Wyandottes; practical and pretty
The simple satisfaction of scattering corn and collecting eggs never leaves you. My mother kept hens and as soon as I had a garden of my own I bought my first Wyandotte bantams. I have now been keeping Wyandottes bantam chickens for almost 20 years.
I chose Wyandottes because the bantams were an ideal size for someone returning to handling hens after a long break. I found their energetic but sensible temperament was attractive and practical. They don’t fly so don’t need elaborate fencing. The area I live in is notoriously muddy so hens with clean un-feathered legs is essential and another reason I originally decided on Wyandottes.
Wyandotte bantams are such amazing layers for size and quantity I didn’t find there was any benefit in keeping the large version so have stick to the bantams. Wyandotte bantams are quite a bit bigger than true bantams and mine lay good sized eggs,
Partridge Wyandotte Bantams
My first Wyandottes bantams were Partridge and Silver Pencilled which by luck were beautifully marked birds from some of the best lines of exhibition females. Both males and females are gorgeous. The males have colouring similar to wild red jungle fowl and for me their beautifully pencilled wives are the loveliest of chickens.
I still keep a few silver pencilled, the sharp black and white pattern looks very smart like a herring-bone tweed. Blue silver pencilled are pretty too and I aim to get those from mating a silver cockerel to my blue partridge females. PARTRIDGE WYANDOTTES
- Good Layers
- Correct colour and type
- Vigour and fertility
- Nice temperament
- Show-winning quality
My aim has been to develop my own strains of Wyandotte bantams bred to the Poultry Club of Great Britain’s Wyandotte standards as well as developing new colours that I want to see running round my garden. My birds have all the traditional characteristics of the breed and are successfully shown. Additionally I have also selected for good health, vigour, an easy-going temperament and good laying characteristics – size matters especially in bantam eggs! They all lay pretty good size eggs considering the size of the birds; some of the bantam hens even lay eggs up to 60g. They are good layers. Traditionally spare cockerels would make good eating – the flavour is wonderful – but they need to be at least six months before they are a worthwhile size.
When I first started breeding I found the infertility of my original strain very frustrating; whats the point of having the most beautiful birds which can’t breed? So early on I worked on improving fertility with some serious out-crosses for which I have been very grateful.
I quickly learnt that if a bird has a tendency to get health problems the chances are it will pass it on to its offspring. I look after my birds as well as possible, if they get something wrong I don;t mind giving them a bit of apple cider vinegar but apart from that no treatment and birds that have been ill aren’t used to breed from. One buff laced hen lived to over eleven and years on her great grand children usually live to a good old.
When I first had my bantams the males would always fight when they came into contact; even young males would fight badly from an easily age. So when selecting males for the breeding pen good behavior has been very important from the start. It quickly made a difference and the males are much easier to keep together without fighting.