Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chickens as landscaping decor

Domestic birds have always attracted the eye as well as the palate. Chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and game birds are naturally pleasant to see, but some breeds are especially beautiful and have been bred specifically as ornamental birds. Eggs and meat are a plus. Poultry can decorate your estate, whether palatial or rustic.

Starting with chickens, consider some of the most decorative breeds to brighten your yard:

Sultan chickens were bred as ornamental birds for Turkish royalty by the 19th century. These birds are pictured on Cackle Hatchery's site, where they sell them. They are decorative indeed, with full flowing white crests, muffs and beards, long feathers gracing their legs. Their feathery legs, called vulture hocks, are undesirable in other breeds, but in the case of Sultans, they add to the allure. To keep those feathery feet attractive, you won’t want them spending time around the edge of a muddy pond.

They have five toes, like the Dorking and the Silkie. They are a medium sized bird, at 6 lbs. for a rooster and 4 lbs. for a hen. They are good layers of white eggs, your bonus for keeping such distinctive birds.

Bantams are small chickens, generally one-fifth to one-third the size of large fowl, weighed in ounces rather than pounds. Bantams top out at 22-26 ounces.Most are small versions of standard size chickens, but some are True Bantams, such as Nankins and Silkies. They require proportionately less space and feed.

Modern Games, both large fowl and bantams, were bred exclusively for their appearance, to be shown on exhibition. They have an unusual, modern art appearance. This red brown pullet was champion bantam at the 2006 Crossroads of America show. She is owned by Tom Anderson. He wrote about his love for the breed in Backyard Poultry, which includes more photos. 

Japanese bantams hold their black tails high above their white bodies. Silkies have unusual hair-like feathers. Bantams come in every color imaginable. You can surely find some that will coordinate with your flowering beds.

Many bantams retain good mothering characteristics and will happily set on eggs and raise chicks for you. What could be more inspiring than a hen leading her chicks across your lawn?

Their eggs, though small, are tasty. A friend finds one regular chicken egg too small for breakfast and two too large, but two bantam eggs just right.

1 comment:

bookworm said...

Years ago, when I owned chickens, I had several ornamental breeds besides my "workchicken" Black Australorps and Barred Rocks: Polish, White Brahma (they made wonderful brood hens and mamas) and Silver Spangled Hamburg. Thank you for educating people to the beauty of chickens. I've enjoyed several of your posts since discovering you through the Blogathon.