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The Cotswold Legbar

Origins

To understand the origins of the Old Cotswold Legbar, one needs to look back a few years

Clarence-Elliott

Clarence Elliott – botanist

The grandfather of Martin Elliott, an old friend of Philip Lee-Woolf’s, who lives in Stow-on-the-Wold, was the first link in the chain of events which led to the development of The Cotswold Legbar at Coach House Farm, Broadway. In 1927 Clarence Elliott, the well-known botanist returned from an expedition to Patagonia with three blue egg laying Chilean chickens, or Araucanas. The cock bird unfortunately met with an unfortunate end during the voyage, at the hands of the ship’s cook, who spoke little English, and misunderstood Elliott’s instructions to give the cock some supper because it was making a terrible noise during a violent storm. The hapless bird became supper himself!

Elliott gave the three hens to a friend at Cambridge, Prof. Reginald Punnett, director of the University breeding programme, assisted by Michael Pease, whose aim was to improve the livestock quality available to British farmers, and to increase their profitability. A separate poultry unit was set up in 1930, headed by Pease, and one of the by-products of Punnett’s experiments, in producing auto-sexing poultry, was the Cream, or Crested Legbar, which carried the gene from Elliott’s three hens, and laid blue eggs. Punnett introduced these Crested Cream Legbars to the world at the London Dairy Show in 1947.

An undergraduate at Cambridge, at the time of Punnett’s poultry experiments, called John Croome, carried on breeding the Cream Legbars following the dispersal of the Cambridge breeding facility in the early 50’s until his death in 1988. Fortunately, the Cream Legbars were saved from extinction because Croome had given some hatching eggs to David Applegarth, the year before his death, and David continued to keep Creams until his unfortunate death recently.

In 1990, Philip, who, with his wife Janet, had recently formed the Clarence Court egg business, was asked by Johnathan Miller from Fortnum & Mason to supply the famous London grocer with eau-de-nil coloured eggs to match the store’s elegant decor. Philip obtained some hatching eggs from David Applegarth and proceeded to breed a flock of a few hundred Cream Legbars, which, for a while did the job, but they weren’t the best winter layers, and the shells were sky blue and not eau-de-nil. As beautiful as the Cream Legbars are, the stock was too inbred to be a commercial proposition for producing large egg numbers. So, Philip proceeded to introduce other bloodlines to Punnetts Cream Legbar, and the Old Cotswold Legbar took centre stage, producing pastel shades of blue, eau-de-nil, celadon, and pink, under the Clarence Court label. In those days, coloured eggs were something of a mystery, so it’s no wonder that this little hen from the Cotswolds, took the market by storm. The word spread, and within a short time, the multiples were demanding to get in on the act, and the eggs went nationwide, adding a touch of colour to supermarket shelves across the UK. Clarence Court eggs were, and still are, the preferred choice for many of London’s blue chip stores, and our top chefs, including Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Mark Hicks, & Tom Parker-Bowles, to mention a few. It was like a breath of fresh air. The market embracing something which had been lacking for years.

From humble beginnings, the little blue egg layer from the Cotswolds, has made phenomenal progress, and has led a major change in the public perception of eggs, from the boring, utility, cheap, offering, in a grey pulp pack, all competing for the lowest price, with animal welfare well down on the list, to a trendy, colourful, and nutritious food. The past 29 years have been a long journey, with ups and downs on the way, but one thing is for sure – blue eggs are here to stay, and the elegant Cotswold Legbars bring life to gardens, and some the finest country homes and estates in the UK

Happy-go-lucky and fun loving, the Cotswold Legbar has attracted love and affection
over many years and her fame has done much to raise awareness, and interest in blue eggs and traditional breeds of hens. She is an active, sprightly and inquisitive bird, weighing around 2-2.5kg, and provides a lively and interesting attraction to any garden, making a wonderful, easy-to-keep, pet. She will provide up to 230-240 strong shelled eggs in the first year, and will carry on for many years, if kept in good free range conditions, with some reported to still be laying a few eggs in their eight year. The Cotswold Legbar is not suitable for keeping in a small run and if free ranging isn’t possible, the run space should be a minimum of 10 square metres per hen.
She a long back and well-developed 45º tail, with an alert stance and sharp eye. Tough and resilient they are a bird for all seasons, able to thrive in most situations. However, they enjoy the company of their own kind & can be timid in the company of other more dominant breeds. (Note: about 10% of Cotswold Legbars lay pink or tinted eggs).

The elegant males, weighing from 2.5 – 3.5kg. the silky plumage is a stunning blend of cream and silver with subtle barring all over and sporting a cream and grey crest, falling off the back of the head.

Just over ten years ago, Janet and Philip passed the Clarence Court business on to another egg supplier, to allow them to concentrate their efforts on breeding and improving their beautiful Cotswold Legbar, and Burford Brown chickens, under the ‘Legbars of Broadway’ brand. Now you can have the pleasure of owning your own magical Legbars, and enjoy their superb coloured, eggs – fresh from your garden. Why buy shop eggs when you can enjoy the real thing, just an arm’s length from the kitchen!

Please note – we continually work hard to improve the quality of our breeding stock, in order to produce strong, vigorous  pullets, which we are happy to guarantee. For this reason, and to protect the ‘trade marks’, we do not sell cockerels or hatching eggs. Cotswold Legbar hens are only available to purchase through this web site.

To avoid disappointment, beware of unscrupulous traders using our breed names to offer hatching-eggs, or ‘look-a-like’ hens of inferior quality.

To reserve your birds: Click here  – or call/text 078 318 490 36

Delivery available to most areas, using our specialist bird courier –

or come to a convenient meeting point to collect.

Happy-go-lucky and fun loving, the Cotswold Legbar has attracted love and affection
over many years and her fame has done much to raise awareness, and interest in blue-egg-laying, and traditional breeds of hens. She provides a lively and interesting attraction to any garden, and makes a wonderful, easy-to-keep, pet, which will provide eggs for many years, if kept in good free-range conditions. The Cotswold Legbar is not suitable for keeping in a small run and if not free-range, the run space should be a minimum of 10 square metres per hen.
They have a long back and well-developed 45º tail, with an alert stance and sharp eye. Tough and resilient they are a bird for all seasons, able to thrive in most situations, living for a long time. However, they enjoy the company of their own kind & can be timid in the company of other more dominant breeds. (Note: about 10% of Cotswold Legbars lay pink or tinted eggs).

The Cotswold Legbar is only available through this website.

Beware of inferior copies from unscrupulous traders (birds or hatching eggs)!

The Egg

blueeggboxThere is no doubt that the stunning pastel coloured, thick shells, the deep yellow yolk, dense white, and wonderful flavour, make the Cotswold Legbar eggs very special. She is a prolific layer, producing up to 240 eggs in the first year, and up to 430 over three years. In a good free range situation, many Cotswold Legbars have lived up to eight years.

 

Clarence-Elliott-boat

Availablity

Please note that we rear the different breeds separately to give them the best chance of normal development, so we cannot always offer mixed breeds of the same age. If growers are purchased at different ages, they must be kept separate until mature.

Priority will be given to orders of the same breed

We are taking bookings now   –reserve your Cotswold Legbars