Thursday, July 15, 2010


Cochins are one of the most friendly and varietal breeds of chickens. We've always seemed to come upon Cochins by accident. Which is great because now I'm in love with the breed and would like to get more. Our first Cochin was a black bantam. I reserved two black Silkies from our local feed and supply store, when we went to pick up the chicks it was a cold day in April, the employee grabbed two black chicks, placed them in a box, and off we went, quickly because we didn't want the chicks to get cold. When I got the chicks home and under the brooder lamp I noticed that one had a white chest and one didn't , one had a black beak and one didn't. I thought it was strange that these were both supposed to be silkies because everything I had ever learned about silkies was that their beaks, skin, even their bones were black, so I knew this little black chick wasn't a silkie, but what could she be?
As she grew, we identified her as a Black Cochin Bantam and she has since become our friendliest chicken. We held her a lot as a chick trying to find out what she was and I think she may have imprinted on us. She follows us everywhere and loves to be held, even by children. She will come running to us, cock her head and cooh until we bend down to her. Her favorite place is in Zach's large hand. She nestles down in his palm, puffs herself out, and if he lets her, she'll fall asleep.

As much as we love our little Black Cochin, I was in for a surprise when we met Kathy (see post) who has farm raised Cochins, as opposed to hatchery Cochins. When we went to pick up the Blue Laced Red Wyandottes Kathy had a variety of chickens clucking around her yard. I noticed that she too has a little Black Cochin, that looked identical to ours. Then she showed us her White Cochins. They are the most beautiful chickens I've ever seen. They are from the Dick Horstman line. They looked like a hoop skirt with a bustle for a tail. The feathers were long and mounded and the whole bird moved as if it was floating on a white cloud. The back feathers met the hock feathers which met the leg feather and out they went, plump and round and lovely. Stupidly, I asked if it was only the white variety that had such stunning plumage, I explained that we had a little black cochin like hers and likewise, it didn't compare to these white beauties. She explained that her black cochin was a hatchery chicken, and that her whites were farm raised. The difference was outstanding! None the less we came for Blue Lacers, and added a few white Cochins. I hope I can raise them to look as beautiful as Kathy's. We have a pair of Bantams and they have a certain regality about them, like "old money", and one is never without the other. I can picture her with a parasol and him with a top hat and cane strolling down a Victorian lane.
While we were at Kathy's we also picked up a couple of Frizzled Cochins. Frizzles are chickens whose feathers grow backwards. They look like they've been caught in a side wind. Somewhere I've read that they were bread to look like a chrysanthemum. I have wanted a Frizzled Cochin since I was 15. The frizzles we have are mutts, part Mile' Fleur part Cochin, but soo stinking cute! The interesting thing about the Frizzle is the way the Frizzled gene is carried through the breed. If you mate two Frizzles you will get smooth chicks, if you mate a smooth with a Frizzle 3 out of 4 chicks will be frizzled.

Our last Cochin is a Buff Cochin. We are fairly sure that it's a cockerel, and we are fairly sure that it is, in fact, a Cochin. We were at the same hatchery to get Rhode Island Reds and amongst all the little reddish brown chicks were two gigantic chicks with very fluffy down and feathers on their legs. I asked if the shop keeper knew what they were and they didn't, they said it was some sort of sorting mistake and that they had come with the Reds. I was with my good friend Liz (who is also a chicken collector) and we scooped them up each taking one. I think she has a pullet and we got the cockerel, so hopefully next spring we can make more "Mystery Chickens". 

Even now that we think they are Cochins, we still call them the mystery chickens. The exciting part is that we went to the 4 H fair yesterday and saw what a Buff Cochin will look like when it's grown. They are HUGE!!! And spectacular, and took the Blue Ribbon!

I'm hoping that's what our mystery chicken is, I've heard of Giant Cochins but the tag on the cage just said "Cochin" so fingers crossed, we'll see what they turn into...

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