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The Belgian d’Uccle Bantam

By Marie Reddy

Florida


Tucked in a little corner of Loxahatchee, Florida, in the western part of Palm Beach County, is DMD Farms. It is the home of Donna Ulrich and her husband, Jerry, along with horses, chickens, dogs and a coop-guarding cat. Donna’s work day begins early—out to the barns to dress wounds, wrap fetlocks, or dispense medication for the many horses she tends in her “horse hospital”—polo ponies, jumpers, race horses that need extended rehabilitative care. Donna’s work with these horses is her passion.


The feather coloring of the Mille Fleur variety is stunning. The name “Mille Fleur” translates as “thousand flowers” and refers to the black and white mottles on the golden bay body feathers. Frequently “Mille Fleur” is erroneously used as the breed name, though it is but one variety of the d’Uccle bantam.

A Passion for Poultry

Her passion also extends to the chickens she tends that provide eggs and entertainment for her, her husband and Donna’s sister, Jean, who lives next door. Donna is also a member of the Palm Beach County Poultry Fanciers Association, a club that includes members with flocks of many chickens to members with just a few chickens in their city backyards. The farm’s daily demands prevent her from attending club meetings, but doesn’t deter her enthusiasm for the club or her chickens.







According to the standard, the d’Uccle should have a firm, straight single comb.

Donna raises several other breeds besides the Belgian d’Uccle including Mary Kate and Ashley, beautiful Ameraucanas that lay the blue eggs displayed in the basket below.

The breed that gives her the most pride is the Belgian d’Uccle, an esoteric and sometimes hard to find bird. The breed was bred first in Uccle near Brussels, Belgium by Michel Van Gelder, sometime between 1890 and 1900. The “d” in front of the d’Uccle means from, or of, Uccle. In Belgium they are referred to as “uccles.” Most believe that the Belgian d’Uccle bantam is a cross between the Dutch Booted Sabelpoot bantam and the Antwerp Bearded bantam, but this fact is not known for sure. They are believed to contain some Japanese bantam blood. So the d’Uccle has both Asian and Belgian roots.







Of the feather-legged bantam class, the Belgian d’Uccle has long feathers on their feet. Shavings on the floor of the run help keep feet clean and disease free.

The Mille Fleur feather pattern has a base color of golden bay, with each feather marked with a crescent shaped bar of black and tipped with a white spangle. The true coloring does not usually appear until the first adult molt.

The Belgian d’ Uccle is a “true” bantam, meaning there is no standard size counterpart. The first varieties of Belgian d’Uccles were the Mille Fleur, Porcelain, and White, but the Mille Fleur was the first variety entered into the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1914, an old breed indeed. Donna’s d’Uccles are mostly the Mille Fleur variety but she has one Porcelain.

Donna raised this flock from chicks she got from Nature’s Hatchery. Nature’s Hatchery has many varieties of chickens from which to choose, including rare or hard to find breeds. They will ship eggs, chicks and older chickens. (See Nature’s Hatchery ad on page XX or visit their website: www.natureshatchery.com.—Ed.)

Donna doesn’t let her hens set on the eggs, but removes them to hatch in her incubator.







With several breeds, Donna gets a great variety of eggs. Like most of us fortunate enough to raise our own hens, Donna says she will never use “store bought” eggs again!

The “house rooster,” an Old English Game always wants to know what is going on in his coop! Tiny but tough!

Spacious Housing Plan

Donna’s coop is large and divided into sections. It used to be a shed but she put doors in the east and west walls and divided the interior in half. There is also an extension along the side that houses more chickens. There are plenty of perches in both the coop and the runs. The two doors provide great ventilation and the runs are all covered with metal roofs to keep out the Florida rain. The roof overhangs the run by about a foot or so to help protect the floor of the run. The floor is dirt with wood shavings spread around that is cleaned out once a week. There are nest boxes both on the walls of the runs and coop.

The coop and runs are surrounded by cement pavers made into walkways and a patio area. The pavers help protect the poultry from predators digging into the run and coop. This setup also makes it easy for walking around the coop area. The chicken wire is also buried down about 6″ inches for safety.


Another of Donna’s favorite birds is Ophelia, a Buff Orpington, and a great egg layer!

Within two of the runs she came upon a great idea. She took one of the standard cages you might buy at a feed store, cut a hole in the floor of it. Then she surrounded the legs and the entire outside of the cage with chicken wire buried into the run so the chickens have two levels, one to perch in and a run to scratch around in. She uses these for poultry she wants to keep isolated. For the most part, Donna keeps the d’Uccles separated from her other breeds. It is also useful for introducing new chickens into the established flock.

If you would like to contact Donna, you can e-mail her at dmdfarm@bellsouth.net. Some of the Mille Fleur d’Uccle roosters are for sale. Good luck in getting her to part with a hen!

More information on the Belgian d’ Uccle bantam can be found at The Belgian d’ Uccle & Booted Bantam Club.


Views of Donna’s chicken coop: 1. The front of the coop. 2. The side extension of the coop. (Note the walkways going around the entire coop area.). 3. A view of the back of the coop. This area has a small patio for chicken viewing. 4. The “coop within a coop,” an area to keep certain chickens or roosters separated from the rest of the flock. It has an “upstairs” and a “downstairs” and allows the poultry inside to be part of the flock, yet still separated.

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