Croad Langshans are one of the most ancient chicken breeds. They originate from Rudong, China, from an area where chickens were domesticated and bred something like 7000 or 8000 years ago.
The first birds to reach the western world were purchased in 1871 at the Langshan Crossing near Shanghai, and sent to Major F.T. Croad by a relative residing in China. From these birds and some subsequent imports his niece, Miss Croad established the breed in England.
They reached Australia in the early 1880s, with various imports from England and America of variable shape and appearance.
Croad Langshans were used in the creation of the Australian Langshans, Australorps, Orpingtons and others.
As in other countries they rapidly gained popularity, but numbers declined during the 1950s and 60s and they came close to dying out.
Today's Croad Langshans are very large but elegant, inquisitive and active birds. The proud stance with tail carried high is very characteristic for roosters and hens. Cock birds can stand 90cm tall; they are generally friendly and gentle.
They have thick, glossy very soft plumage, and their legs are feathered along the outside. The most common colour is black with a beetle green sheen but there are also white Croads. Blue and splash birds have been obtained by crossing with other breeds and so have the bantams.
Young Croad Langshan hens lay about 150 eggs a year. Egg colour is variable, but mostly buff with a purple bloom.
Hens go broody and make very good mothers.
The sturdy chicks are black, white and yellow with a painted face; and some white feathers may persist until they are close to maturity. They are extremely active and in a free-range situation start hunting and gathering when only a few days old.
Croad Langshans are slow to mature and keep growing for a very long time. They need a lot of feed and space, and that may be the reason why today they are not very common.
Breeding Croad Langshans is not easy as the genetic base is quite narrow. Problems with inbreeding include loss of fertility, loss of size as well as bone deformations.
Recently however Croad Langshans are making a resurgence in Australia. There is a lot of interest in the breed and demand is outstripping supply. We see more being exhibited these days and they certainly attract attention. With that additional interest hopefully more diversity in the genetic pool available to breeders will be generated.