The Jitokko is a new breed at Grahams Pure Breed Poultry for 2017, this is an exciting new venture as we are privilidged to have three of only four breeding groups within the UK - that we know of. We have raised a profile of the Jitokko across social media and within the showing community and no one has come forward.
The cock birds to our breeding groups were orginally bred in Holland and exported into the UK by Stuart Sterling and brought into the country ourselves. We started with a pair, a Black-Red 2015 cockerel and a Black-Red 2015 Hen and unfortunately egg production was extremely low, this was rather worrying.
It was decided that new lines had to be brought into the country and so back in August 2017 we travelled to Holland to visit a very passionate long-tail breeder who kept Jitokko and managed to bring a new colour home. We now have Black-Red and also Wheaton Jitokko and luckily for us two of our cock birds are Wheaton carrying – identified by having red flecks within the chest feathers.
Egg production has improved dramtically and we anticipate the start of breeding for this breed.
In September of this year we brought back from Holland 2 new breeding cock birds, a 2016 Black-red and a 2017 Black-red carrying wheaten.
We also welcomed Jacqui Moore of Trebberfed Poultry as a new breeder of the Jitokko to help conserve and work hard in promoting this unique breed in the UK.
Something you may not know, but the Jitokko is also known as the Japanese Creeper, this is mainly due to the fact that despite being a large fowl they have surprisingly short legs much like the Ohiki. This of course is a problem when breeding as the short legged gene can be deadly if bred together, luckily we have longer legged hens to counteract this being a factor in survival rates within the offsping.
The Jitokko are such a unique breed of chicken, they are strikingly different and eye catching. They are an ample heavy set large fowl, that their legs are almost unseen. They can come crested or without, they should have muffs and a beard, and lets not forget an impressive display of saddle and tail feather. It is not hard to see why we fell so in love with them.
As mentioned above, we are one of three breeders of the Jitokko in the country and we are working hard to conserve them as best as we can. Numbers are low both in Europe and also within their country of origin – Japan. When considering this breed please also note that due to their short legs, diet is key to helping them thrive. Too much protien and they can and will go off their legs.
As this breed is so new to the UK they are not standardised with the PCGB, you can however show them within a non-standard class, which is widely available at most poultry shows.
Breeding in 2017 was incredibly difficult, the hens were laying for toffee however the first batch of chicks we hatched came out splayed legged or didn't make it out of the shell. We found that our breeding group was a recipie for an extremely poor survival rate and so in the Autumn of 2017 we swapped over our cock birds. The next batch of chicks survived and we welcomed 4 Jitokko chicks into our home, on the next hatch 3 more popped out and of course after that the hens stoppped laying! So to show for our breeding journey in 2017 we had 7 chicks to show for it, but at least it was a start and that is all we needed.
In the new year of 2018 we contacted a couple of Polish breeders of Jitokko who were a bundle of information. We were not alone in hatching low numbers of offspring, with those breeders in Europe only managing to hatch a dozen a year on average. We also learned that the short leg ratio increases if the hen is the short legged bird, going forward into breeding in 2018 we will be using a longer legged cock bird to our shorter legged hens and test this theory.
We have also noticed that the Japanese genetics are not like any other breed we have encountered. In other crested or bearded breeds we have come across these characteristics have been dominant - not in the Jitokko! It appears that as our offspring has matured that despite their parent birds some aren't showing the same characteristics and so some are uncrested, no muffs or beards where as others have some or all. This is something that we will monitor as we continue to breed but it does appear that this may be something were selection makes no difference. We shall have to wait and see!
History of the Jitoko and more information
A very rare breed in Japan, in danger of extiction. The Jitokko's characteristics are its short legs and beard, as well as a very full and long tail. It has probably been crossed with a small Satsumadori hen in the recent past. A very small number of these birds is being bred in the Kagoshima Prefecture and breeders are worried about the lack of fresh bloodlines due to very closely related matings.
They are a Natural Monument of Japan, designated in 1943.
This breed has an intermediate body shape between the RJE and Cochin types and is characterized by short legs controlled by the Cp gene. Some birds have a
beard, muff and crest. This breed is thought established in the late stages of the
Edo Era (1603 - 1867).
The prefecture of origin: Kagoshima Prefecture, Miyazaki Prefecture
Standard BW in adults: 3 kg in male, 2.5kg in female
Plumage color varieties: black-breasted red, black, white, buff columbian
Comb: pea or single (with or without crest)
EGGS CHICKS GROWERS CHICKENS PHOTOS