“What is the right Chicken for me?” (P1)Jasmin Homer
Blog written by “The girl in the green wellies” 24/06/2016
“What is the right Chicken for me?”
This week’s blog is to help you all decide what is the right breed of chicken for you to purchase, whether it be for a family pet, raised for meat or for a budding backyard chicken keeper.
Something I always think of when visiting the farm here at A&J Poultry is, how do you make the choice of bird you want to buy, when there are so many options? How do you narrow it down between the different colours, temperaments, meat quality, texture and egg laying abilities? There are just so many things to factor in when choosing your Chicken, and the most important thing is making sure you choose the breed best suited to you and the environment you wish it to live in.
In this blog I will show you 5 different breeds of Chicken; I will explain about all the things that are unique and important about each breed, as well as comparing things such as their laying abilities. Hopefully by the end of reading this, you will have some idea of what you are looking for & hopefully I have narrowed down the search!
The Buff Orpington
Beautiful golden honey coloured feathers, and known for being both bold and graceful, the Buff Orpington makes a fantastic choice of bird for your garden, smallholding or farm.
I can talk from experience when I say they are truly lovely natured birds, as I have my own Hen called “Gertrude” who is one of my most friendly chickens; currently dealing with a slight identity crisis since her injury’s in early spring (down to a rather energised cockerel with a one-woman type of mind-set. Need I say more!)? She was kept in the kitchen in our dog crate whilst injured, and very much enjoyed the one to one attention, frequent cuddles and tit bits that came her way. Now, when she is let out for the Avery in the morning, she will run up to the kitchen door and peck at it until it is opened for her, then she will casually walk in and behave like another household pet! Something tells me she sees herself as no different to the dog or cat!
Buff Orpington hens generally weigh around 6-8lb when fully-grown, though they can add a few pounds in their older years; mature cockerels tend to be on the heavier side from 8-10lb, again slightly bigger as they get older!
The crossing of the Buff Cochin, the Golden Spangled Hamburgh and the Silver Grey Dorking officially created the Buff Orpington. This created a brilliant utility bird great for laying, with a stunning golden honey color and beautiful temperament.
Flighty, great layers and fun to observe, these feisty Chickens are definitely a wonderful breed to experience when raising poultry; originating from Italy, the Ancona is known for their pearly white eggs & beautiful feathers.
Being curious birds, these chickens can be a bit “jumpy” and are better suited to people who have a calm approach when around poultry, so may not be the best choice if you have young children that would want to “pet” it or hold it lots.
The Ancona has many pro’s though, they are fantastic for a natural bug repellent, they are incredibly hardy birds, and very economical to run!
The Con’s are that they can be a bit flighty, they have a big set of lungs for a nice loud singing voice, and they can take flight easily, (so if you do not have a big amount of space and cannot run the risk of them sneaking off, it may be worth to get their wings clipped!)
They are a stunning black colour, with lovely little white speckles all over. It makes me think of a tiny Black Samatra that has been out in the snow and got a good dusting! Oh they are cute!
(These cheeky little monkeys were not feeling in the most photogenic of moods, hence the distant shot of them congregating in a group, probably wondering what the big black thing (camera) is flashing at them! Bless!)
The Sussex (Light, Buff & Red!)
These lovely Chickens can come in an array of colours, from brown, buff, light, red, speckled, silver, white & coronation.
The Sussex was originally bred for being a duel purpose bird, both for eggs and for meat! The reason for this is down to them being such brilliant layers with a hen producing roughly 240-260 eggs per year! They are also a good breed when rearing them for meat as they mature fast; their carcass is larger than the commonly known commercial broiler chicken, but it is closer to heritage meat, which was produced in the past.
It is good to note that the hens rarely go broody, and as far as personality goes (which personally is what I believe to be the most important thing when choosing an animal) is that they are hardy, alert, but also rather docile, making them a good all round chicken for your garden, small holding or farm!
The Silver Laced Wyandotte
Now these birds are another breed close to my heart, as I happen to own a Silver Laced Wyandotte Hen! They originated from the US and first appeared around the late 1800’s.
They are known for being rather docile & bred for their brown eggs and for meat. These fantastic, elegant birds have a beautiful lacey pattern all over their feathers. The chicken’s feathers are broad and loosely fitting. The area around their vent is very fluffy!
Laying roughly around 200 eggs per year, and in some cases 240, makes this hen a brilliant known layer! The hens weigh approximately 6lb and the cocks around 8lb.
Something to take note of though, when choosing this as a breed, is that due to their fluffy rear, they are not always able to be naturally inseminated by the cockerel. Obviously for those that wish to breed this may be an issue to think about, whereas if you are not looking to breed it can be seen as a big positive!
Personality wise, all chickens are different I grant you, but this particular breed, in my experience is full with character. They might be smaller than some other breeds of chicken, but my god they can be mighty!
My Hen loves to spend most of her day dust bathing and telling off my ducks when they come near it. It’s thoroughly amusing to watch and observe!
The Welsummer- Golden Partridge
This is one chicken that the more I read about, I have fallen in love with. I first found out about these beautiful birds when on the farm at A&J Poultry. I was in the hatching shed and was amazed by these gorgeous dark brown eggs! The most intriguing part was when I was told that the chicken actually produces a type of liquid that sets on the eggs once they are laid, to create this luscious dark brown colour. In theory the hen gives her newly laid eggs a type of spray tan! Which in all honesty did make me giggle a little bit! You would of thought they would of originated from Essex not in the Eastern Netherlands! How funny!
The dark liquid on the eggs is actually known to be a protein coat with a brown pigment. This can be removed if scrubbed rather vigorously! The Bantams do lay a lighter brown egg but its worth to note that the eggs are still rather sizeable considering they are from a bantam.
You may not be aware, but this is the breed of Cockerel that was used for the “Kellogg’s Cornflakes Rooster!”
I hope from reading a little bit about each of these five breeds I have selected that it has given you something to think about when choosing your bird!
I suppose like anything it’s all down to what you are looking for, a good egg layer, for meat or as a pet.
If you are still unsure, please check out the breed page on the A&J Poultry website where there are many more breeds listed with more facts and information!
Here is a table to show the difference in egg production, weight, and temperament between these five breeds of chickens!
|Buff Orpington||Ancona||Sussex||Silver Laced Wyandotte||Welsummer|
|175-200eggs per year.||200-220eggs per year.||240-260eggs per year.||200-240eggs per year.||140-160eggs per year.|
|Temperament is friendly, often broody making them good mother hens.||Temperament is rather lively and hardy with a tendency to being broody.||Temperament is alert, yet docile, and friendly towards humans but prone to being broody.||Temperament is gentle and tolerant. Great mothers & fantastic layers.||Temperament is friendly, intelligent and hardy.|
|6-8lb for Hens.
8-10lb for Cockerels.
|4-5lb for Hens.
5.5-6.2lb for Cockerels.
|6-8lb for Hens.
8-10lb for Cockerels.
|6-7lb for Hens.
8-9lb for Cockerels.
|6-7lb for Hens.
7-8lb for Cockerels.
Blog written by “The girl in the green wellies!” 24/06/2016