Barnevelder chickens were bred in the Dutch town of Barneveld just prior to the First World War specifically to develop a chicken that was hardy and would produce lots of brown eggs. They were imported into Britain in about 1921, where their dark brown eggs were highly prized. The breed gained worldwide recognition and was exported to many countries because of its ability to lay approximately 180-200 large brown eggs per year. The breeds that made up the Barnevelder were very carefully chosen. A Dutch fowl crossed with a Langshan, Brahma and Cochin. Most of these Barnevelders have long disappeared.
Although they can lay up to 200 brown eggs per year, they are basically lazy birds and will need to be well exercised or they will run to fat and egg production will drop. Therefore, they do best as free-range chickens rather than contained within a small run or coop area.
Barnevelder hens are prone to becoming broody, but this in turn makes them excellent mothers. Their chicks are bright yellow, gradually turning slowly darker as they age.
Barnevelders are good-looking chickens, with lovely patterned feathers in golden red and black. They have bright yellow legs and beaks, orange eyes and a small single red comb offset with red ear lobes. At first the markings were mixed, some double laced, some single, while the majority followed a partridge pattern. Two varieties were standardised – double laced and partridge, with the double laced being the most popular today.
The double laced variety has a black/beetle green hackle feathering and the breast, saddle, back and thighs are red/brown, each feather has a defined glossy black outer lacing. The quill under colour is slate.