Mid January, it is that time of year that I am really looking forward to Spring. Our ground is still frozen and snow covered. The days are short, but growing longer and all I need to get excited are seed and hatchery catalogs.
When I first got chickens I was on a free for all, grabbing random chicks from the local feed store. I made a mixed up flock of pretty chickens. I grew up around large animals, what could there really be to picking out chickens. Well, as the years of chicken keeping have rolled on, I realize now that there is quite a bit to picking out chicks.
I have had a few breeds, Bantams, Polish Chickens, Orpingtons, Australorps, Wyandottes and Easter Eggers. Each had plus and minus to living in a Michigan backyard. I really enjoy having a Polish in my flock. They have the best personalities in my book. The Orpingtons and Australorps were great layers. The Wyandottes have adapted to the cold Michigan winter the best in my opinion. Their smaller rose combs have had less frostbite than any other breeds I have had. Easter Eggers lay the prettiest eggs and also have a pea comb.
What is a a small comb? There are two combs that I find to be beneficial in cold climates. The Rose and Pea Comb. A pea comb is a term given to a comb that is small and close to the head. There are three ridges, with the center ridge being slightly higher. The position and size of this comb helps to prevent frostbite. The rose comb is a solid, fleshy, comb that runs from the beak to the back of your chickens head. The rose comb is another low comb that is close to the head.
As I look forward to this Spring’s chick order, I am looking for more than just pretty birds for my menagerie. Chickens with pea combs are high on my practicality list, but I do plan on another Polish Chicken or two just for fun. They really are fun to have around the yard and their poof of feathers on top of their head also help with frost bite. See, my practical side coming through…
One breed that I have my eye on this year are Brahmas. They are a large bird classified as dual purpose. They have pea combs and insulating feathers that helps them through cold winters. The Brahma is an Asiatic breed whose origins are have been debated. They have feathers that grow the length of their legs like a Cochin to also help in the winter.
What are some of the things that you are looking for when adding to your flock? The romantic in me loves to have a feather fluff ball of a Polish chicken, but the practical side calls for cold hardy birds.