Today is my 6 chicks’ birthday. Today is the day they will hatch and begin their journey to our home. So…. which breeds are coming to our household? Well, when researching which breeds I wanted there were certain criteria I was looking for. The chicks needed to be child friendly, good layers, and winter hardy. Many breeds would be suitable but we decided on 6 breeds that we as a family wanted. Our new additions will be:
1) The Buff Orpington
This is a popular breed and considered the “Labrador retriever” of chickens. They originate in England and are friendly, affectionate and good with children. Their fluffy feathers makes them appear larger than they really are. They are also good layers of brown eggs, have quiet personalities and normally 7-8 1/2 lbs. My daughter, Jordan, chose this breed because it is one of her favorite characters in her favorite book, “Once Upon a Flock: Life with My Soulful Chickens” by Lauren Scheuer. In this book, the Buff Orpington, Lil White, is not an affectionate chicken but described as a “sociopath” to her flockmates by the author. We will see what our bird’s personality is like – hopefully friendly and true to breed.
2) The Australorp
This breed originates in Australia and is the Aussie’s version of an Orpington. These birds have shiny black feathers with hints of green and purple in the sunlight. They are a dual purpose chicken (good for meat and eggs) and known to lay upwards of 250 eggs a year. This breed holds the world record for most eggs layed in a year – 364 eggs! That was one busy hen! They are heavy birds that will be around 6-8 1/2 lbs (same as the Orpington) and considered quiet and docile. This was my pick because they are great layers and that the feathers will be iridescent green and purple in the sun. I just think they are beautiful!
3) The Easter Egger
This chicken is the mutt of the chicken world and my daughter, Riley’s, pick. It is hard to say exactly what our chicken will look like because they can be all colors. They are good layers and produce eggs that range from olive-green to turquoise blue which is how they got their name. Another unique quality are the tufts of feathers on their cheeks which almost makes them look like bearded ladies. They are a smaller bird (4-5 lbs) than most of the birds we ordered and are considered friendly and active. I think we should name her “Sam I Am” from the book Green Eggs and Ham.
4) Golden Buff
This chicken is considered a sex link because when they are born, the females are red and the males are gold which makes them easy to sex. They are excellent layers of brown eggs and on the small side – 4 lbs. The hatchery describes them as ” a leader in the brown egg market and is by far the most popular bird we sell. Customers favor this bird for its large eggs and quiet temperament.” Brady took over naming rights on this bird. My vote is to call her Cinnamon.
5) Partridge Cochin
This is the only chicken I purchased not based on its laying abilities but for looks and personality. This chicken is an Asian breed and is known for its soft feathers and fluffy appearance. They do not have bare legs like the others but grow feathers down to their feet making them look like they have feathered pants on. I choose this for Jordan because I think she will enjoy the chickens the most of all my children and will appreciate the uniqueness and personality of the bird. This chicken was recommended by Pete’s cousin as great with children and very friendly and docile. I originally wanted a blue Cochin but waited too long and they were sold out. Here is what a blue Cochin looks like:
I just love their feathered legs! They are the heaviest weighing in at 8-11 lbs. They are winter hardy but I will have to watch them in the summer for the heat.
6) Barred Plymouth Rock
The only American breed in our pick. The hatchery describes them as having ” high egg production, a meaty body, a docile personality, and good hardiness all characteristics that would be a great addition to your flock!”. From what I understand, they can be assertive birds and tend to rule the roost in the pecking order. With the other breeds being fairly submissive, this may make our pecking order sorted out very easily (I hope). They are in the middle for weight at 6 lbs. This breed was another must have for Jordan because it is another one of her favorite characters in “Once Upon a Flock”. In the book, their Barred Rock is named “Lucy” and survives being afflicted with Marek’s disease (which we will have vaccinated our birds before they arrive). I love the striping and zebra like look of their feathers.
So now we wait….. And cross our fingers that all chickens shipped will be sexed correctly and will all be girls (pullets) and not boys (cockrels).