Gallus gallus L.
RISK OF EROSION High
DESCRIPTION The Ancona breed originates from central Italy. It was undoubtedly the most widespread breed in the whole of Italy. It takes its name from the city of the same name not so much because it originated only in the Marche province, but because it left around 1848 for England, where it was subjected to a careful morphological selection aimed at obtaining animals with splendid speckled plumage. It was in 1880 that the breeder Mr. M. Cobb managed to obtain what he wanted, presenting a superb group of Ancona breed on display.
It is a light, slender and very elegant chicken, thanks to its rich plumage. The University of Perugia preserves a strain that is particularly responsive to the ideotype of the breed as described in the historical testimonies.
BACKGROUND From an old book of 1915, “History of Anconas”, written by an American professional breeder, RW VanHoesen, who became passionate about this breed after having tried many, including the Livornese which there is called Leghorn, and after having adapted its name to English , it is possible to discover the world behind this animal that seems to have given so much satisfaction to overseas breeders. A first description, according to a standard already acquired in 1896, reports that: the breed has black plumage with green reflections and speckled with white spots, it has a characteristic crest that falls on one side, its attitude is always very alert and cautious, has yellow legs flecked with black. Its coloring allows a good camouflage which is very suitable to help it defend itself from predators when raised in freedom. The coloring of the plumage, unique in its kind, was specially sought by the Marche sharecroppers of the time in order to better manage to hide their chickens from the controls of the owner who could claim half of them. In fact, the owners of the estates demanded that poultry be bred with a white or red color that better highlighted it on the green of the fields at the time of a count. The Ancona hen, capable of living independently and in full freedom, could also escape these capillary controls and therefore certainly became an ally of the sharecropper. Among its characteristics the ability to adapt to any climate and to withstand the extremes of winter and summer without losing its egg production: from tests carried out at the time in which the aforementioned book was written, it was attributed a production that reached three hundred eggs a year and that was able to keep practically one egg a day for at least 4 years, excluding the period of the moulting of the plumage. This despite its small size (just 2.5 kg) which does not prevent it from giving large eggs which it begins to lay early, already at sixteen weeks of life. Therefore pre-eminently breed from eggs with white shell, but also its meat is defined as very tasty. Another genetic gift that was attributed to it was its good resistance to diseases, especially in the age of chick, which reduced its mortality.
TYPICAL FARMING AREA In the past the breed was widespread in the regions of Central Italy. It is currently limited to the Marche, Lazio and Umbria.
Texts taken from “Regional register of indigenous genetic resources of the Umbria Region”.