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This gentle giant lays an enormous number of eggs. With its feathered shanks and cuckoo feather pattern, it's one of our most popular dual-purpose breeds, and for good reason!
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Malines were created in Belgium in the 1800s through a strategy that seemed to involve breeding a native Belgian chicken, the Flemish Cuckoo, with almost every other large chicken breed that existed in Belgium at the time; breeds like Brahmas, Cochins, and Langshans. The result was a new and improbably large chicken breed with feathered shanks and herringbone-patterned feathers that on a practical level was mostly known for the quality of its meaty carcass. The Malines’ fine attributes were enough to make it a coveted bird for the barnyard –and alas, the dinner table– in the latter half of the 19th Century.

Malines are huge, gentle, and lay tan-colored eggs that are large in both number and size. An adult rooster may weigh more than 12 lb. There are several color varieties of Malines, but the black cuckoo pattern is the most common. Other varieties included a gold cuckoo and a bareheaded bird. In 2013, Greenfire Farms imported into the United States the black cuckoo, and allegedly this variety is auto-sexing. In the chicks we have hatched we have not seen the easily recognized visual gender cues you see with virtually every legbar chick and other breeds specifically engineered for auto-sexing. (For more information read our section on auto-sexing chicken breeds.)

The breed standard for Malines calls for white skin, and the birds imported by Greenfire Farms often meet the standard but occasionally we see a yellow-skinned chick produced in our flock. We have culled for that trait and we only breed white-skinned birds, but we assume the gene for yellow skin is something that could pop up from time to time in the offspring of our birds.

Malines are an excellent bird for the novice or experienced poultry keeper alike. Their hardiness, easygoing temperament, and impressive physical appearance make them a pleasure to own. Whether your desire is to raise meat birds, harvest jumbo eggs, or simply watch a strikingly beautiful chicken actively go about its daily business of foraging in the grass, few breeds are better equipped to meet your needs than the Malines.