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

 

 

 

A Boy and his Rooster.

Some kids have dogs, cats, goldfish or guinea pigs as pets. My son however has a pet rooster. It did not start out this way but it has ended up this way. This is the story of a boy and his rooster.

DSCF4735

You see Roy, our resident backyard rooster has had a few set backs with his health in the past few years. This often requires me to separate him from the girls in order to tend to his needs and treat him individually. He came to our farm the way the other girls did when I ordered our chicks and that arrived in the mail as a small peeping box.

He however was different, he has always been rather fearless and bull headed. He hates my husband due to the fact that it is often he who pushes the lawn mower, which he hates. For the longest time I was the only one who could go out the the backyard and pick him up with out being threatened with a confrontation. Now the roles have totally reversed.

IMG_0560

This all started a few summers ago when Roy was attacked by a hawk. I never saw the hawk or the confrontation, I only saw the after effects. Roy apparently won the fight because he was alive when I found him although injured. The hawk attacked his head causing some pretty nasty wounds which I treated. He made a full physical recovery but not a neurological one. You see when the hawk attacked him it went after his head, his skull was not broken but I wonder if Roy hit his head or twisted his neck when the Hawk tried to lift him than dropped him (judging by his injuries and the crime scene).

Later that summer I went out to the backyard to check on the girls and found him passed out on the ground. After later assessment it was determined that he possibly had a stroke or some other health malfunction which caused him collapse. Ever since these two events he has had health issues and often has episodes where he cannot walk well and needs some special care.

I separate him from the girls because chickens have natural cannibalism habits which from an evolutionary perspective is beneficial in flock survival. You see a weak member exposes the whole flock to predators, so to counter the effect of this issue the flock will literally kill and eat the sick or injured member. This is all well and good except for one problem, the girls are domesticated and protected from most predators and are pets not food. Our rooster is no different. He is a our pet and a member of our backyard family, we just don’t eat family members no matter how sick.

So his life as a bachelor began. After some time of him living in a large dog kennel I finally purchased a small chicken coop for him to live in. It has been affectionally named “Roy’s Roost”. He has taken very well to his new digs and has improved quite a bit with all the loving care he has been receiving.

Now enter my son. Upon ordering this coop I had no intentions of selling out chicken care to my kids. However, once we got this coop put together my son took to it like a fly to sugar. He loved it!! It is small, easy to clean and maintain, and just his size. The resident rooster needing a bit of loving care has accepting my son as his nurse nightingale. The two have bonded and formed a close relationship. I take care of the Kuntry Klucker girls while my son takes care of Roy’s Roost.

IMG_0563

Roy looks forward to his boy coming out and taking care of him every day. He is wide awake, looking out the coop windows eagerly waiting for him. He clucks and coos to him and my son lovingly talks back. I never thought that my son would form a strong bond with our flock rooster, but behold it has happened. It is the sweetest thing to see the two of them out in the yard together.

Roy is doing much better, he has his good days and his bad days. Some days his legs give him trouble and some days he is out in the backyard with my kids playing. I don’t know how much time he has left with us, but I do know that till the very end he will be loved, spoiled, and adored by the boy who Roy has adopted as his caretaker.

IMG_0558

Some kids have dogs, cats, or goldfish as pets. My son has a rooster. This was the story of a boy and his rooster.

Thanks for reading, the girls and I will be back with more adventures and stores soon.

~The Kuntry Klucker Crew~

cropped-dscf5185.jpg

Roy the Rooster

I thought I would dedicate a post to my resident rooster, Roy. When I tell people that I have chickens I am usually asked two questions. one, how many chickens do I have, and two, do I have a rooster? For many people all they know about roosters are the horror stories passed down by previous generation of a fearsome barnyard bird.

brave roy

I will say, that when I am not in the backyard Roy rules the yard but in a good way. You see he keeps watch over the girls as they graze and go about their day of hunting and pecking. He keeps a sharp eye for predators that could harm the girls, if he senses a danger he will then sound the alarm sending the girls running for cover. He will then take his position as the sacrifice for the girls in the yard.

Luckily, the only danger that Roy and I have to worry about is something arial in nature. My backyard is fenced in by a 6 foot wood privacy fence, so most four legged threats are denied access to their ranging grounds. Only an arial attack would be a threat to my flock. However, I do have a story about this that is very interesting that I will share with you later.

DSCF4315

So now, back to Roy. Where did and I get him and how does your basic backyard rooster behave? I ordered my flock as chicks from a reputable breeder. I ordered 16 hens and 1 rooster. They arrived in a box as little yellow balls of peeping fluff. The only way I could tell Roy from the rest of the girls was a blue mark on his head (sharpie marker) administered by the breeder so I could identify our barnyard boy. Below is Roy’s baby picture, he was about a week old here, and already he had a look of command.

DSCF4342

From the beginning Roy was a little bit different than the others. I could not say that if he did not have his mark that I could single him out as the rooster till he matured more. But I will say, that even in the brooder he was the boss. He was not mean to the girls or anything, he just had a demeaner about him that demanded respect.

Well as the chicks grew he began to show his rooster features, a large comb, waddle, and finally a crow. The first time I heard him crow was so funny. I remember it well. I was filling the feeders in the morning, talking to the girls when all at once I heard this noise come from Roy. It was not a cock-a-doodle-doo like you normally picture a rooster belting. But more of a cock-a-chock-caugh-squeek. It was the funniest thing I ever heard. I remember looking up and saying Roy, “what was that”? Well after a few days he got his crow worked out and now he sounds like your typical rooster.

Roy is the first rooster that I ever personally had. I have seen roosters and been around them growing up, but never actually owned one till now. Honestly, I was nervous, I knew that they could be aggressive and even down right nasty. But I also knew that other people had them and treated them like cuddle bugs. I had no idea how one could even pick up a rooster let alone be friends with it. Well on the heals of that I did some research and found the secret to raising roosters. It is not about making friends with it, but actually training him to see you as the alpha rooster, positioning yourself at the top of the pecking order.

You see chickens are highly social animals and understand social order and their particular place with the pecking order. All the girls know each other, and they all know who is above who and who is below who. Roy ultimately being the alpha or at the top of the pecking order. Well, that is till I come into the backyard, than I am alpha rooster.

Hen fashions

You see from a very early age I had to train Roy that I was the alpha rooster, I basically had to treat Roy like an alpha rooster would treat a beta (second in command) rooster. I did not hurt him or anything, it was simple, subtle things that roosters understand. Such as, if he tried to come too close to me when I was out feeding the girls I would take a few large stomping steps towards him letting him know that he was getting too close to the alpha rooster. This told him that I was in command and that he needed to keep a respectful distance. I would pick him up and carry him around for a little bit as I talked to the girls. This showed him that I could physically dominate him without causing him any harm.  I would then release him after a while and allow him to reassemble with the girls. As we grew, I would then feed him treats and so forth which he we then distribute to the girls. This way he not only saw me as the alpha rooster, but also as the provider for their needs.

I see you

try to challenge me once, but that is about it. I will have to say with a lot research, work, and understanding of chicken behavior, I have the best behaved rooster I could evI have never had a problem with him attacking me. He dider wish for. Honestly, I will have to say he is my helper in the backyard. He takes care of the girls for me when I cannot be in the backyard with them.

Ok, now I will share with you a story of Roy in action. A several years ago, I was inside doing housework and heard Roy crowing relentlessly. It is normal for him to crow on and off during the day but to just crow and crow and crow was rather unusual. If he crows like that something is not right or possibly even dangerously wrong. So, in a hurry I put my boots on and ran to the backyard to see what had Roy so upset. The first thing I noticed upon going outside was several large birds circling over my backyard. My heart sank because I expected to see one or more of the girls torn to pieces in the backyard. But to my shocking surprise, Roy was planning to take the hawks on single handily.

You see, he had given the warning and the girls ran and were huddled under the large shade tree next to their coop. Roy was in the middle of the backyard acting like a distraction to detour the hawks attention to him and not the girls. The crowing that I heard inside was him crowing at the hawks reading himself for the attack. When I got to the backyard and realizes the reality of the situation I grabbed the closest thing I could find and waved it in the air. I must have looked really dumb to anyone passing by, but I was backup for my rooster. I grabbed a hoe that was leaning against the coop and waved it in the air scaring the hawks off. They left screeching I assume disappointed that their dinner was protected. Roy, after the hawks flew off looked at me with a sigh of relief. That day I gained to much respect for him, his nature, and his ability to protect my girls. I knew then and there that he was indeed the best rooster I could ever hope for.

Had I not heard his battle cry, I hate to think what would happen to him. I know that he had no chance against 3 hungry hawks, I am sure he knew that too. But regardless he took his position and readied for a battle the he would loose at the cost of protecting the girls. I have never seen such love and devotion in an animal before. He really is my prize jewel of the backyard. Now whenever I hear his battle cry I do not hesitate and come to his aid. So far we have evaded, several hawks and a few turkey buzzards. I will have to say that we make a pretty good team.

For this reason, whenever I am away from the house, I make sure they are secure in the pen. When I get home, if the weather is good I will let them out into the yard. But I always keep an ear open for Roy’s crow. He will let me know and call me if something is wrong or if he needs backup.

Hen fashions

So here is to what having a rooster is really like. If you raise them well, take the time to understand them and their nature, and assert yourself as both their provider and supervisor they will respect you and be your biggest allie in the flock. Roosters are not the horror stories of yesteryear. Yes they are roosters and they do have a job to do which they take rather seriously. However, when raised will with love and care they are one of the most amazing creatures and worthy of all the respect they deserve.

DSCF4735

So here is to my Roy Boy, you are indeed the man.

IMG_1299

Thank for reading and following along our adventures. Tell next time, keep on crowing.

The Kuntry Klucker Crew

DSCF4724