This is a post we’ve waited nearly seven months to bring you. So often in the past we have shared a new breed we were really excited about on our website, only to have to disappoint our friends when they realized it would be months before we had anything available. As a result, we’ve tried to be more cautious in our writing, or in some cases, just say little to nothing at all. But today we get to spin around over grassy mountain tops and let the world know that the hills are alive with… Belgian Malines.
The story of the Malines begins hundreds of years ago around Mechelen, Belgium (Malines in French). This region was famous for many things, including the Malinois sheepdog, Belgian Dark Ale, and the Mechelse Koekoek, or Malines. Centuries ago, the zoo at Antwerp introduced a number of asiatic chicken breeds to the region, including the Brahma, Cochin and the Langshan. Local poultry breeders crossed these fascinating new breeds with the native cuckoo colored chickens and the Belgian Malines was born. It is not hard to see how the combination of these massive breeds would result in a chicken that looks, and feels, like a bowling ball with feathers. The creation of the Malines had one aim: the dinner table. In this the farmers of the Mechelen region succeeded. The Malines is renowned for the quality of its flesh, being both abundant and delicious.
The Belgian Malines is a great example of dual-purpose poultry. At 22 weeks, the cockerels are large enough to feed a family of six, with enough left-overs for a nice broth. Though they are feathered from head to toe, they manage heat as well as any of our Mediterranean breeds, likely a result of their Langshan heritage. While not as prolific as the Sussex, they are good layers of large eggs, averaging 140-160 eggs a year. Perhaps more enticing for the beginning poultry farmer, the Malines is a gentle giant, willing to spend its day perusing the pasture with little more than a 4-foot fence to keep it secure. The roosters are inquisitive and curious, but display no aggression to their keepers. Happy to forage for their food, we’ve found they have a particular preference for fermented grain, but what would you expect from the land of Trappist Monks.
Sunbird Farms was lucky enough to be one of the very first to receive Belgian Malines from the original importers to the States, Greenfire Farms. From that original order in May of 2014, we chose only to breed those that displayed the proper white skin coloring. We currently have a wonderful flock that is near point of lay and anticipate having hatching eggs available by the end of September 2014. If you have any interest in this wonderful breed, please contact us at: