Blue Eggs

Cream Legbar History

You might say the history of the Cream Legbar began in 1927 when British horticulturalist. Clarence Elliott, famed for his Six Hills Nursery, set out on a plant collecting expedition sailing first to Valparaiso, Chile, stopping on the way at Hamilton, Havana, Panama, Callao, Arica and Antofagasta and Valparaiso. Then taking the Trans-Andean railway to Rio Blanco, before heading south to Temuco and Tierra del Fuego. Finally sailing home from Punto Arenas via the Falklands in 1928. As well as ornamental plants, Elliott brought back with him an ‘arkload’ of animals for the London Zoo; a Galapagos turtle, a pair of pygmy deer, various birds and giant edible frogs among them. And amongst this menagerie were three hens.

Around that time a Cambridge Professor - Reginald Crundall Punnett (1875-1967) was doing pioneering work on poultry genetics. It was he who gave us the Punnett Square - a chequer board showing the variety and number of genetic combinations. Elliott gifted these hens to Punnett who writes...

In the summer of 1930 I acquired three Chilean hens through the kindness of Mr. Claud Elliot (sic) who had brought them over direct from Chile. They were evident mongrels at sight, differing widely in plumage colour and structural features. One died soon after arrival, but the two survivors both laid blue eggs. Though it was late in the season I managed to rear a few chicks (5 male and 2 female) from one of the hens, a nondescript yellow, mated with a Gold-Pencilled Hamburgh cock. These F1 birds from the basis of the experiments.....(Link)

Professor Punnett had already identified a sex linkage between gold males and silver females, and also the sex linkage carried by barred feathered birds, and begun his breeding programmes to utilize this to a practical end by creating the AUTOSEXING BREEDS.

He made numerous crosses made between Barred Plymouth Rocks, which in the interwar period was a very popular utility egg laying breed. (Our modern egg-laying hybrids had yet to be developed.)
in 1943 the Autosexing Breeds Association was formed and various breeds developed - each breed was named according to its cross, but ending in "bar" from the barred feather parent
Brussbar from the Brown Sussex
Cambar from the Campine
Dorbar from the Dorking
Legbar from the Leghorn
Marbar from the Marans
Welbar from the Welsummer and so on.

This 'barring' pattern is sex linked, the cockerels having two chromosomes and the pullets only one. This has the effect that chicks from a barred breed will have a light patch on the head. If this is combined with a brown colouring the differences become more obvious on the down of the day old chick - which allows for 100 per cent accuracy on sexing at day old, a real economic breakthrough for poultry farmers at the time.

Around 1932 the Legbar was the second of these breeds to be created at Cambridge Agricultural Research Department They were from a Brown Leghorn cock (gold sex linked) crossed with a Barred Plymouth Rock hen (silver sex linked) From this cross any progeny without barring were discarded, the remaining were selected for Leghorn type and mated together.

The pale coloured males (carrying two barred genes) and the crele coloured females were kept, and all dark (crele) male chicks were discarded. In order to increase numbers and bloodlines these Gold Legbar males could be crossed back to brown Leghorn females, and from this cross half produced dark crele males which again were culled.

This Gold Legbar was first standardized with the Poultry Club of Great Britain as a breed in 1945 and the Silver Legbars were standardized six years later in 1951

Now begins the final part of the story of the creation of Cream Legbars (originally know as the Crested Cream Legbar) In 1939 Michael S. Pease was trying to improve the productivity of the Gold Legbar by crossing it with high laying White Leghorn. From this crossing there were two off-white pullets. These were kept and bred back to a Gold Legbar male. This mating produced a cockerel which fathered cream coloured chicks where the male and female chicks had noticeably different down colour. These were bred to the line of blue laying hens that Professor Punnett's experimental matings had produced, and in time a crested, blue egg laying, autosexing breed was selected out and named the Crested Cream Legbar - the crest being a the tuft of feathers on the crest of the head behind the comb a feature derived from the South American blood.

The breed was standardized with the Poultry Club of Great Britain in 1958, and now is the most popular amongst the autosexing breeds, much of the interest in auto-sexing breeds having faded with the advent of modern hybrid lines.

Some years later the Chilean blue egg laying fowl of the Araucana Indians were introduced into both USA and Britain and became standardized as Araucana which lays a blue or turquoise green coloured egg. As interest in pastel coloured eggs has increased a range of "hybrids" often including the appellation of Legbar within the name have been introduced. These should not be confused with the true Cream Legbar which is a breed, and of course hybrids can never breed true.

As the true Cream Legbar has become more of a show bird than a utility bird much of the egg laying ability as well as the blue colour of the eggs is being neglected. So careful selection for an even shade of powder blue egg and productivity should be maintained wherever possible.

Below is the original standard submitted to The Poultry Club of Great Britain via the Autosexing Breeds Association - which was founded in 1943, and who's president was Professor R. C. Punnett F.R.S. 

This Standard was adopted by The Poultry Club May 1958

Cream Legbar
STANDARD 1958

Light breed, nonsitter

THE COCK:

HEAD- Crested; beak stout; eyes prominent; comb single, straight and erect, evenly and deeply serrated, large but not overgrown, extending beyond the back of the head, free from side sprigs; earlobes well developed, pendant, smooth, and open; wattles long and thin.
NECK: Long, well covered with hackle feathers
BODY: Wedge shaped, prominent breast, and straight breast bone, long flat back, sloping slightly to the tail; wings well tucked up and tightly carried.
LEGS: Moderately long; shanks strong and free from feathers.
CARRIAGE: Sprightly and alert, but free from stiltiness.
WEIGHT: 6 to 6-1/2 lbs in cockerels; 7 to 7-1/2 lbs in cocks.

THE HEN:

General characteristics similar to those of the cock, allowing for sexual differences.
WEIGHT: 4-1/2 to 5 lbs in pullets; 5 to 6 lbs in hens.

C O L O U R

THE COCK:

Neck hackles -- Cream, sparsely barred.
Saddle Hackles -- Cream, barred with dark grey, tipped with cream.
Back & Shoulders -- Cream, with dark grey barring, some chestnut permissible.
Wing Primaries -- Dark grey, faintly barred, some white permissible.
Wing Secondaries -- Dark grey more clearly marked.
Wing Coverts -- Grey barred, tips cream, some chestnut smudges permissible.
Breast -- Evenly barred dark grey, well defined outline.
Tail -- Evenly barred grey, sickles being paler, some white feathers permissible.
Crest -- Cream and grey, some chestnut permissible.
Beak -- Yellow.
Eyes -- Red or orange.
Comb, Face, & Wattles -- Red.
Earlobes -- Pure opaque white or cream, slight pink markings not unduly to handicap an otherwise good bird.

THE HEN:

Neck Hackles -- Cream, softly barred grey.
Breast -- salmon, well defined in outline.
Body -- silver grey, with rather indistinct broad soft barring.
Wing Primaries -- Grey -peppered.
Wing Secondaries -- Very faintly barred.
Wing Coverts -- Silver grey.
Tail -- Silver grey, faintly barred.
Crest -- Cream and grey, some chestnut permissible.
Beak -- Yellow.
Eyes -- Orange or red.
Comb, face, and wattles -- Red.
Earlobes -- Pure white or cream.
Legs and Feet -- Yellow.

Eggs - Blue.

Prof. Reginald Punnett 1876 -1967  - Link to Biography

History of Autosexing Breeds

Why did Prof Punnett create the Cream Legbar and why did he choose the foundation breeds that he used?

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.


Get Flash Player