A Quest for the Elusive Java- A True Homestead Chicken
I have been looking at breeds of chickens for our farm for quite some time. I have finally decided on the Java breed. While black is the primary color I would also like a few of the white and mottled to round out my coop.
This is a heritage breed and on the verge of extinction and considered very rare. Seems odd and a terrible tragedy to me considering in the early 1800’s this was the most popular chicken on the east coast. They are loved for their great egg laying and meat. They are terrific foragers and cold hardy. A true homestead bird. Seems they fell from thr graces of the mass producers because the black feathers showed in the poor plucking practices of the time.
The Java is the foundation breed for the American class of chickens, having significantly contributing to major modern fowl such as the Jersey Giant, Rhode Island Red Plymouth Rock, and New Hampshire Reds. They are also likely to be the source of the yellow skin in modern Dominiques, which once had white skin.
In 1990 there were fewer than 200 known birds. In early 2000 there was only a single known hatchery that offered them. The Garfield Farm Museum in Illinois took the challenge to bring this breed back from near extinction.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists the Javas as Critical on it’s watchlist, this means fewer than 500 breeding birds from five or fewer primary breeding flocks are known (this does not take in to account the population of non-breeding flocks). The breed is also listed as part of Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, a catalog of heritage foods in danger of extinction.
Here are a few links with more of the details if you are interested.
In my search to purchase my own I have called all our local farm stores, all the chicken friends I know and then turned to the internet. There are folks everywhere looking for these birds so I doubt any of this information is new to them. I have come across these breeders but have yet to obtain any for my own farm.
In my quest I will continue until these black beauties are running in my own barn yard. For those interested here is a list of possible breeders and hatcheries who may have Javas in 2009. Although none have confirmed it yet.:
Garfield Museum firstname.lastname@example.org (630) 584-8485
Urch Turnland Poultry Owatonna Minn. (507) 451-6782
Darkeggs.com Lists mottled Java
North American Java Club 1498 Mason Bay Rd., Jonesport, ME 04649
Ideal Poultry lists black and mottled
Sand Hill Preservation Center lists mottled with min. order of 10 chicks @ $4 each. Taking orders for 09′
Strombergs Poultry lists Black and not taking 09 orders until sometime in Jan 09.
Shady Lane Poultry Farm, PO 612 Columbus IN 47201 list Black