Stock Types

Like most livestock or pure breeds of animal, they are frequent sold according to a level of criteria they meet, and in this respect chickens are no different.

 

Show Quality Stock

By definition, an example of a breed that is deemed as being of show or exhibition quality is a bird that exhibits all the visual appearances required for the standard of that particular breed and plumage type that, at the right time of year, and when prepared for an exhibition, would stand a chance of being placed and receiving a rosette. The key points here are “visual appearance” and “standards”. Show quality birds meet the requirements of the show bench, even if they do not necessarily meet the original requirements or intentions in the development of the breed. For example, an Orpington was originally an excellent laying bird with good table qualities. It is now predominantly a profusely feathered ornament, whose utility value has long since been lost in the drive for excellence on the show bench.

This is a point worth bearing in mind when setting out to purchase a pure breed, as show quality birds may serve you well in a show but not in the kitchen.

 

Breeder Quality Stock

This is stock that will have some defect within its features that would prohibit it from taking any honours at a show, but does have the genetic makeup and potential to be used to breed a showing winning bird. It is a common misconception that two show winners, when bred together, will automatically produce many more show winners. They don’t, and, in fact, they rarely will.

 

Pet Quality Stock

There is nothing wrong with this level of quality if all you are looking for are chickens that provide a bit of interaction and perhaps lay a few eggs into the deal along the way. Usually, these are pure breed chickens that are sub-show-standard, and shouldn’t be used as part of a pure breed breeding programme. It doesn’t make them any less of a chicken, but it also doesn’t mean they are necessarily pet-like in their behaviour, or docile in their temperament. You still need to make sure you select the right sort of breed if that is what you are looking for from your stock.

 

Utility Stock

This is almost synonymous with the term ‘dual purpose’, as it refers to chickens that will serve the keeper well both in terms of eggs and meat. It is worth mentioning here as ‘utility’ is a function that is increasingly becoming recognised within the show circuit. The Sussex breed, for example, enjoys a buoyant show presence when plumage etc., are judged, but increasingly,the utility value of the bird is being considered and favoured above its look. If purchasing pure breed chickens with their practical livestock aspects in mind, as opposed to showing, then seeking out a good utility line is important (just as looking for good layer or table lines are, if those are the requirements you have). There is many a show winning Leghorn, a breed renown for laying huge numbers of eggs, that has had that characteristic lost through breeding purely for show qualities .

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Chicken Nugget – The Dorking

Breed Name: Dorking

Region of origin: United Kingdom Dorking Table Breed

Profile: The Dorking is a very ancient British breed believed to have its ancestry rooted back in Roman Britain where five-toed Dorking like breeds were described in texts from AD 47. It is a very heavy breed but there is no evidence as yet to suggest that, as in the case of other giant chickens, it is in any way related to the huge breeds originating from Asia. Well established in the early nineteenth century it made a significant contribution to the development of other table breeds.

 

Behaviour and upkeep:  Because of its huge size and its loose feathering, spacious housing is required if the birds are to maintain a good look. They do not need much in terms of outdoor space and are quite content within a fixed run however care must be taken to avoid them becoming fat through lack of exercise. They can become tame if handled calmly but their size should be considered carefully if thinking of having them as pets. The hens tend only to lay during the spring and summer and fertility can present a challenge for anyone wishing to breed from a flock.

Plumage/Colours: Silver grey, Red, White, Dark, Cuckoo

Particulars:

Eyes: Bright red

Comb: Single, large or Rose

Feet & legs: Featherless, five toes

Weights:

Cock weight

Large Fowl 10-14lb (4.55-6.35kg)

Bantam 40-48oz (1130-1360g)

Hen weight

Large Fowl 8-10lb (3.60-4.55kg)

Bantam 32-40oz (910-1130g)

Egg production – Low to medium

Egg Colour – Tinted

Classification – Heavy; Soft Feather

Chicken Nugget – La Flèche

Region of origin: France

Profile: The combination of the deep red horned comb, strong beak, cavernous nostrils and beetle black plumage coupled with the solid stature of this breed means it well suited to it nick name of “Satan’s Fowl”. It is quite a large chicken which makes a good layer but grows quickly making an excellent table bird well-known in its country of origin.evil2ss

Behaviour and upkeep: These birds benefit from being able to free range as they are excellent foragers and will cover large distances in search of food. This makes them a very economical breed ideally suited to their dual purpose function.  They are also capable of flying quite high despite their size so do need high fences or roofed areas if they are not to be found roosting in trees. Wary by nature they do not tame easily though they are not an aggressive breed.

Plumage/Colours: Black

Particulars:

Eyes: Black/Red, Comb: Double spike, Feet & legs: Clean, dark slate or black

Weights:

Cock: Large Fowl 8-9lb (3.6 –4.1 kg) Bantam 36oz (1020g)

Hen: Large Fowl 6-7lb (2.7-3.2 kg) Bantam 28oz (800g)

Egg production: Medium to high

Egg Colour: White

Classification: Heavy; Rare

la fleche flocks

Chicken & Egg by Andy Cawthray and James Hermes | The Womens Room

The first review of the new book and hopefully the first of many positive ones too 🙂

Chicken & Egg by Andy Cawthray and James Hermes | The Womens Room.

Blatant Book Plug – Chicken & Egg: An Egg-Centric Guide To Raising Poultry

Well it’s my blog, so why not plug my new title due out in the Spring of 2015…..?

The title might sound a little corny however the focus of the book is in fact “eggs”. The origins and science of eggs along with the ways to get the best out the breeds you choose with particular emphasis on a number of the key laying pure breeds, all beautiful illustrated in the loose water colour style of that exceptional artist, Kate Osbourne . I’ve yet to see the finished product but if it’s anything like the previous title I worked on with Ivy Press then it will be exceptional and well worth owning…. and I’m not just saying that because I wrote it, but because the other book genuinely is a cracker 😉

New title due out in Feb 2015

New title due out in Feb 2015

Chicken nugget – The Sussex

LightSussex (2)

The Sussex has a long history and could be placed in either the table or the laying sections as certain bloodlines would fit those categories. It does however serve both functions well making it predominantly a dual purpose breed today. Initially developed in the 19th century, it is a heavy bird with a block like shape and comes in a variety of colours. Like the Rhode Island it has played an important part in the development of todays commercial hybrids.

It is a very calm breed of chicken and can become very friendly over time being quick to trust its keeper. This composed nature extends towards each other and given sufficient space it is possible to keep more than one male within a flock. A robust bird, it copes well with all weather conditions and is happy free ranging or within a fixed run. The hens are excellent layers producing a good number of eggs often during the winter too. They can go broody, and if so they are known to be good sitters and even better mothers.

Particulars:

Cock weight: Large Fowl 9lb (4.10kg), Bantam 40oz (1130g)
Hen weight: Large Fowl 7lb (3.20kg), Bantam 28oz (790g)
Region of origin: United Kingdom

Colour:
Plumage: Light, White, Silver, Speckled, Buff, Red, Brown
Eyes: Dependent upon plumage; brown, red, or orange
Comb: Single, evenly serrated
Feet & legs: Featherless, white

Egg production – Medium to High
Egg Colour – Tinted
Show classification –Heavy; Soft feather

 

Chicken Nugget – Sabelpoot

a quartet of 'lemon millie' Sabelpoots

a quartet of ‘lemon millie’ Sabelpoots

The Booted Bantam, also known as the Sabelpoot, is an ancient European true bantam breed with origins in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain. It has no large fowl counterpart and is a proud bird with a jaunty character making it a very beautiful and friendly breed to keep. They have a short, stocky build but an upright stance making them look rather slender. The term ‘booted’ stems from the long stiff leg hocks or ‘sabels’ which can be seen on both males and females.

Despite its size it is quite hardy and makes a very good bird for beginners or a small garden. Their feathered feet mean limited damage to the garden if you free range them, but they are not suitable for muddy conditions. They are an inquisitive breed and seem to seek out the company of their keepers resulting in them becoming reasonably tame. The hens lay a good number of eggs of a fair size (38g) and occasionally become broody. The cock birds are fairly tolerant and not prone to aggressive behaviour. They also have a relatively quiet crow compared with other breeds.

Plumage/Colours: Soft feather; Black, White, Porcelain, Black Mottled, Millefleur.

Eyes: Red, dark red, dark brown. Comb: Single, upright, well serrated. Feet & legs: Well feathered; white

Weights:

Cock: 30oz (850g), Hen: 27oz (750g)

Egg production: Medium, Egg Colour: Tinted

Classification: True Bantam (Show classification: True Bantam; Rare)

BBC Countryfile

A couple of blogs ago I mentioned I’d been out a few of the Royal agriculture shows working with The Rare Breeds Survival Trust promoting the UKs rare breed poultry as a part of their 40th Aniversary celebrations. Even with all the recent food scares and the general greater awareness of the public with regard to food production I hadn’t anticipated the level of interest there would be with huge numbers of people wanting to learn more in order for them to be able to ‘do their bit’ for poultry too.

Most folks don’t have the space to keep a few sheep, goats or other larger livestock so feel they are a little inhibited when it comes to hands on breed conservation, but when they started to learn about the UKs endangered poultry and in particular chickens, people started to realise that they are far more accessible and with the right knowledge it would enable many more people to play a direct role in conservation.

BBC Countryfile

It was a brief appearance on BBC Countryfile and has already led to a number of questions on where to source stock and how to help the work of the RBST, but lets hope it, and the wider the campaign, raises awareness of the dozens of poultry breeds in need of help as their preservation for the future is as vital as any of the traditional farm livestock.

For a full list of the poultry breeds at risk then click here.

 

Free Chicken Keeping Online Booklet

Booklet

If you subscribe to this blog, follow me on twitter or have bumped into me when I’m out and about then you might know I write for the poultry press & magazines. It was one of the magazines, namely Your Chickens,  that approached me recently about working with them to put together a mini pocket guide on keeping chickens. I’m pleased to say the final product is now available… and best of all it’s completely free!

 

Booklet2

 

Simply click on this link and you will be taken to the full online version where you can flick through the booklet at your leisure.

Hard copies are available however you’ll need to visit the Your Chickens stand at this years Pet Show at Stoneleigh to grab your copy 😉