There may very well be a good reason why the yolk of an egg looks so much like a brilliant, shining sun. Chickens need about seventeen hours of light for maximum egg output, and smart farmers in the early twentieth century were apt to construct chicken coops in the so-called "Monitor" style because of the quantity of light they provided. Two rows of windows were separated by a shed roof, and windows in either end of the building brought in additional light and ventilation. Making it even more efficient, the coop was divided into two halves - one functioned as a laying area, and the other section housed older birds that would eventually be sent to market. Built in the early 1920s and large enough to hold between 300 to 400 chickens, the chicken coop at Primrose Farm was restored with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Kane County's Development Block Grant Program.
Primrose Farm is, in turn, providing assistance of its own to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry's "Genetics and the Baby Chick Hatchery Program," designed to reestablish breeds that were the foundation of the modern poultry business. The Museum has donated a variety of chickens to Primrose Farm, including the Auborn Java, a breed that was functionally extinct at the end of the nineteenth century. Developed from chickens of unknown Asian extraction, the Java is one of the oldest breeds of American chicken, and formed the genetic basis for many other breeds. Today, it is critically endangered.
A second endangered breed of chicken with an illustrious past has also been reintroduced to Primrose Farm. The Columbian Wyandotte chickens were developed by Mr. B. M. Briggs of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, expressly for the Columbian Exposition and World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893. The handsome, white chicken with distinctive black tail and black wing tips took Best of Show. A good, dual-purpose bird that produced mid-sized eggs and ample meat, the Columbian Wyandotte became a popular breed in the 1890s and were known to be bred in St. Charles Township as late as 1918. The rarest of the Wyandotte variety, the Columbian Wyandottes raised at Primrose Farm will be furthering the cause of conserving a historic and genetically important breed.