mercoledì 5 gennaio 2011

Poultry - The Polverara Hen, the ancient glory of Padua region.

A Polverara rooster. Photo Andrea Mangoni.
My Polverara rooster, Pippo. A true war machine! Photo Andrea Mangoni

Many centuries ago, the Padua region was very famous in all Italy - and also in all Europe - for an incredible breed of fowls, the Polverara hen, that was the biggest hen in Italy. A fantastic bird, with a great feathered crest at top of the head, a crown-like comb, excellent producer of white eggs and dark meat. She was so famous that many writers talk about her, and she was part of the tribute that the Republic of Venice was obligated to pay to Mohammed II, Sultan of Costantinoples. It was the XV century.
She was selected and breed almost only in a little village near Padua, named Polverara, and she reached also 4, 5 or - in exceptional way - 6 Kg in weight. Really a giant, if compared with the medium-little sized mediterranean fowl present in the countries of Italy. She was a special dish on the table of Galileo Galilei, and she was exported in many european region - Brabante, Normandy, etc... and she was probably the ancestor of breeds like Brabanter, Crèvecoeur, etc..
Young Polverara Hen. Photo Andrea Mangoni.
Young Polverara hen. Photo Andrea Mangoni.
For centuries this breed was called "Paduan", in Italy and Europe. But at the end of XVII century, in France, another breed change it's name in "Padouan": the Polish breed. What the reason? Impossible to know. In the meantime, in Italy, the Polverara become more and more rare. At the coming of XX century and at the end of 50', for 2 times, she risks the extinction. At the end, only a paduan breeder, Mr. Bruno Rossetto, continued to keeping and breeding the Polverara hen in all Italy. Another farmer, Mr. Antonio Fernando Trivellato, obtained some eggs from Mr. Rossetto and start to improve the breed; thanks his work, now in italy we have some houndreds of Polverara hens, but the breed it's still rare. Also, Mr. Trivellato utilize many crosses for avoid imbreeding, and the breed start to miss some of her features.

The Polverara hen in an old print (Catalogo Lion, beginning XX century).
 The Polverara hen exists in 2 colours: black and white. Some breeders are attempting to establish the blue and other varieties; personally I'm working on cuckoo colour. The crest is one of characteristics of this bearded breed; she has also withe earlobes, a "V" comb like Crèvecoeur, white skin, greenish legs. He can now join 2,8 kg (males) and 2 Kg (females). The female, generally non-sitter, pound 50gr white eggs.

Gallo di Polverara. Foto di Andrea Mangoni.
White Polverara rooster. Photo Andrea Mangoni

Close up of black Polverara Hen. Photo Andrea Mangoni.
In 2007, I was able to contact Mr. Rossetto, now more than eighty, and he give me all his remaining animals: 6 higly imbreeded hens and a rooster. It was very difficult work with this flock, also because I was very unfortunate: at first, the old, great rooster died for an heart attack; more, his son was killed by a rat; at least I had only a male chicken... that now it's my breeder, the  white rooster of the pictures. Now this flock is not  more so endangered, I was able to give more youg pairs to some friends of mine, but it's alwais very rare. An extraordinary pearl of biodiversity in that rare necklace that is the Polverara breed.
See also:
Video about my Polverara:

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