Go figure: Polish are French. They all have distinctive topknots that look coifed on the hens and like Elvis on a bad hair day for the guys. There are lots of color varieties; we've chosen silver-laced for no particular reason other than their prettiness. They are surprisingly good layers of bullet-shaped large eggs; they are also good moms. Warning: keep them with some other breeds that are good at spotting hawks. Polish can't see much above their heads, so they need an alarm bird and some cover to run to.
Pros: Endlessly amusing but smarter and more independent than they look.
Cons: Roosters can be aggressive with other roosters. Muddy topknots may need an occasional shampoo.
The taste difference between home-raised eggs and store eggs is as pronounced as the difference between a home-grown tomato and its industrially produced namesake, and the nutritional difference is even more substantial. You’ll never want to eat a factory egg again.
Plus, chickens are entertaining. What else brings you so much in one package? Food security, home entertainment, superior nutrition, daily soap-opera-style drama, gourmet cachet, laugh therapy, great garden compost.
Why have heritage breeds?
The heritage breeds were developed for small-flock home situations, the way chickens lived with people until the industrial era. They’re healthy and hardy, easy-going and friendly with people, good at foraging, and they go on laying eggs for years. Many heritage breeds are now rare and endangered; they need to be raised more widely to survive.
Do not get chicken breeds developed for industrial production, often sold at feed stores as sex-links. These chickens are bred to lay heavily their first year and then be slaughtered – they won’t lay well beyond that first year, and may develop health problems. Most important, some varieties can be extremely aggressive, especially toward other chicken breeds.
Why You Want a Rooster
If you live where roosters are allowed, consider including one – besides being fabulously decorative and personable, a rooster will alert hens to danger and even sacrifice his life to protect them. And if you’re going to have a rooster, why not pick some hens to match, and help perpetuate a heritage breed?
Contact us for information about chicks, pullets, and cockerels we may have available for sale in northern California. Sorry, we don’t ship poultry.
If you’ve seen Picasso’s roosters you’ve seen Buff Catalanas. From the Catalan region of Spain, they’re the second largest of the Mediterranean breeds, and the most mellow. Unlike other Meds, the hens are good moms. Excellent layers of tinted white eggs, and the roosters have a curious trill to their crow.
Pros: calm for a light breed, great layers of large eggs.
Cons: not a candidate for commercial egg production because of occasionally broody hens and slower growth than other Mediterranean breeds.
Americaunas were developed in the United States, partly from South American Aracauna stock. They feature the beards, muffs, and wild natures of their southern ancestors, but differ in several important ways: Americaunas have tails, their eggs are blue rather than green, and they are much better layers. Don’t confuse our birds with so-called Easter Eggers, which are not purebred and can’t be entered in poultry shows. Our strain tends toward wild, and would prefer to have nothing to do with people.
Pros: blue eggs, good layers, often first to start again after a moult, roosters especially protective of their flock.
Cons: tend to scream when caught, and in general can be on the hysterical side.
A rare and beautiful bundle of contradictions, the Sumatra is not for the novice. Closest to the wild of any modern breed, Sumatras are excellent foragers, but tend to be domineering in a flock, even when they’re the smallest birds. Some in fact can be downright difficult. However, if you want to train a chicken you couldn’t pick a better breed. Spare layers of small white eggs.
Pros: Their wild instincts will lead them to alert the flock when a predator is near.
Cons: Definitely not the bird for egg production, and might make your neighbors call the police when you pick one up (unless you handle them frequently, in which case they can be sweethearts).
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P.O. Box 145
Laytonville CA 95454