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Poultry keeping has been practiced in Belgium for a long time, in fact, the Flemish bear the nick-name “the chicken eaters.” There are two Flemish chicken breeds that are nearly identical and which spring from a common history and ancestors: the Campine and the Braekel. The Braekel is native to the rich clay soil of the Flanders district and is the larger of the two. The Campine is from the less fertile district of Kempen and is smaller; Campine males are also hen-feathered. Aldrovandus mentioned that the ancestor to these two breeds descended from Turkish fowls. Julius Caesar is also said to have taken Campine chickens home with him after he had completed a spell of looting in Belgium.
In 1893, Campine chickens were first imported into America by Mr. Arthur D. Murphy of Maine. The breed did not prove popular and was dropped from the American Poultry Association’s Standard in 1898. In 1885, Campine chickens were imported into England where they did find a following. Mr. M.R. Jacobus of Ridgefield, New Jersey, imported the breed from English breeders in 1907. But once again, Campine chickens did not prove to be a popular breed chiefly because they were not found to be rugged. One farm did specialize in Campine chickens and succeeded in improving their hardiness, The Homestead Campine Farm of Wayland, MA. But by this time other breeds had become the preferred egg-laying breeds.
Campine chickens are non-sitting fowl that lay white eggs. The breed started out as a farmyard fowl, but came to play a major role commercially as the Flemish developed and perfected what was the forerunner of today’s commercial production system. The first part of this role was to provide rapid feathering and growth in a cross with the Malines chicken for the production of meat. The second role was as an autosexing breed for egg production. The Campine chicken comes in two varieties: the Silver and the Golden. When Silver Campine females are mated to Golden Campine males the chicks can be sexed at day-old – the female chicks have a reddish blush and the males have gray on the top of their heads.
Campine chickens were recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1914 in two varieties: Silver and Golden. Males weigh 6 lbs and females weigh 4 lbs.