One of the most common questions I am asked is about some of the rarer breeds of poultry.
While I have addressed this question before in the column, some new correspondents have asked me to discuss some of the general issues about keeping these breeds.
The rare breeds were the main reason that I began in poultry.
It is the diversity and complexity in breeding them that provides the interest.
It is true that it is very difficult to win a major at a show with a rare breed, but it is possible and a real achievement.
These breeds come in both hard feather, such as the Malay, and soft feather such as the Polish and Araucana.
The soft feather breeds are more common and probably, with some breeds excepted, easier to find.
The rarer breeds still have strong utility purposes in many breeds and can be successfully kept as you would any of the breeds.
The rare breeds have a bigger colour selection in eggs from the blue to the very dark brown so do your research in this regard.
Some of the larger birds are used as meat birds, especially the Dorkings and it is wise to think back and see the lineage of some of these breeds.
Many were originally bred for farm purposes while others were just show birds.
Breeders of the rare breeds are truly a dedicated lot.
They have a great comradery so if you are thinking about one of these breeds, it is wise to go to a few shows to have a look and to talk to breeders.
Don’t be in a rush to buy birds and make sure you look about for quality.
These breeds vary greatly in quality.
It is best to get a good idea of the exact type and colour of the breed you want before you purchase.
Talk to breeders and see what each breed offers.
As usual with poultry some are more difficult to breed while others produce less.
Think about the breed best for your purposes, circumstances and yard.
Rare breeds have much to offer.
You will enjoy owning a breed that has a distinct heritage and carries the genetics of our, currently more popular, breeds.
Together with this you will help to preserve a breed and the special qualities that they possess.
It is a worthy part of the hobby. More on the rare breeds in the next column.
- Bruce Pattinson is a past president of the NSW Exhibition Poultry Association. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to: Chook Feed, PO Box 25, Kogarah, 2217, with your name and daytime contact number.