I have to say, this post is a lot of fun for me.  Yesterday on Facebook my wife Jenn sent out the call to our Facebook community, asking what your favourite breed of chickens was.  Now, this made me smile for two reasons.  First, the response was huge, with a bunch of people responding.  Second, we got about 20-30 different breeds suggested to us, which was basically each person suggesting a unique breed.  That makes me incredibly happy to see.  We, as a collective homesteading community, are actively involved in preserving and maintaining an important genetic legacy, and that’s something my wife and I are very passionate about.  Each of these birds is a unique message from the past, and it’s important to preserve that.

If you haven’t heard of them before, the ALBC, or American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, is doing some great work on preserving these lines.  They are currently working to preserve more than 200 breeds of livestock, and have been since 1977.  I am not a member yet, although I plan on becoming one once we complete our move.  Member or not, they are a great resource for those who are interested in preserving our animal past.

So on the final day of chicken week, I have decided to spotlight 3 more chicken breed that were submitted by our Facebook tribes-people yesterday.  A disclaimer, these are not chicken breeds I own, but they were recommended to me by our readers, so my information is not first hand, but the best way to learn about chickens, is to get some for yourself.

The Barred Rock –

barred rock chicken pic barred rock chicken

 

 

There was simply no way I could not include these little chickens in a list, as not only were they submitted by three different readers, but I have seen them repeatedly at our local feed store.  The barred rock is not actually “in danger” anymore, as according the the ALBC there is a breeding pool of more than 10,000 in the world.  Feedback on these chickens is universally positive, and are something I will look into when we do move to colder climates.  They and the Orpingtons seem to fill similar roles, and both do well in the cold.

The Barred Rock is one of the all time popular favourites in this country. Developed in New England in the early 1800’s by crossing Dominiques and Black Javas, it has spread to every part of the U.S. and is an ideal American chicken. Prolific layers of brown eggs, the hens are not discouraged by cold weather. Their solid plumpness and yellow skin make a beautiful heavy roasting fowl.  These chickens are often called Plymouth Rocks, but this title correctly belongs to the entire breed, not just the Barred variety.

Thank you to @Lisa Haw Manning, @Antoinette-Dennis Collins, @Tracy Tidwell for the suggestion.

Cochin –

black cochins black cochins pic

 

Cochin chickens were suggested by two different readers.  One described them as gentle, the other described them as cute but useless.  So I would say this sounds like a great starter chicken if you aren’t sure if you like chickens, but they might not actually do much for you.  I happen to personally like cochins ever since I saw one in the Phoenix zoo.  Side note, the Phoenix zoo is a sprawling complex of rare animals from around there world.  What was my favourite part?  The barnyard exhibit.  Go figure.

These guys are listed as watch, which means there are less than 5,000 in the US, and less than 10,000 in the world.  I do know they are good for cold weather because their feet feathers protect them.

Cochin chickens are great eaters of food, and indiscriminate in their preferences. This combined with their unmatched profuseness of feathering make them an ideal choice for colder climates and gives them the ability to eat enough to produce both animal heat and eggs during the heart of winter. They feather slowly, but are very hardy and, like the Brahma chicken, will thrive under conditions where other breeds would perish. Cochins are predisposed to becoming too fat. Such fattening can stop egg production and even lead to death by disorder of the liver. Lewis Wright, in his book The Practical Poultry Keeper, circa 1892, recommended that Cochins should receive a daily ration of green food to keep them healthy.

Thank you @Beaver Creek Homestead, @Tracy Tidwell

Polish-

White Crested Black Polish ChickenWhite Crested Black Polish Chicken PIc

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last chicken to spotlight today is the Polish chicken, which is also listed on the watch list.  I had seen them before in hatchery catalogues, but I have to say the best description ever came across our Facebook feed, when one of our tribespeople described them as looking like muppets.  I laughed of course, then after I looked again, damnit they do look like muppets.  I can never un-think that now.

Polish chickens have many interesting characteristics. They are excellent layers of medium-sized white eggs, tending to begin a bit late in the season but persistently laying once they commence. Polish chickens are non-sitters and rarely will go broody. Their crests tend to obscure their vision, which makes them more prone to aerial predators. Polish chickens are easily surprised and a bit nervous, so care should be taken not to startle them. They are similar to Leghorns in both size and type. And Polish chickens come with or without beards on their faces.

Thank you @Rabbits, Chickens and Chihuahuas

So once again, my plea is the same as always.  If you are considering getting chickens, or any livestock, please consider a heritage breed.  Once that legacy is lost, we will never be able to get it back.

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