M is for Minorca

Here’s another breed that I’m not familiar with.

M

But she looks enough like a leghorn to have me intrigued. I have a number of books on chicken breeds, and the one that’s been helping me the most on the alphabetic journey through chickendom has been Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds. If you’re mulling over which chickens to get for 2015, this is the book to peruse.

The Minorca, like my favorite Leghorn, is a Mediterranean breed, which means it is sleek and fast, early to mature, and a prolific layer. The Minorca isn’t for everyone – that floppy comb is susceptible to frostbite (dry air and good ventilation is the key in cold climates) and she will need plenty of room to roam. But, wouldn’t it be grand to have a flock of white Leghorns and black Minorcas? What a sight that would be!

minorca poem

L is for Leghorn

L for leghorn

 

You know how much I value and adore my Leghorn, Twiggy! Sassy, curious, flighty and a flier, this is a hen that can get into trouble, but also one that goes through her day with energy and purpose. She’s not an aggressive hen, rather she gets what she wants via speed, not bullying. Twiggy began laying when she was less than five months old, and, here we are a year and a half later, and she hasn’t stopped yet.

Twiggy is my first full-sized Leghorn (Snowball and the others were bantams) so she could be an exceptional individual, but judging by the poem, she fits the standard.

L poem

 

Tell me about your Leghorns. Does anyone keep brown Leghorns? Do they have the same temperament as the white? Extra points if you comment in rhyme!

Chicken Pen Expansion

You prepare. You read. You might even be able to come to one of my chicken keeping workshops. You think you’ve done everything right, you bring home the chicks, you fall in love with the girls, and you expect them to all get along. But chicken keeping doesn’t always go as planned.

A peaceful flock is a relaxing and lovely thing to have in your backyard. But, all too often there’s feather picking. There’s aggression. There’s blood. It’s hard to watch. I have been giving advice to one flock keeper who built what looked to be an ideal coop and safe fenced pen. Elizabeth lets the hens out to free-range when she gets home from work. The chickens are well-fed and well-cared for. But, it wasn’t enough. The mix of breeds that she has are problematic. (Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks are not usually tolerant of more docile breeds.) Although the space that she’d given the flock looked adequate on paper, it wasn’t enough for the hens that she has. One hen was attacked and bloody. Other hens had feathers pulled out. Her husband build a larger pen, which alleviated most of the issues, but it wasn’t quite enough to create the sort of relaxed flock dynamic that she wanted. Elizabeth and her husband have been to my workshops. They’ve heard me go on and on about how to keep hens from being bored. Her husband came up with a clever idea.

expanded pen

 

He created a second level in the pen using a pallet. This is like adding another 16 square feet to the run.

The girls are now all fully feathered. There’s no animosity amongst them. The hens are content. Their humans are happy. Brilliant!

K is for Khaki Campbell

I have several friends who keep ducks, and the ducks that they love, love, love, are these.

K for Khaki campbell

 

People who keep these ducks go on and on about the antics and delightful personalities of these birds. Personally, if I’m at a holiday party, I’d much rather hear duck stories than political discourse. If you have ducks, please leave a comment, the more involved the story, the better! We could all use a bit of fun distraction in this lull between Christmas and New Years.

K poem

J is for Japanese

These tobacco cards were printed right at the time when fancy chickens were a fad. Extravagant birds were at the height of their popularity. Like this chicken:

J

 

 

This bantam chicken was first developed in Japan in the 1600s, so it is a very, very old breed. As you can see, today’s poultry fanciers aren’t the first to create extremes in body stature and build. This bird is all about looks – wings on the ground, short legs, and a massive upright tail. Not cold or damp hardy, they can only go outside in good weather. Not a hen I’d want in my flock.

J poem