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The Catalana chicken was developed in the district of Catalonia, Spain, near Barcelona. It takes its name from Catalonia, and is sometimes referred to as the “Prat”, in recognition of a farming area of El Prat de Llobregat (more commonly known as “El Prat”) which is located southwest of Barcelona. The breed was developed over a long period of time using the landrace fowls of the area, probably Castilian chickens, with an admixture of Asian stock during the second half of the nineteenth century. It is unclear if the Asian stock were Cochin chickens or Cochin China chickens; the later being the common dual-purpose landrace chickens found around oriental seaports during this time period. Spain, being a sailing nation, certainly had access to either.
The breed was introduced to the rest of the world at the 1902 World’s Fair held in Madrid, Spain. It was favorably received, and, by 1949, had been admitted to the standard in America as a recognized breed. The Catalana chicken attracted a limited following in the U.S. and Canada, but was popular in Latin American countries. During the 1920s the breed was very successfully used in the commercial industry in Argentina. In fact, in 1998 an Argentine gentleman brought hatching eggs to the 10,000-bird show held in Columbus, Ohio. His family was still using the Catalana chicken commercially and he made available the eggs to help spread the breed. Several poultry fanciers secured a start in this breed from this importation.
A hardy dual-purpose breed, the Catalana chicken has the style, alertness, activity, and foraging ability typical of Mediterranean chickens. They lay large white eggs in plenty and seldom become broody. The cockerels and cull layers are noted for having very good carcasses and succulent meat. Cockerels are also used in the production of quality capon in Spain. In color they are a rich buff with black tails – the males having an iridescent green sheen on their sickles and a reddish buff color in their hackles, back, and saddle feathers. The chicks are hardy and are a buffish color, sometimes having very faint chipmunk pattern along their backs. In Spain a white variety of Catalana is recognized in addition to the buff. The breed is noted for excellent heat tolerance.
Catalana chickens should have white ear lobes; large red combs, which lop over in the females; reddish bay eyes; bluish slate shanks and toes; pinkish white skin; and light horn colored beaks. Males weigh 8 lbs and females 6 lbs.