The Ovambo is a native Southern African chicken, typically with dark black and red plumage (though the plumage of the hens is often more variable). Like another South African native chicken, the Venda, they are known for associating with grazing cattle where they pick off ticks from the skins of the cows. It is believed that the early ancestors of this breed were introduced by the earliest European visitors to Namibia and the German colonists of the 18th century. The survivors of these earliest introductions survived and cross-bred to produce the Ovamba, a breed that could survive by scratching out an existence in the barren semi-desert.
Natural selection due to predators meant that birds with dark plumage and which could fly into trees to escape predators survived. Thus the Ovambo is a dark-plumaged bird which is small in size, aggressive and which roosts in the tops of the trees. In fact, the behaviour of the Ovambo is very similar to that of the native guinea fowl of the region.
Varieties (Single Comb): Shades and patterns of Black, Browns and Reds
Uses: Eggs, Meat
Weight: 2.5 - 5 lbs
Personality: The hens are easily startled, while the roosters can be fierce protectors of their flock.
Preferred climate: Warm
Handles confinement: No
Egg production: Poor (2/week)
Egg size: Medium
What else you should know
Ovambos reach sexual maturity around five months of age.
The Ovambo is a very hardy breed and a true omnivore. They are adapted to surviving on insects, edible weeds, greens and household scraps. Despite being very wild in nature, they are valued as village birds as they will catch and consume vermin like mice and even rats. When food is scarce they can range over a hectare area of land in a single day.