Spanish Chicken

(English class)

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

White Faced Spanish Chicken The Spanish is a non-sitting egg breed that lays a large white egg and has white skin, a single comb and large white ear lobes. The full correct name for this breed and variety is White Faced Black Spanish. The only variety recognized is the White Faced Black. White Faced Black Spanish were admitted to the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection in 1874.

Standard Weights
Cock: 8 lbs.
Hen: 6.5 lbs.
Cockerel: 6.5 lbs.
Pullet: 5.5 lbs.

The Spanish is a large angular egg-type breed. The body is long, and only moderately wide and of sufficient depth to support high egg production. In general, the body is held upright with the breast carried high and well forward. The back line slopes from front to back with a slight break at the junction of the back and tail. The tail itself is long and moderately well spread and carried at an angle of 40-45 degrees. The legs are long and the underline should be trim and smooth with the profile of the hocks being very evident. The most distinguishing feature of the Spanish is its elaborate white face. The larger the white area the better, on mature birds there should be no trace of red anywhere on the face. The earlobes extend into a large "bib" that ideally reaches down to and sometimes below the ends of the wattles. The texture of the face should be smooth and free of large wrinkles or folds. The comb is single and should lop over to one side on females but should stand erect on males. In color the plumage should be solid black and the shanks are lead blue to black, the face and earlobes are white, while the comb and wattles are bright red.

The name for this breed, White Faced Black Spanish, came about in order to distinguish it from the Minorca when that breed was called the Red-Faced Black Spanish. The Spanish, is oddly enough not believed to have originated in Spain. Perhaps the only possible direct connection this breed has to Spain was long ago during the early 1500's. But this is just a guess because there is no description or illustration of White Faced Black Spanish in Spanish history.

The breed is actually believed to have been developed in Holland, in the 18th century, or earlier, from the old Castilian breed, which came from Spain. The reason that it is believed to have been developed in Holland is because of several accounts of "Spanish" that were imported to England from Holland. The breed became a sensation and spread quickly, by the latter part of the 18th century it was well known. While it was in England the breed most likely contributed to the genetics of the Andalusian while that breed was being established. The earliest specific date associated with it in America is 1825, when "John Oldbird", stated that he first saw them in that year. From then until about 1895 the Spanish were one of the best known improved breeds of chickens in this country.

The white face, which has been developed to a great extent, was at first moderate in size. When the Minorca and Leghorn breeds began to replace it as the favorite egg breed, the Spanish was then bred more along exhibition rather than utility lines. It was at this point that extreme white covering in the face was bred and selected for and competition to produce the largest white face led to abnormal development.

When poultry keepers in this country first discovered the Spanish they rated them as remarkable layers of large, white eggs. In fact, as late as 1895 there were many large farm flocks of Spanish and many poultry keepers who specialized in market eggs had used this breed. The great objection to them was that as chicks they were delicate. Even with this handicap they were still great favorites with all classes of poultry keepers until after the Leghorns rose to popularity, and the hardier Black Minorcas came to America. The rise of the Black Minorca, more than anything else, put a rather abrupt termination to interest in the Spanish. From about 1895 and after, Spanish have been rare in this country. It is only at long intervals that an attractive lot of good birds are shown. This breed could use more serious breeders to improve quality and increase numbers.

White Faced Spanish Chicken In temperament the Spanish is somewhat flighty and active, though not as bad as some other Mediterranean breeds. The hens are great egg layers of large white eggs and the males are very active breeders. Thanks to their active nature Spanish are good foragers and require a tall fence or an enclosure with a top to prevent them from flying over. Wing trimming can also be used to contain them to a certain area if showing is not a concern. At this time they are generally hardy; however care must be taken in colder climates to prevent frostbite on the combs. At first the large white face may be thought of as grotesque to some but after a while the contrast between the large white face and the coal-black plumage often becomes very striking and attractive. Breeding a top quality Spanish can be a bit of a challenge. Getting the large full white face free from any red markings can be difficult but is often done so at the neglect of other important characteristics. As with any of the large fowl breeds, body size should be taken into account; additionally continual observations should be made with breeding stock to maintain good body shape. Luckily the solid black color is easy to breed with few complications.

Bantam Spanish
(Single Comb Clean Legged class)

Both the APA and the American Bantam Association (ABA) recognize the bantam White Faced Black Spanish. The White Faced Black Spanish bantam was created in Arkansas by Joe Templeton by using a combination of Black Minorca and Rosecomb bantams. The shape and color requirements are the same as for large fowl. Like the large fowl the bantam version is not very common though it is gaining some popularity in certain parts of the country. The APA only recognizes the White Faced Black, while the ABA also recognizes the White Faced Blue.

Standard Weights
Cock: 30 oz.
Hen: 26 oz.
Cockerel: 26 oz.
Pullet: 22 oz.

Works Cited
Robinson, John H. Popular Breeds of Domestic Poultry. Dayton: Reliable Poultry Journal, 1924.
Brown, Edward. Races of Domestic Poultry. Liss: Nimrod Book Services, 1985.
The American Standard of Perfection Illustrated: A Complete Description of All Recognized Breeds and Varieties of Domestic Poultry. Burgettstown, PA: American Poultry Association, 2010.
Bantam Standard for the Breeder, Exhibitor, and Judge. 2011 ed. Kansas City: Covington Group, 2011.