"The Old English Breeds". That's my automatic response whenever someone asks me what my favorite breed of chicken is. There are many other beautiful breeds, and I've never seen one I didn't love, but the Old English is number one. In part, it's probably their long and colorful history.
For showing, though, the roosters have to be dubbed. Dubbing, in case you're not familiar with the term, means cutting the comb. This was done when they were used in cock fighting and apparently it became the standard because of that. This means I don't show my Old English roosters, as I've learned to do dubbing, just isn't my favorite activity. Besides, I think the combs add a whole lot to their beauty.
It's the Old English roosters (bright red combs intact) that are used in much of the chicken decor, including weather vanes, dinnerware, and kitchen linens. During the founding of the United States, they were proposed as the National Bird, but barely lost to the Bald Eagle. Despite losing that vote, they are still a patriotic symbol of American grit and independence, pride, and nobility.
They don't need to be trained to fight each other, they're genetically programmed for that. So. if you have more than one rooster they need to be kept separate from each other. The hens are plainer looking than the roosters, but make good brood hens. If you're looking for pet chickens, especially if you have young children, an Old English rooster might not be my first recommendation, as they each have their own personalities. Some can be mean, but many do make good pets, it's just hard to predict.
Within the urban farming movement the Old English wouldn't be the best choice, but in rural areas where crowing isn't too frowned upon and land is abundant they are still enjoyed by many chicken enthusiasts. Along the backroads of the Pacific Northwest they're seen quite frequently. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is travel the backroads and see all the farms, the animals, and the buildings used to house them in. It's quite an education. Lately, it's been a bit sad, though, as some places that used to have lots of animal life have been abandoned . . . this bad economy taking its toll.
The one fair I've been to so far, though was very lively, lots of animal exhibits, and the poultry barn was full. Seems to back up my theory; raising chickens as a family hobby, getting fresh eggs, and fitting and showing your best birds is an inexpensive and fun activity for families to participate in.
If you haven't done so yet, you can get the free report about fitting and showing your chickens on my website .