Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chicken

(Not an APA Recognized Breed)

Prepared by Michael Schlumbohm and Keith Bramwell, Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Male Appenzeller Spitzhauben ChickenThe Appenzeller Spitzhauben is a relatively small European breed developed for egg production. Commonly known simply as Spitzhaubens, this breed lays a white shelled egg and has white skin. This breed has just recently begun to have a more serious interest in their breeding and preservation. In the United Kingdom and in several European countries this breed is recognized by their associations but they are not recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) in the US. However, some efforts are under way to standardize them and a breed club has been formed with this effort in mind. This breed occurs in several varieties but the Silver Spangled is the one with the most followers and is the most common variety of the breed.

Proposed Standard Weights
Cock: 4.5 lbs.
Hen: 3.5 lbs.
Cockerel: 3.5 lbs.
Pullet: 3 lbs.

As stated earlier, this breed is not yet recognized by the APA in the United States. However, the Appenzeller Spitzhauben Club of America has adopted the United Kingdom's standards as the proposed standards for submission to the APA. The following is a brief summary of the proposed description for shape and color. The body should be moderately long and well-rounded giving the overall impression of a walnut shape. The breast is carried high causing the back to slightly slope from the shoulders to the tail. The tail is long and well spread and should be held at a right angle to the back. The shanks are medium in length with the most striking feature of this breed its head. The comb should be V-shaped and the nostrils are cavernous like those of other crested breeds, however the crest is very different from the crest of a Polish or Houdan. In the case of the Spitzhauben, the crest is medium in size and should stand erect and slightly forward rather than falling to the sides and back of the head. The plumage color and pattern is about the same as the Silver Spangled Hamburg with each feather ending in a distinct black spangle and the remainder of the feather being white. The beak should be bluish and shanks should be slate blue and the earlobes should be white.

The early history of the Spitzhaubens is somewhat of a mystery. It is generally believed that they originated from the canton of Appenzell in Switzerland. Spitzhaubens, or at least birds similar to them, have been known in this area since the 1600's. They are believed to have been formed from the crossings of Brabanter, a Dutch breed, Crevecoeurs, and La Fleche. The Spitzhauben was originally kept by the monasteries where they were valued as a hardy foraging breed that layed a decent number of eggs. At first it was only these monasteries that kept them but eventually the breed made its way into the hands of local farmers. For many years the breed never left Switzerland and unfortunately the breed had dwindled in numbers until very few remained. It wasn't until the 1800's and early 1900's that any were seen outside of their home land. When this began to occur it helped the breed by increasing its numbers and it steadily increased in population. However, the conflict of WWII almost wiped it out completely.

This is where the modern and well-documented history of the Spitzhauben really begins. In 1953 Kurt Fischer, from Germany, imported some Spitzhaubens and began to breed them in earnest. He was instrumental in getting the Spitzhauben accepted to the German poultry standard and many German and Dutch breeders can be credited for reviving this breed. It wasn't until 1978 that the first Spitzhaubens finally made their way to England.

In the late 1950's, Dr. Albert McGraw had a German friend who brought a few dozen Appenzeller Spitzhauben eggs to America for him to hatch. This was the beginning of the foundation flock of Silver Spangled Appenzeller Spitzhauben in the U.S. Recently other breeders have imported more birds directly from Europe to add to the gene pool of the birds already here in the U.S.

The Appenzeller Spitzhauben in this country still needs a lot of work in order to get them to where they could receive serious consideration for acceptance by the APA. First and foremost the type needs to be worked on and set to achieve reasonable uniformity across the breed. The shape of the crest also needs some modifying as many crests of Spitzhaubens tend to be more Polish-like in shape, being large and round. This is probably due to the fact that many Spitzhaubens in this country were crossed with the Silver Polish in order to broaden the gene pool and to increase numbers. This has had a detrimental effect on crest shape and color. The color of these crosses tends to be more toward lacing rather than spangling. Also, many unsuspecting buyers have purchased "pure Spitzhaubens" in hopes of getting a good bird and in reality what was purchased was nothing more than a mere cross with other breeds. When deciding to breed Spitzhaubens breeders should be aware of this fact and not purchase birds that have had Polish blood added to them or have a program in place to breed back to the original standard description.

In terms of color, the Spitzhauben has a long way to go in order to reach the same high level of perfection of spangling that the Silver Spangled Hamburg has achieved. In time though, with serious and dedicated breeders, this breed should be able to achieve these goals and become a more uniform and better quality show bird.

Female Appenzeller Spitzhauben Chicken Most keepers of Spitzhaubens keep their birds for their unique appearance rather than for intensive breeding for breed characteristics. If the breed is to make real progress in the world of standard-bred poultry more serious breeders need to work toward a common goal of a creating an attractive show quality bird.

In temperament, the Spitzhauben is very active and tends to be a little flighty. These traits however, are what make it a good foraging breed. If this breed is to be contained they will need a high fence or one with a cover to keep them from flying out. Wing clipping can also be employed to keep them grounded if one does not wish to show them, however this can make them more vulnerable to predators that may find their way into the birds' enclosure.

Bantam Appenzeller Spitzhauben
(Not an ABA Recognized Breed)

Like the large fowl, the APA does not recognize a bantam Appenzeller Spitzhauben. However, they do exist in Europe and the American Bantam Association does recognize them on their "inactive list". The bantam version was first created in the Netherlands in the 1980's. There, and in other places in Europe, it is found in several varieties including silver spangled, golden spangled, black, and chamois.

Works Cited
"Appenzeller Spitzhauben.": Breed Savers. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014
"History." The Appenzeller Spitzhauben Society of Great Britain. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
"Spitzhauben." Greenfire Farms. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.
"Standard." The Appenzeller Spitzhauben Club of America. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2014.