A Dandy, Swain, Bounder, Beau or Blade or just unashamed show off - some chickens just can't help strutting their stuff. The male of the species in particular comes in some truly eye popping styles, colour and feather combinations. If you are only familiar with brown rather plain hens, you will not believe the variety and splendour abundant in the world of chickens.
A good friend of ours, Mr George tells of a town in Switzerland where the people don't wear shoes and if the weather is fine think nothing of taking their pigs for a light afternoon stroll. It did not surprise us then to find out that the same town is home to one of our favourite chicken breeds, the Appenzeller Spitzhauben.
Incidentally, if you decide to visit Appenzeller and you need a good place to stay , Mr George recommends the Gasthof Baeren-Schlatt.
Chamois Pencilled Fresian
It is amazing to think that this chicken was not seen on these shores until the 1980s. With his slate blue legs, dark gold feathers and magnificent ruffled tail the male cuts a dashing figure somewhere between Cyrano de Bergerac and Christian Lacroix. The female is also very attractive and she lays extremely well.
Often mistaken for an oversize cotton bud these are actually very friendly chickens. A true bantam is naturally small, not just a bonsai version of a large chicken. Bantams lay eggs that are considerably smaller, roughly half the size of a full size chicken egg.
Whilst the Pekin resembles a cotton bud, the Orpington is practically a double duvet! The copious feathering was encouraged by selective breeding in the Victorian era. They come in black, blue, buff and white although the buff has emerged as the most popular colour. On an historical note, the Buff Orpington was the first ever chicken to set foot inside an eglu, an honour of which she was completely unaware! At the time, she was much more interested in the raisins we had used to lure her in!
A good dual-purpose bird, pistols at dawn and honour are the code of the Light Sussex chicken brigade. Their other notable characteristics are good egg layers and tasty to eat. As well as white the sussex also comes in a black and silver variety.