The Minorca chicken originated in Spain and developed from the common black fowl, the Castilian. Minorca is the name of an island off the coast of Spain. It is also the name of the port from which the birds were exported. The Minorca was developed in England from Castilian birds imported from Spain. The Blue Andalusian is another of the Minorca group. Both breeds have a large-size comb which precludes the birds from frost prone areas of northern United States and Canada.
The Minorca has sometimes been called the 'red faced black chicken'. The face is red as are the huge wattles and the large combs. The earlobes are also large but are white. The skin is white.
Minorcas trace back to 1780 but were confined to the south west areas of the United Kingdom until the early 1900s. They gradually gained in popularity and were one of the top rated breeds at the Crystal Palace Show in 1888, with 120 entries being put before the judges. The American Poultry Association classifies them as a Mediterranean type.
Minorcas come in black, white and buff. The British recognise a blue version as well. Minorcas lay very large, chalk white eggs and are quick to mature. Close relations include the Black Spanish and the Castilian Black. The Minorca has quite a large white ear patch similar to the White Faced Black Spanish. The Minorca comes in a bantam variety and may have a single comb or a rose comb.
Minorcas are the heaviest of the Mediterranean types with roosters weighing in at 9 pounds and hens at 7 pounds. Like the Leghorn which is the smallest of the Mediterranean types, the original Minorca was recognised as a utility fowl, producing a good number of eggs and a fleshy carcase for the dinner table. The Minorcas of old laid plenty of large white eggs but breeders today don't always select for such qualities and some strains lay less prolifically.
They are long, angular birds with long tails and large, wide feathers held close to their narrow bodies. They have a stately bearing and may appear larger than they really are.
The Minorca copes with being confined but are not especially hardy in winter nor are they prone to broodiness or docility.
The Minorca has a very striking appearance with its red comb and large white ear lobes. The comb of the rooster should stand upright without falling to the side. The serrations on the comb should be clearly defined and evenly spaced along its surface. For show cock birds, the lobes should be solid white and measure 7cm by 3.8cm. The surface should be smooth and soft to the touch. The comb of the hen should fold neatly to one side in such a way as to not obstruct the hen's vision. The serrations again should be clearly defined and even. The lobes of the female may be more circular in shape while the lobes of the cock are more oval. The face should be smooth and devoid of feathers. Should the bird be a rosecomb variety, the comb should fit closely to the head and be evenly covered in small points.
White Minorcas were once numbered in their thousands in the United States but there are now thought to be only perhaps 100 of the breed left. The modern Minorca is not a particularly good meat fowl as they are narrow, angular and slow to grow. Nowadays it is mainly kept as a show bird.