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THE WELSUMMER CLUB


DUTCH AND ENGLISH HISTORY
by W.Powell-Owen
The text is exactly as it appeared in his book 'The Welsummer'
published by 'The Feathered World' in 1932


The present-day Welsummer takes its name from the little village of Welsum in Holland, just as that of the Barnevelder is derived from the village of Barneveld. Dutch authorities say that long ago the fowls on the heavy clay grounds along the river Ysel to the north of the town of Deventer were known as Welsummers.

According to Messrs. Wijk and Ubbels, in a paper read at the 1930 World's Poultry Congress, these original Welsummers were varied in colour much like farmers' fowls elsewhere. Many had five toes; light yellow in colour with a blue tail and wings (Orpington and Faverolles); others resembled partridge Cochins and partridge Wyandottes; and Malay and Brahma types were also met with. In 1917 all these varieties could still be found on farms; but a certain uniformity existed in the breeding control in so far as only "red cocks" had the markings of the partridge coloured breeds, but with a brownish-black chest.

In later years crossings were again made and especially with Barnevelders, Rhode Island Reds, and partridge Leghorns. Of these the Barnevelder crossing proved the most satisfactory. A farmer's son in Welsum was the first to improve the breed within itself, and he supplied farmers in the neighbourhood with stock, so that about 1913 in Welsum and district some uniformity in type was noticed. Then Klein's disease robbed this breeder of some of his best hens, and during the Great War he was able to retain but twelve hens and one cock; yet in 1921 at the World's First Poultry Congress at The Hague his Welsummers attracted much attention.

In 1922-3 steps were taken in Holland, to fix a standard, and in 1927 a Dutch association of Welsummer breeders was founded. It introduced for its members a production registration scheme, like the ROP (Register of Performance) in Canada, and indicated standards as regards type and colour.

The interest of British breeders in the Dutch all-brown-egg breeds can be traced undoubtedly to the first Poultry Congress at The Hague in 1921, and Barnevelders were imported and exhibited in England that year. In May 1922 the British Barnevelder Club was formed, and its first club show held in 1923 at Olympia. In visiting Dutch farms, markets and centres British breeders were struck by the wonderful arrays of large brown eggs displayed, and familiar to many as the noted Dutch all-brown eggs quoted for years on the London market at top prices. No wonder then that some of these visitors decided to bring Dutch breeds to England, for not only would there be a market demand for these rich brown eggs, but also a sale for sittings, chicks and stock. So the Barnevelder made its debut in this country, and at once created great interest at the shows. In 1928 the Welsummer followed, and perhaps Lancashire takes the credit for its introduction. At Lytham Show the first, classes were put on and the British Welsummer Society was formed. It must have fallen to my lot to judge the first classes of the breed put on by this Society at a classic show, namely, the Palace in 1928 with 11 cockerels and 17 pullets. By 1930 the present Welsummer Club was in being, absorbing, so to speak, the members of the former B.W.S. It has arranged Club Shows, egg classes, and sections at the laying trials, putting up many cups and points schemes annually for its members. It has also arranged displays of typical Welsummer eggs at leading shows.

The Welsummer in due course attracted the attention of English Barnevelder breeders, and perhaps their support, whilst strengthening the Welsummer, somewhat weakened the Barnevelder. At the 1930 World's Poultry Congress at the Crystal Palace, both breeds received further publicity. In the Netherlands section 31 pens of Barnevelders, and 18 lots of Welsummers were displayed. Besides, in their National exhibit the Dutch committee had on show a typical trio of each breed with a magnificent display of rich brown eggs which was one of the attractions of the exhibition. Displayed in intensive houses they had also ten 12-bird flocks, and one 25-bird flock (cockerels). Our own breeders were represented by 10 trios of Barnevelders, 11 of Welsuimmers and one 12-bird flock, while several copper-rung Barnevelders were on view in the special egg-recorded section. The introduction of the Welsummer to this country was helped also in its early stages by a display of their eggs on a stand at the Dairy Show, and at the Palace and other shows the Club has arranged special displays of eggs. Mention of the Barnevelder is necessary here if only to show that, as with the Welsummer, it was the large all-brown egg that proved the attraction in the first place and created interest in the breed. Let us bear this fact in mind, for both breeds reached us completely un-standardized, and it was not beauty of plumage that caused the early interest in either breed, and hence the attractive brown egg should at all times be conscientiously honoured and bred for.



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