The Campine: Silver and Gold
Costa del Sol, Spain
with permission from
SPPA Bulletin, 2000, 5(3):3
The Campine is a very attractive and active bird which we have kept ourselves. We found it very pretty but a bit flighty, rather like a Leghorn in character. The name is pronounced Kam-peen. In the UK at the moment the breed is currently on the lists of the Rare Poultry Society as it does not have a breed club of its own. It can be found in both the Large Fowl and the Bantam version, and is classified as a Light Breed.
The Campine has the same basic ancestry as the Braekel, coming as it did originally from the sandy plains of Belgium in the Antwerp district. The stock, which crossed the sea to the UK in the nineteenth century, did not have the same fullness of tail which the Braekel has, and the body type of the Campine differs from that of the Braekel. There are only two colours standardised in the Campine - the Silver and the Gold.
The Gold Campine in both the female and the male has a head and neck hackle of rich gold, with the rest of the body being beetle-green barring on a rich gold ground. In the Silver Campine, both male and female have a head and neck hackle of pure white, with the rest of the body being marked as it is in the Gold. In both sexes the beak is horn coloured, the eyes are dark brown with a black pupil and the comb, face and wattles are bright red. Ear lobes must be white and the legs and feet a leaden blue. Toenails are horn coloured.
Back in 1899, the breed was sufficiently popular in the UK to have its own breed club established that year, and the bird played a very important part in work on the autosexing breeds. As part of the experiments at Cambridge by genetic workers, Gold Campine were crossed with Barred Rock to produce the Cambar as early as 1929. Day old Cambar chicks showed sex distinction by having different colours in the down for the male and female.
In the 1930's the Silver Campine was included in both the set of Players cigarette cards and the set of Anglian Mixture cards. The beautiful markings show up clearly on both the cards, and on the reverse of the Players card (illustration at left) the breed is described as "a small active breed which enjoys great popularity, being bred in two colours, silver and gold." The card goes on to describe the chicks which "do not show a single barred feather until they are some weeks old; they are biscuit coloured, with grey lines on the neck and trunk." The Anglian Mixture card gives a description of the colouring as being "pencilled with beetle black mackerel markings from breast to tip of tail. Neck hackle is plain, comb is large and single, ear lobes white, legs greyish blue. In general appearance they resemble Hamburgs but are slightly heavier in weight."
Broad in the body with a rather long back narrowing to the tail, this is a breed with a full round breast and a tail carried fairly high. The hen has a single comb which falls over to one side of her face and she lays a white egg. The Large Fowl male weighs around 2.70 kg (6 lbs) and the female weighs 2.25 kg (5 lbs). In the Bantam, the male weighs 680 g (24 ozs) and the female weights 570 g (20 ozs). Not one of the more extreme looking breeds, but a useful one for its white eggs. (Editor's note: In Old & Rare Breeds of Poultry, Beech Publishing House, 1997, J. Butler remarks, "This is a precocious breed, and at one time it was thought that it might be most suitable for capturing the trade in petits poussins, but lack of enterprise on someone's part has allowed the opening to slip by. This same early maturity may have led to the present lack of body size, and, if so, breeders should try to combat this at all costs, and the time of year for hatching may have something to do with the matter." Could the Campine represent a small farm venture awaiting the ambitious rare breed enthusiast?)
The 1999-2000 SPPA Breeder's Directory lists seven sources for Golden Campines and only two for Silver Campines. If you are getting started in rare poultry or are considering the addition of another breed to your pens, why not order some hatching eggs, chicks or adult stock of this interesting Continental fowl?
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