752 020831.

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