Jersey Giant 

 
  History

The original name of this large breed is Jersey Black Giant. Black does not mean the color but comes from the originators the brothers John and Thomas Black from Jobstown, Burlington County, east of Philadelphia in the State of New Jersey. To create larger 'roasters' for the local and nearer markets they started crossbreeding darker feathered large breeds between 1870 en 1880. An old breeds the American Java Fowl (nearly extinct now), Dark Brahma's, Partridge Cochins, and at a later stage, the Black Croad Langshans and the Indian Games formed basis. Also, the Plymouth Rock was used at certain moments. At those time farmers experienced that black feathered poultry was more resistance against diseases and the climate in New Jersey. That was the main reason to create this breed, next to their size. Giants were developed to high level and weights between five and six kilograms were more common than and exception. 
In the twenties of this century, Marcey Farms owned by Ulmer Meloney from Matawan, New Jersey pushed this breed to a high level. Around 1930 this was one the most important breeds in New Jersey. When Ulmer Meloney passed away the best Jersey Giant breeders were send to the Miller Family Farm, Bern, Kansas which still breeds them. (At he moment of writing this book Mrs. Golda Miller is up in nineties and still involved in this chickens! Yes, a healthy activity). In 1922 the breed was recognized in the Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association APA and 1947 the White variety. Also, a self-blue variety exists. 
In the autumn of 1921, first export to the United Kingdom took place where Christopher J. Turtle and G.F.J. Buvington founded a special breed club in 1922. They never became popular in England because the great competition with the large Orpington and Langshans. It still is in England but he number of them is very small. Nowadays they are kept more for pleasure than for utility. They are very well spread around the whole world. In Europe - with Belgium, Germany and Holland as the centre - is an increasing interest for them.

Description

Type of this black feathered, heavy and compact breed is large, broad, long and deep with a pretty large and broad head. The round and full eyes are dark brown of color in the black variety; on the white variety they are brown-blackish They have a dark horn colored short, stout and well-curved beak which has a yellow shading at the end. The red single comb is rather large, upright and straight with six nicely defined and evenly serrated points. The blade follows the line of the head. Wattles are red and moderate developed. The fairly large earlobes are bright reds. Its neck is fairly long, full and well arched. The reasonable broad back line slopes downwards a little, with a short sweep to the tail.
The broad and deep breast is full and carried well forward. Both wings are well folded carried nearly horizontal. The primaries and secondary overlap each other in a natural way. Shoulders are as wide and broad as is possible in harmony to the type. The tail is moderate large, full and well spread and carried 45 degrees above horizontal. Sickles are just long enough to cover the main tail feathers. The latter are broad and overlapping each other. Tail coverts are moderating abundant and medium in length. Legs are set well apart and are black in the black variety and willow green for the whites. Toes are well spread and black or willow green - depending on the variety- of color while the soles of the feet - in both varieties - should be yellow. Its plumage is bright greenish-black with a slate under-color.

Characteristics

A quiet, general purpose fowl for heavy meat and reasonable egg production with a yellow skin. Egg production is in the area of 120 - 150 per bird, per year, which weigh between 60- 65 grams each. The eggshell is brown of color. Food conversion could be better than expect. Baby chicks mature fast but they feather very slow. For exhibition purposes, the breed takes eighteen months to reach their final large size and weight. Most of the Jersey Giants become easily broody and are good mother hens. Because their seize they are good for hatching larger eggs such as ducks, peafowl or turkeys.

Weight

Depending of age and sex between 3.500 and 6.000 grams. Heavier birds are seen in some countries. In general speaking the black-variety is the heaviest.

Varieties

Black are the most common. Rarer are the White and Blue.