St Albans welcomes rare chickens and their mysterious eggs
VISITORS to a St Albans tourist attraction will be hoping to catch sight of its newest arrivals today.
Willows Farm Village is now home to a batch of rare chickens known as the April Stultus who are famed for their unusual eggs.
The four chickens and one cockerel look like the average chicken but it’s their unusual eggs that are really pulling in the crowds at the Colney Heath site.
The eggs, renown for their strong, chocolatey flavour and rich glossy brown shells, have to be seen to be believed.
The animals live on a mixed diet of raw cocoa beans and corn and are housed in carefully cooled conditions to retain the integrity of their eggs.
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Willows farmer Andrew Wolfe said: “Our new feathered friends certainly have us walking on eggshells here at Willows. We’re giving them round-the-clock attention to ensure that the hens are happy and that the delicate laying process goes undisturbed.
“We weren’t sure at first that the eggs would be all they were cracked up to be, but they really do have a rich chocolatey taste, which is, of course, perfect for Easter.”
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The farm has been working closely with Herts-based rare fowl expert Prof Farad Oils Ploy, who said: “The April Stultus breed is usually found living around the equator but the mild winter has seen them thrive in the UK. This is certainly a first for Hertfordshire.
“The composition of the eggs will differ greatly according to their diet, and as this particular batch have been feeding on raw, dark cocoa beans and corn, their eggs have a distinctly darker shell than others I’ve seen. For example, when living in their native Brazil, April Stultus chickens can have anything from a pure white to marble-effect shell depending on the types of beans they are able to forage.”
Although the animals are sweet-natured, they are extremely private. Visitors to the farm today may be lucky enough to glimpse the male April Stultus’ mating call, something that happens only once a year on April 1. The display is what earned the chickens their Latin name.
To find out more about them or Willows’ Easter Eggstravaganza event which takes place between March 31- April 15, visit www.willowsfarmvillage.com or call 0870 129 9718.
As we are sure you have guessed, this story was part of our attempt to fool you on April Fool’s Day. Thanks to Willows Farm Village for being such good sports and joining in the fun.