Okay, I thought about saving this for Monday; but hell, it's the weekend, what better time to leave it up. And I need some help.
I am having a 'too much choice' moment.
Our hen house is nearly ready. The pen is almost in place. We have located a food supply. We have decided how many birds to keep. We have discussed whether or not we are going to hatch cute, fluffy little chickens, fatten them up and eat them (about which a whole other post at a later date I suspect).
What we (well, I really - B is being frustratingly supportive about my choices) are having trouble deciding is what ACTUAL breeds of chicken to get.
We have various criteria:
- They must be 'traditional' utility breeds - I appreciate that modern hybrids will produce more eggs, but I want to do my bit for the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and go for something less like an egg-laying machine. Also, modern hybrids tend to be for EITHER eggs, OR meat - and we want birds that are dual-purpose.
- They must lay a reasonable number of eggs in a year. We reckon about 200 a year is okay, although some do lay quite a lot more (260) and some lay considerably less.
- They must be nice to eat and worth eating - I'm not going through all the hassle of killing and plucking the things to discover that they are stringy and thin and aren't worth the bother.
- I would like whatever mixture of breeds we choose to produce a mixture of different coloured eggs.
- I'd like them to look pretty running around the garden.
- We can keep one cockerel and three or four hens. So we'll get pure-bred chicks from whatever the cockerel is and cross-breed whatever the rest are - this is okay, as we'll eat them.
So, I have narrowed down my list of possibilities as follows:
- Salmon Faverolle - tinted eggs, c.180 a year. Ladies have ridiculous pretty beards and hairy feet. Very friendly - Ma has some - and also apparently subject to panic attacks when their beards obscure their view of their friends and they think they are lost :).
- Cream Legbar - blue eggs, not sure how many a year, but eggs are SO pretty.
- Buff Orpington - tinted colour eggs, c.190 a year. Traditional dual-purpose birds. Friendly and nice to eat.
- Copper Headed Maran - VERY dark brown eggs, c.200 a year. Really lovely almost chocolate-coloured eggs. Again, marans are supposed to be good to eat.
- Cuckoo Maran - brown eggs, c.200 a year. Look like they are wearing little black-and-white skirts.
- Light Sussex - tinted eggs, c.260 a year. Supposed to be very placid and friendly birds and also very nice to eat.
Opinions, (however poorly qualified you feel you are to make a judgement - go on, I dare you!), in the comments box, please.
We are off to Somerset on Monday - probably won't post again until Thursday, so there's plenty of time to mull it over ... :).
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