Heritage and Production Breeds. What’s the Difference?

The chickens most of us recognize today are bred for meat or eggs consequently they look vastly different than their ancestors. The breeds that generations past kept to supply eggs for the family are known as Heritage Breeds. Some of us may even recall the chickens that our grandparents kept and how different they looked. It some cases they may not have even looked like the chickens we associate with today at all.

Production breeds are those that are specifically bred for production whether be it meat or eggs. These industries have selected out traits needed to meet demands. These resulting chickens are engineered to have larger breasts, grow very fast, lay profusely or lay larger eggs. The chickens the exist outside of these breeds are known as Heritage breeds. Heritage breeds store a wealth of genetic resources that are important for our future and the future of our agricultural food system. Heritage breeds were once raised by our forefathers. These are breeds of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice. It is through the hobby of backyard chicken keepers and enthusiasts that these breeds still exist today.

You may not know it, but by keeping chickens you are acting as a conservationist. Since the meat and egg industry has no need for heritage breeds, its the backyard chicken keepers that keep these breeds from extension. Most of these breeds our grandparents kept as pets or for eggs. Many old photos have captured in time these heritage breeds. As time has march on, along side us has followed our feathered friends.

So, What are some of these Heritage Breeds you may be asking. Below I will introduce you to some of these breeds. Many of these breeds I have others I plan to get in the near future.

The Polish:

The Polish possesses a very complicated history. Many people think that the Polishes came from Poland. This is actually not the case. The word ‘pol” translates as head, most likely derived from the impressive crests of feathers that top their head. It’s not really understood where this fancy breed came from. Some poultry experts think they came from the Netherlands others disagree. As for a fun chicken lovers such as myself,  I wonder if their origins are not of this world after all. Possibly like H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu they came from the stars or another world out there. Just kidding 🙂 In all seriousness though, much mystery surrounds this much beloved Heritage breed. The Polish is a much favored breed for poultry enthusiasts who want a little something different for their backyard flock.

The Polishes as a breed have a very distinctive personality. Due to their featherd crests their vision is limited. With obstructed vision everything spooks them. Seemingly mundane and normal objects in their surrounds will get a rise out of them. For this reason they tend to be high strung and flighty. It takes an experienced keeper with the right setting to successfully keep this breed.

To their determent they are also a very curious breed. Individuals will often follow their curiosities into predicaments. Unable too see well enough to get out, they will call out to other members of the flock to rescue them. Typically one or more of the rooster will answer the call. They are the comedians of the chicken world. I have 14 of these fancy guys and gals of various colors. All of them possess this particular niche for curiosity and comedy.

Buff Orpington:

One of the most beloved and most common Heritage breed kept by backyard enthusiasts is the Buff Orphington. These lovely ladies and gents are often sold in feed stores and are very harty. I personally have seen many old photos capturing this breed. When I started keeping chickens this was the first breed I ordered. Buff Orpington’s are known the world over for being friendly fluffs of feathers. In my experience I will have to concur.

These ladies and gents are known as the “golden retrievers” of the chickens world and for good reason. They are very loyal and form strong attachments to their keepers. My Buff ladies follow me around the backyard as I do morning and evening chores. When I do any work in the backyard such as potting or planting flowers and crops I have plenty of “hen help”. They want to be involved in anything that I am doing no matter what it is.

I currently have 5 of these golden girls, at 10 years of age they are the oldest girls in my flock. No longer spring chickens, these ladies are the zen masters of my flock. They have seen and lived through it all. I will often find one or more of these ladies on my lap when I sit down. They love attention and will follow me chatting till I pick them up and hold them. They are very friendly and make a great breed for beginning chicken keepers.

Besides buff there are other colors of Orpington available. While buff and black are the most common, blue and lavender are also available. Lavender and jubilee are the rarest and cost quite a bit when purchased from hatcheries or breeders. If you can obtain them they will be the pride and joy of the flock. I plan to purchase lavender and jubilee Orpington in the near future.

Australorp:

Related to the Orpington, the Australorp is the Australian take on the Orpington. They were developed as a breed to focus on egg laying. Australorps achieved world-wide popularity in the 1920’s after the breed broke numerous world records for the number of eggs laid in a year. In fact, the world record holder for the most eggs laid in a year was set by an Australorp. She laid 364 eggs in one year, taking only one day off. The most common color is black which is the only color recognized in the United States. However, blue and white are still recognized in Australia.

For backyard keepers who want chickens just for eggs, Australorps are the best bang for your buck. They are one of the most common breeds found in feed stores and like the Orpington are very friendly and affectionate.

Easter Eggers:

The Easter Egger is a favorite breed because the hens lay multi colored eggs. For this reason they are sometimes referred to as rainbow layers. Eggs colors will vary by individual and can be anything from blue to brown. Colors such as blue, green, pink, white, beige and brown have all been reported. A hen will have her own color and will lay only that color for the rest of her life. This breed is often found in feed stores and are sometime mis-labeled as Araucania or Ameraucana. Because of the multi line breeding Easter Eggers come in many colors such as brown, black, white, Buff, and golden lace. The Pigment oocyanin deposited on the surface of the shell is what gives the eggs the famous blue/green color. As a breed they are hardy, friendly and excellent layers.

The Cochin:

The Cochin is another favorite Heritage breed because they are so docile. Literally big balls of fluff, the Cochins’ are one of the friendliest breeds. They are not good layers but make excellent mothers and will happily sit on eggs no matter who laid them. They are very affectionate and enjoy interacting with their keepers. I have several varieties of Cochins such as Motted (specked), frizzle and black. Even the roosters are very docile and friendly. If eggs are the primary reason for keeping chickens they are not the best selection. Their egg laying is fairly poor but they make up for their lacking egg potential in other ways.

Silkies:

Ah, yes, Silkies the teddy bears of the chicken world. It’s no secret that Silkies are the most beloved of the ornamental chicken breeds. Voted again and again as the best breed to have for kids. Silkies are quite possibly the favorite Heritage breed of numerous backyard chicken enthusiasts and for good reason. Silkies are very sweet, docile and friendly. The girls make excellent mothers, are very broody and affectionate. Silkie are often kept by backyard chicken keepers for their broody tendencies. They will happily sit on any available eggs, hatch and raise whatever pops out of them. They don’t care as long as they get to have babies. It has been said that a broody Silkie could hatch rocks. After keeping them I can say I completely agree with this sentiment.

I have a flock of Silkies on my hobby farm and are absolutely smitten. Even the 7 Silkie roosters I have are well behaved. Actually, Silkie roosters make very poor protectors, they prefer to run and hide rather than man up. Lucky I have other roosters in the yard to pick up the slack when everyone is out free ranging.

Silkies are a very old breed. They originated in Asia and were brought to the Western World via the Silk Road a major trading round in Asia. Silkies date back to the Chinese Han dynasty (around 206BCE). The breeds was first mentioned by Marco Polo in his journals that he kept on this trip through China (1290-1300). He recorded in his journal referencing a “furry chicken”.

After Marco Polo’s mention about a ”furry chicken” there was not much said about the Silkie till about 1589. Ulysses Aldrovandi a writer and naturalist published a work on a “wool-bearing chicken”. He described it as “clothed with hair like a cat”.

Silkies get their unique feathering due to the lack of barbicels in their feathers. Barbicels give feathers the smooth texture and appearance we commonly associate with feathers. It is for this reason that Silkies do not like getting wet. If kept in wet climates a keeper needs to see it that their digs are well sheltered and dry. Contrary to popular opinion they do tolerate cold climates well as long as they are able to remain dry.

After Silkies made it to the Western World the breed was recognized officially in North America with acceptance into the Poultry Standard of Perfection in 1874.

In the 21st century, Silkies are one of the most popular and ubiquitous ornamental breed. They are often kept by backyard chicken enthusiasts as pets. Although not a heritage breed like others discussed. The Silkie is a breed that is alive and well thanks to the concervational efforts of backyard chicken keepers who care for and raise them.

Silver Lace Wyandotte:

The gems of my chicken yard are my Silver Lace Wyandotte’s. I have 4 of these fancy ladies and are absolutely smitten with them. Like the Orpington and Australorp they are very friendly and great layers. The Wyandotte is a purely American breed developed in the 1870’s and named after the Wyandot people of North America.

Many people keep this breed to show at county and state fairs. With their striking black and white feathers they looked like they are dressed up for a Gala. I too obtained my Silver Lace Ladies for this reason. They are head turners capturing the attention of anyone who sees them. I am often asked by visitors to my farm what these ladies are. I get many comments on how beautiful and striking they are. They are the pride and joy of my flock.

Like the Orphingtons and the Australorps, Wyandotts are friendly and very docile. They are often found at the bottom of the pecking order due to their docile temperament. If you want some class in your flock the Wyandotts are a great choice. Since they are available in most feed stores and co-ops they are readily available.

Other Heritage Breeds:

The Heritage Breeds I have discussed thus far I currently have. However, there are many more to choose from. Below I will give honorable mention to other beloved Heritage breeds. Before I go any further, I want to thank my fellow backyard chicken enthusiasts and friends (who have asked to remain anonymous) for sharing their experience with these breeds. I do not currently have the following breeds but have connections to those who can vouch for the temperament of these breeds based on their own experiences.

Rhode Island Red:

Image Credit:

The Rhode Island Red is one of the most common breeds kept by backyard enthusiasts. They are one of the most common breeds found in co-ops during the spring. The Rhode Island Red is a purely American breed. It is actually the state bird of Rhode Island. This breed was developed in the early 19th century by cross breeding two other well known breeds, leghorn and Malay. As common as this breed may seem it is actually on the “watch” list by the Livestock Conservancy.

The Rhode Island Red gets it’s name from the color of its plumage. Other keepers have stated that this breed is friendly with a good nature but they can be a bit pushy. They are a tough breed, resistant to illness, good at foraging and free ranging. They are hardy breed, lay well, typically docile, friendly and for these reasons they make a good choice for those starting out with backyard chickens.

Plymouth Rock:

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plymouth_Rock_hen.

The Plymouth Rock is the oldest American breed. It was first breed in the early 19th century and was seen coast to coast before the end of World War 2. Almost everyone kept them, it was encouraged by the Government as food for the troops who were fighting over seas. For much of the 20th century it was the most common breed in the United States. Unfortunately after the 2nd World War, it declined in popularity and has been listed on the American Livestock Conservancy as “recovering”.

As a breed, the Plymouth Rock is docile in nature, tame very easily and hardy making them a great choice for beginning backyard yard chicken enthusiasts. The Plymouth Rock is a good general farm chicken. They are docile with a leaning toward broodiness. They are quality layers of medium large eggs.

The Sussex:

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Light_Sussex_rooster_-_Collingwood_Children%27s_Farm.

This Sussex is named after it’s location of origin Sussex, England and is among the oldest of British breeds. In fact, the first ever poultry show was held in London in 1845. One of the first exhibits was a chicken breed simply called Sussex or Kentish Fowl. This was the beginnings of the “Sussex Breed”. Although Kent was mentioned, the birds’ were thereafter addressed only as Sussex.

The Sussex is a very ancient breed in Englands history. Records show that the Sussex dates back to the time of the Roman Invasion of 43 A.D. Of course they looked nothing like they do today but their origins are anything but new.

The time of breeding and various color varieties came about when hen fever hit England in the Victorian Era. The Sussex was breed with other Heritage Breeds such as the Cochin and Brahma to get today’s look of a robust and well-proportioned bird. Today there are several colors available such as red and speckled, brown, buff, white, silver. However, The American Poultry Association only recognized Red and Speckled. Speckled is a beautiful bird which sports a mahogany and while speckled plumage. With successive molts the color get better. The Light is the coloration most associated with this breed. Birds’ with light coloration have white bodies with black neck and tail feathers.

Other chicken keepers and friends that I have talked to say that this breed is docile and friendly. They are easy to handle and love to forage. They are very thrifty, if they are allowed to free range they are able to gather most of their needs from this activity. Several of my friends have said that they are very curious and will follow their keepers around the yard. They enjoy attention and are very interactive and talkative with their keepers.

As for laying potential , they are good layers laying about 4-5 brown eggs a week. They will continue to lay through the winter when most other breeds have shut down production for the year. They only take a break from laying during molting.

Some keepers have said that they have a tendency to go broody and make good mothers. A fellow poultry keeper and friend of mine says that she has two girls who happily sit on eggs every year hatching and raise clutches of chicks for her. She loves her Sussex momma hens and can count on them to give her new chicks every spring.

In my interview process, one downfall of the breed was mentioned. This breed has a tendency towards obesity. If you want them fattened for the table that is fine, but if you want them to continue to ay eggs, than you need to keep their diet and weight in check. They best way to do this is to keep treats to a minimum and only allow them to get their nutrition from a quality feed and foregoing.

The Sussex is a great breed to have around children, they enjoy the company of their keepers, are talkative, loved being held and stroked. They are low mainenance and are thriftily if allowed to free range.

Leghorn:

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leghorn_cockerel_and_hen.

Foghorn Leghorn, for those that remember Loony Tunes cartoons, Foghorn was the Rooster who was always being tortured by a little chicken hawk. He was probably the best known Leghorn chicken in the world! These two characters are my favorite Loony Tunes. Foghorn Leghorn as his name suggests is a Leghorn Cock. In his honor, the next Heritage Breed that I will give honorable mention to is the Leghorn.

The Leghorn’s originated in Tuscany, in central Italy. The breed was introduced to North America in 1828 from the port city of Livorno. In America they were originally called “Italians”, by 1865 the breed was known as “Leghorn”.

The exact history of the Leghorn breed is unknown. There were several small breeds of land chickens roaming in the region of Tuscany Italy. From these, the Leghorn was born. When the Leghorn made it to the UK in 1870 the English did not like the small body of the Leghorn. So It was crossed with the Minorca to give it a more robust frame. Despite the breeding the Leghorn still remains a relatively thin bird.

Contrary to popular opinion, Leghorn’s come in a variety of colors black, brown, white, buff, and silver or grey. The breed was admitted to the American Poultry Association in 1874.

A few friends and fellow backyard chicken enthusiasts of mine report that the Leghorn is a very intelligent and resourceful bird. They are able to find much of their food on their own if allowed to free range which reduces the feed bill. They are good flyers and will often fly into trees to roost if allowed. They can be a bit noisy, definitely not a good breed for an urban setting.

Another friend of mine said that they are a lot like the Polish breed. They get bored easily so a keeper needs to proved plenty of room and things to do if they are confined to a pen. They are also a bit aloof from human contact not really interested in interacting with their keepers.

As for laying potential they are good layers, laying about 230-320 eggs per year. That’s about 5+ eggs a week, making Leghorn hens an egg laying machine. For this reason they make a great staple for a farm setting. They are not very broody, in fact its very rare for a Leghorn hen to go broody. If a hen accidentally hatches a chick they make terrible mothers. If you want to procreate your flock its best to use an incubator or broody hen from another breed such as the Silkie to raise the chicks for you.

If you want a chicken breed that is cuddly and friendly, the Leghorn is not the way to go. However, if you don’t want to make friends of your backyard chickens and just want eggs, they are a great choice. Additionally, if allowed to free range they are very self-sufficient reducing the feed bill making them relatively cheap to keep.

Brahma:

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leghorn_cockerel_and_hen.

The Brahma is an American Breed of chicken. It was developed in the United States from birds imported from China and was the principle American meat bird from 1850 until about 1930.

Few breeds have as much controversy as to their origins as does the Brahma Chicken. While widely varied claims were originally accepted by early poultry associations, the truth of the matter is that this breed was developed in America by breeding a very large fowl imported from China.

At first there were many different strains and at least a dozen names for the breed. At a meeting in Boston in 1852 an agreement was reached to name it “Brahmapootra” which later was shortened to just “Brahma”. From the beginning Brahmas have been recognized not only for their incredible size but for their practical qualities. Brahmas are very harty and good egg layers. Considered great winter layers, Brahma’s will lay right through the winter only talking a break during molt.

Farmed for its size and known as the “King of Chickens”, the Brahma chicken is appreciated for its great size, strength and vigor. These birds are huge, males can grow to reach 17-18 pounds and the hens can reach anywhere from 13-15 pounds. A typical Brahma Rooster can stand 30 inches tall. Despite its impressive size, the breed is known to be very docile and friendly.

I have one backyard chicken friend who has these impressive birds. She described their disposition as gentile and non-aggressive. It can be easy to be intimated by these giants but there temperament does not match their stature. They are friendly and docile with a calm disposition. They are very easy to handle but due to their weight they can become heavy quickly.

They make great mothers and are committed to sitting on the nest. However, due to the size of the hen a keeper needs to keep a close eye on the chick for the first few days. The small chick can be easily injured or killed if it is accidentally stepped on by the mother hen.

If allowed to free range they are well adapted to forage for food making them a self sustaining breed. They are an excellent breed to have with children present. Although very large they are very docile and non-aggressive. They make a great choice for 4H projects. If you choose to keep these massive birds make sure that the coop is large enough to accommodate their larger than average size. The roosts need to be larger and sturdy, pens and nesting boxes need to be larger as well.

Although known as the “King of Chickens”, the Brahmas are second in line in size, surpassed by the Jersey Giant. The next Heritage Breed I will examine is the largest of all chicken breeds.

Jersey Giant:

Image Credit:

The Jersey Giant as its name suggests is the largest and heaviest of all chicken breeds. It was created in Burlington County, New Jersey in the late 19th century. The roosters top out about 17-19 pounds while the hens top out around 13-15 pounds. The males stand between 28-30 inches tall, the hens being 16-20 inches tall. Making these birds at eye level with the Brahma and slightly heavier.

The Jersey Giant was originally breed to create a chicken that could potentially replace the turkey as a premium table bird. During breeding several large breeds were used the Black Java’s, Dark Brahmas and Black Langshans.

As far as egg laying in concerned, the hens tend to lay more eggs than those of other heavy breeds. The eggs are extra-large in size with color varying from dark brown to light cream.

I have an on-line fellow backyard chicken keeper who raises this breed. She described the temperament of the Jersey Giant as docile , mellow and friendly. Even the roosters are very docile and tame. She keeps her flock of Jersey Giants as pets rather than their intended purpose. They are very good with her kids. Her children were at one point afraid of them but now they have grown to love their backyard giants.

According to her, the hens don’t really go broody. They may act like they want to sit on the nest but lose interest soon after. She uses an incubator to procreate her flock. They free range and forage well. Due to their large size they are not easy prey for hawks. Egg laying is good, hens lay about 150-200 eggs per year, that’s about 2-4 eggs per week. The eggs are very large, a bit larger than X-large eggs sold in the stores. They vary between cream, light and medium brown in color.

The Jersey Giant is an impressive bird worthy of the time and effort required to raise them. Due to their large size they require lots of space as to avoid problems caused by over crowding. This is one breed that I have wanted to keep but due to my space limitation my property is not well suited. But for those who have the space and requirements necessary to keep them they would be well worth the time.

Dominique:

Image Credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DominiqueCockZeus.

The Dominique, also known as the dominicker or Pilgrim Fowl, is a breed that was developed in the United States during the colonial period. It is considered America’s first chicken breed. It is most likely descended from chickens brought to New England from southern England during colonial times.

The Dominique could be found on farms far and wide until about the 1920’s when the breed waned due to the passing of long time Dominique enthusiasts and breeders. Due to its hardiness and ease of up-keep the breed survived the Great Depression. By the end of World War II the breed once again experienced decline. By the 1970’s only 4 known flocks remained. The remaining owners were contacted and participated in a breed rescue program to save the Dominique. From 1983 till about 2006, Dominiques numbers steadily rose again. As of 2007 numbers are once again starting to fall, placing the breed on The Livestock conservancy’s “watch” list. If there is one breed that we as backyard chicken keepers should take interest in, its this one. It is only through the efforts of backyard chicken keepers that this breed will escape extinction.

As expected from the breeds history, I have no backyard enthusiast friends that currently keep this breed. However, according to my research, this breed is first and foremost an egg producer. Hens average between 230-275 small to medium-size brown eggs a year. That averages to about 3-4 eggs per week.

The disposition of the Dominique is said to be sweet, gentile, calm and docile. They are friendly often following their owners around the yard hoping for treats. The hens are said to occasionally be broody and are good mothers, attentive to their chicks.

The Dominique is robust and hardy with little in the way of health issues. They are low maintenance and quite self-sufficient thus they make a great breed for first time chicken owners.

Although breeding programs have been successful, the numbers of Dominique chickens worldwide remain very low. With the surge of the backyard chicken movement numbers are holding steady. It is only through backyard chicken enthusiasts that this breed still exists. If there is one breed that needs our help as chicken keepers, its this one. I plan to add a few Dominiques to my flock as soon as I can.

The New Hampshire:

Image Credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:New_Hampshire_Red_Hen.

The New Hampshire is an American Breed that originated in the state of New Hampshire. Using Rhode Island Reds, poultry farmers performed selective breeding generation after generation to create a bird that grew rapidly, feathered faster, matured earlier and had greater vigor. The resulting product was The New Hampshire Red a close cousin to the Rhode Island Red. The Breed was admitted into the American Standard of Perfection in 1935.

The New Hampshire is a relatively new breed, roughly the same size as the Rhode Island Red. The hens are good layers producing about 200 large light brown eggs a year. This equates to about 3 eggs a week. It is a family friendly bird, making great pets, due to ease of care they are a good breed for first time chicken keepers.

If you are looking for a bird that is good for both meat and egg laying, this is the breed for you. Due to aggressive breeding they are generally disease resistant, cold hearty and robust.

Mayans: Black Copper

Image Credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuckoo_Marans.

The breed that seems to be all the range today are the Mayans. Relatively new to the backyard chicken scene, the Marans have been around since the 1900’s. A French breed, originated in the port town of Marans, in Nouvelle-Aquitaine a region of south-western France. The Marans are descended from feral fighting game chickens imported from Indonesia and India. A favorite at poultry shows, they are known for laying extremely dark eggs.

There are 9 recognized colors in the French Standard: cuckoo, golden cuckoo, black, birchen, black copper, wheaten, black-tailed, buff, white and Colombian. Of these, the black copper is the favorite among backyard chicken enthusiasts.

These birds are absolutely beautiful, pictures do not do them justice. They have a remarkable plumage. The overall body feathers are deep black which gleam with a green iridescence in the sunlight. The hackle feather are a reddish/coppery tone, contrasting nicely with the black body feathers.

The Marans are a new breed in the United States, accepted by the American Poultry Association is 2011- a recent arrival.

I have a few fellow chicken keeper friends who raise this breed. They are said to have a quiet disposition, gentile and friendly. The roosters have a tendency to be a bit confrontational with other roosters. The hens are docile but are not lap chickens like some other breeds. They are a very active breed and enjoy free ranging.

Marans are renowned for their very dark brown/chocolate eggs. The hens are good layers, giving you around 3 eggs/week, which works out to about 150-200 eggs/year.

Marans are considered to be rare in the United States. They are much more common in their home land of France. They are one of the more expensive breeds to purchase from hatcheries, single chicks ranging between $10-20. Once established, they make quite a statement in your flock.

Hamburg:

Image Credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Silver-Spangled_Hamburg_Sam_dinner.

The Hamburg chicken is one of the several breeds that most resemble the chickens of the wild. Hamburg chickens were found in Holland in the 14th century but its unclear when they first arrived. Around 1785 Hamburgs made their way to England. Later in 1856 Hamburgs were embraced in America and were desired for their egg production potential.

As a breed, Hamburgs possess great activity and alertness. Hens are known to prefer nesting in hedges and have a habit of roosting at night in trees. During their time in England it was believed that the Hamburgs were a hybrid across between wild chickens and pheasants. Hamburgs are prolific egg layers of small white eggs. The breed’s true gift is their ability to lay a large number of eggs over several years. They mature early, reaching laying age at about 4-5 months, 2-3 months earlier than most laying breeds.

Like the Polish, Hamburgs tend to be flap-happy and flightly. They have tendencies to fly away. It is not uncommon for keepers to find them perching and roosting high in trees. For this reason it is best for keepers to keep them contained to a roomy Pen. To keep this breed happy, pens need to have a lot of verticle space with plenty of roosting options, heigh roosts are preferable. They are one of the more noises breeds, definitely not a good choice for Urban backyard chicken keepers.

Hamburgs are considered rare in the United States. They can be acquired from breeders or hatcheries that specializes in rare and very rare breeds. If kept they will be a spice of life in your coop.

I think I’m going to cut it off here. This post has already become lengthy, possibly the longest post I have ever composed. However, I feel it is important to acquaint you with some of the Heritage Breeds that shaped our past and now our further. There are many more Heritage breeds to talk about, the ones I mentioned are some of the more popular ones kept by backyard chicken enthusiasts.

As backyard chicken keepers we are the conservationists keeping many of these breeds from extinction. Since the meat and egg industry have no need for these birds it is though our passions that they still exist. Breeds such as the Dominique really need our help to keep them round for generations to come. Without our efforts and interest our Heritage Breeds would be lost forever a victim of the passage of time. Many of us keep chickens as a connection to the past, simpler days of a bygone era. Our feathered friends carry with them history as many of our grandparents and ancestors kept the same breeds that now roam our backyards.

I hope that you enjoyed this post, and maybe even enlightened you to the importance of our Heritage Breeds. If you have any questions please leave a comment, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

As always, thank for reading. Till next time, keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

Resources: The Livestock Conservancy https://www.livestockconservancy.org/

Photos: Wiki Creative Commons, myself and fellow poultry enthusiasts.

 

My Favorite Rooster Breeds

When acquiring a backyard chicken flock, most people chose a flock of ladies. But for those who want a rooster or two but are apprehensive as to which bread to choose, this post is for you.

My flock total clocks in at around 50, 30 or so hens and around 20 gents. The majority of my gents are broken up into four bachelor pens. A bachelor pen is a coop/pen assigned to just roosters. There are no ladies with the gents in their bachelor digs. Contrary to prevailing opinion, roosters can and do cohabitate well together. But there are some tricks to it. To learn about bachelor pens chick here . The rest of the gents are broken up amongst the coops that contain the ladies. I have three large coops that house my girls, within each of these pens I have two roosters. These gents care for and protect the ladies while they are out in the backyard free ranging. That means on any given day when the ladies are outside, I have 6 roosters in the yard with them.

For anyone who associates roosters with the nasty, blood thristy and aggressive barnyard bird stereotype, you may be thinking, that’s a lot of testosterone to have running around uncontained. Or is it?

Roosters unfortunately fall prey to a negative stereotype however, in reality they are not as aggressive as many think. Many people think roosters are as bad to the bone as they come, I beg to differ. Have you ever met a broody hen?

The roosters of yesteryear that haunt the dreams of those who have had negative encounters with them are often plagued by the game cock or other game birds. Yes, those guys can be a bit high strung and aggressive. However, due to the variety of breeds available the majority of roosters today are very docile and calm. Gone are the days of your grandparents flock which contained the rooster that starred in your nightmares. Many people today keep chickens for fun and eggs. Although some keep chicken for meat the majority of keepers are hobby enthusiasts. Thus, the breeds available today are suited for these purposes. That being said, below I will detail my favorite rooster breeds and why. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Buff Orphington:

The first stud that I will present for condiseration is the Orphington. My very first rooster was Roy, he was my first introduction to the worth and value of a rooster to a flock. Orphingtons as a breed are known as the “Golden Retrievers” of the chicken world. Their demeanor is calm, friendly, and low key. They are big balls of feathers, looking bigger than they actually are. Roy was much the same. He had a job to do and took it seriously but he was a gently giant. In my presence he was very calm and relaxed. He would beg me for treats that he could then distribute to his ladies. He was in one word a gentlemen. One day I witnessed his heroic efforts to save my girls from a hawk. He was prepared to lay down his life for his ladies until I heard his frantic call and came to his rescue. Had I not heard his cry that day I hate to think what I would have come home to. Lucky I was home and chased the hawk off of him. He made a full recover from his injuries and lived on several more years as the decorated protector of the flock. He passed away several years ago. I never thought I would miss a rooster so much. He taught me a lot about chickens and about the sacrificial nature of a rooster. Ever since Roy I have fallen in love with roosters. They are today one of my favorite creatures worthy of all the respect and admiration they deserve.

Cochin:

The next stud to introduce you to is Enigma. Enigma is a Motted Cochin Bantam. Like the Orphingtons, Cochins are also big balls of feathers. The cochin is a very docile and friendly breed. They girls make excellent mothers and the gents make excellent roosters. No bigger than he is, Enigma has established himself as the alpha rooster of the chicken yard, all the other guys answer to him. He is a very sweet rooster and takes very good care of his girls. He is calm around humans and will even allow me to pick him up for his health inspections without much issue. He too will beg me for treats that he can offer to his girls. He allows the girls to eat first and then if there is anything left he will partake. When free ranging outside he will often follow me hoping that I can give him a morsel to take to his favorite lady. I often time feel like a vending machine waiting to fill his order. Out of all my boys, Enigma is my favorite.

Polish:

These next guys with the fabulous hair are Polishes. Polishes are my favorite breed, I have more of them than any other breed on my farm. The Polishes are known as the “comedians” of the chicken world. As a breed the they are very curious and high strung. Due to their fabulous crests, their vision is limited thus everything spooks them, simple objects like their own dinner, coop mates, or surroundings will startle them. Due to their limited vision however they need to remain in the safety of a covered pen to protect them and their ladies from predation. I only allow my polish flocks out when I am in the backyard with them either working in the gardens or just chilling with my peeps. This aside, the Polish gents make great roosters for a keeper who does not mind their antics. They are very easy to pick up and hold and due to their limited vision. They are a bit high strung only because they cannot see well which is part of what makes the Polish such and entertaining breed to own. They easily get themselves into trouble and then cannot see well enough to get themselves out of it. Keeping this breed requires some planning on the keepers part. Because they are very curious they need a variety of entertainment sources while they are confined to their pens. Simple things like mealworms to scratch around for in the shaving or a bottle filled with scratch with small holes that they have to extract the scratch from. I  place parrot toys in their pens to give them something to play with. They will happily peck and play with the hanging toys all the while being spooked by it at the same time. They really are an endless form of entertainment in the backyard. The ladies will often perch on their keepers legs or arms making great lap chickens.

Silkie:

 

The second most numerous flock I have on my farm are the Silkies. Silkies are known as the “Teddy Bears” of the chicken world. Due to their feathers that are “fur-like” they are the cuddle bunnies of the flock. Silkies as a breed are known world over for being very docile, friendly, and calm. They are voted time and time again as the best breed to have for kids who want a coop of chickens to care for. I currently have a flock of 14 Silkies, 6 are roosters. Two roosters are in the coop with the ladies, the rest are in a bachelor pen I have set up for my access Silkie studs. My Silkie gents are very will behaved. They are not aggressive and will actually run from me when I try to pick them up. They are very shy and timid. The ladies are very friendly and enjoy interactions with their care takers. I have no trouble with my Silkie roosters at all. Like the Polish, its best to keep Silkies in the protection of a covered coop and pen unless you are outside with them. Due to their overwhelmingly shy and timid nature they would rather run from a predator than protect the ladies like most roosters do. When I can get ahold of the guys they are very docile and calm in my hands as I hold them. They would rather hide under a rock but are very easy going if I need to handle them.

Easter Eggers:

The final two guys I am going to introduce you too are Dracula and Frankenstein. These two guys are Easter Eggers and although not known as an exceptionally docile breed, these two boys are well behaved. I typically buy my chicks from hatcheries, however, last year I bought 6 chicks from my local feed store. 4 of the chicks I purchased were girls the other two are boys; Dracula and Frankenstein. The girls are in the Kuntry Klucker pen with Enigma, so these two studs are in a bachelor pen. They cohabitate very well and are very happy living up the single life in their bachelor digs.

cropped-backyard-blooming-4.jpg

While there are many more breeds available, the breeds listed I have first hand experience with and can vouch for their temperament and disposition. Most roosters with the exception of the Polish and Silkie in my experience have a job to do and take it seriously. That aside, roosters are readily able to tell that their keeper is an ally and not an enemy. Providing food and treats for the girls only further establishes the keepers role as a friend and helper and not an enemy.

IMG_5385

Like any other subject there are always outliers, members that deviate from the norm. Roosters are no different, they are very much individuals, however as a whole the temperament of the breed does play a major part in the behavior of the gents. I have 20 or so roosters, the majority residing in bachelor pens. I do not have a problem with any one of my boys. Even the guys that are in the bachelor digs are very well behaved and display a temperament true of their breed. The two Easter Egger roosters that I have Dracula and Frankenstein are even very well mannered even though as a whole their breed does not agree. Thus, it is even possible to have a breed that is not renowned for being docile and calm and still end up with very friendly roosters.

I hope that this post has been helpful for those thinking about acquiring roosters for or with their spring chickens. It is very possible to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to keeping roosters. Selecting gents from breeds that are well known for being calm and docile is an excellent place to start. If you have any questions please feel to leave a comment, I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading, till next time keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

 

 

 

 

 

My top 5 Favorite Chicken Breeds.

 

 

Sorry it has been a while since I last posted. I took some time off during the summer for family vacations and such. But now I am back and ready to get back into blogging about Backyard Chickens. For those who regularly follow me, thank you for your continued support and for newcomers to The Kuntry Klucker, welcome to the coop. Ok, without further ado lets dive into the wonderful world of chickens.

 

I am often asked by potential chickens keepers which breed is best. Well, it depends on what you are looking for in your backyard flock. Do you want them for eggs, show girls for the fair, or backyard companionship. I am not versed on raising chickens for meat sorry, I cannot speak into that. However, there are many videos on youtube for those who choose to take that route with their flock. As for me, my girls are pets and considered family that happens to live in the backyard and make us breakfast.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. To answer this question I am going to list my top 5 favorite chicken breeds. Starting with number 5 and ending at 1 my absolute favorite.

5. Easter Egger:

IMG_5318

The Easter Egger gets its name from the colorful eggs that they lay. Each hen will have her own color that she will lay. The colors range from grey, blue, green, pink, to white or light brown. They are also sometimes referred to the rainbow layer. This year was my first exposure to this breed. Earlier this spring I picked up 6 EE’s at my local Tractor Supply, 4 hens and 2 roosters. My girls started laying about a month ago, so far the eggs are pullet size but getting larger. The egg colors I collect range between a light brown to pick. So far I do not have any blue or green egg shell layers. I was rather disappointed in this but love my ladies nonetheless. Temperament wise, they EE’s are very docile and curious. They follow me around the backyard as I do the chores for the day. They are very friendly and wonderful around my kids. I cannot say that these ladies are very broody but time may tell on that one. The two roosters that I have Dracula and Frankenstein are well behaved for roosters. They are bit wilder than my other rooster breeds, but all in all I would say they are on the docile side of the rooster aggressiveness specturm. I would get this breed again in the future.

4. Cochin:

 

 

I have 3 verities of Cochins. Frezzle, Black, and Motted all are bantams. I acquired this gang of Bantam Cochins going on 4 years ago. They are very friendly, look larger than they really are due to all their plumage, and very docile. Enigna, my Motted Cochin rooster is very well behaved. He has established himself as the Alpha rooster in my backyard flock. For no bigger than he is, he is quite the fearless rooster. He takes good care of all his ladies and is tolerant of humans being in his space. If some of the other roosters get too close to his girls he will run them off but never causes trouble. Devros is the current holder of the troublesome rooster title, but I will get to him later. These ladies despite their low egg laying potential lay straight through the winter. Their eggs are smaller due to their bantam size but are very dependable. These are the dolls of the backyard, the frizzle feathers on some of the hens are a show stopper. People often ask me what kind that chicken is. Many love their unique look and enjoy watching them effortlessly float across the yard as they run from place to place in the backyard. Keeping this breed is an absolute joy, I will most definitely keep this breed in the future.

3. Buff Orphington

 

The first flock which set into motion my adventure in keeping backyard chickens was a flock of 17 Buff Orphingtons. Little did I know what joys were in store when they first arrived at my door. I chose the Buff Orhpington as my starter breed due their renowned calm and docile personality. Legends of being a great breed for new chickens owners held true to the source. Today I have 5 of the original 17 Buff Orphingtons that I started with. Those remaining celebrated 9 years of living the good life here as Kuntry Klucker Farm residents. I love these girls for several reasons, I will list a few here for you.

First, these ladies are some of the best eggs layers. Even at their ripe old age of 9, these ladies still give me an egg most days. They will stop laying in the coldest part of winter and during molt, but for the most part they are still very dependable.

Second, they make excellent mothers. Every spring I can usually count on one of my Buff Orphingtons ladies going broody (meaning they want to sit on the nest and hatch chicks). For a self sufficient backyard chicken keeper such as myself this is great. I am able to grow my flock without having to purchase chicks. All of the chicks raised by one of my broody Buff momma’s have grown to be a wonderful additions to my backyard flock. Additionally, I have even had a successful  broody adoption by one of my broody mommas.  Several years ago, one of the chicks I ordered was struggling and needed a little help thriving. Miss Katie adopted the little White Crested Polish chick and raised her for me. The little one tuned into one of my most beautiful show girls which we named Aphrodite (read this adorable story here). If it was not for Miss Katie I am sure that I would the lost the little chick due to it frail nature. But luckily Miss Katie adopted her and the little one thrived under the care of a broody momma.

Third, due to their age, my remaining 5 Buff Orphingtons make excellent teachers. Over the years I have brought in new chicks from time to time. I raise them by hand then when they are old enough move them to the backyard. When a new batch of newcomers arrive in the backyard my Buff Orphington ladies take it upon themselves to show them the ropes. I have often many times come to the backyard and witnessed my Buff ladies leading the new ones around the the yard. The new arrivals follow them learning about the various hot spots in the yard, such essentials as the dust bath holes, clover patch for great greens, which garden plants have the best bugs, the watering hole, where to stay cool in the summer heat, and where to lay eggs. They have taken it upon themselves to be the welcoming committee in the backyard. As the oldest members of my flock, they have more than earned that position.

Finally, the attribute that I love most about the Buff Orphington breed is their friendliness. The are known as the “Golden Retrievers” of the chicken world. These ladies are very loyal, they greet me when ever I come to the backyard, they love to be held, and enjoy jumping on my lap for some petting and attention. They are indeed very lovable and more like dogs than chickens. As I go about doing the days chores they will follow me around keeping me company and interacting. These ladies are indeed the stars of my flock. I will most definitely make sure that I always have Buff Orphintgon’s amongst my backyard flock.

2. Silkie

 

Silkies, what is there not to love about this adorable Asian Breed. Known as the “Teddy Bears” of the chicken world, this breed is amongst the best for kids. As my boys grew older they wanted in on the backyard chicken business. However, they did not want to just help me with taking care of the chickens, they wanted their own flock of chickens to take care of. After doing some research, I found that one of the best breeds for kids to interact with are the Silkies. I never had Silkies before, so this was a new adventure for me.

After the little ones arrived, grew, and moved to the backyard we were thrilled at how adorable these little balls of fluff are. The Silkie is an Asian breed brought to the America’s via the Silk Road (a large training route throughout the Eastern World frequented by Western World Traders). Marco Polo even mentioned a “Furry Chicken” in his journal that he kept during his trip though China. So the Silkie is an old ancient breed one with much history.

But for our purposes Silkies are one of my favorite breeds. Although not known for dependable layers the Silkies give in many other ways. Silkie hens make great mothers. So much so, that I often have the problem of more broody Silkies than I have eggs for. Between my Buff Orphingtons and Silkies I will ALWAYS have a broody hen ready for the job of raising babies for me. Miss Donna, raised a clutch of 7 for me earlier this spring. All the little ones grew into beautiful birds that my kids enjoy interacting with.

Even the rooster are well behaved. I currently have 7 Silkie Roosters in my flock. All get alone well with each other and with the other roosters in the yard, well, except one. Devros is my barnyard trouble maker. He is not aggressive but tends to skirt the territorial lines set by some of the other roosters in my backyard flock. He thinks that he is  big bad bird, but realisticllay he’s not much bigger than a chicken nugget. Out of all my rooster (I have 18) he is the only one who likes to make a fuss. We keep him because he is so funny to watch. But even then for a rooster he is very well behaved.

One draw back of the Silkie is their feathers. Silkies get them name in part due to the fact that their feathers feel more like fur than feathers. This is because the feathers of the Silkie lack barbicels (those are the hooks that hold the feathers together giving them a sleek smooth appearance). The main feathering looks just like the under-down of regular chickens. The fact that the feathers do not hold together means a Silkie cannot fly. It also means that the feathering is not waterproofed and so a wet Silkie is a pathetic sight to see. For this reason, an owner keeping Silkies needs to make sure that they have a clean and dry coop to call home. During the cooler and rainy months extra attention needs to be given to make sure they stay clean and dry. If they do get significantly wet, they need to be towel dried or even blow dried – which they enjoy if it is done on a regular basis.

Silkie chickens are famous for their docile, sweet and nurturing temperament. Unlike most chickens that get excited as soon as the coop is opened, Silkie remains calm and collected. They enjoy getting up close and personal with their human caretakers. They enjoy being cuddled and groomed, making them excellent pets for kids. Their docile natures make them suitable for smaller backyards or small farms. When free ranging in a backyard setting or open space, they stick close to home not roaming too far. Silkies are our calm in an otherwise hectic world.

1. White Crest Polish

 

 

Without a doubt, the White Crested Polish is my favorite breed. We happened into these classy girls when my younger son decided he too wanted some chickens of his own to care for. We did some research on various breeds and found that the Polish like the Silkies are great breeds to have around kids. We already had a coop full of Silkies so we decided to bring this new Polish breed into our backyard chicken paradise.

From the get go we were smitten by these little top hat ladies. Even as chicks they had a little poof of feather on their head. In addition to looks, these girls have a delightful demeanor. Due to diminished vision, a consequence of their glorious crests, they will happily sit in the protection of their owners lap. Polishes become very attached to their owners often following them around the yard much like a dog. They crave human interaction and are happiest in the company of their owners. They get very excited when we come to the backyard, run, or coop. They want to follow us around and tell us all about their day. They eagerly bock, squeak, or trill all the details of their adventures. For this reason they are one of the noisier breeds, but that’s okay, because we cannot imagine our chicken yard without them.

Another benefit of this breed is that broodiness is not a trait that is possessed by the Polish chicken, broodiness is the desire to incubate eggs and hatch chicks. Some breeds are prone to broodiness such as the Silkie and Orphington, the polish is one of the few breeds that are not. Because of this, they will continue to lay eggs but they are not prolific layers like other breeds, they only lay about 120 small white eggs a year.

We are not too concerned about this aspect of the Polish because I have plenty of other breeds that lay well. I was attracted to the White Crested Polish for their distinguished looks and delightful personality. They are a bit high strung which only makes them that much more fun. My son absolutely loves his flock of WCP and cannot imagine his life without them. I will for the rest of my life always keep a small flock of White Crested Polishes. They are a fancy chicken for those who like to add a little class to their backyard flock.

I hope that you found this post helpful. If you are looking to start a small flock of chickens for you backyard, look into these breeds. You may find that like us they may be perfect for you.

As always, thanks for reading. If you have any question please leave them in the comments. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Till next time, keep on crowing.

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

cropped-apollo-and-rory-3

 

 

 

5 Reasons To Love Silkie Chickens.

Silkies, they have been called fluff-balls, aliens from another world, teddy bears and many other things in between.

Without a doubt they certainly are unusual looking chickens!

Aside from their unusual looks they are among the friendliest breed, great mothers, and voted times over the best chickens for kids.

Today we will discuss why we here at The Kuntry Klucker Farm love our Silkies and a bit about their history.

First the history. How did they get here and where did they come from?

IMG_2700

The Slikies are an ancient breed probably of Chinese or Japanese origin. It is believed by poultry experts that the Silkies date as far back as the Chinese Han Dynasty a time around 206BCE.

The Silkie was first mentioned by Marco Polo in his journals on his trip across China, Europe, and the Far Middle East (around 1290-1300). He recorded it in his journal referencing a “furry chicken”.

The Silkie slowly made it was to the western world by means of the The Silk Road a large trading route in the Eastern world. The Ancient Silk Road stretched from China to modern day Iraq. There were numerous other trading routs in the ancient times but The Silk Road was the primary trading route used by the Western World Traders.

After Marco Polo’s mention about a “furry chicken” there was not much said about the Silkie till about 1598. Ulisse Aldrovandi a writer and naturalist at the University of Bologna, Italy, published a work on a “wool-bearing chicken”. He described it as “clothed with hair like that of a black cat”.

After Silkies made it to the Western world the breed was recognized officially in North America with acceptance into the Standard of Perfection in 1874.

In the 21st century, Silkies are one of the most popular and ubiquitous ornamental breeds of chicken. They are often kept as ornamental fowl or pet chickens by backyard keepers, and are commonly used to incubate and raise the offspring of other chickens and waterfowl. Silkies are valued for their broodiness. It has been said that a Silkie could hatch rock, I will explain this more detail a little later.

For now lets get to it, 5 reasons why we love our resident Silkies here at The Kuntry Klucker Farm.

1. Silkies are the friendlies of all chicken breeds.

IMG_5066.jpg

Silkies are most definiely a kids chicken. Due to their very docile and easy going temperament, Silkies are a favorite amongst chicken keepers with kids. Silkies tolerate handling very well and will even jump on an owners lap for cuddles and to be petted. Even the roosters are well behaved and even tempered. I have two roosters in my flock of silkies, they take excellent care of the girls and get along with each other quite well. If you are looking to involve children in keeping backyard chickens Silkies are a great breed to have. Be warned though, they are not the most productive egg layers. They will lay about 120 eggs per year. But don’t let that turn you off from having a small flock of Silkies, they make up for the reduced egg count in many other ways. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Silkies make excellent mothers.

IMG_4851

It is often said among chicken entuists that a broody Silkie could hatch rock, and it’s true. Silkies are known for their broodiness, when in the broody mindset they will sit on just about anything. Broody Silkies have been known to gather just about anything that resembles an egg and attempt to incubate it. Items such as rocks, lightbulbs, golf balls, even abandoned baby animals such as a bunny or kitten have been found under a broody hen. Chicken keepers like myself actually keep them in my flock for this exact reason.

I am not one who likes to fool with incubators, I tried it once, its just too much work for me. I would rather leave the incubating to a mother equipped for such a job. When I need to increase the number of a particular breed in my flock, I gather 4-6 eggs and put them under a broody Silkie. Fortunately, I am usually able to find a broody Silkie or in some cases just give them eggs, a quiet place, and they will sit on them for me. In return I get a hands off and trouble free incubator and brooder that raise the chicks for me. It really is that easy!

IMG_4839

Currently I have a broody Silkie Hen Donna, raising a clutch of 7 Silkie chicks for me. We needed some more Silkies so instead of ordering from a hatchery and managing a brooder, I just took a few eggs and put them under her. She successfully hatched and is raising 7 precious chicks for me. Below is a video of Miss Donna and her adorable brood.

 

Although not prolific eggs producers, Silkies contribute to a small chicken farm in other ways. I love my Silkies, they have such a sweet temperament which brings me to my next point.

      3. Silkie Chickens are Masters of Calm and Zen

IMG_1457

Silkie chickens are famous for their docile, sweet and nurturing temperament. Unlike most chickens that get excited as soon as the coop is opened, Silkie remains calm and collected. They enjoy getting up close and personal with their human caretakers. They enjoy being cuddled and groomed, making them excellent pets for kids. Their docile natures make them suitable for smaller backyards or small farms. When free ranging in a backyard setting or open space, they stick close to home not roaming too far. Silkies are your calm in an otherwise hectic world.

4. Fabulous from their Feathers down to their 5 Toes.

IMG_0921

Silkies are simply a cut above the rest in the looks department with those frizzy, fluffy, puffy feathers that make them look like a cuddly teddy bear only with feathers. Their feathers lack barbicels (those are the hooks that hold the feathers together), hence the fluffy appearance.

The main feathering looks just like the under-down of regular chickens. The fact that the feathers do not hold together means a Silkie cannot fly. It also means that the feathering is not waterproofed and so a wet Silkie is a pathetic sight to see. For this reason, an owner keeping Silkies needs to make sure that they have a clean and dry coop to call home. During the cooler and rainy months extra attention needs to be given to make sure they stay clean and dry. If they do get significantly wet, they need to be towel dried or even blow dried – which they enjoy if it is done on a regular basis.

One feature that I really love is the fact that their ear lobes are blue. Most chickens have red, white, or black ear lobes so the blue of a Silkie just looks stunning. In fact the blue lobes are an indication that the birds comes from pure breed stock. Silkies that are mixed with other breeds often loose the signature blue lobes.

Another fun feature are the feet. Silkies have 5 toes as opposed to the typical 4 of other breeds. I am not sure what the function of the 5th toe is for, nonetheless it adds to their all over adorable appearance.

5. The Teddy Bears of the Barn yard

IMG_4954.jpg

With their fluffy appearance and rounded body silhouette, Silkies look just like teddy bears with two legs and 5 toes. These cute and quirky girls love nothing more than being tucked under your arm for a little bit of TLC, just like child tucks a teddy bear under their arm. They are so calm and comfortable with humans, many people think of them as little cats or dogs. At the end of the day Silkies are the backyard pet that is sweet, kind and loveable. Silkie chickens are the literal definition of all things cute and cuddly.

Best of all, due to their docile temperament they make great backyard pets for kids. My boys wanted some chickens of their own that they could take care of. After constructing a coop for their chooks, I ordered a small clutch of Silkies for my boys. They were immediately enamored with the cute fluff balls due to their unusual teddy bear like appearance. My boys very quickly fall in love with their small backyard flock of silkie chickens.

Although Silkies are not known for setting egg laying records, they lay enough to keep my boys happy. They love to collect the eggs and spend time with their backyard fluff balls. Even the two Silkie roosters that we have a well behaved and gentile. My boys can pick them up just as easily as the hens in the flock. Silkie’s are without doubt the best breed for kids.

IMG_4465

With their fluffy appearance, 5 toes, and great temperament Siklies make a great addition to any backyard setting. Due to these attributes it is best that they have a coop of their own separate from larger more aggressive breeds. Their unique feathering also means that they do not tolerate being wet. If you live in a climate prone to long wet seasons make sure that they have a clean and dry place to call home.

If you want a little something different and well tempered for your backyard flock, Silkies are a great breed to try.

I hope that you found this post helpful. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

As always, thanks for reading! Till next time, keep on crowing.

~ The Kuntry Klucker and Crew ~

cropped-apollo-and-rory-3.jpg

 

7 Reasons to Love White Crested Polishes.

With their crazy 80’s rock band hair do, it’s hard not to love this fancy breed. Dressed in black and white, they look like they’re going to a fancy “Chicken Gala”. These classy girls leave all other chickens in the dust when it comes to clucky high class couture. The distinct white feathered crest on their head contrasting with their sleek jet black bodies sets them apart in a flock. Beauty may only be skin deep, but these girls are gorgeous inside and out. Read on to find out why we at The Kuntry Klucker Farm are head over hills in love with these black and white beauties.

 

      1. Every polish chicken is crowned with white crest.

IMG_4590

White Crested Polish chickens and all Polish breeds always stand out due to the large fluffy bouffant of feathers that adorn their head like some kind of glamorous crown, the most iconic feature of this fancy breed. It’s this feature that makes them a very popular choice for those who want something a little “different” in the flock. They will make visitors ask, “what is that?” due to the fact that they do not look like a standard chicken. As aesthetic as their crest may appear, be warned that these guys and gals need a little bit of “hair care”. Do to their crown of feathers their vision is limited and may need to be trimmed or put in pigtails to allow them to see better. Because they are unable to groom their crests they are susceptible to mites and lice. To prevent this problem an owner needs to take proactive steps to keep these guys and gals looking their best. Because they do not tolerate being wet or dirty, an owner needs to provide a leak free dry coop and run. If a keeper can provide these services, this breed will bring great joy and diversity to the flock.

2. Non-broody hens who have more time to lay eggs and pose for pictures. 

Broodiness is not a trait that is possessed by the Polish chicken, broodiness is the desire to incubate eggs and hatch chicks. Some breeds are prone to broodiness such as the Silkie and Orphington, the polish is one of the few breeds that are not. Because of this, they will continue to lay eggs for their keeper. Be warned though they are not prolific layers like other breeds, they lay about 120 small white eggs a year.

But don’t let this turn you off from the White Crested Polish chicken, they make up for the low egg output in other ways. For example, they make excellent and unique subjects for all kinds of photo ops. They are very docile and even tempered so working with them is a breeze.  Which brings me to my next point.

 

3. Loyal and loving backyard companions. 

IMG_4783

If you are looking for a loyal backyard friend, look no further than the White Crested Polish. Due to diminished vision, a consequence of their glorious crests, they will happily sit in the protection of their owners lap. Polishes become very attached to their owners often following them around the yard much like a dog. They crave human interaction and are happiest in the company of their owners. They are nervous and flighty by nature needing a dedicated and compassionate keeper who doesn’t mind giving them a little extra attention. If kept in a flock due to vision limitatios, they tend to be at the bottom of the “pecking order”. For this reason, it’s best if they have digs of their own separate from larger or more aggressive breeds.

4. Delightful and unique personalities. 

The personality of the White Crested Polish is just as unique as their appearance. These guys and gals love to jabber and talk to their owner. If you want a chicken that you can have a conversation with, the White Crested Polish is the breed for you. They get very excited when their owner comes to the backyard, run, or coop. They want to follow you around and tell you all about their day. They eagerly bock, squeak, or trill all the details of their adventures. For this reason they are one of the noisier breeds, they are not quiet much like the Silkies. If this is okay for your situation then I highly recommend these little gossip gals.

 

5. Stunning phasic! 

IMG_4469

These guys and gals have a beautifully proportioned silhouette. Aside from the crest feathers that get in the way and diminish their vision, Polishes really have a shapely and attractive figure. They have full breasts, shapely wings, and deep bodies. As they strut towards you they have a playful bounce to their gate which further accents their crown of feathers. These guys and gals will truly be eye candy in your backyard flock.

5. Make excellent birds for poultry shows.

Polish chickens always stand out due to the large fluffy bouffant of feathers that adorn their head like a glamorous crown. It’s no surprise that the stylish look of these distinctive chooks make them a popular choice in poultry shows all round the world. When it comes to male crests in the competitive world of show chickens the bigger the better whereas a more round and even shaped crest is favored among hens. The roosters are very distigueshed, but due to their larger crests the feathers seem to take on more of a 80’s rock hair band look. When trimmed and kept nice a well groomed polish rooster can steal the show.

 

6. Great breed to have around children. 

adams polishes

If you want to involve kids with keeping backyard chickens, the Polish is a great breed to choose. Due to their appearance kids are often times captivated with the White Crested Polish. They are a gentile breed that is docile and not prone to aggression. Even the roosters are fairly good natured as compared to other breeds. Due to their vision limitations from their crests, they are fairly easy for kids to catch and bond with. They are a bit flighty which might startle young kids at first but once they get used to their behaviors they will really enjoy their feathered friends in the backyard. Currently I have 9 Polishes of different colors all of them are great with my boys.

7. Mysterious History. Where did they come from? 

IMG_2866

It is not really clear where these stunning birds came from. You may be thinking that they came from Poland. But this is not the case. Their name is derived from the Dutch word “pol” which means head, however that is still being debated amongst poultry experts. It has also been hypothesized that they originated in the Netherlands, whereas other enthusiasts think that they were brought to Europe during the time of the Medieval Mongols. Other fun loving chicken lovers such as myself ponder if their origins are not of this world at all. Possibly like H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, they came from Orion or another world out there, just kidding 🙂 . In all seriousness though, no one really knows where these crown jewels really came from. Still today there remains a lot of mystery surrounding their origins. Maybe we will never know, but for rare breed chicken lovers that does not really matter. If anything, it just makes these cuddly backyard buddies even more lovable.

Are these classy chickens right for your backyard flock?

If you choose to keep these unique chickens several requirements must be meet.

~ A secure coop and outdoor pen are a must. Since they are unable to see well they can be vulnerable to arial predator attacks. If you are unable to supervise them keep your birds secure in their pen till you can spend time with them.

~ Due to their crest feathers they require extra vigilance that they do not get wet. During the winter if their crest feathers get wet it can freeze causing discomfort and in some cases illness to the bird.

~ If you decide to keep these girls, a separate coop for them is a must. Due to their diminished vision they often times reside at the bottom of the pecking order and can at times be picked on.

~ Making sure the they have a clean and dry place to themselves will assure their success as a part of your backyard flock. While your at it, have a little fun with their home. A classy chicken with a personality such as the Polish need a coop with some character. Many places like Tractor Supply and Hayneedle have adorable coops the would compliment your fancy couture wearing girls nicely.

IMG_2868

As always thanks for reading!

If you have any questions regarding the Polish breed feel free by leaving a comment. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Little Hatchery Mixup

Hello again Kuntry Klucker fans. I promised in my last post that I would be sharing an update about the Bantom Boutique Gang. Well, here they are pretty much full grown and doing great! The Bantom Boutique Crew are well, bantam chickens which is another word for “miniature” chickens in the chicken world. But don’t let their small stature fool you, there is a lot of chicken attitude stuffed in those small packages. Starting with my little “hatchery mixup”.

IMG_1576

When I ordered my chicks from the hatchery I ordered two breeds, Silkies and White Crested Polishes. Well I had a little hitchhiker that was neither a Silkie nor a Polish. He was what I named my little mystery chick. I had planned on naming all my Polish girls after Greek Goddesses and my Polish Rooster Apollo. Well, things did not go as planned and have changed just a bit. Allow me to let you in on the identity of my little mystery chick.

Enigma.JPG

Everyone, meet Enigma! Enigma like the rest of the Bantam Botique Crew is a bantam, so they have size in common and that is just about it. Enigma has grown up to be a beautiful Motted Cochin, with a sweetest personality.

Enigma stink eye.JPG

Enigma is a rooster and has started to crow in the mornings when I greet them to let them out of the coop to start their new day. So, my plan to name all my polish girls after Greek Goddesses has changed slightly. I do have three polishes, two girls named Athena and Aphrodite, and a Polish rooster named Apollo. Since I had a little surprise in my batch of chicks I though the best name for the little one was Enigma. It would work for both a hen or rooster and is the perfect name since his identity was a bit of a, well an Enigma.

BB2.JPG

Enigma as I have already mentioned has the sweetest personality. He is the alpha rooster, (that means rooster in command) of the Bantam Boutique Crew. He takes care of the ladies talks to them and tries to find them treats to eat. He is the first out of the coop in the morning and the last in the evening. Good roosters at times can be hard to find, I am blessed and thrilled to have him apart of my flock here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. He is a delight to interact with and his plumage is very striking. Although he stands out among the Silkies and Polishes he is a beautiful addition due to his motted feather pattern.

BB Gang play.JPG

In the evenings when I let the Bantam Boutique Crew out for some scratch and play time, Enigma does his best to keep watch for the girls as they hunt and peck for bugs. Although originally a unexpected hitchhiker in my order of chicks, I am thrill to have him. I am glad that Enigma found his way into my order, he was destined to be the king of the Bantam Boutique Crew.

That is all I have for now, thanks for taking the time to catch up with the girls and I. Till next time, take care and keep crowing.

~ The Bantam Boutique Crew~

BB 1.JPG