March is Women’s History Month and with the social climate of today empowering women and finally giving them recognition, it only seems fitting to honor Mrs. Nettie Metcalf. She is the only American woman to have developed an officially recognized breed of chickens.
The Buckeye is truly the feminist's chicken!
In the late 1800's Nettie Metcalf, a housewife from Warren Ohio created a red chicken breed and appropriately named it Buckeyes after the state of Ohio. Buckeyes are unique in the American Class of chickens in that it is the only breed created entirely by a woman and officially accepted into the American Poultry Association in 1904. The industry was dominated by very influential businessmen heavily invested in the new Rhode Island Red breed and they did everything in their power to oust the Buckeye breed. Their attempts to do so failed. However, somehow the breed disappeared from the records of the American Poultry Association standards around 1915. It’s unclear how or even why that happened but the breed reappears around the mid to late 1930’s again as a recognized breed. However, like many other things, the great depression had an impact on the Buckeye breed and it nearly faded into obscurity. This breed is still considered quite rare but in the last couple of years, they have been upgraded from the threatened list to the watch list by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
The Buckeye is the only purely American breed to sport a pea comb, and this, combined with its stocky build, makes it a supremely cold-hardy bird. Buckeyes have rich yellow skin, with mahogany feathering and black tails. They adjust to confinement well but prefer to range on grass. They are extremely friendly docile birds. A good dual-purpose producer of brown eggs well suited for small farmyards and backyard flocks.