Craig Russell
RR 4 Box 251
Middleburg, PA 17842

with permission from
SPPA Bulletin, 2000, 5(3):4-5

While not as recent in development as the Marans, the Faverolles lack the ancient lineage of the LaFleche. Faverolles evolved from fowl produced as market crosses, like the Houdan and the Crevecoeur, but actual development probably followed those breeds. English and American speculations about the origin of Faverolles are interesting but tend to ignore French sources and reveal a lack of familiarity with European fowl. Polish, Crevecoeur, Houdan, Common Five Toed Fowl, Dorking, Brahma and even Langshan and Cochin are all commonly mentioned. While all of these existed in the Eure-et-Loir region where Faverolles were developed, the actual lineage of the birds that became Faverolles is probably much simpler.

One of the most accurate American speculations came from Frank L. Platt, who suggested the Houdan, Dorking, Malines, white skinned Light Brahma and the Common Five Toed Fowl were fused to produce Faverolles. A problem with this scenario is that while the Houdan was common in the area and widely used for market crosses, such fowl probably had little direct influence on actual Faverolles development. Another consideration, which may offend English vanity, is that for all practical purposes the Dorking and the old Common Five Toed Fowl are one and the same.

The Crested Breeds are generally advanced as the source of the beard and muff in Faverolles. The Crested Breeds were present and widely used for producing market crosses. Considering the lack of any sign of a crest in both the modern Faverolles or in the early historical records, and comparing the primary color patterns of the Faverolles with those of the Crested breeds, it is hard to argue for a close relationship between the two.

Perhaps inadvertently, while discussing Houdans, Mr. Platt gives us a more likely view of the Faverolles actual ancestry on page 135 of his book, All Breeds of Poultry. He states, "The English had a fowl with five toes and muffs, which was known as the Muffed Dorking." When I first read his words, I shuddered to think how some of the old time Dorking breeders both here and in England would have reacted. Likely Frank L. Platt's ears are still ringing. There certainly was such a fowl, but the fanciers I'm talking about would have had little regard for anyone who seemed so uncertain of its description. The Muffed Dorkings were actually of two types, some had muffs and full beards while others simply had muffs (Tasseled Dorkings were once common also). While it is possible that such fowl arose from crossing of crested fowl with Dorkings, it is far more likely that these traits can be traced to Games. The Muffed Dorkings were often referred to as the Old Muffle Chops fowls and were found in France as well as in Britain. This bird is almost certainly a part of the Faverolle story.

Cochins and Brahmas, at least those of the American and British type, were almost certainly not part of Faverolle ancestry. These fowl were tried in France but never created anything like the stir they did in the English speaking world. They found a limitted niche as a show fowl and as broodies, but let's face it, when you have the Old Five Toed breed you have little incentive to raise another breed for setting hens. As a market fowl the French pronounced Cochins and Brahmas dry fleshed. When used to cross with Five Toed Fowl, Houdans, and Crevecours, the offspring were white skinned and retained at least some of the delicacy of flesh required on the French markets. However, the legs tended to be off white with a brownish or dirty cast that excluded them from the better markets.

At least one member of the Asiatic group did play a role in the development of the Faverolles. The Antwerp Brahma, imported directly from China by the Antwerp Zoo, is a single combed fowl with white legs, skin and beak. The original color pattern was light (a white variety was developed later) and the type was classic Brahma. It was widely bred in Belgium and to a lesser extent in France, where it was used for crossing. The Antwerp Brahma was almost certainly part of the Faverolle story even if only as far as the Ermine (Light) variety is concerned.

The other major player was the Malines, a Belgian breed with a long history and uncertain background that also had a role in the development of Marans, Nord Hollands, and other breeds. Malines display two distinct types and three common color varieties. Malines are essentially Asiatic in type. Edward Brown and other English writers have suggested that this is a breed developed in the 19th century, but Belgian and French records take this white skinned feather footed breed back at least several centuries further. The influx of the Asiatics to the west in the 1850's saw some of these used to "upgrade" the Malines. The three common colors were Cuckoo, White and Black. The two types were single combed and turkey headed. The term turkey headed refers to a pea combed Brahma type head preferably without wattles and with a well-developed dewlap. Like the single combed Malines, this was not a recent development.

The Burges, or Combatant du Nord, is a large, tall white-skinned, hard-feathered game that seems to partake strongly of the Oriental type. Although the records are not as good as those for the Malines, tradition holds that this is another breed with a long history in Belgium and the north of France. Like most games, the Burges is highly variable in color. Even in early times, blacks and brown reds seem to have predominated. Blues and various blue based patterns have also been popular. The turkey headed Malines almost certainly originated with market fowl produced by crossing the Burges with single combed Malines. Most Black Malines were turkey headed and most Whites and Cuckoos were single combed. Any color could appear in either type. One important feature of Malines is that white under color was desired on the Cuckoo and even for the Blacks, a feature that could be important for dressing market fowl, particularly when young. Even with the white skin the Malines when bred pure was considered rather dry fleshed for French markets. The cross of British and American Cochins and Brahmas, both with objectionable yellow skins, with the Old Five Toed Fowl or Houdans and Crevecoeurs, yielded offspring that met all the major requirements of a high class fowl on major French markets. Both single combed and turekey headed Malines were used, but for us the turkey headed Malines and their hybrids are simply an interesting foot note that casts doubt on the conventional views of when Asiatic and Oriental fowl first reached western Europe. The single combed stock crossed with the Five Toed Fowl laid the major foundation for the Faverolles. Early black Faverolles were often very Langshan like. This could have been a result of the recent Langshan influence on the Malines, but at least in some cases was probably due to the direct use of Langshans in Faverolle development.

In contrast to crested fowl, beardless specimens were quite common among early Faverolles and clean faced Five Toed Fowl were probably more common than the muffed kinds in most areas. The middle 19th century was a time when folks wanted a fowl that was not only good but also good looking. In all liklihood popular opinion held that the muffed face augmented the overall appearance of the feathered hocks. And that is how the Faverolles came to be.

In North America only the Salmon and White have been standardized, although the breed has existed in many other colors. Early varieties included Salmon, Ermine (light), Black, Dark (colored), Red (Black breasted Red), Cuckoo and White. The first Whites were sports from the Salmon and Ermine. The British also produced Whites by crossing with White Orpingtons and Buffs by crossing with Buff Orpingtons. Buff Ermine (Buff Columbian) and Blue varieties have also been known. In general, Faverolles colors are much more compatible with those of Dorkings and Malines than with the crested breeds. Deviations can be accounted for by the use of Antwerp Brahmas and Langshans.



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