“How did you decide on these chicken breeds?” someone asked me.
I can’t say I did a lot of research. When we went to the feed store to get chickens the first year, we hadn’t reserved any so we got who hadn’t been picked up. One of the breeds I hadn’t heard of. Golden Buffs.
Mahalia has never laid an egg. But her sisters, Peep and Daffodil, are great layers. They reliably lay a large brown egg a day. They are slowing down in their third year of laying, but they are still good layers. They have great temperaments. Peep runs up to strangers and wants to be pet. The other two are less lovey but are not aggressive in the least.
Our California girl, Ethel, was another breed that we got that year. She is a great layer (again slowing down now) but she laid a white egg that was perfect for boiling and Easter eggs every day for a long time. She is sweet. She also likes to fly. Not away, but into the goat yard. The grass is always greener on the other side for California Whites. She doesn’t leave our actual yard though. A clip of a few feathers could keep a California girl in her own yard if needed.
Our Jersey Giants are still great layers even though they are older. Nearly every day we can count on a small, beige egg. They are very sweet and docile. They are not near as giant as I had imagined.
The next year we researched breeds that were docile, affectionate, and good layers. The Buff Orpington came up in many suggestions. Though I have heard that many are affectionate, mine peck at my ankles and fight with each other. They are good layers but they are not the fun loving birds I thought they would be.
At a farm we were touring there were these black and white birds that laid dark chocolate eggs. I was smitten. They had a nice rooster that was with them who was also a Marans. We got three girls, Liesel, Brigitta, and Louisa. Louisa soon became Henry Higgins. And indeed, he is a very nice, docile, yet bossy and protective, rooster. I just love him. I love to hear him singing in the morning. I love how he herds the girls to safety if he thinks anything is amiss. He is a gentle giant. He is very passive with us. The eggs the girls lay range from medium to dark brown, some variegated with lovely stripes. Brigitta wants to be picked up and has had many a photo shoot with our granddaughter. They are one of my favorite breeds.
I have always loved the blue and green eggs that Araucanas produce so we got three Aracauna girls, two beautiful gold and black girls and one white who still lays blue eggs every day. They like to fly as well and for awhile laid all their eggs in the front yard. They are passive, sweet chickens as well.
A friend of ours had Brahmas. They were black and white lace patterned with petticoats and floofy slippers. I loved them as well. They are dual purpose, meat and egg layers, so they will not be prize winning egg layers, but they will add to the pretty factor on this farm. We are fickle farmers. I pick animals based on their cuteness. Not scientific, but fun. Two of them will be joining our farm next month.
Backyard chickens are a joy to have and easy to take care of. An essential component of any mini or large farm.