Some of us look at hatchery catalogs like the proverbial child in a candy shop. The varieties of poultry look so appealing that we want one of each. I even heard about a man who tried to collect a hen of every breed, but he stopped at 89.
However, the truth is, just like a dog lover doesn’t necessarily love all breeds equally, a chicken fancier finds some chickens nicer than others. And although some people are attracted to birds with spots, or those with feathered legs, it’s not always about looks. In fact, the backyard hen owners that I know all use personality as the first criteria for choosing birds.
My own preference are for the classic “big brown hens.” I like personable, friendly, solid chickens. Marge is a favorite. Her looks are nothing special – she’s a basic New Hampshire Red – but when I step into the chicken yard she comes right up, looks me in the eye and starts cackling. She talks like an old, complaining Aunt I remember from my childhood. I also love my Australorps, Blackie and Twinkydink. They don’t talk much, but they are calm and pleasant to be around.
I’m not partial to our one Araucana, Perrie. She’s watchful and wary, never chats with me, and has no friends in the flock. But I know a woman in town who loves Araucanas best. She likes how they have hawk-like eyes. She likes their intelligence and aloofness, and of course, the colorful eggs are wonderful.
For children, nothing is better than a silkie. Not the smartest of hens, but as gentle and placid and affectionate as they get. And little. Put a silkie in the arms of a youngster, and it will be carried around to the delight of both child and chicken.
Have a favorite breed? Tell me about it!