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Posted on 31 January 2018 in Chicken Chat and tagged under , , , ,

There are chickens on almost every continent and each country seems to have at least one breed of chicken to be proud of, some have many more.

There are small chickens, big chickens, chickens which are excellent egg layers and other chickens which lay only a few eggs, but have many other qualities that make them well worth keeping.

So, let’s go around the world in eight chickens!

#1 UK – Sussex

We’ll start in our home country with a chicken that has many fans across the country – the Sussex.

This large, heavy breed of chicken is a dual purpose bird (meaning it’s good to eat and lays plenty of eggs) and also makes a lovely pet. The breed was developed around the time of the Romans and is now available in eight colours and as a bantam variety.

They’re known for their excellent temperaments and lay around 4-6 large brown eggs per week.

#2 USA – Jersey Giant

Now we’re off across the pond to the United States of America and looking at the Jersey Giant – the largest breed of chicken in the world (so you’ll need a big chicken house) and named after the state of New Jersey where the breed was developed.

They are calm, docile, and make good back garden pets. They’re also good egg layers – roughly 3-5 very large brown eggs per week – and are known to continue throughout the winter.

They’re not a particularly common breed but their fans will tell you how fantastic they are to keep.

#3 Switzerland – Appenzeller Spitzhauben

It’s over to Europe and snowy Switzerland to look at the Appenzeller Spitzhauben – a striking breed with a feathered crest in both hens and cockerels.

They’re largely an ornamental breed, although they were originally bred as a farm bird, so they lay a decent number of eggs (3-5 per week).

The Appenzeller is a recognised breed in the UK and there is now a movement to get the breed recognised by the American Poultry Association and improve the breed’s popularity in the USA.

#4 Poland – Poland/Polish

This is another breed with a distinctive look, and one of our personal favourites. The dome shaped crest of the Polish chicken makes them instantly recognisable and increasingly popular both as a pet and as an exhibition bird.

They’re a bright, friendly breed that suits being kept both in enclosures and free range. Their small size also makes them a brilliant family pet, although their feathered crest can require some additional care.

They lay small, cream coloured eggs – around 2-4 per week and rarely go broody.

#5 Belgium – Antwerp Belgian Bantam

Another breed that is named after its country of origin – the small, very pretty Belgian bantam is an incredibly popular show bird and is also known as the Quail bantam.

It is a true bantam, meaning that there is no large counterpart, and one of the oldest bantam breeds in the world.

In Belgium there are an amazing 29 colour variations recognised and a beard of feathers that covers the earlobes. They’re not brilliant egg layers, producing 2-4 per week, but are friendly and don’t mind not being able to free range as long as they have a big enough enclosure.

#6 China – Cochin

It’s time to go over to Asia and look at another large breed of chicken – the Cochin.

The chicken was exported to the UK and the USA in the mid-19th Century and created a craze amongst chicken keepers because of the Cochins’ size and beautiful plumage.

They’re calm, friendly, and quiet making them ideal for the back garden, especially if you have children.

#7 Japan – Japanese bantam

From large to small it’s time for the pint sized, but perfect, Japanese bantam. This breed is available in many colours, as well as frizzle and silkie varieties.

These birds have extremely short legs and have been known to live for up to 13 years with proper care and attention.

Their good looks make them the ideal ornamental breed and they only lay around 1-3 eggs per week, so if you just want an attractive chicken, this might be the breed for you.

#8 Turkey – Sultan

Finally, to Turkey to look at the Sultan, another small, ornamental breed known in the original Turkish language as “Serai-Tavuk” – or “fowls of the Sultan”.

They are an incredibly decorative breed with long tails, large crests, beards, and foot feathering. There are three colour varieties – Blue, Black, and White – although White is the most well-known colour.

The Sultan lay around 1-3 eggs per week and can be better suited to being kept in covered enclosures to protect their plumage from the elements.

Posted on 19 January 2018 in Chicken Chat, Other Poultry, Waterfowl and tagged under , , , , ,

The latest situation on the Avian Flu outbreak in the UK is that DEFRA have announced a UK wide Prevention Zone from January 18th 2018 for anyone who keeps poultry or captive birds.

This means that:

If you keep poultry you must, by law, follow specific disease prevention measures. These apply to all keepers of birds, regardless of flock size, or if your birds are pets. These are designed to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds.

If you keep birds then you can continue to allow your birds outdoors into fenced areas, but only if these areas meet certain conditions including:

you have made the areas unattractive to wild birds, for example by netting ponds, and by removing wild bird food sources

you have taken action to reduce any existing contamination, such as cleansing and disinfecting concrete areas, and fencing off wet or boggy areas

you have assessed the risk of birds coming into contact with wild birds or contamination from them

If you keep more than 500 birds, you must take some extra biosecurity measures. They include identifying clearly defined areas where access by non-essential people and vehicles is restricted, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and footwear.

DEFRA gives the following biosecurity advice to all poultry keepers in order to reduce the risk of the disease spreading and contaminating UK flocks:

minimise movement in and out of bird enclosures

clean footwear before and after visiting birds, using a Defra approved disinfectant at entrances and exits
clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment that have come into contact with poultry

keep areas where birds live clean and tidy, and regularly disinfect hard surfaces such as paths and walkways
humanely control rats and mice

place birds’ food and water in fully enclosed areas protected from wild birds, and remove any spilled feed regularly

keep birds separate from wildlife and wild waterfowl by putting suitable fencing around outdoor areas they access
keep a close watch on birds for any signs of disease and report any very sick birds or unexplained deaths to your vet

Whether you keep just a few birds as pets or have a much larger flock, good biosecurity is essential for maintaining their health and happiness.

You can register with DEFRA in order to be kept up to date on the Avian Flu situation. If you have 50 or more birds, you should register with DEFRA within one month of their arrival. More information can be found here.

This handy poster gives simple advice for all poultry keepers. It may be worth printing a few copies and giving them to other local poultry keeping friends and family.

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