THE BELGIAN BANTAM CLUB OF AUSTRALIA Inc.






The Barbu d'Uccle






The Barbu d'Uccle as a separate distinct breed has only been traced to the beginning of this century in Belgium although there had been various types of small feather legged bantams found throughout Europe and Asia for several centuries. In some countries they were known as Booted Bantams, with many having whiskers, but not beards. The Dutch Sabelpoot is a related breed but without the "bull" neck and beard.

During the 17th century several Dutch artists, such as Albert Cuyp and Peter Casteels painted the Booted Bantams and Chabos (Japanese Bantams) which were already in the country. These paintings show an imperfect Millefleur colour pattern with yellow shanks, but birds of good type.

The emergence of the d'Uccle has been accredited to Michel van Gelder who combined existing feather legged European bantams with the Barbu d'Anvers to create what was to be named the Barbu d'Uccle. These were first exhibited in 1905. He bought all the Booted bantams he could from Mr Entwistle and Messrs E. and 0. Binns, so English blood actually went into the first Barbu d'Uccle.

In 1911 Belgian fanciers staged a magnificent show of d'Uccle at the Crystal Palace in England and this led to the breeding of them in the United Kingdom. The Belgian fanciers returned the following year, but by that time the breed was already established in England. Early English breeders were Kenneth Ward, John Sears and W. Entwistle. The two main colours found in these early d'Uccle were Millefleur and Porcelaine, followed by Black and White.

As with the Barbu d'Anvers, both World Wars had a bad effect on the breed and they did not regain prominence until the 1960's, mainly due to Charles and veronica Mayhew, who began breeding them in ernest. During the 1970's d'Uccle increased in show entries to record levels. Today they are still very popular in England.


 This is a colour plate from the book "Poules Naines de Races Belgique"

It is taken from an original painting by Rene Delin








Ukkel (Uccle) - Municipality

Region of Brussels, Belgium

 


The municipality of Uccle (French) / Ukkel (Dutch) is one of the 19 municipalities constituting the region of Brussels-Capital. It had 75,059 inhabitants on 31 December 2003, including 1,677 employees of the European Union of foreign nationality and 1,323 members of foreign diplomatic staff. Uccle is one of the largest municipalities in Brussels-Capital and the fourth largest by its number of inhabitants.  It is mostly a residential, if not posh, municipality, with several green areas and more than 500 ha of the forest of Soignes, which attracted several artists. The French poet Charles Baudelaire stayed in Uccle in 1864.

The municipality was incorporated in 1795 under the French rule by the merging of the former feudal domains of Uccle, Carloo and Stalle. Several other noble families had their manor in Uccle. The place called Boetendal (lit., the Penitents' Valley) recalls a Franciscan convent founded by Isabel of Portugal in 1467.

Beforehand, the chef-banc or échevinage (municipal court) of Uccle exercized its jurisdiction over the whole ammanie (medieval municipality) of Brussels. The court was reorganized by a chart granted by Duke of Burgundy Philip the Handsome in 1454. The historian L. Vanderkindere believes that Uccle was once the seat of the judicial power in Brussels. A legend says that the St. Peter's church in Uccle was consecrated around 803 by Pope Leon III in the presence of Gerbaldus, Bishop of Liège, and Emperor Charlemagne.

The city of Brussels dramatically increased in the XIXth century because of the industrial revolution. Uccle, located in the south of Brussels, developed along two main roads, Chaussée de Waterloo (used by Wellington's troops on the eve of the battle of Waterloo in 1815), heading to the (former) coal-mining basin of Charleroi, and Chaussée d'Alsemberg (built in 1712), heading to Walloon Brabant. Population of Uccle / Ukkel was 3,091 in 1815, 19,967 in 1903 and is more than 75,000 today.

Around 1904, Michel Van Gelder bred the bearded and booted bantam (dwarf hen) called Barbu d'Uccle (in English, "Belgian d'Uccle Bantam" or "Booted Bantam"), probably by crossing "Barbu of Antwerp" and "Dutch Sabelpoots". "Barbu d'Uccle" is often refered to as "Mille Fleur" or "Millies", in spite of the fact that Mille Fleur is only one of their colour variants and it also appears in other breeds.

Fowl fans seem to love "Barbu d'Uccle" since there are breed clubs in the USA (Belgian d'Uccle & Booted Bantam Club), the United Kingdom (The British Belgian Bantam Club), Australia (The Belgian Bantam Club of Australia) and the Netherlands (Breeders Club for Rare True Belgium Bantams).  Ivan Sache, 5 May 2005.










d'UCCLE ARE DISTINCTIVE


AND ATTRACTIVE BANTAMS

 

by H Easom Smith 


Reprinted from a 1961 edition of "Poultry", 


(but the comments are just as relevant today)

 

A genuine and small bantam, the Belgian d'Uccle is a provocative challenge to breeders.  A feature common to several sorts of Belgian bantams is the beard and this has caused two breeds of Belgians to be lumped together in England.  This is unfortunate as there are points in which d'Uccle vary considerable from d'Anvers.  Sensibly though, both breeds can be, and for the most part are, catered for by one Club.

Degree of pride

When championship prizes are being allotted, they fall rarely indeed to the d'Uccle and this has perhaps been a stumbling block preventing some otherwise ardent fanciers from making them their number one breed.  If the specimens concerned are really good and near to Standard requirements, I can see no reason whey they should not measure up to many of the more popular breeds.  Certainly they take as much producing and maintaining for show.  I was rather surprised to find, in an American book on bantams published in 1925, that Belgians were recommended as utility bantams.  I have not had this point confirmed by any of our own breeders although, like several of the old-time breeds, once they do get into their stride in the natural laying season, reproduction is quite good.

In the Barbu d'Uccle we have a bantam which has no large counterpart, either in form or colour.  It can, therefore, with some degree of pride, claim to be a small bantam and so the Standard calls for birds as dwarf and small as possible.  This is a refreshing point to find emphasised and one which should be carefully followed by breeders and judges alike.  The head should be slender and small, whereas that of the clean-legged d'Anvers, it will be recalled, should appear rather large.  Here, immediately, is a conflicting point likely to upset some experimentalists who like to inter-cross the two breeds to create different colours. 

A small bantam should have a smallish comb, this showing that the original breeders who drew up the Standard were seeking a bantam with all parts in due proportions.  The Standard requires it to be "single, fine, upright, under the average size, regularly serrated, rounded end slightly developed following the line of the neck".  One or two points to note carefully here.  Though small, the comb should have regular serrations, again that insistence on harmony of the parts.  The Standard requires that wattles, also, should be small. 

There is a sharp contrast between the bold head of the d'Anvers and the small, somewhat delicate looking head-piece of the d'Uccle.  There must be no confusion here and it will not do merely to have one sort with a rosecomb and the other with a single comb.  Each must be distinctive.  Facial adornments are many and seen to best advantage in a really well-built cock.  Feathers stand out sideways from the beak and from under the beak.  Neck hackle should be very thick and well furnished, arching in a convex manner towards the shoulders and covering the back.  Too many d'Uccle are, by the Standard, rather to thin in the hackles and show too much back.

While realising that the ideal will never be obtained, there is some room for improvement here and better things might be achieved if there could be more concentration on small bodies with somewhat shorter shanks than are often seen.  With a broad and deep breast and a back to match, this breed should exemplify, as no other, that favourite of the former utility showman, "the little bird that handles big".

Well feathered

Typical Belgian-type tail occurs in the cock, where the two large sickle feathers are just a little curved and hangers occur in tiers as "tail filling".  Leg feather is something of a problem with this breed, both to produce and to preserve.  Breeding stock must be well feathered if their offspring are to be right.  On the hocks there should be a cluster of long, stiff feathers close together.  These start from the bottom of the thigh and point to the ground.  The front and outside of each shank should be covered with feathers which get longer towards the fool.  These foot feathers are stiff and turned outwards.  The outside toe and the outside of the middle tail are also feathered.  This majestic little cock is matched by a thick-set, demure hen of great charm and character. 

Colours there are to suit almost everyone.  From time to time I get enquiries for colourful and distinctive bantams suitable for pets and to run on the lawn, and invariably suggest Millefleurs.  If I were in the happy position of setting up a stud of Belgians I would, undoubtedly, fall for the Porcelaines, in my view the sweetest of them all when well shown.  Lengthy description is out of place here, but orange-red, chamois, black and white all occur in the plumage of the Millefleurs, while the Porcelaines have straw-yellow, bluish-grey, blue and white.  Black and white occur in Mottleds, while self  Blacks and Whites are also bred, as well as other marked varieties.

As noted, this breed rarely gets much consideration for best in show awards.  It wins reasonably well in classes at the larger shows, but must be understood if it is to get awards at the smaller events.




B&W drawing of a pair of d'Anvers and a pair of d'Uccle


by SJS Chatterton (1919)











PORCELAINE d'UCCLE IN AUSTRALIA


YES! WE DO HAVE THEM


This article was written by Belgian Club member Frank Catt


(From our Australian Belgian Bantam Club August 1986 Newsletter)

 

Upon my return from the United Kingdom in 1985 one thing was fixed in my mind and this, apart from all the sights and other interesting wonders we experienced, stayed with me.  England, of course, is a garden of history, as is Wales, Scotland, and my favourite, Ireland where no one has ever heard of Bob Hawke or Don Bradman, but all know Ned Kelly and any one by that surname claim relationship to him, especially if they come from Kilkenny, from whence Ned's ancestors hail.  

You can see how easy it is to be carried away, so I return to my original vision, which stays with me.  I refer to the Porcelaine d'Uccle Belgian Bantam.  We were privileged to see them at the Three Countries and Royal Cornwall Shows, at Folly Farm in the Cotswolds, at Stratford-upon-Avon. at R. and E. Shaw's of Dewsbury, at Charles Mayhew's home at Sonning Common and at his daughter, Veronica's, at Woodcote.  Veronica is well known for her Belgians and the selling of books and memorabilia on poultry.  She is also our Club Patron.

If any avian species is a sight to behold, it is the Porcelaine d'Uccle.  They are the same pattern as the Millefleur, except the ground colour is straw and the black is replaced by light blue (called lavender or Reynolds's Blue).  You can read it in the Standard, but it is impossible to get a proper image of them without actually seeing one - seeing is believing.  How aptly named they are!  Porcelaine, indeed.  Rarely do they stand still as they are known as the ballerinas of the bantam kingdom, forever dancing on their toes.  Whether or not this is due to the many feathers on their legs and the vulture hocks, one cannot be sure, but you can be sure that when immobile they almost invite you to pick them up and place them on the mantle shelf as a "Porcelaine" objects, such is the sheen on their feathers and general colour makeup.

Back home again I was determined that one day when the import ban is lifted - it does seem likely in 1988 - I would import some of these magnificent creatures.  Then something happened that changed all that.  When breeding Lavender d'Anvers Belgians, often a single comb chick appears.  These are useless, even though they are usually an excellent colour, and are destroyed.  One such chicken was about to be killed when, in addition to the single comb, some feathers were noticed on the legs.  This gave the idea that possibly this bird could be the nucleus for making Porcelain d'Uccles, and thus it proved to be. 

At about seven months the young male not only had a single comb and some feathers on the legs, but also straw colouring in neck and saddle.  This is a feature required in the Porcelaine's pattern.  It was mated to a Millefleur d'Uccle hen with the resulting progeny all being Millefleur, complete with vulture hocks and fair type.  The one exception was a cockerel which had the Black Mottled pattern.  When adulthood was reached this bird was mated back to his mother.  Imagine my joy when ten chickens were hatched:  two Blues, three Millefleurs, one Black, with the remainder a creamy white.  This was the colour, according to the Belgian Handbook, of a Porcelaine day old.

Alas, tragedy struck as two days after they were hatched they were all dead.  Stupid hen!  Or, perhaps, stupid human for carelessness in not removing a perch which the mother decided to roost on, leaving the chickens to perish on the floor.  Ah well, one is never too old to learn and that can be a good lesson to youngster and old hand alike.  Always remove any perching materials when you are raising your chickens.

Undaunted, and very much aware of their potential, the pair were mated again.  This time nine youngsters were hatched with two creamy whites amongst them, one a little darker than the other.  Both birds turned out to be cockerels and very definitely have Porcelaine feather markings.  Feathers have been send to England for comparison and the reply states that they are indeed the Porcelaine pattern.  Keep your fingers crossed that they are reared into cocks.

The next move will be to mate the better of the two back to the original Millefleur hen, which is till alive and laying, in the hope that some females may be hatched.  Porcelaine to Porcelaine would then be the obvious mating, even though they would be closely related.  This is called in-breeding and is often used,.

Anyone is welcome to inspect these birds and all being well they could appear at the 1988 Royal Sydney Show, and certainly at our Club shows.  Up the magnificent Porcelaine d'Uccle!










SOME OF OUR MODERN AUSTRALIAN PORCELAINE


A pair of Porcelaine d'Uccle cockerels and a
Porcelaine d'Uccle hen.
 


All three birds were bred by Neville Woods (Australia)














AMERICAN BANTAM ASSOCIATION April/May 1971 


LESSON ON THE BELGIAN BEARDED d'UCCLE BANTAM

 

The Belgian Bearded d'Anvers and the Belgian Bearded d'Uccle are being bred and exhibited in far greater numbers than ever before.  Each of the two breeds is represented with several attractive varieties, any of which would make a grand addition to any bantam yard.  Very often breeds as well as shows list the Millefleur as a breed in itself, but this is wrong as it is only a variety of the d'Anver or the d'Uccle.

The Bantam Standard recognises the following varieties:  Bearded d'Anvers  -  Black, Black Breasted Red, Blue, Buff, Cuckoo, Millefleur, Mottled, Porcelaine, Quail, Self Blue and White.  Bearded d'Uccle  -  Black, Blue, Buff, Millefleur, Mottled, Porcelaine, Self Blue and White.

BEARDED d'UCCLE

The d'Uccle is always single combed and feather legged.  The males head is small, beak short and curved, comb single with small upright and fine, heavily serrated, blade following line of neck.  Eyes bold and round.  Brow heavily furnished with feathers lengthening towards rear and tending to join behind the neck.

The beard is full, with long feathers turning outwards, backwards and downwards and forming a trilobe (three ovals in a triangular group).  Ear lobes should be inconspicuous, wattles as small as possible.

The neck hackle has a tendency to form a thick mane behind the neck covering shoulders, saddle and back.  The body is deep, with very broad breast carried high and forward.  Wings fit tight and close, sloping downwards to the abdomen, but not beyond.  Ends of flights are covered by the abundant, long saddle hackle and the well furnished tail is carried almost perpendicularly, the main sickles slightly curved.

Legs are short and well apart, hooks covered with long stiff feathers inclined downwards.  Front and outside of shanks must be furnished with feathers lengthening towards footings, the foot feather horizontal, curved slightly back, outer and middle toes covered to ends.

Carriage and appearance - a little male with majestic manner, short and broad with heavy plumage development.

The female resembles the male except for usual sex differences, but the beard is formed with softer and more open feathers.  Neck hackles are very thick and composed of broader feathers, the tail short and not carried high, the lower main feathers diminishing evenly in length.  General appearance short and cobby.

Like the d'Anvers there are no particular mating problems.  They are seldom double mated, however if the mating does not produce good quality males and females then a double mating should be used.

It seems that in the d'Uccle more so than in the d'Anvers type is often neglected in the attempt to get perfection in the colour of the Millefleur and the Porcelaine.  In these two varieties the best colour generally comes in the second or third year.  Beginners who do not know this might get disgusted with the colour on the cockerel and pullet.

In addition to the colours listed for this breed there are several other attractive colours produced but very often not seen in the show room.  Until more breeders produce the non-standard colours their popularity will be at a standstill.

Be on the lookout for the lack of beard and muff disqualification and you will also find that there are a good number of defects to take into consideration when setting up the breeding pens.  These are outlined in detail in the Bantam Standard, which no breeder of any breed of bantam should be without.

Both the d'Anvers and d'Uccle make excellent utility bantams  -  well fleshed for meat,  and are also good layers.





Right: Black d'Uccle

hen bred by Kevin

Coombes

(Australia)



Far right: Black

d'Uccle cock bred by

David Simons

(Australia)











RE-INVENTING COLOURS IN d’UCCLE


By Bill Hyndes


(From our Australian Belgian Bantam Club February 2003 Newsletter)

 

The title of this piece refers to the fact that none of what I’m about to outline is new.  I set out at the start of this breeding season with three projects.  The first was to cross one of my Buff Colombian cockerels with a Blue Buff Colombian and a Buff pullet that appeared from a Blue Quail/Quail cross.  The colour is not even but she is Buff, at least on the surface. The Quail colour is somehow related to Buff Colombian, and a Buff Pekin was in part used to develop Quail.  My Buff Colombian line on the father/daughter and mother/son matings still throw some quail pullets.  That unfortunately is the limit of my observations to date, but demonstrates the challenges in breeding.  Anyway, he Blue Buff Colombian and her Buff sister had different plans.  They have just started to lay.  Too late but there is always next season.

The other two projects have been rather more successful as I had some luck with two roosters acquired from Paul at last year’s Annual Show.  Some members will recall discussion in late 2001 about breeding Silver Porcelaine.  Jeroen Muys from Belgian gave Irene this advice.  The starting point is a cross between a Silver Millefleur male and a Porcelaine female.  In the second season there are two options, the first being a cross of F1 to F1 using only Silver Millefleur offspring.  From this cross a mix of Silver Porcelaine, Porcelaine, Silver Millefleur and Millefleur will result. 25% of the offspring will show lavender.  Of this 25% of the males and half the females will be Silver Porcelaine.

A better option is to take a Silver Millefleur male from the original mating (ie he had a Porcelaine mother) and put him to a Porcelaine hen.  That was my starting point, with a lovely rooster, a few dark feathers hinting at his mother’s colouration.  That was where I had luck as this bird saved a year of breeding.  From such a male crossed with a Porcelaine hen the same mix of colours as the F1/F1 cross will result.  However, half rather than one quarter will show lavender, and of these 50% will be Silver Porcelaine.  Theoretically there should be equal numbers of the four colours.

The Porcelaine hen I used has nice type, but is quite old and didn’t start laying until December.  This, plus a couple of problems such as hens deserting or strangling, chicks meant that I’ve ended up with only half a dozen from the mating. One Silver Millefleur, two very lightly coloured Millefleur and three Silver Porcelaine.  The oldest, a cockerel is seven weeks old.  At this stage it is difficult to say how they will turn out, as the lavender markings on a white background are hard to see.  In photos the chicks look white.  When hatched they are distinctive, looking like a Silver Millefleur but with a lavender stripe rather than black.  The test will be next season, when I hope that by inbreeding it will be clear if the Silver Porcelaine breed true.  The other possibility is using them to improve Silver Millefleur.

The final project was to breed Lavender Cuckoo d’Uccle.  I have a pair of Black that produce some Lavender chicks in their offspring.  Obviously each parent has the gene for lavender, so I thought why not try to do the same with Cuckoo.  A couple of Lavender Cuckoo d’Anvers were shown at Wyong in 2002, but no d’Uccle were evident.  Lavender and Cuckoo are two of the colours related to Black, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to transfer the cuckoo gene to a lavender bird.  I’d originally planned that this would take two seasons.  This season a Cuckoo male was mated to my best two Lavender pullets.  Lavender is recessive so the result would be roughly equal numbers of Black and Cuckoo chicks.  As the cuckoo colour is sex linked, and I wanted cuckoo in both cockerels and pullets, the male was the cuckoo in the mating.  Lavender over cuckoo hens would have resulted in all cuckoo cockerels and all black pullets

To my surprise the first batch of chicks were Black, Cuckoo and Lavender.  A mix-up?  The same occurred the following batch, and as the chicks developed some of the Lavender turned out to be Lavender Cuckoo.  The white spot on the head with a lavender background is hard to see on a day-old.  Clearly the Cuckoo rooster I’d used had the lavender gene.  This of course is an example of determining the genetic make-up of a bird by examining the offspring.  It is a nice mating as the chicks produced are Black, Cuckoo, Lavender and Lavender Cuckoo.  The latter are quite subtly marked, but beautiful.  Shades of lavender vary quite a bit.  Partly due to the use of a (Black) Cuckoo father, the Lavender Cuckoo tends toward the darker end of the spectrum.  This makes the cuckoo markings more distinctive.  Next season I’ll avoid mating Lavender Cuckoo to Lavender Cuckoo as this may wash-out the colour.  Now, all I need is a few more pens for the new colours!

FOOTNOTE: Since writing (typing?) this my one and only Buff hen has dropped dead!  So much for the ‘always next season’ comment.  Suppose I could set out to re-introduce the colour from Buff Pekins (which I also have) but this is getting into advanced breeder territory.  Besides, another is bound to come out of the Buff Colombian or Quail and I don’t really need another colour anyway (pens!).

The real point of this footnote is to explain my comments on lines in the Buff Colombian.  As I started out with one pair, and there are not a lot about if you want some new blood, some research took place on breeding strategies.  It became clear that brother to sister matings would soon run into problems with fertility.  Sticking with the original pairing for years would not last long as each was already two or three four years old. 

I decided to try line breeding, putting the father to the best two F1 pullets, and the best F1 cockerel to the original hen.  Such a breeding strategy is not unique to poultry although in stock such as horses or cattle the relationships are usually more distant.  Some are squeamish about line breeding but this is misguided.  In one generation I’ve noticed an improvement in the female line.  The male line remains patchy but it is early days.  I’ve just started researching various line breeding strategies and charts and perhaps a sequel is in the making.




















Left and right above: A pair of normal Cuckoo

d'Uccle both bred by Cindy Pretty (Australia)

The male is shown with the Peter Williams

Memorial Trophy for the Best (normal) Cuckoo

at each Belgian Club Annual Show


Left: Kim Vizer's Black Mottled d'Uccle

hen Champion Belgian Overall at our

Club's 2007 Annual Show














The Belgian d’Uccle in Belgium

 

By Jeroen Muys (Belgium) November, 2005


From our Australian Belgian Bantam Club


February 2006 Newsletter


But the photo at left was taken in April 2007

 

History - It is known that for several centuries there have been bantams with foot-feathers.  Strangely these birds mostly showed three colours, brown, black and white, which are the basic colours of the present-day variety of Millefleur.  At the end of the 19th century these birds were bred in a certain direction in some European countries.  In the Netherlands they were called the “Sabelpootkrielen”, in Germany they had the “Federfüßige Zwerghühner” and in the UK these birds became “Booted Bantams”.  Those three breeds showed several resemblances concerning shape, but each breed had its own typical characteristics.  A few years later a bearded form of these breeds originated.

At the beginning of the 20th century Michel van Gelder, a rich person from Brussels, the capital city of Belgium, dreamed of a Belgian d’Anvers with foot-feathers and with a single comb.  It’s self-evident the shape of the new breed “Le Barbu d’Uccle” didn’t show much resemblance to the shape of the foregoing breeds.  Michel van Gelder bred about 1000 youngsters each year, so he could realise his dream in a very short time.  In 1905 this breed was shown for the first time.  The first varieties were Millefleurs and Porcelaine.  In 1906 there were also shown some White, Black and Cuckoo birds.

Seeing that most neighbouring countries had their own similar breeds, it’s clear the Belgian d’Uccle was not very popular outside Belgium.  It was never as popular as its brother the Belgian d’Anvers in our own country.  After both World Wars the quality and quantity wasn’t very good until around 1950.  It was almost impossible to use Belgian d’Uccle from other countries, whereby very strict selection was necessary to bring back the very typical shape.  Around 1970 we could find Millefleur, Porcelaine, White and Black Mottled birds in Belgium.  There are also sources, which say there were some Blue Belgian d’Uccle, but they have disappeared.

In the nineties this breed gained popularity in our country.  Beside the traditional varieties Millefleur and Porcelaine, we also saw Black, White, Black Mottled and Quail at shows.  However, over the last few years the popularity and number of birds at shows seems to have diminished.  Mostly we only see some Millefleur birds shown.  Fortunately there are some breeders like Bolle, family Muys, Smets and Willeghems who create, recreate or breed rare varieties.  I think of the varieties Blue, Blue Quail, Blue Mottled, Silver Quail, Blue Silver Quail, Buff Mottled, Silver Millefleur, Blue Millefleur, etc.  Birds of these varieties frequently also show a nice shape!

Photos at left: Jeroen's Blue Mottled d'Uccle hen

Shape and appearance - The most important thing about the Belgian d’Uccle is their shape.  When the desired shape is not present, a bird may have beautiful colours and other details, but it should never be awarded a First Prize.  The d’Uccle posses a quite proud carriage.  They show themselves from their best side just like the Belgian d’Anvers. 

They throw their heads well back, in such a manner that their breast is thrust forward.  Looking from the side, the back slopes a little and seems shorter than that of birds with a more horizontal posture.  Their wings have carried on the vulture hocks and slope downwards.  The wings of the males slope more towards the ground than the females. 

Typical of the breed is that they are very low.  The shanks and thighs are short.  The front and outside of the shanks must covered with feathers.  The foot feathers turn outwards horizontally.  The ends are curved slightly backwards.  Importantly, the outer toe and the outside of the middle toe are covered with feathers.


The tail of the males is carried rather high, and the sickles are sword-shaped.  The higher the tail, the shorter the bird seems to be.  Most Belgian males carry their tail at an angle of seventy-five to eighty-five degrees above the horizontal.  The main tail feathers are carried quite open.  The side hangers and tail coverts do not hide the main tail feathers.  Close attention must be paid that the tail is not allowed to become too high, as that is what we call "squirrel-tail" and is a major fault. 

The quite short tail of the females is carried sloping upwards towards the end, and is slightly spread.  The latest Belgian standard proposes a tail carried at an angle of forty-five degrees above the horizontal.  A tail carried too low, however, makes the birds appear very long, and that also gives a poor image.  Like the Belgian d’Anvers, a typical characteristic of a Belgian d’Uccle is that the front part with the breast, head, mane etc. shows us almost two thirds of the whole bird, while the back part with the tail shows us only about one third.

Without exception, the d'Uccle have to be rather small, yet they are also required to appear broad, especially on the breast and shoulders.  The males posses full and convexly shaped hackles.  The mane of the females forms a ruffle behind the neck, and is more developed than the males. In contrast to the males, the female hackle diminishes in thickness towards the bottom of the neck.  Both males and females show neck feathers that turn backwards.  Close to the largest manes you can see the turning movements of the feathers, and behind the neck you can see the feathers coming together.  The hackles of the males cover their back, the mane becoming fuller with age, the volume of the hackles becoming larger.  This is sometimes called a "bull-neck".

The d’Uccle must have a full tri-lobed beard, which gives the desired owl-headed appearance in the females.  The whiskers are feathers, which turn horizontally backwards from both sides of the beak.  In front, the feathers grow vertically downwards.  Under the whiskers are found the ears and red ear lobes.  Wattles can only be present in rudimentary form, but the best birds will have none.  The rather large head is broad, short and strong, with large, lively eyes.  The d'Uccle has a small single comb.  It’s desirable the comb has five regularly formed spikes.  The blade is little developed and follows the line of the neck.


Photos at right: Jerone Muys Blue Quail d'Uccle pullet

Nature
- Most books state that the d'Uccle are lively, but in compared to the d’Anvers they are less energetic.  It’s self-evident the youngsters are more lively than older birds.  That’s also a reason why it’s easier to obtain better results at shows with older birds than with young birds.  The females of this breed become easily broody and are very good mothers to their youngsters.

Finally - It’s wonderful to know there is at the moment a big interest in the Belgian d’Uccle in some other countries than their country of origin.  I think especially of Australia, America and the UK.  A few years ago there was also a relatively big interest for this breed in the Netherlands, but it seems that the Dutch breeders have lost a bit of their enthusiasm for d’Uccle. 

My friend Christian Miniot has done a wonderful job in France; he has created and recreated many varieties and helped a lot of new breeders.  His site is still one of the nicest sites for Belgians.  I know there are also some d’Uccle in Germany and some enthusiastic breeders like Jörn Clevin will try to make the Belgian d’Uccle a little more popular in Denmark etc. 

It’s just a little bit sad there aren’t many breeders anymore in Belgium, otherwise I have the feeling the Belgian birds are still closest to the original descriptions of shape, which was close to that of the Belgian d’Anvers. 

In spite of that I am very happy several people from other countries from time to time send me pictures of nice birds and year after year these birds become a step closer to the drawings of the Belgian artist Rene Delin!  I hope this article is of value.  With my best wishes, Jeroen Muys
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Below left: A black d'Uccle cock 

Below right: Two Silver Quail d'Uccle pullets



(all three are Jeroen Muys' birds)














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