Ally my 2008 flock are gone now. The criteria for the selection that year was friendly, good layers and winter hearty. They were for the most part dual-purpose hens. Most dual purpose birds are also heritage breeds. Heritage breeds s are chickens our ancestors would have prized, mostly because they were dual purpose. In earlier times chickens were valued for their eggs and the fact they could also be dinner. In today’s world the business of chickens don’t value dual purpose hens. Due to selective breeding have become very purpose oriented, layers produce eggs like crazy, but scrawny, and meaties grow fast with big breasts but don’t lay eggs worth beans.
Dolly the Buff Brahma, was the introduction to my love affair with the Brahma breed. She was one of the last two of the 2008 group. She wintered great with her cushion comb and great undercoat. She was goofy, friendly and a reliable winter layer. Her eggs were large in size and the color of a porcelain doll’s skin., She made me a believer in the merits of the Brahma breed. A friend’s daughter took Dolly and loves her friendly attitude to life. This was a breed I would have again.
Plymouth Barred Rock
Rocky Star was Barred Plymouth Rock. This is the classic black and white hen that lays brown eggs. They are called “barred” because there are white bars across the black feathers that give them the sort of spotted look. She was such a reliable egg layer compared to all the rest that year she quickly became our Rock Star. Like Dolly she was friendly and stayed till the end with Dolly. She went with Dolly to another farm, where they are adjusting just fine. Definately a breed to include in a flock.
We tried a Chantecler because it was the breed developed in Canada and we felt that increased our odds in our cold part of Montana. Her comb was almost non-existent which made her a perfect for us. The partridge coloring was by far one of the prettiest birds we have ever had. The research on Chantecler told us it was a crapshoot if she would be friendly or flighty. She fell somewhere in between. There in every flock is a chicken who is the bottom of the pecking order, but she soon had no feathers and no animal deserves such a life. We rehomed her to a family with a solo crippled pet rooster, so he could have company, and she a better life. Her eggs were only medium to large in nature. I would try one again, but still have a lot of birds to try before I settle on what my perfect flock looks like.
I tried a Welsummer, not because this hen really met any of my criteria but because this breed was known for eggs the color of terracotta. I just had to try it. Her eggs were beautiful, but she was a crummy layer compared to the others. She was re-homed to a 4-Her who wanted to try the breed to show the bird and the eggs. She was perfect for that. As much fun as her dark eggs were, I am not sure that I would try one again. She was flighty, had a big comb and her eggs didn’t come as often as I like.
Evaluation and Thoughts on 2008 Selections
Looking back I would definitely do a Brahmas & Barred Rocks again. I might try another Chantecler, the jury is still out there are so many other breeds to try. As cool as the Welsummer eggs were, her personality did not fit what I was looking for, and she never was a knock out egg layer so not likely.