A Short History of Cochin Chinas

| 9/26/2014 12:43:00 PM

The Historic FoodieA little bit of research revealed some interesting facts about Cochins poultry. They were kept by Queen Victoria and, per the “Illustrated London News,” Dec. 23, 1843, were obtained from China some time prior to that publication date. In both England and the U.S., they were initially called Cochin-Chinas. Another source stated her Cochins were a gift from the Chinese ambassador when the Chinese ports opened after the war. The war referred to was almost certainly the First Opium War with China (also referred to as the Anglo-Chinese War), which lasted from 1839-1842.

The Queen and Prince Albert had a keen interest in poultry matters at, “the home farm,” (Windsor).

Cochin rooster | iStockphoto.com/fuchs-photography

Photo: iStockphoto.com/fuchs-photography

“The British minister in 1843 secured what he supposed unquestionably to be a very choice lot of the colossal poultry of China, which he sent to London for the Queen’s world-renowned aviary.”

“Her Majesty’s collection of fowls is very considerable, occupying half-a-dozen very extensive yards, several small fields, and numerous feeding-houses, laying-sheds, hospitals, winter courts, etc. It is, however, in the new fowl-house that the more and curious birds are kept, and to these – as the common sorts are well known – we shall confine our attention. The Cochin-China fowls claim the first consideration. These extraordinary birds are of gigantic size, and in their proportions very nearly allied to the family of bustards, to which, in all probability they are proximately related – in fact, they have already acquired the name of the ‘ostrich fowl’. In general colour they are of a rich glossy brown, tail black, and on the breast a horse-shoe marking of black; the comb cleanly and neatly formed, with shallow serrations; the wattles double.

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