The Scots Dumpy Chicken has its ancient roots in Scotland’s landrace chickens
BREED NAME: Scots Dumpy
BRIEF DESCRIPTION: The Scots Dumpy Chicken has its ancient roots in Scotland’s landrace chickens and has, in more recent times, been brought back from near extinction. “Dumpy” refers to this breed’s stout body and unusually short legs.
Most commonly seen in the Cuckoo pattern, Black or White varieties, the breed standard allows for any Game Fowl pattern or color. In competition color only counts for 10% of an over-all score. An adult standard Dumpy should be approximately 2” off the ground.
The breed has long been favored for its unique look and funny duck-like waddle gait. Due to such short little legs the breed is easy on the garden being less able to scratch deep into soil, though they love to forage and do well free ranging. They are available in Standard and Bantam.
Special Qualities: The short legs of the Scots Dumpy come from a dwarfism gene that will stunt growth of legs and wings. When doubled, the gene is lethal in 25% of chicks. This is a common problem with short legged chicken breeds as chicks may be unable to maneuver inside the egg to hatch.
Within the Dumpy breed specimens show some variety of leg length. The longer legged specimens tend to have larger bodies as well, due to the lack of growth stunting from the “Creeper” gene.
Some believe that the longer legged hens lay more eggs, but more than 2” off the ground is a DQ. Breeders may cross longer legged individuals with shorter legged to prevent the doubled & lethal gene. These offspring will be split 50/50 long and short legged.
By the 1970’s, with the numbers of the breed dangerously few, a group of resourceful caretakers in Scotland began rounding up the remnants and helping the breed survive. With a list of nick names like: Creepies, Go-Laighs, Bakies, Stumpies, Dadlies, or Hoodies, popularity has grown as have the flocks.
Significant numbers of the Scots Dumpy chickens appear at poultry shows and can be seen on country farms and backyard gardens throughout Scotland. In the early 1990’s the Scots Dumpy Club was hatched. With well over 100 members the breed is in good hands.
This little chicken is legendary and has inspired many an incredible story in its long history; some verifiable and some in question. One tale credits the Scots Dumpy with such excellent hearing as to be used in the battle field.
They were said to detect potential enemies approaching the camps of the Celts and Picts by the sounds of crushing thistle plants underfoot. This legendary tale includes the thistle being adopted as the classic Scottish symbol.
Considered docile, though some roosters will show aggression, their structure is heavy, long in the back with a tail carriage lower than most chicken breeds. They are considered a good meat bird, being large and heavy.
In spite of their irregular look, the Scots Dumpy chicken is a prized utility chicken of dual purpose. Hens are excellent layers of off white and tinted eggs, broody and great mothers. They are hardy and do surprisingly well considering their less than natural body type; possibly owing still to their ancient landrace origins.
The complete story of the Scots Dumpy chicken has been lost in the depths of about 7 centuries. The breed was standardized from UK landraces in the 1800’s, where ancient records describe short-legged chickens in York as long ago as the 11th Century.
First shown in 1852 this unique little chicken has been one of the rarest in the UK since the end of the 19th Century, and yet they survive and remain dear to the hearts of many.
The term: Creeper Fowl is known throughout Europe, and describes the Scots Dumpy, German Krüper, the Danish Luttehøns and French Courtes-Pattes. The Dumpy is different from all these breeds with a heavy bone structure, but shares other traits besides the Creeper gene.
Experts have long disagreed about promoting this dwarfism gene in poultry although the practicality and benefits can be appreciated in the poultry world.
Short legs limit activity and exercise making the birds easy to catch and keep close as well as promoting softer and less lean muscle which enhances the flavor and texture of meat even as birds mature.
Extra care should be taken to protect the Scots Dumpy chicken from predators. The dwarfism gene can affect wing length as well as legs, which would limit escape and possibly prevent the breed from roosting to safe heights.
A breed valued for centuries in the barnyard, the Scots Dumpy has proven that its small and unusual stature is no drawback in filling the unique role that chickens play in the life of man.
In spite of man’s sometimes puzzling manipulation of chicken genetics, we have seen for thousands of years that the genetic heart of the wild chicken beats with undying rhythm and its soul bravely survives domestication, selective fancy, and wars.