Chickens part 3
Chickens, chickens and more blasted chickens!
Apparently, you can’t go out and just buy a chicken. Well, you can, but then where do you go? What breed do you want? Do you want them for: eggs, meat or as things to look pretty?
Chickens are not simple. I remember about 2 years ago, I went to the east of England agricultural show which was great; lots of antics and animals and food. There was even 1 area where they auctioned off animals (sounds cruel, but they were to collectors and fanciers) there was such a variety from chicken to peacocks, to ostriches! It was there where I first thought of owning rare breeds. No, I’ll stick to hybrids.
I a nut shell, what I know about chickens, is that the are 3 main types that people own:
-Pure breeds: thorough blood line, not mixing, low egg laying.
-Hybrids: bred for their laying abilities and meat production (used in farming)
-Bantams: the micro chicken.(yes it is a breed, but I don’t count them as a real chicken!)
Pure breeds range from £45 to £200 and that’s per bird. These are some really beautiful iridescent looking birds, covering a plethora of colours, fathering and size. All look beautiful and I would love to own them, but they cost too much for a first time for me. Some places do offer these breeds cheaper, but you do have to travel further. Rare
For us, this was out of the question: lack of money and I was sure that other types of birds were just as pretty and better to keep.
So I looked at the bantams.
Fluffy and miniatures of the pure breads. They produce tiny eggs and aren’t worth the meet, but if you fancy a collection f funny/unusually coloured and feathered breeds, then these are what you want.
Hybrids seem the path to go: not too big and pricey, produce reasonable sized eggs, good for meet and have some lovely markings.
These 3 beauties are from a local breeder. When looking for chickens, it’s not just the colouring and size (although you should like the, as well) you need to check 3 main things:
-Colour of the comb: the red nobly but, is it a nice deep red? It it clear or degree? Is the nose area also clear of dirt/feathers?
-Feet: how dirty are they? Do they have hock burn? (Caused by ammonia build up) are they shiny?
-Feathers: are they shiny? Soft? Brush them apart and check for mites/lice near the base of the feathers. Are there splits in the feathers? Is there a bald spot?(this means other birds have been pecking it and means its not a dominant chicken.)
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Also see if they are skittish/timid, are they curious, and do they flap and fly a lot.(this can be resolved by clipping the wings)
These 3 were chosen from a large flock and are 16 weeks old. They aren’t point of lay (meaning they are laying eggs now) but are soon to be. Generally they start laying between 18-22weeks, depending on the breed.
Next job – feeding the little cluckers!