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The Oryol breed of chickens has been around for over 200 years. Passion for cockfighting in Pavlov, Nizhny Novgorod region led to the emergence of a powerful, well-knocked down, but not large, at first glance, bird. The origin of the breed is not known for certain, but researchers agree that among the ancestors of the Oryol chickens there is a Malay fighting breed of roosters. There is even a version that the Oryol calico breed of chickens appeared thanks to Count Orlov-Chesmensky. But it is unlikely that in fact the count was exchanged for a bird, being obsessed with the idea of breeding high-quality horse breeds. The name of these chickens is most likely misleading.
In the 19th century, Oryol calico chickens were very popular among all segments of the population of the Russian Empire. They were bred by peasants, burghers, artisans and merchants. At the peak of their popularity at the end of the 19th century, birds began to be exported abroad, presenting them at exhibitions, where they received very high marks. By this time, the breed from the fighting "left" in a universal direction. Chickens of the "Orlovskaya" breed were distinguished by their productivity both in the meat direction and in the egg production, showing good results. Oryol laying hens laid eggs even in winter. And at that time, a winter egg was very expensive, since the life of the chicken population in unheated chicken coops did not contribute to egg production. The beautiful motley plumage was also appreciated along with the characteristic breed characteristics that were absent in other chickens.
At the end of the same XIX century, there was a general fashion for foreign breeds of poultry and "Orlovka" quickly began to disappear. Although the birds were still taken to exhibitions, after the last one in 1911 the breed disappeared completely in Russia. In fact, there is not even a description left of the Orlov calico breed of chickens. Although a standard was even set for this chicken in the Russian Empire in 1914, it was already too late.
In the first half of the 20th century, there were no longer any purebred birds in Russia. The "pestles" that ran around the courtyards were, at best, hybrids, but not purebred birds.
The restoration of the breed began only in the 50s of the XX century and was carried out in two directions:
- isolation from crossbred livestock and consolidation of the necessary breed characteristics;
- purchase of purebred poultry in Germany, where this chicken was appreciated and bred clean.
A real result was achieved only in the 80s of the last century, and today there are two lines in Russia: Russian and German. When restoring, they were guided by the standard written after the actual disappearance of the Oryol livestock and, possibly, by artistic images of these birds. There is also an unconfirmed opinion that the Russian and German lines are, in fact, different chicken breeds that cannot be crossed with each other, since already in the first generation the birds lose their breed characteristics. True, this is contrary to genetics.
In today's description of the breed of Oryol chickens, their significant weight with a small body size is especially noted. This feature is explained by the fact that muscle tissue is much heavier than adipose tissue. And these birds, originating from the fighting breed, should not have fat, but they need well-developed strong muscles.
Birds of the 19th century
Of course, there is no photo of the Oryol breed of chickens of that time. Only drawings have survived. And the verbal description of the old Oryol breed of chickens without a photo raises the same doubts as the description of the old breed of Irish wolfhounds.
It is said that in those days, roosters were so large that they could eat from the dinner table. At the same time, objective data when weighed at the exhibition at the end of the 19th century indicate that the cocks of that time weighed only 4.5 kg, and laying hens - 3.2 kg. This is consistent with the universal direction of chickens, but not with their gigantism. To eat from the table, the rooster could only fly up on it. Especially considering the fact that the bird's body is small compared to its weight.
This is not a photo of old Oryol chickens, but there is a scale: a log. It is clearly seen that the old-type roosters did not differ in very large size, but they carried all the signs of a fighting breed:
- upright torso;
- small comb;
- dense plumage on the neck, protecting from the opponent's beak;
- sharp curved beak.
In those days, representatives of the "Orlovka" were distinguished by a wide frontal bone and a "swollen" mane, which protected from the opponent's beak. The appearance of such a mane is well shown in the pictures above. The beak was very curved and sharp, this was not the case with any other chicken.
Today's photos of the Oryol breed of chickens clearly indicate the fighting origin of their ancestors: in roosters, the body has a much more pronounced vertical set than in laying hens.
Modern description and photo of chickens "Orlovskaya chintsevaya":
- with their decent modern weight (from 4 kg for a chicken and up to 5 kg for a rooster), the birds give the impression of medium-sized specimens. According to reviews, the Oryol chickens have practically no fatty layer;
- the head makes a predatory impression. Red-orange or amber eyes, due to well-developed brow ridges, appear deep-set. The beak is yellow, thick at the base, strongly curved and short. The crest is very low, resembling a raspberry cut in half. The ridge is located very low, almost hanging over the nostrils. The spines of the crest are very low, but there are many of them. There must be a "wallet" under the beak;
- the characteristic "swelling" of the feather cover in the upper part of the neck was restored. The head is surrounded by sideburns and a beard. As a result, the neck appears to end in a feather ball. The neck is long, especially in roosters;
- the body of males is short and wide. Almost vertical;
- the back and loin are short and flat. The body tapers sharply towards the tail;
- the tail is abundantly feathered, of medium length. Set at right angles to the top line of the body. Braids of medium length, rounded, narrow;
- broad shoulders protrude forward. Wings of medium length are tightly pressed to the body;
- the chest with well-developed muscles in roosters protrudes slightly forward;
- tucked up belly;
- legs are long, thick. This, too, is the legacy of the Malay fighting roosters;
- metatarsus yellow;
- plumage dense, dense, well-fitting to the body.
The exterior characteristics of the Oryol breed chickens are somewhat different from those of the cockerel: the body is more horizontal, longer and narrower than that of the cock; the crest is very poorly developed, but chickens have more luxuriant plumage of the head; the angle between the back and the tail is more than 90 degrees.
German "Orlovka" is lighter and smaller. But they "cover" their disadvantage with higher productivity.
It is difficult to find, for clarity, a photo of the shortcomings of the Orlov calico breed of chickens, since there are still very few birds themselves. One can only describe those exterior defects that lead to the exclusion of chickens from breeding:
- small size;
- back with a hump;
- spindle-shaped, narrow, horizontally set body;
- little weight;
- narrow chest;
- narrow back;
- poor plumage of the head;
- thin and long beak without bending;
- any other than the color of the paws or beak allowed by the standard;
- black feather on the "wallet";
- a small amount of white on the body;
- the presence of residual feathers on the metatarsals and toes.
There is a heated debate around the Orlovka standard, and it may still be revised after the breed gains popularity and the population increases in size. According to the owners of the Oryol calico breed, laying hens do not differ in high egg production, "giving out" 150 eggs per year. But the meat is distinguished by its high taste characteristics.
Photos of the colors of the Oryol calico chickens give an idea of the beauty of these birds. There are also disagreements on colors. So, according to some requirements, a monochromatic color, except for white, is unacceptable. On the other hand, it is argued that "Orlovka" can also have clay, black and mahogany color without white. Perhaps the point is in the German and Russian lines. Perhaps their ancestors, the Gilyan chickens, are confused with the "Orlovs". The main recognized colors are: scarlet black-breasted, scarlet brown-breasted and chintz.
The white Oryol breed of chickens stands apart. These are the only representatives of the breed with a generally recognized mono color. In addition to color, Oryol white chickens do not differ from other representatives of the breed.
In the video, an expert evaluates the Oryol breed chickens:
Features of the breed
The Oryol breed belongs to the late maturing. At the age of one year, hens weigh 2.5-3 kg, males 3-3.5 kg. Chickens begin to lay at 7-8 months. In the first year of life, they can lay up to 180 eggs, then the productivity of layers decreases to 150. The eggs weigh 60 g. Depending on the color of the laying hen, the color of the shell can vary from light cream to white-pink.
Advantages and disadvantages
The advantages include the decorative appearance of the bird and the high taste characteristics of meat.
The disadvantages are late maturity and difficulties in raising chickens. The young grows slowly and fledge late.
According to the description, the Oryol chickens are frost-resistant and the photo below confirms this. True, in this photo the Oryol chicken looks more like a stepdaughter sent by an evil stepmother to the winter forest for snowdrops.
Lush dense plumage protects these birds from Russian frosts. Nevertheless, it is better for Oryol chickens to build an insulated chicken coop for the winter.
Important! Oryol chickens are pugnacious. They should be kept separate from other birds.
The rest of the content of the Oryol calico breed does not differ from the content of other "village" chickens. Just like other "simple" breeds, "Orlovka" can eat anything. But for their full development, they must be provided with a balanced diet. However, these are the truths that apply to any chickens.
Raising chickens is significantly different. Oryol chicken is preserved today as genetic material. You can buy purebred chickens either in breeding centers or from a few private owners. But in the latter case, you need to be sure of the seller's reliability.
Chickens of the Oryol breed at a young age are distinguished by low survival rate and slow feathering. They have to be monitored more carefully than more resistant breeds.
The color of the cock is darker than that of the chicken. Often, the description, photos and reviews of chickens of the Oryol breed of chickens do not coincide. But with a high degree of probability this is due to the fact that the bird is unclean. In addition, while in the Oryol breed of chickens, there is a large variability of the phenotype.
Violetta Duzhkina, p. Uglekamensk
We have fans of the Oryol breed in Primorye. But as I read, something might be wrong, and it’s not that way ... I reread all descriptions and reviews about the Oryol calico breed of chickens, reviewed the photos that I could find. Then at the seller's, almost with a magnifying glass, examined the chickens: pedigree or not. I bought it after all. If they are crossbreds, then they are very similar to purebreds. Indeed, they are very pugnacious. I was still lucky. Of a dozen chickens, only 4 roosters were found. While growing up, they fought almost to the death. And there was nowhere to settle. I barely waited until they grew up, and left only one. Chickens, by the way, also fight. But less.
Maria Svagina, town. Elan
Once at the exhibition I saw this breed and caught fire. I was looking for a long time where you can buy chickens or eggs. Found only in the breeding center. They breed the lines clean, so I only hatched chintz, as I wanted. They grow for a very long time. All other chickens are already hefty, and these are all small, puny. Then they get it. And you need to be removed from others for three months already, as they begin to try their hand.
The Oryol calico breed of chickens in private farmsteads today will most likely have a decorative value. The same as the Cochinchins and Brahms already have, who have practically ceased to be kept for meat. Oryol chickens are much inferior in egg production to other breeds. And excessive aggressiveness will not allow keeping them in the same room with other birds.