The Malines is a massive bird, among the heaviest of all chicken breeds. The Malines is reared mainly for its meat, which is fine, pale, and close-textured. Hens lay about 140–160 tinted eggs per year, with a weight of about 65 g (extra large!). They are good mothers and excellent sitters. This is one of my favorite breeds we raise as they are very gentle and loving.
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The Malines originates in the southern part of Belgium in the province of Antwerp and the northern part of the province of Brabant, in eastern Flanders. It derives from cross-breeding of local cuckoo-patterned farm chickens with several of the various types of Oriental chicken that began to be imported to Europe in the nineteenth century. From about 1852, cuckoo-patterned local chickens were crossed with birds which had been brought from Shanghai, China, to the zoological gardens of Antwerp. Later, Brahma, Langshan and Cochin birds were also used. The resulting birds had the large structure of the Oriental chickens, but retained the meat quality of the local stock. Selective breeding for type and colour began in 1891, and in 1898 the Malines received official recognition.
In the early twentieth century the Malines became famous under the name "Poulet de Bruxelles", and was in great demand for the quality of its meat, which is white and finely textured. After the Second World War, when competition from imported specialised meat breeds became more intense, its popularity faded. In 2010 there were 575 breeding birds in Flanders.