Javas are one of the most-endangered American breed of chickens – as well as one of the oldest. Its ancestors are alleged to have come from the Far East, maybe the isle of Java. Sources disagree on the origin of the breed, but Javas are known to have been in America by 1835. The breed was well-known for its meat-producing qualities and was thought of as the best for this purpose when it was introduced.
While little is known about the Java’s ancestry, it has played a substantial role in the development of more modern breeds of poultry. Javas were used in the making of the Jersey Giant — America’s largest breed of chicken and one that ultimately took over the Java’s position of meat producer. Javas also might have been instrumental in the creation of Rhode Island Reds, as both breeds display an especially long body with a full, plump breast. White Javas are thought to be the basis for White Plymouth Rocks, and they were so alike in appearance that breeders eventually had a difficult time telling them apart.
Monte Bowen, a Java breeder from Plevna, Kan., says that “Javas are good foragers, and the hens are excellent brood hens and mothers. They are gentle and patient in disposition.” Bowen has played a significant role in sparking interest in cultivating black and mottled Javas. Java pullets can start laying when they are 5 months old, early for heavy fowl. “Not fantastic, but overall laying quality of the Java is, to me, good for a heavy breed of fowl,” Bowen says.
The Java is an ideal homesteading fowl, because of its ability to forage for a large amount of its feed. There are three colors of Javas: black, white and mottled (black background with white splashes). All three varieties are popular as trouble-free chickens. They are slow growing as compared to today’s industrial chickens, but are more self-sufficient. When allowed to roam, the Java will lay a good number of large brown eggs on very little feed. With their excellent temperaments, hardiness and self-sufficiency, this is a perfect breed for those new to raising chickens.
To learn more about this interesting breed, read "Enjoy Heritage Chickens" at Mother Earth News.