These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.
This picture is from The Asiatics; Brahmas, Cochins and Langshans, all varieties, their origin; peculiarities of shape and color; egg production; their market qualities…. published by The Reliable Poultry Journal Pub. Co. of Quincy, Illinois. So you know we can trust them.
Except these don’t look much like Cochins, really. The thing that makes Cochins stand out is that they have feathers growing all the way down their legs to their toes. They look like they’re wearing hip waders. There are other illustrations that are more representative of the breed in this very book, so I’m not sure exactly why Her Majesty had birds that look more like Indonesian jungle fowl or something. Must be some kind of forerunner or something. Maybe a confused artist. Jungle fowl aren’t like Cochins; they’re fierce. Fighting birds.
The book’s part of the Biodiversity Library, so I guess it goes to show – even chickens are diverse.