Adaptable - Good layer - Dual Purpose - Rare - Attractive
Large, light, rare
Large male 2.5-3.2kg (5˝ - 7 lb), large female 2 ? 2.5kg (4˝ - 5˝lb).
Bantam male: 910g (32 oz), bantam female 680g (24oz)
Buff and black
One of the Vorwerk?s claims to fame, apart from its unique colouring and useful, dual-purpose potential, is the fact that it is the only breed of chicken that shares its name with a vacuum cleaner (made in Germany, of course).
German poultry breeder Oskar Vorwerk developed the Vorwerk in Hamburg. In 1900 he set out to create a genuinely practical, medium-sized utility fowl. Not only did he want the bird to be a good egg and meat producer, but he also aimed to produce a chicken that was an economical eater, mild-mannered and straightforward to keep. He succeeded on all counts.
Today the Vorwerk is confined to a few enthusiast keepers who appreciate its many qualities and preserve its heritage. Numbers are so small that there is no specific breed club to support its needs, although thankfully, in Britain the Rare Poultry Society does include the Vorwerk under its protective ?rare breed? umbrella.
The Vorwerk has a typical utility shape: a broad, deep body, a well-rounded and full breast and a tail held at a lowish angle. The medium-sized head has an average single comb that has up to six serrations. The red face is covered with tiny feathers, and the bird has alert orange-red eyes, medium-sized wattles and small, white earlobes.
The Vorwerk?s upright neck is covered with full hackle feathers, and the bird stands on slate grey, featherless legs with four-toed feet. The plumage colour scheme is similar to a Lakenvelder, with the white ground colour replaced by an attractive dark buff. The Vorwerk neck and tail should both be pure black, and the feathers, generally, are fairly close-fitting.
Black spotting in the buff-coloured areas is a bad point, although consistently well-marked Vorwerk birds are difficult to breed.
These alert and active birds have a very suitable character for the domestic keeper.
A well-bred Vorwerk hen should produce an acceptable 170 cream or tinted eggs in a season.
Vorwerk chickens are adaptable birds, which will do well under almost any conditions, as long as they receive good levels of care and attention. However, they can fly so you will need to take the necessary precautions to keep them contained. They are happy on small amounts of good-quality feed, and the Vorwerk chicks are robust and quick to grow.
For keepers interested in growing the odd bird for the table, the Vorwerk is suitable for this purpose too.