Light breeds with similar characteristics to the Old English Pheasant Fowl (OEPF) have been created, bred and kept on farms and smallholding across Yorkshire, Lancashire and surrounding northern counties since prior to the 19th century. There was likely to be much variation between this original stock and they were known by many names, including Golden, Silver and Black Pheasant Fowl, Yorkshire pheasant, Moss Pheasant and Moonies. The standardisation of these Pheasant Fowl came early in the 20th century when they were amalgamated and named the Hamburgh. The Old English Pheasant Fowl later followed in 1914 when a club was formed to revive the original pheasant fowl type. Originally, the general ‘Pheasant Fowl’ of Northern farms would have got its’ name from its similar habit and appearance to a wild pheasant. The breed is very nimble, energetic and along with the Hamburgh the most flighty of all British chicken breeds. Although a small light breed the OEPF is classed as a large fowl and does not exist in a bantam version. When mature the OEPF is exceptionally hardy and a reliable layer. When young, chicks are relatively weak when compared with most other breeds and should be grown on separately from larger breeds. They are particularly poor performers when hatched late in the year from August onwards. The OEPF is a steady layer, producing 120-200 eggs per year. Importantly the Old English Pheasant Fowl is larger than the Derbyshire Redcap and Hamburgh. Male birds should weigh in at around 3.2kg at maturity whereas Derbyshire Redcaps can attain 3kg and Hamburgh cocks typically attain around 2.2kg respectively. Therefore it is important to select for a large size when breeding. Currently their rarity and continued breeding in small numbers by enthusiasts has meant that their size may well be diminishing.
Although traditionally a small-holders dual purpose breed for those that lived on little, the breed has insignificant abilities by modern comparison. It is still a friendly and reliable bird for those that wish to maintain them as attractive pets with the added bonus of a few eggs.
For comparison Old English Pheasant Fowl cockerels have black laced tips to breast feathers while the hens have crescent shaped spangles at their feather tips. Some OEPF will naturally develop a gingery ground colour and others will develop with excessively sized black markings. These are not desirable features for exhibition or breeding. A rich Mahogany ground colour should be sought and males should not have excessive black on their breast, instead the lacing should be clearly defined and not heavy. Both sexes have medium sized oval or almond shaped white ear lobes. The rose comb is medium with a single leader following the curve of the head but not touching. The comb is square fronted and quite broad with a flat top and many even sized spikes. When mature, the comb is smaller than that of a Derbyshire Redcap but similar in size to that of a Hamburgh or Marsh Daisy. Legs are slate grey.
Silver Old English Pheasant fowl have silver-white ground colour with black lacing and probably no longer exist. A cross with Silver Spangled Hamburgh could easily revive the silver variety.
|Uses:||Moderate egg layer, small table bird.|
|Class:||Large Fowl only, Light weight, soft feathered|
|Colour:||Classed as Gold|
|Weight, cock:||3.2 kg|
|Weight, hen:||2.7 kg|
|Brooding Ability:||A non-sitter|
|Breed Club:||Rare Poultry Society|