Wednesday, February 28Food Security Matters

Ermellinata di Rovigo Chicken Breed Profile and Characteristics

The development of the Ermellinata di Rovigo started in 1959 (completed in 1965) at the Poultry Experiment Station in Rovigo (Veneto). The Sussex and Rhode Island breeds participated in its formation. The goal was to create a breed capable of providing high-quality meat and good egg production.

Ermellinata di Rovigo characteristics

The Ermellinata di Rovigo is very similar to the Sussex breed, from which it derives, except for its skin which is yellow instead of pink; roosters weigh around 3.5-3.7 kg, while hens weigh 2.4-3.2 kg.

Ermellinata di Rovigo roster

Ermellinata di Rovigo breed varieties

It was named for its melanated plumage, which is white with typical “ermine” markings (black neck, black wingtips, and black tail); The trunk is wide and long in the shape of a parallelepiped, while the earlobes are red. Simple and large crest, with 5-6 points.

Egg production

La Ermellinata di Rovigo is an excellent producer of eggs and a good supplier of fine meat. Chickens lay about 180 pink-shelled eggs per year; growth is quite fast.

This Italian bird is a robust breed with good grazing capacity and is capable of adapting to different climatic environments.


During the post-war period, in the second half of the last century, the Italian poultry industry was trying to develop a variety of dual-purpose chicken breeds; that could compete with the glorious races of the time. (Plymouth Rock, New Hampshire, Orpington, etc.).

So it was in 1959, that the Poultry Experiment Station in Rovigo (Veneto), decided to develop a new breed, starting from the crossing of Sussex and Rhode Island: the result was the Ermellinata di Rovigo

In general, it is very similar to a Light Sussex, with the difference that it has yellow skin and legs, which are traditionally preferred by Italian consumers of chicken meat.

Breed recognition

A standard for the breed was published by the defunct National Association of Avian Breeders at the end of the 20th century and was published as a note of historical interest on the website of the Federation of Italian Poultry Associations, the authority that governs the breeding. of birds in Italy. Currently, the breed is not officially recognized by the FIAV.

Along with the P├ępoi breeds, the Robusta Lionata, the Robusta Maculata, and the Padovana, the Ermellinata di Rovigo is part of the five chicken breeds included in the Project of the regional administration for the agriculture of Veneto. The project includes among its objectives the conservation of local avian species of limited distribution and the conservation of genetic resources and biodiversity and has published a detailed description of the breed.

On the brink of extinction

Breed numbers remain low. A study published in 2007 revealed a figure of approximately 500 individuals of the breed for the total breeding stock, of which approximately 100 were roosters.

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