Early breeders of Basques in North America (remember, they’ve only been available since 2008!) had an interesting problem. The first chicks grew up to be a variety of colours; how did they choose which birds to breed for the next generation? Many of those early breeders decided to select for birds that would result in the colours described in the Spanish standard. This resulted in the perpetuation of the two varieties common in North America today, the red cuckoo (Marraduna) and red (Gorria) varieties. Breeders also recognized that there was much more to select for than just colour so also looked to the Spanish standard as their guide when selecting for other traits like the shape and size of their birds. One drawback of the Spanish standard for most North Americans was that it happens to be written in Spanish.
Basque Hens are such an enjoyable and productive breed of chicken that current owners of EOs are excited to share them with others. The main purpose of NABHA is to share our enjoyment and knowledge of Basque Hens with others who are interested in poultry!
One of the best ways to expose more poultry enthusiasts to this exciting breed is to take our Basques to poultry shows. To take our birds to shows, we needed to be able to communicate to the judges what Basque Hens were supposed to look like. This resulted in long discussions among current owners of EOs and consultations with poultry judges to design a good description of our Basques. In fancy poultry language this is called a “Standard of Perfection” and the proposed Basque Hen SOP is written to match the SOPs for other breeds that have already been accepted into the American Poultry Association.
We would like to see our Basque Hens receive the same well-deserved recognition as other breeds already accepted by the American Poultry Association so one of the goals of NABHA is to organize North American efforts that, with time, will allow our beloved birds to join the ranks of other officially recognized poultry breeds.