A trio of Venda fowl
Photo courtesy of Noel Honeyborne and Fowls for Africa

Text courtesy of
Noel Honeyborne

The Venda gets its name from the province of Venda (in South Africa), home of the Venda people, where this breed was noticed as the prolific local breed with the black and white mottled feathers that characterise it.

Obviously they originated from interbreeding of domestic fowl traded and introduced during the interaction of early settlers and pioneers in the area and have adapted and evolved into the present form. Phenotypic characteristics like crests, beards and even a fifth toe still make an appearance amongst progeny now and then in testimony to their diverse genetic heritage.

They are survivors under harsh African village conditions of low input with minimum supplementary feed and high disease risk. Vendas can sometimes be seen with grazing cattle where they are adept at pecking off ticks from their hosts, as is also the case with the Ovambos.

Hens of this breed lay large pink tinted eggs with a normal production under village scratch conditions of roughly 70 eggs p.a.

Its main highlight, however, is its good broodiness and mothering characteristics for raising village chickens. Males are large colourful birds with an aggressive territorial streak.

Later conservers of this breed started selecting for a line that included red feathers in the mottling where this is referred to as the red variety. Registration in the South African Poultry Breeds Standards is in process or could already have happened since last I heard. The breed is very popular with show breeders and subsistence farmers and is also being exported to Mozambique to augment village chickens lost to floods and disease.

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