Much like dogs, different chicken breeds have very different personalities and specific characteristics. For most of the chickens on the planet, these characteristics are accurate. For our flock, they’re ridiculously inaccurate. To a point of being comical.
Let me explain. I’m going to go through the breeds we have on our mini farm, and explain the way they’re supposed to be, then tell you how it actually is.
Broody, bears confinement well, mothering
If dominiques are supposed to bear confinement well, no one ever told Dee Dee. She escapes every chance she can get. I’ve had to rescue her from neighboring yards at least a dozen times. Every time she gets out she’s so frantic to get back over the fence that she’ll pace back and forth while screaming wildly for me to rescue her. When I rush over to the lowest part of the fence, she’ll come running to meet me and squat down so I can pick her up and lift her back over. It’s quite the dramatic scene, and as you can imagine, we’re the laughing stock of the whole neighborhood.
As for broodiness and motherhood; our Doms have never gone broody, and are the opposite of mothering, as they will gladly chase and attack any chick in sight, as if it’s their little play thing.
Goes broody easily, gentle and calm temperament, non-agressive, mothering
Our Orpingtons have never gone broody, even when other chickens have. They are usually quite gentle and calm when it comes to dealing with us humans, but have acted territorial and aggressive toward other birds in the flock.Â As for mothering? Let me show you a photo of one of our Orpingtons reacting to meeting the new baby members of the flock, and you tell me if this looks mothering to you.
Yeah. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere near that she-devil of a chicken. She can be a total sweetheart though, I mean, just look at the sweet, wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly face in this picture!
poor layers, not cold hardy- should be kept indoors in winter, broody, mothering
Mokey has always been one of our most consistent layers, laying even through molts and winter when all of the other birds stopped. The only times she has not laid consistently is when she has been broody or raising chicks.
As for being cold hardy- this little lady is one of the hardiest birds we have. For one whole winter she refused to roost with the rest of the birds, and would sleep by herself in a nesting box. Even though she’s tiny, she managed to survive an extremely cold winter without the warmth of her fellow flockmates.
Going broody often and being a good mother are the characteristics about Silkies that are absolutely accurate for our little Mokey. She goes broody every 8 weeks, like clockwork, and she’s currently raising a batch of tiny chicks, which you can read about here.
known for being wonderful dual purpose breeds, Chantecler’s are rather chunky and lay consistently, they’re non broody, friendly, quiet, well mannered
Hah! Not even one of those characteristics describes our insane Chanteclers. For starters, they’re scrawny, no matter how much they eat, they stay trim and lean. They are also our most inconsistent layers, due to the fact that they are constantly going broody and would rather spend their time sitting on the nest and attacking other birds than laying eggs.
As for friendly,Â quiet, and well mannered… to that I say Psha! Absolutely untrue. In our flock the Chanteclers are the loudest, most obnoxious birds we have. You can hear them squawking from five blocks away. They are fierce, at the highest point on the social ladder, and will gladly fight any other bird in the flock to retain that position. Our chanteclers are so untrue to their breed characteristics I sometimes wonder if we got the wrong kind.
Now for the one breed characteristic that’s consistent. The website Backyard Chickens states: “Hens can be pretentious.” Boy is that ever true. The Chanteclers are the most stuck up birds in our flock. They’re like the cool kids in school, they only associate with one another and even refuse to roost with the other birds. The three Chanteclers share a spot on top of a pile of rubble in the coop, where they can literally look down on their flockmates from above. Rosie is only half Chantecler, and the treatment she receives shows it. It’s like Little Carl and Taco know that she’s not a purebred, so they let her follow them around and roost with them, but they constantly peck her in the face to put her in her place. She worships the ground they walk on, and they treat her like the dirt under their toes.
Lori Smith says
Our Orpington’s are also very docile to humans, but VERY aggressive to our Barred Rocks!
Gregg Carter says
Ha! It is funny how often the breed standards are not standard. Enjoyed the article.
Caitlin | The Siren's Tale says
Haha, sounds like your chickens march to the beat of a different drum!
Kristy @ She Eats says
Meredith! I’m so happy that you’re posting a crap ton about your chicks. I want chickens myself but don’t have the space for them just yet (unless I can raise them under my bed 😉 ) but I’m filling up my soul on all the knowledge – and cuteness – in your feeds so I have an idea when I finally get a yard again. Bring on the chicks! ow ow!
Love your descriptions of your chickens. I have a few that were from my golden polish mating with my americanas and Cuckoo marans. I call them my funky ones cause they have a mohawk on top but not nearly as big as the feathers their dad had but then they have some of the moms looks and some of the dads looks. They really are my funky chickens… Glad to hear that the silky made it through the winter cause I have a pair that I want to be able to leave outside.
Everything you have listed is TRUE.
My friends groan everytime I host a college seminar speech after their “How are you?” and my response is “Yesterday Aimee decided to
Or as I have nicknamed my chicken family, the Hobbits.
Even when cross bred with Leghorn they are the Chihuahuas of the poultry kind
Sure they are sweet to humans, maybe moody at times but still love being pampered like the mini kings and queens that they are.
I took a pair of my bantams to our Island’s Agriculture show, they were the only small birds in the show.
Their cage neighbors were a breed of Giants, three to four times the size of my little Hobbits.
Yet, my hen and roo were the LOUDEST and the most energetic.
Both hen and rooster goaded their neighbors into a fight through the cage bars and kept trying to catch their attention well through the day.
Eventually they sat and curled up like good little spoiled pets and watched every time i walked past to check up on them.
Needless to say I was a bit embarrassed, but they quickly won a lot of hearts that day.
We’ve had a variety of breeds over the years, but one that was memorable was a pair of Leghorns. We were told they wouldn’t go broody…they went broody every chance they got! Right now I am raising two Silkie chicks and I’m curious to see how their temperament is (we’re in Arizona, so cold isn’t an issue). Our supposedly docile Buff Orpingtons are all very nice to people, but pretty tough on the other chickens-they’re at the top of the pecking order.
One other misconception/stereotype we haven’t found true to life is the idea of mean roosters. Our roosters are the nicest members of our flock. In fact, the “patriarch” of our flock, a large black-and-cream gentleman named McClellan, will deliberately break up fights between hens or younger roosters. We haven’t had any bullying problems since we got him. All the roosters willingly share the best bits of food with the hens. And we’ve never had a rooster act mean to a human, unlike some of the hens!