The Java came to the U.S. at least by 1835 from the East Indies (hence the name) and both Black and Mottled varieties were admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1883. It became popular as a high-class market fowl and was influential in the development of the Black Jersey Giant and the Barred Plymouth Rock. Indirectly, the Java influenced many other breeds, including Orpingtons and Australorps. Javas are probably the source of yellow legs and skin in Dominiques. The breed nearly disappeared by the end of the 20th Century, but recently attention from specialty breeders and historical societies has given the breed a second chance. Garfield Farm Museum in La Fox, Illinois, where this picture was taken, in the 1990s played a significant role in the recovery of the Java breed as part of its commitment to historic stewardship. Pure White and Auburn varieties have emerged from breeding programs and are being improved by breeders. The Auburn had not been reported since 1870 when individuals with that color pattern were hatched in 2004. It is historically important because it was influential in the development of the Rhode Island Red. Genes for black and mottled color varieties are buried in each bird and often show up in flocks. Even though you keep a flock of what appear to be Black Javas, some of those birds carry the latent genes for mottling, producing white-tipped feathers. The APA Standard of Perfection, used in poultry judging, describes the Mottled Java’s desired white-tipped feather pattern and ‘broken’ (variegated) dark-on-yellow leg color. Given the persistent nature of the latent mottling gene, many Java breeders keep two flocks, one black and one mottled. Then, you can hatch to your heart’s content and sort the birds into the proper pens at maturity.
This article is written by Christine Heinrichs
for The Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities