The Poultry Project, Jan Fetler, PlumJam Photography
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Breeds

I have quite a varied collection of breeds. They all live happily together. I've added 'My notes' about each one as I gain experience.


Black Australorp || Light Brahma || Easter Egger || Leghorn Brown, White
Marans || Buff Orpington || Barred Plymouth Rock || Rhode Island Red
Sex Link Black, Gold || Wyandotte Columbian, Silver Laced || Ducks

Black Australorp
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Black Australorp

Australorps were originally bred in Australia and were introduced into the US in 1929. They are calm and friendly.

ALBC Status: Recovering (The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy works to protect poultry and other livestock breeds from extinction.)

Australorps are excellent layers of large light brown or tinted eggs. One hen was documented as having laid 364 eggs in 365 days under official Australian testing. This record has since been overtaken by the commercial Leghorn breed.

The Australorp's exceptionally soft, shiny black plumage has hints of green and purple in the sunlight. Traditionally black in color, white and blue laced variations do occur. They have single combs, dark eyes, and black legs.

Chicks are black with a good deal of white in the underparts and small white patches around the head and wings.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 6 1/2 pounds.

My notes: These girls are quite broody. One so much I culled her. Their feathers are the softest and most beautiful of all the hens. They molt very fast and got back to laying in about 2 months.


 

Light Brahma
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Brahma, Light

The Brahmas are a very old breed from Asia, and the name Brahma comes from the river Brahmaputra in India. They were brought to this country about 1850 by Yankee sailors on their return from trading in Far Eastern ports. Brahmas are one of the largest breeds of chicken and have fully feathered legs and because of their mature weight, they do not fly. They are exceptionally quiet, gentle, and easy to handle.

ALBC Status: Watch

Brahmas are good layers of medium sized brown eggs.

Feather color is white with contrasting neck, and tail plumage which are black. Besides the light variety, Brahmas are dark or buff--both with contrasting black at neck and tail. They have pea combs, prominent dark redish eyes, and fully feathered yellow legs.

Baby chicks are creamy white, but some have shades of gray on the back.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 9 1/2 pounds.

My notes: Not broody. What a talker! Very friendly. They molt very fast and got back to laying in about 2 months.


 

Buff Orpington
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Easter Egger

Sometimes mistakenly called Araucana or Ameraucana (2 recognized breeds only available through breeders), the Easter Egger is a mutt that lays tinted (blue or green) eggs.

Any breeding where one chicken lays tinted eggs will result in offspring that lay blue or green eggs--it is a dominant trait. So there can be lots of differences in appearance and size of individual Easter Eggers.

ALBC Status: NA since the breed is not recognized by the American Poultry Association.

Easter Eggers are very good layers of extra large blue, green and sometimes pink tinted eggs (although I have not experienced this in my flock so far after 17 EEs).

They exhibit a wonderful combination of colors and color patterns. They have pea combs no wattles, reddish brown eyes, and slate gray legs. The closer their breeding to the real Araucana or Ameraucana, the more cheek tufts and beards they will have.

I have documented several sets of chicks as they feather out to see what color they will be:

Easter Egger Colors

Chicks vary in color, as do the adults

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 6 pounds.

My notes: Not broody (only 1 out of 17 so far has been broody). All molted slowly the first winter (9 months old). They were not producing during cold months, but make up for it the rest of the year by laying a lot of huge eggs. Some are very friendly while others are very timid.


 

Buff Orpington
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Leghorn, Danish Brown

Originating in Italy, Brown Leghorns are active and intelligent. They are rarely broody.

ALBC Status: Recovering.

Best layers of the heritage Leghorn breed. Excellent layers of large tinted white eggs.

Feathers are shades of brown with a rosy brown chest and dark tail. White earlobes. They have large single combs, orange brown eyes, and yellow legs.

Chicks are chipmunk colored.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh 4-5 pounds.

My notes: This girl stopped laying when days got shorter. Lighting in the barn brought her back into production after a 2-month break. She is the most shy of this group of hens.


 

Buff Orpington
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Leghorn, White

This breed was developed in Italy, brought to the U.S. In 1835. It is probably the most popular breed worldwide and was used in the breeding of 'battery' hens used in egg production farms. This breed is very economical because it produces good quality eggs while eating small amounts of food.

They mature early and are known for being noisy and flighty. Not broody and they tolerate cold weather well.

ALBC Status: NA since 'industrial' breeds are not rated by the ALBC.

A prolific layer of extra large white eggs--up to 300 per year.

Feathers are pure white. They have large single combs, orange brown eyes, and yellow legs.

Chicks solid pale yellow.

A Mediterranean breed, mature hens weigh about 4-5 pounds.

My notes: Surprisingly, this girl has been broody multiple times. I separate her and she breaks up quickly. Keeping her because she lays lots of eggs. She is very curious and not shy.


 

Buff Orpington
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Marans, Cuckoo

Cuckoo Marans (always with the 's' whether one bird or many) look a lot like a Barred Rock. Their claim to fame is their extremely dark brown eggs and they are often called 'Chocolate Eggers'. It was developed in France in the town of Marans in the mid 1800s.

ALBC Status: NA since the Marans is not recognized by the American Poultry Association, although it is considered rare.

Cuckoo Marans are good layers of large extremely dark brown eggs.

Feathers crossed throughout with irregular dark and light slate bars and the difference between the black and white bars is not as distinct as the Barred Rock. Besides the Cuckoo (barred) color, Marans can be Black Copper, Silver, Golden Cuckoo, White, Wheaten, Birchen, Blue, and others. They have single combs, orange brown eyes, and white to light slate legs.

Chicks are dark gray to black with some white patches on head and body.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 6 1/2 pounds.

My notes: From all description, this girl is probably a Barred Rock and not a Marans. Yellow legs is a trait of the Rocks. Her egg is slightly darker than others, but not dramatically so. Even her feathers look the same as a Barred Rock except she is darker overall.


 

Buff Orpington
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Buff Orpington

Orpingtons originated in England and the Queen Mother was reportedly a keeper of this bird. They were brought to the US in the late 1800's. They're big, friendly, calm and patient. Because they are loosely feathered, they appear to be heavier than their true weights. Buff Orpingtons are sometimes called "Big Buffs."

ALBC Status: Recovering

Orpingtons are good layers of extra large pinkish brown eggs.

Feather color is golden buff. Besides the most popular color, Buff, Orpingtons are Black, Blue or White. They have single combs, reddish brown eyes, and white legs.

Chicks are a soft light buff color.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 8 pounds.

My notes: Broody girls--some extremely. Good layers. Will squat for anyone! Very gently and friendly.


 

Barred Rock
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Plymouth Rock, Barred

The Barred Rock, a variety of the Plymouth Rock breed, is one of the all time popular favorites in this country. Developed in New England in the early 1800's, it has spread to every part of the U.S. and is an ideal American chicken. They are friendly birds which are easy to tame.

ALBC Status: Recovering

Rocks are prolific layers of large cream colored eggs.

Feathers are striped with contrasting black and white 'bars'. Besides the Barred, they can also be White, Buff, Silver Penciled, Partridge, Columbian, Blue, and Black. They have single combs, brown eyes, and yellow legs.

Chicks are dark gray to black with some white patches on head and body.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 7 1/2 pounds.

My notes: Not broody. Very consistent layers. One is the pack leader. Another is a talker. All are very friendly. These hens molt very fast and got back to laying in about 2 months. If I could have only one breed, this would be it.

The bossy girl dropped in pecking order after the Sex Links and another Rhodie joined the flock.


 

Rhode Island Red
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Rhode Island Red

This is one of the most famous and all time popular breeds of truly American chickens. Developed in the early part of this century in the state of the same name, and is the state bird of Rhode Island. They are docile and easy going.

ALBC Status: Recovering

No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs. Reds lay extra large brown eggs.

Mature birds are a variety of shades of mahogany red They have single combs, red eyes, and yellow legs.

Chicks are a rusty red color.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 6 1/2 pounds.

My notes: Two of three have been broody. One of the first two still hasn't molted--she is 2 years old at this writing and looks pretty tattered. Very bossy.


 

Buff Orpington
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Sex Link, Black

Sometimes called a Black Star, this is a hybrid breed of a Barred Plymouth Rock hen and a Rhode Island Red cock.

Not quite as productive as the Gold Sex Link, but have better temperment and are a little larger making it a dual purpose breed.

ALBC Status: NA since this is a hybrid breed and not recognized by the American Poultry Association.

These chickens are excellent layers of large brown eggs.

Feather color fr hens iis dark red at the head and chest shading to black at the wings and tail. Males have barred feather color like a Barred Rock. They often have the greenish sheen of a black hen. They have single combs, reddish brown eyes, and yellow legs.

Male chicks are black with white head spots while females are all black.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh between 5 and 6 pounds.

My notes: Steady layer who bosses the ducks.


 

Buff Orpington
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Sex Link, Gold

What's in a name? A lot with this breed. It's not really a breed at all but a cross bred specifically so that males and females are different colors when they hatch. A match resulting in a hen somewhat like the one on the left starts with a red rooster (either a Rhode Island Red or a New Hampshire).

Depending on the combination, the name changes. I think I'm getting Golden Comets. Here are the possibilities:

White Plymouth Rock and a New Hampshire = Golden Comet.

A Silver Laced Wyandotte and a New Hampshire = Cinnamon Queen

Rhode Island White and Red = Red Sex Link

Delaware and Production Red = Gold Sex Link

And then some hatcheries call them Red Stars. Whew! Anyway you don't get more sex link chickens by breeding them together. To make more, you need to cross 2 different breeds from the list above.

ALBC Status: NA since this is a hybrid breed and not recognized by the American Poultry Association.

These chickens are prolific layers of large brown eggs. In fact, most of the brown eggs sold in the grocery market come from these hens.

Feather color is golden to red with white feathers peaking through in the neck and tail. They have single combs, reddish brown eyes, and yellow legs.

Male chicks are a soft light yellow while females are reddish in color.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh between 4 and 6 pounds depending on breeding.

My notes: One has been broody. These birds are reliable winter layers. Very bossy with their flockmates and one occasionally challenges me! No other bird can be within pecking distance on the roosts at night. I don't have enough roost space for that kind of behavior!


 

Columbian Wyandotte
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Wyandotte, Columbian

Wyandottes are an all American breed that began in the late 1800's. They are easy going, hardy, and are available in a great variety of beautiful feather patterns. The Wyandotte breed name derived from a once numerous tribe of North American Indians (the Wyandots).

Columbian Wyandottes where first exhibited at the Columbian Exposition/World’s Fair in 1893 thus giving them the name they are now known by. They were admitted to the A.P.A. standard in 1905.

ALBC Status: Recovering

Wyandottes are very good layers of large light to rich brown eggs.

They have a particularly rounded appearance. Columbian Wyandottes are white with contrasting neck, and tail plumage which are black with silvery white edging. Besides the Silver Laced variety shown below, they can also be Golden Laced, White, Black, Buff, Partridge, Silver Penciled, Blue, Blue Laced, Red, Barred and more. They have rose combs, reddish brown eyes, and yellow legs.

Chicks are a creamy white and some have dark gray shading on the back.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 6 1/2 pounds.

My notes: This lady could be a show bird. A little timid but just beautiful. On the negative side, she is very broody, molted at 9 months under lights and lays a very small egg.


 

Silver Laced Wyandotte
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Wyandotte, Silver Laced

Same breed description as the Columbian, above.

The Silver Laced variety was the first color pattern developed of this breed and were reported as early as 1860. The lustrous greenish black feathers have silvery-white centers. They have rose combs, reddish brown eyes, and yellow legs.

Chicks vary from almost black to light silvery gray and many have contrasting light and dark stripes on the back. More light spots should result in a lot of 'chrome' on the adult which is stunning.

Considered a heavy breed, mature hens weigh about 6 1/2 pounds.

My notes: My first SLW was not a beauty like her Columbian sister, but she is a consistent layer of large eggs. Not broody. She is quite timid. This girl still hasn't molted--she is 2 years old at this writing and looks pretty tattered. Update: This girl finally molted in her 2nd winter.

SLW #2 and beyond have had a lot more white--practically look like a different breed! More white patches on the chick seems to be the goal for more 'chrome' on the adult.

Ducks

Silver Laced Wyandotte
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Khaki Campbell

ALBC Status: Watch

The Khaki Campbell is one of the more famous and popular duck breeds due to its excellent egg production. It was introduced in 1901 by Mrs. Adele Campbell of Gloucestershire, England. She experimented with Runners crossed with Rouen and Mallards but never revealed the exact genetic makeup of her Campbells. The advantage over the pure Runner was a more useful carcass for meat and improved egg production. Though they have been turned into an exhibition type breed, she was adamant that her birds were designed for production, not the exhibition hall.

Energetic personality and active forager.

Considered a light duck breed, mature hens weigh about 4 pounds. They lay creamy white eggs comparing in size to a Jumbo chicken egg. They are not good mothers--rarely go 'broody'--so can't be depended onto to hatch eggs. A year around layer.

My notes: Ducklings are much more active than chicks. They grow much faster and by 3 weeks are as big as a 6-week chicken. Eggs started at 18 weeks. Pale greenish ivory, extra large.


Silver Laced Wyandotte
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Runner, Black

ALBC Status: Recovering

All Runners were originally bred in Southeast Asia for high egg production and excellent mobility. Due to the emphasis on coloration over the past 80 years in the breeding programs in England and the United States, the Runners no longer excel at egg production. They are very average at this point.

There is evidence of their ancient ancestry from stone carvings in Java that are over 2000 years old. These ducks are still being used as they were then. Flocks of ducks are herded daily from field to field eating waste rice, weed seeds, insects, slugs and other bugs. They are then put in a bamboo pen at night where they lay their eggs and are released the following morning to clean other fields.

Docile, active forager.

Considered a light duck breed, mature hens weigh about 4 pounds. They lay a white or tinted (greenish) egg comparing in size to a Jumbo chicken egg. They usually produce eggs from February and into August.

My notes: Ducklings are much more active than chicks. They grow much faster and by 3 weeks are as big as a 6-week chicken. Slower to begin laying than the Campbells. Small sage green eggs are fairly regular once started. Very hard shells.


Black Australorp || Light Brahma || Easter Egger || Leghorn Brown, White
Marans || Buff Orpington || Barred Plymouth Rock || Rhode Island Red
Sex Link Black, Gold || Wyandotte Columbian, Silver Laced || Ducks

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