Monday, May 11, 2009
Watch out for that bonus bird
A friend and his wife are getting their first flock and asked for bird recommendations. The best way to figure this out is to think about what you want them for (eggs, meat, pets), and then choose, based on what they look like and what their temperaments might be. You can really get into it all day at the Murray McMurray site.
I suggested barred rocks (above), because they are real handsome birds. They seem to me to be traditional New England Yankee hens, and they're pretty sweet and mellow. In the evenings when they're settling onto the roost, they actually sound like they're purring. They are the old ladies of our flock now, and I just love them.
Araucanas are another recommendation, because of their blue eggs and nice, even manner. Someone once told me Araucanas were like puppies with feathers, and some are even trainable.
I have one of my Araucanas trained to come from anywhere in the yard when I'm picking Japanese beetles off the roses. I call out: "Who wants a beetle?" And she comes running. I've actually considered trying to get on Letterman with Stupid Chicken Tricks, but I know she wouldn't do it in the Ed Sullivan Theater.
Also, we had a nice buff orpington rooster who arrived in the Murray McMurray order as the bonus Mystery Bird. This was my other advice to my friend: Watch out for that bonus Mystery Bird. It's nearly always a rooster.
Birds we have tried, but didn't work out: silver laced wyandottes, which are lovely to look at, but not as sturdy as the other two breeds. We also tried the blue andalusians--they didn't survive the early weeks. And we've had some of the exotics in rooster form (those Mystery Birds again) and found some of the exotic breeds were temperamental--the silver-spangled Hamburg actually attacked my daughter once. Off to the pot with him.
So if you're just starting out, I'd go with the tried and true, less exotic breeds.
Do you have any chicken recommendations? Share them.
Posted by B.J. Roche at 11:05 AM