I think this week would be a great time to introduce you to the various chicken breeds we currently keep on our farm. Apart from a quad of Lavender Orpingtons, I do not have any two chickens of the same breed and I love the unique qualities of each bird. Our birds were all selected with some practicality in mind, but also an eye towards having something beautiful and entertaining to look at in the barnyard.
Across the chicken breeds there is great variance in appearance, behavior, and eggs. Each new breed you add to your flock will be a new experience and add extra splash to your barnyard.
Old English Game – Our diminutive rooster, Little Roo, is one of these feisty little birds I’ve known. One of the oldest breeds of fowl, these little birds were developed for cockfighting but now bring all their swagger to your backyard flock. Old English games are tiny but fearless, very active and have no scruples about being kept in a flock with larger birds. Entertaining, beautiful, and full of attitude, and are a wonderful addition to any flock.
Red Star – This chicken breed is a “sex link” variety, meaning you can identify the males and females as chicks by their feathering. A reliable layer, our “Red” is the most friendly chicken on the farm. While Red Stars aren’t the most spangled lookers, they are personable, laying medium sized light brown eggs and usually holding a position of queen of the flock.
Cuckoo Maran – Our most reliable and currently most colorful egg layer, Helga produces gorgeous chocolate colored eggs. Cuckoo Marans have black and white barred feathers similar to Barred Rocks and are quiet and friendly. They are large, pretty birds, but their striking, dark brown eggs are their most remarkable and unique attribute.
Golden Laced Polish – Polish chickens are the variety with the large, fluffy top hat of feathers. In fact, Polish chickens are usually more skittish than other breeds because their vision is compromised by their excessive feathers. A real barnyard looker, Polish chickens lay medium sized white eggs.
Lavender Orpingtons – A heavy breed with beautiful gray-blue feathers, Lavender Orpingtons are currently considered a “recovering” breed by the Livestock Conservancy. We have a quad of Orpingtons, three females and a male, and we are hoping to breed more in the spring. They are very good-natured, friendly chickens that lay medium sized light brown eggs.
Mille Fleur/Mottled Cochin – Our farmyard mix chicks, two lovely ladies named Salt and Pepper, are Mille Fleurs crossed with a Mottle Cochin Bantam rooster. We hatched them ourselves with eggs from a friend, and they are friendly, curious, and feature the beautiful beard under their beaks that are a standard of the Mille Fleur varieties.
Dark Brahma, Buff Brahma Bantam – The Brahma variety is known as one of the more friendly, mellow breeds of chicken available today. At the moment we have a Dark Brahma rooster and a Buff Brahma bantam hen, both of whom live up to that lovely reputation. Fluffy, large breeds, Brahmas are excellent brown egg layers and have feathering up and down their legs and toes.
Golden Laced Cochin – Alongside Brahmas, Cochins probably have the best reputations in the chicken world for personality. With fluffy, loose feathering and short, squat bodies, Cochins are great mothers and can go broody very easily. They are great pet chickens, and lay a consistent collection of small brown eggs.
Some of the most fun in chicken keeping is selecting breeds for your farm and figuring out your favorites. There are certainly some more production varieties that are best to look at if you are trying to get the most eggs or meat from your birds, but for a backyard flock go for spangle and bring a smile to your farmyard!
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