Per the ABA (American Bantam Association) Standard 1992 edition Belgian bearded d'Uccles were developed in Belgian in the 1900's by crossing Belgian Bearded d'Anvers with Booted Bantams. The recognized varieties (colors) are: Black, Blue, Buff, Golden Neck, Gray, Mille Fleur, Mottled, Porcelain, Self Blue, and White. There are also many nonrecognized varieties called AOV (Any Other Variety). For a description of type and color pattern consult either the ABA (American Bantam Association) or the APA (American Poultry Association) Standard.
As a breed, they rank within the top 16 breeds for popularity out of the 58 breeds recognized by the ABA.
As a whole they are quite tame, non flighty, and generally quite except for the occasional crow of the cock (rooster). The hens are fair layers of beige colored eggs. Maturity usually begins in 5-6 months after hatching. The hens will set and raise a brood a year if you let them. In the 1997 11 hens set and raised broods from a flock of 14 hens. A total of 75 chicks were hatched for a hen average of 7.4 chicks per hen.
If you are hatching your own chicks --RELAX--. They will hatch out with different color patterns that look nothing like their parents. And they will have several different color patterns as they grow. But by the time they get their adult feathers, they will resemble the parents. In fact the color pattern generally improves with age.
For household use, figure on 3 bantam eggs for 2 large eggs. The hens will lay more eggs than anyone would want to set. One word of warning, the eggs "fresh from the hen" will look very different from the eggs bought at your local supermarket. The culls can be used in several different chicken dishes, from chicken and biscuits to home made chicken soup, with the amount of meat being listed as fair. It may sound heartless, but every chick hatched does not have the desired type and should not be used to carry on the line. By doing so your line will deteriorate in a short time. Selling your culls to another breeder is not the answer, even if you could find someone to buy them. Burying them in the yard seems like such a waste and appears to go against the laws of nature.
There are several methods to get started with this pretty breed. A trio (1 male 2 females) can be purchase from a breeder. Fall is the best time for this, as many breeders hatch and raise more than they need, and can only keep so many. The extras have to be sold. Just remember that a breeder will generally be keeping his best. Spring is a poor time to purchase adult birds. WHY IS THE BREEDER GETTING RID OF THEM DURING THE BREEDING SEASON??? A batch of hatching eggs can be purchased from a breeder in the spring. You can hatch and raise the chicks. Not only is this, the most economical , but it will generally put you at par with the breeder from whom you got the eggs. They should be from the same breeding pens that he will be choosing his next breeders. The most expensive and with the potential for poorer quality is to purchase a batch of day old chicks from a commercial hatchery.
But before you get started, your first step is to have some type of shelter for them (see housing). They must be protected from the elements and predators. You will also need to obtain a Standard, either from APA (American Poultry Association) or ABA (American Bantam Association). You need to know what the ideal bird is to look like, so that you don't end up with wasters.
Not only does a standard show pictures of the breeds there is a written discription as to type and color. It also list the reconized varities.Even if you don't plan on breeding or showing, or even raising Belgian Bearded d'Uccles a standard is very helpful. It allows you to identify any poultry that you may see at a show and it will inform you of what is out there.
Two very useful books dealing with chickens are CHICKENS IN YOUR BACKYARD : A BEGINNER'S GUIDE: by Gail Damerow and GUIDE TO RAISING CHICKENS; CARE, FEEDING, FACILITIES by Gail Luttmann (They are the same person). Even through they discuss standard size (large) chickens the care and maintaince are generally the same for all chickens be they a mixed flock, a laying flock, a meat flock, or a show flock.
With some planning you too can join the ranks of other poultry fanciers, and enjoy a life time hobby. And this hobby, has several different routes to travel. It could be a backyard flock of pretty birds, to controlled matings to improve the backyard flock. You will not go broke with a purchase of your start in Belgian Bearded d'Uccles. Your greatest expense will be for food. But the hours, days, and years of enjoyment will far out weigh your costs.