Pure breeds, and Hybrids
My idea about this section is that chicken owners can add their own personal comments about their own breeds of chicken and display a picture to show an example of the breed.
There are two types of breed, pure breeds and hybrids. Hybrids on the whole tend to lay more eggs per year, for more years and be less likely to stop laying over winter. Hybrids tend to be easier to tame and make better pets for beginners. Keeping some pure breeds helps to maintain some rarer breeds that are reducing in number.
The colour/breed of chicken determines the size and colour of egg laid. Chicken colour can often determine egg colour, e.g. white birds generally lay white eggs, but our Amber star is practically white and lays brown eggs. It can vary with how well the birds are bred, and Jasmine hybrids only have a 70% chance of laying a blue egg. Some breeds such as the Cream leghorn can lay blue eggs, and Marans and Welsummers are known for dark brown eggs. Colours vary from shades of brown, black, white, speckeledy, to lavender, see the pekin bantams image gallery for a range of chicken colours.
Suitability as pets
Lighter (both size and colour) chickens are better at flying although chickens can usually only land 5-6 feet up at best. Flying can be useful for escaping predators, but their wings can be clipped to prevent escape attempts. The Buff Orpington is a popular breed because of its feathery plumage, but it is a heavy breed of chicken. Bantams are small chickens that lay small eggs and are good if you have a smaller area to keep chickens in. There are some small versions of larger breeds that are known as bantams, but a true bantam is a breed in its own right. Bantams cause less damage to gardens, but are known for becoming broody.
The araucana is famed for giving blue or green eggs. Some have no tail feathers as they are missing the last part of the vertebrae, the parsons nose. They also have ear tufts. The “true” araucanas with no tail are very hard to come by, as they carry the “lethal gene” which can cause them to die just before hatching.
The UK araucana is very different to the US araucana. In the UK an araucana may have a tail or not, but in the US they must not have a tail. If they have a tail then they are classed as Ameraucanas. There are also “Easter Eggers” or EEs which simply lay coloured eggs and do not conform to a breed standard.
Our chicken Trinny (see what cluck to wear) is an Amber Star, and Susannah who sadly we lost a few months ago. The Amber Star is a hybrid, part Leghorn, and is cream/white with varying degrees of brown speckles (hence amber in the name. We have found they are a little skittish and flighty, but run follow you up and down the garden if there is any chance of a treat and are comfortable around us as long as you don’t try and stroke them/pick them up (maybe we just need to start picking them up everyday to tame them more). Apparently white birds can be flighty and ours are no exeption, they are quite good at flying and their mission is to fly over the new, now modified fence. They can supposedly lay 300 eggs a year, Trinny lays most days. Trinny’s eggs are “extra large” and often 90+g, (the biggest was 139g!) Susannah’s were smaller at around 75g.
Hybrid bred from legbar. 70% chickens produce attractive blue/green eggs. Shades of colours varies within quite a bit within the cream/brown/grey colours.
A white chicken with distinctive black markings on its neck.
Meadowsweet Ranger AKA Gingernut Ranger from Omlet
Brown hybrid chicken, a Rhode Island Red crossed with a Light Sussex.Katy is a good layer, good natured, has stayed quite healthy and makes a gently trumpeting noise as she walks round. Meadowsweet chickens are imported as chicks from France.
The Orpington is an especially feathery breed, and HUGE! The feathers mean a) there is little energy left for laying as many eggs as other breeds, b) they only have little wings and are so heavy they are not good at flying, and c) they look really cute! The popular colour is buff, but there is also blue. There is apparently a bantam variety which is a similar size to a medium chicken!
Rhode Island Red
A standard dark brown chicken which is the basis for many hybrid breeds. It is known for eating slugs, which is great if you have a slug problem in your garden They are quite dumpy looking and no real tail, just the feathers meeting at a point, but are a heavy breed so a cuddly mass of feathers. We now have Abbie who is the noisiest hen known to man (she goes WAAARRKK WAAARRRKK WAARRRK!) and our first feather plucker. She is friendly, although pecks me when I’m least suspecting it sometimes and has laid a good number of eggs (pale brown with speckles).
A maran-based hybrid with black and white speckled markings all over and quite a round shape.
A brown chicken, bred by Tom Barron ISA to be well suited for the free range egg market. Described as our breeder as an “egg factory.” Beth reliably laid early in the morning and had a bright, easy going personality.
Light Breed. Red/black partridge markings. A gorgeous golden chest and dark chestnut back, and two-tone feathers in the middle. There is a Silver Duckwing variant. Eggs:dark brown. Our Welsummer is a slow developer, so far has laid about 5 miniature round eggs (20-30g) in dark brown. She started with an adorable peeping noise when she arrived, can fly fantastically (we once had to rescue her from a 7 foot hedge) and she is scared of her own shadow. She is a beautiful looking chicken and is very cute.
Has leghorn ancestory and hence a huge comb. The tail sticks up almost like a mast!
These chickens are very feathery and appreciate a cuddle, but are often broody.
These chickens have large numbers of feathers on top of their head.
http://www.beebepolands.com/ This is the website of the breeder who sold us Beth. The Beebees are both secretaries of the British Polish Society and there are lots of photos on their site from chicks upwards.