White Leghorns

Another incredibly common chicken, that is found in many varieties, with the most common, and famous being the White. They are the primary white egg producer of the world, and will be the source of what you pick up in the supermarket. Especially the Pearl-White variety (pictured) are very regal looking, and would be a nice addition to your flock in more ways than one. However they are a bit of a smaller bird, and so they are used primarily for egg-laying. They are usually up there right with the Rhode Island Red.
  • Appearance:
    • Male: These chickens have white feathers that are very bright and beautiful when taken care of. Their tails are very large. but are displayed less in the way of height, but in distance behind them. They have large red facial features in contrast to the white, and will be what “the barnyard rooster” should look like.
    • Female: Same as male but without the large swooping tail and large facial features. Otherwise she may be a little more “compact”, reflecting on the good food to egg ratio that this breed has.
    • Face: Red
    • Comb: Large red single or rose comb
    • Earlobes: White
    • Skin color:Yellow
    • Beak color: Yellow
    • Eyes: Red-Orange
  • Weight: Rooster-6 Hen-4.5 Cockerel-5 Pullet-4*
  • Purpose: White leghorns, due to a smaller body are for Egg-Laying purposes.
  • Origin: This breed of chicken originated in Italy, and take their name from Livorno, also known as Leghorn, which was the first city that they were shipped from.
  • Common: Extremely
  • Egg color: White
  • Egg size: Medium to Large
  • Eggs a week/year: 5-6 eggs a week/280-300 a year, known to lay in nearly all conditions.
  • Broody: No, broodiness has been almost completely bred out of them.
  • Confinement: Generally take confinement very well.
  • Compatibility: Good with others of it’s kind, but not especially with others.
  • Hardy: Good with heat, and okay with cold. In the cold they may need a little petroleum jelly on their comb.
  • Bantam: Yes*
  • Personality: Nervous, but intelligent… They usually handle new situations with caution.
  • Available from: *

Well known to be amazing egg-layers, they are also visually pleasing. Definitely a good addition to the backyard chicken owner’s flock.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user: calpsychik
Information courtesy of: http://www.afn.org/~poultry/breeds/leghorn.htm
http://domestic-birds.suite101.com/article.cfm/breed-profile-of-the-leghorn-breed-of-chicken
http://purelypoultry.com/leghorn-chickens-p-467.html
*for more information on terms listed above, see Key to Chicken Entries

Black Copper Marans

This bird has made a name for itself as one of the world breeds that produces chocolate brown eggs. It is highly prized by chefs, both for it’s color and quality. However, it does not have a APA (American Poultry Association) Standard of Perfection, so there are many varieties, but the French Standard is your best bet. Unfortunately for us though there is no single strain that is the French Standard, so you might want to use the criteria below to find the one closest to it that you can. Though this may not be important to all of you, if this criteria is not fulfilled the chicken will probably not be pure Black Copper Maran, and not lay it’s legendary dark eggs.
  • Appearance:
    • Male: One of the more complexly colored roosters, ideally this has: a  continuous shade of copper on the head, and hackle (back and sides of neck). Then there will be a slightly darker shade of copper on the saddle (swoop of back), and a mix of this darker shade with black feathers as you move towards the wings. On the lower part of the wings, and tail, there should be all black feathers, with a very prominent green sheen. Other parts as you move to the chest and under the wings will also be black, but without as much of a sheen, if any at all.
    • Female: A female has a nearly completely black body with copper on the head and neck areas, as above. It is good to have intense copper in these areas, but if any is found in the chest, or back, it is considered bad genetics, so you might want to stay away from mothers who may have these characteristics if you are going to breed your chickens. Also look out for white spots anywhere.
    • Face: Red
    • Comb: Large red single or rose comb
    • Earlobes: Red
    • Skin color: Yellow
    • Beak color: Yellow
    • Eyes: Red-Orange
    • Legs: Slate gray, with a pink underside. Preferably feathered, this is what is considered the French standard, but only on the leg and outer toe.
  • Weight: Rooster-8 Hen-6.5 Cockerel-7 Pullet-5.5*
  • Purpose: This chicken is dual-purpose.
  • Origin: Marans originated in France.
  • Common: Rare
  • Egg color: Chocolate Brown. This color is achieved by a coating that is applied in the last part of the laying process, that since it is only on the surface, you can rub it off with a little work.
  • Egg size: Large to X-Large
  • Eggs a week/year: 3-4 eggs a week 150-180 a year, but of it’s legendary eggs.
  • Broody: Occasionally*
  • Confinement: They generally take confinement well.
  • Compatibility: They typically get along well with others.
  • Hardy: They are good with cold because they were initially bred in a damp environment.
  • Bantam: Yes*
  • Personality: Not as vocal as other chickens, generally they are active, but may become lazy if not given the proper space.
  • Available from: In this chickens case it is bad to buy from hatcheries because they will not reach all of the standards, and will not lay dark eggs. However below I have listed severaly popular lines of this chicken, and sellers.*
    • Little Peddler line: 6 eggs max. for $50
    • Bev Davis line: price not stated
    • Cottage Hill line: price not stated

Well known to be amazing egg-layers, they are also visually pleasing. Definitely a good addition to the backyard chicken owner’s flock.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user: ninjapoodles
Information courtesy of: http://blackcoppermarans.org/
http://maransofamericaclub.com/
http://www.maransusa.com/
*For more information on terms above see Key to Chicken Entries

Speckled Sussex

The Speckled Sussex is a beautiful chicken that becomes more decorative with age. They are ideal for backyard chicken owners who need to impress neighbors, yet they still produce a fair number of eggs, and are good for eating when the time comes. However, they are not commonly used in the meat industry, because they develop slowly, but they a good choice for those who are not burdened by time.

  • Appearance:
    • Male: These birds are extremely beautiful and ornamental, they have a mahogany base with many feathers having a black bar, and ending in a white tip. The reason I say that these chickens become more beautiful with age is because with each molt the amount of white on the tip is a little more. So, eventually you have these fancy, white-speckled chickens. For males in particular they have very impressive sickles and the white and mahogany make a beautiful contrast on their hackle.
    • Female: A hen is what is shown above, at an older age, and is equally beautiful, however, and will camouflage easily as will the male. If well-tended these can become very proper, and regal looking birds.
    • Face: Red
    • Comb: Single-Medium
    • Earlobes: Red
    • Skin color: Pinkish white
    • Beak color: Horn
    • Eyes: Red-Orange
    • Legs: Pinkish white
  • Weight: Rooster-9 Hen-7 Cockerel-8 Pullet-6*
  • Purpose: Dual-purpose
  • Origin: Sussex, England
  • Common: Yes
  • Egg color: Light Brown
  • Egg size: Medium to Large
  • Eggs a week/year: 4 or so a week/200 a year
  • Broody: Yes*
  • Confinement: Great, but they are good free-range, as they are well camouflaged from predators.
  • Compatibility: Good, they are more mellow, and will be closer to the bottom of the pecking order.
  • Hardy: Yes, they are actually quite good winter layers, but as with almost any chicken, you want a small source of heat for them.
  • Bantam:Yes *
  • Personality: Mellow, and easily tamable, they are a good starter breed for new chicken owners. They are also commonly quite smart for a chicken.
  • Available from:*
    • eFowl.com
      • Day Old: (Min. 5 in total) SR: $2.25, F: $2.60, M: $1.42
    • Welp Hatchery
      • Day Old: (Min. 1) SR: $2.30, F: $2.76 , M:$1.90
    • McMurray Hatchery
      • Day Old: (Min. 1) SR: $2.25, F: $2.72, M: $1.53

In general, a good jack-of-all-trades. They are a amazing breed, but one that is still easy to have and handle.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user: terrabytefarms
Information courtesy of: http://www.efowl.com/Speckled_Sussex_Chickens_p/1091.htm
http://www.poulacapplepoultry.com/html/sussex.html#speckled_sussex