Burmese is a breed of chicken native to Burma, now known as Myanmar. The breed was never common and was thought to have become extinct in the early 20th century. However, several specimens were discovered in the 1970s and were subsequently bred alongside breeds such as Bearded d’Uccle, Crevecoeur, Cochin, and the Japanese Bantam to recover the breed. At present they are still scarce.
The Burmese Bantam is a small-sized breed of chicken and does not have a medium-sized or large variety. They are almost exclusively white, with bright yellow feathered legs. They have individual crests and red earlobes.
The character of the Burmese chicken is amazing, being very calm and friendly. They are charming and reliable birds, as well as being excellent pets for children. Burmese hens lay a regular amount of brown eggs, they are excellent breeders and they become good mothers.
The first original Burmese were exported from Burma (now known as Myanmar) in the 1880s and arrived first in Scotland. They were sent by a British Indian Army officer to a colleague in Scotland. The climate was not ideal for these small birds and the population was almost extinct.
The last remaining rooster was kept by the great Victorian rooster breeder, William Entwisle, who dedicated himself to raising them alongside other chicken breeds, most notably the Sultan, and a variety of bantam breeds. Through these crosses, Entwisle produced the Bantam Burmese as we know it today.
They were never popular, but some specimens of the breed spread in the last years of the 19th century. It was thought that they were, in fact, completely extinct in the early 20th century and the poultry books of the time also considered them extinct. Then in the early 1970s, following the establishment of the Rare Breeds Society (now the Rare Poultry Society) in the UK, some Burmese appeared. They came to Cobthorn from the hands of an old breeder who only had one pair left. Following this, a breeding program that followed the original Entwisle breed standard was used to produce more birds that could breed again so that the breed could once again be brought back.
Burmese fans fight a great fight to maintain this breed and save it from extinction. The stock is still in Cobthorn, with two reserve stocks elsewhere for safety. 2003 was a good year for the breed and these numbers have been improving year after year. They are still extremely rare.
The Burmese possess the ‘creeper gene’, which results in exceptionally short legs. This gene causes high mortality, since all embryos that carry two copies of the gene die before hatching. Only embryos that contain a single copy of the “creeper gene” develop short legs; Copyless embryos produce a chicken with legs of normal length.
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