white faced black spanish chicken
Galloramenu / Wikimedia (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Layer
  • Eggs: White
  • Egg Size: Large
  • Color: Blue, Blue-Grey, Black
  • Comb Type: Single Comb

As soon as you hear that this chicken breed is sometimes called the “clown-faced chicken,” you may throw your hands up in the air and say, “Nope. Not for me!” And while I can’t blame you for finding clowns creepy, I’d be perfectly fine coming face-to-face with one of these pale-earlobe fowl in a dark alley.

The White-Faced Black Spanish is the oldest of the Mediterranean breeds of chicken. With its shimmering black plumage, proudly upright carriage, bright red single comb, and, of course, the striking, eponymous white face, merely calling it a clown hardly seems appropriate.

Characteristics

The White-Faced Black Spanish–often shortened to WFBS–is both a dependable egg laying bird and an ornamental fowl. Though the signature face will take at least a year to fully develop, it’s certainly a face you won’t forget.

White-Face Black Spanish may have been first chickens to arrive in the United States. They would have reached the continental US through the Caribbean, where the warm temperatures would have suited them quite well.

As if they still remember those early colonist days of exploring new lands and riding along on boats, these chickens are both good foragers and tolerant of confinement. They are an excellent choice to allow to free range, and are flighty enough to be able to elude more predators than a heavier, more trusting bird might.

These Delicate Clowns Are No Laughing Matter

Like most Mediterranean breeds, the WFBS is active, flighty, and quite vocal about it. They will tolerate confinement, but they are hardly docile. Quite sensitive to the cold–it’s not hard to imagine frostbite on those earlobes and wattles– these birds do best in a temperature more stable than their attention spans.

As seems to be the case with many different chicken breeds, the trait that distinguished the White-Faced Black Spanish is what has nearly led to its undoing. Breeders who focused on earlobe size and color alone severely hindered the breed’s hardiness. As a result, the chicks started becoming quite delicate, leading chicken keepers to turn their attention to far hardier breeds.

As a result, White-Faced Black Spanish are disappearing. Once an extremely popular breed in the eastern United States, the Livestock Conservancy now lists the WFBS at “critical” status. Sadly, much of the existing population is inbred, so the future vitality of this bizarre bird is hazy to imagine.

What’s The Yield?

The original intent for these birds was to get their large, chalk-white eggs. Non-sitters, they are able to faithfully lay three eggs a week. Before the Leggern swept to popularity with the arrival of commercial egg production, these Clown chickens populated many farms.

The Clown-faced rooster usually reaches around 8 pounds if it are from healthy stock. Females should reach around 6.5 pounds. Due to their breeding, however, they often fall to the lighter side.

There is also a bantam sized White-Faced Black Spanish. Males have flowing tails and usually weigh around 30 ounces. Females weigh around 26 ounces, and are also prolific layers of white eggs. Unlike the standard sized birds, which are only allowed in black, the standard allows White-Faced Blue Spanish.

Distinguishing The White-Faced Black Spanish from the Minorca

If you have done your research on chickens, you may find striking similarities between the Minorca breed and the White-Faced Black Spanish. They are, in fact, quite closely related, though the WFBS is an older breed.

To distinguish between the two, look at the eyes–Minorcas usually have red skin surrounding the eyes, with the pendulous white skin restricted to their earring-like earlobes alone. The WFBS has white skin surrounding the eyes and continuing down into its overdeveloped earlobes, appearing like its face has melted a bit in the hot Spanish sun.

Pictures Of White Faced Black Spanish Chickens

Resources

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *