When I got involved with chickens, I didn’t know a Cochin from a Leghorn. As my chickens grew and I learned, different breeds resonated with me. That’s usually the way it works with chicken people. As they develop as fanciers, certain breeds emerge as their favorites.
Dorkings lead my list. Roman mosaics show chickens that are distinctly Dorkings, with their five toes and large tails. Dorkings came to England with the Roman invasion, acquiring their name from an English market town. Their ample bodies speak to me of strength and confidence. Their presence through the centuries assures their place in history.
Araucanas are known for their blue eggs, but their historical significance suggests chickens in the American continents long before Columbus brought them from Spain. They are rumpless, with fewer vertebrae in the spine and no tail, as shown in this flock. Definitely different from other chickens. Their differences indicate that they are distinct from European chickens, descending from chickens that arrived in South America on canoes from Polynesia centuries earlier.They have feathery muffs on their faces.
Dominiques are the first American chicken breed, beautiful barred feathers on chickens that established themselves in our nation’s early days. They are good mothers and reliable brown egg layers. I like to think of them scratching for bugs in early settlement barnyards.
Fayoumis are Egyptian chickens harking back to the days when pharaohs ruled and gods arose from the Nile. Their history includes infusions of Junglefowl from India, a gift from traders seeking to find favor with the powers of the day. Beautiful and hardy, they may have natural immunity to avian influenza.
Silkies, the only chicken with feathers like hair. They were one of the wonders Marco Polo reported when he returned to Europe from China. They still attract star attention: here's Tori Spelling with her per Silkie. They’re bantams, small in size, but popular in many colors. This rooster's plumage is called is partridge. They have black skin and bones, giving them additional curative powers in traditional Chinese culture. Talk about chicken Soup for the Soul!