Very impressive pair of
of cuckoo Malines
: In the first half of the nineteenth century the farmers in the
Dendermonde and Mechelen (in French 'Malines') region kept a lot of
clean-legged chickens with a cuckoo plumage, the Flemish cuckoo. From 1850
Brahma’s were imported in Belgium and these were crossed on a large
scale with the local breeds. Later on other Asian breeds such as Cochins
and Langshans were used for crossings. That way a new giant breed was
created, the best meat producer of those days, the Malines. Because of its
profitable characteristics, the Malines (a.k.a. Brussels chicken)
conquered the Belgian market by the end of the nineteenth century.
Afterwards the success story expanded to other countries, the Malines was
exported to Holland, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and the
United States. The original single-combed Malines was also crossed with
the heavy Bruges game. This way a new and heavier sub-breed was created.
The head of this new variety reminded people of the head of a turkey and
therefore the name ‘Turkeyhead Malines’.
: The Malines is a heavy meat producer that still lives up to its
legendary meat qualities. It takes however several months before the heavy
carcass weights are obtained. Malines are very docile and calm. They
don’t fly and are satisfied with a rather small pen as long as there is
a dry shelter and they are fed with a balanced diet. The hens lay about
150 light brown eggs per year.
: In the first place the Malines is a very large and heavy utility bird
with a long, broad and horizontal back and a deep well-fleshed breast.
It’s remarkable size, huge volume and proud attitude give the Malines a
very impressive appearance. An adult rooster weighs over five kilos and
adult hens weigh 4 to 4,5 kg. The body is deep and rectangular. How deeper
and how broader the breast, the better the bird. The head is rather broad
and heavy, the comb is small and single, they earlobes are red and the
eyes are orange. The color of the skin, nails and beak are white, a sign
for superior meat quality. The tail is carried almost horizontally. The
feathering is rather downy. Old writings find in this the declaration for
the tasteful meat of the Malines. This down is believed to provide such a
good isolation that the fat spreads into the meat and between the muscles
which forms a tasteful juice when the bird is cooked. In birds that
don’t have this extra isolation, the fat forms a distasteful layer
between the skin and the meat. Typical for the Malines is the feathering
on the shanks and toes. The outer toes are fully feathered, on the middle
toes just a few stubs are sufficient.
Impressive head of a
Turkeyhead Malines rooster
to the original single-combed Malines, the Turkeyhead is heavier, has somewhat
longer legs and has a rather attacking posture which he inherited from his game
ancestors. The skull is very broad and has striking eyebrows. The triple comb is
as little developed as possible, wattles should also be as little as possible or
preferably absent. Remarkable is the heavy throat wattle where the name
Turkeyhead refers to.
Pair of golden cuckoo
: The most typical and most common variety is undoubtfully cuckoo. There
are other varieties that used to be quit common in the beginning, e.g.
white, black, blue, birchen, yellow birchen, columbian and golden
: Rather spread. The single-combed Malines are quit common in Belgium
but only the cuckoo variety. Small numbers of cuckoo Malines can also be
found in other Western European countries. White Malines are rare, black
and golden cuckoo even rarer. The other varieties are only seen very
sporadically. The Turkeyhead is becoming rare in Belgium and is unknown
in other countries.