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Buttercup Chicken

The Buttercup chicken derives its name from the combination of unique comb shape and the golden buff color of the hen’s plumage. The comb of the Buttercup chicken is actually two single-combs that merge in front over the beak, as well as at the back. The combination on the best specimens forms a cup-shaped “crown” – that is, a cup surmounted by regularly spaced medium-sized points. Imperfectly formed Buttercup chicken combs appear akin to a pair of antlers.

In color, the Buttercup rooster is a rich reddish orange with a black tail. The hen is golden buff with regularly marked black spangles, oval in shape, positioned in parallel rows. The black sections of both male and female are a lustrous greenish black in color. Both male and female have yellow skin; white ear lobes; reddish bay eyes; light horn-colored beak; and willow-green shanks and toes with the bottom of the feet yellow. With cup-shaped comb, resembling a flower blossom, golden buff plumage, and willow green shanks and toes, it is easy to see how this breed has also earned the nickname of “Flowerbird.”

The origins of the Buttercup chicken are unknown. We know that the Buttercup chicken has been used for centuries by the farmers on the Italian island of Sicily. The first importation of Buttercups from Sicily to America is thought to have arrived in 1835. But the first importation that is well documented was in 1860, when C. Carroll Loring of Dedham, Massachusetts, received birds from his neighbor, a Captain Dawes. Mr. Loring made subsequent importations and bred and promoted the breed for about fifty years. We also know that all the stock today descends from or is related to an importation of hatching that arrived to America in 1892.

Though Mr. Loring put much effort into promoting Buttercup chickens, it was not until 1908 when the efforts of two other promoters were successful. Mr. J.S. Dumaresq of Easton, Maryland, and Mr. L.B. Audigier of Knoxville, Tennessee, leveraged Mr. Audigier’s position as publisher of “Industrious Hen” to great effect. By 1912 a breed club was formed which soon reached over 300 members. Large classes were seen at many shows; it was to be short-lived.

The breed had been promoted to the public on its superior utility. But the Buttercup chicken was found to be only average for egg production and there was a division of opinion regarding the proper color pattern – little attention having been at first given to this quality. Interestingly, the breed was being embraced, in England even as it declined in America. By 1920 the English had a club for the breed, but again popularity soon faded.

Buttercup chickens are a non-broody, white egg-laying fowl. They were recognized by the American Poultry Association as a standard breed in 1918. Males weigh 6.5 lbs and females 5 lbs.

Status: See CPL

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