Are you considering Cochin chickens? iIt s one of the most unique and good-looking chicken breeds that you can add to your flock. They are usually friendly, docile, quiet, and come in a variety of unique colors. If you have been thinking of adding this fantastic bird to your flock, here is all you need to know.
History of Cochins
Chicken breeds are divided into various classes by the American Poultry Association. Cochins are classified under the Asiatic class. The group also includes Langshans and Brahmas.
It is known that the breed first came from China to England. However, the exact origin of the Cochins is not known. They were primarily developed for meat purposes. The developers were keen on the size of the eggs as well as the size of the chickens.
The birds inspired a significant interest in poultry from Americans and Europeans once they reached England from Asia. They were not, however, successful as commercial meat chickens despite their initial popularity and large sizes. This could have been because of their slow growth.
Although the Cochins were never intended for commercial egg-laying purposes, the birds are pretty reliable layers. They have been bred mainly for aesthetics over the years. This implies that both egg production and meat quality have suffered somewhat.
The Livestock Conservancy lists the Cochins as a recovering breed. The breed, therefore, has to be monitored well.
Breed Standard and Appearance
The Cochin is generally a large bird with roosters weighing up to 11 lb and hens weighing around 8 lb. The fluffy feathers make them look enormous.
- They have a complete and soft feathering that is not tight. Their legs, feet, and toes are also feathered. However, the two inner toes are naked.
- The birds are full-breasted and have large wings. They can, however, not fly because of their weight.
- They have a single red comb and red earlobes and wattles.
- The beak can be any color ranging from black to yellow.
The breed has several color varieties. The American Poultry Association recognizes the following:
- White- They are snowy and fluffy birds with a snowball-like appearance
- Black- Their feathers have a metallic sheen that is mostly almost greenish
- Blue- The Blue Cochins are usually soft greyish blue
- Partridge- Partridge is a beautiful pattern that is common in many chicken breeds. It is reminiscent of the wild partridge
- Buff- The Buffy Cochins are usually light golden brown
- Brown- They are deep and reddish-brown
- Barred- They have striking patterns that look like white and black zigzag patterns
- Gold laced- The Gold laced pattern has golden feathers that are laced in black
- Silver laced- They are similar to the Gold laced variety but have silvery feathers instead
Personality and Temperament
Cochins are widely known for having an extraordinary docile temperament. The birds generally have large bodies. It is therefore challenging for them to fly. You can therefore confine them easily with short fencing.
Because of their weight and large size, the Cochins are slow-moving birds that can tolerate confinement well. They are not avid foragers. Most are friendly and calm birds that can be excellent pets. They like being held and cuddled.
Cochins can easily do well with other birds in the flock. They are very peaceful and do not pick fights with other chickens in the flock. It is, however, essential to ensure that the other birds in your flock are not aggressive.
Unlike in other breeds where the roosters are more aggressive than the hens, cochin roosters are relatively relaxed and will hardly show any aggressive behavior. Fighting and bullying are very uncommon. Bantam roosters are, however, known to be rowdy and can sometimes engage in territorial fights.
Cochin hens are good at brooding. You can also find some of the roosters taking turns to sit on the nest. When they hatch, they are good mothers. They usually take care of their chicks.
Cochin Egg Laying
If you have been looking for a chicken that produces many eggs, then Cochins may not be a good choice for you. Generally, their hens are not good layers.
The birds usually mature slowly. Their hens may therefore start laying eggs at the age of eight or nine months. Most chicken breeds begin laying eggs at the age of six months, while egg production breeds can start laying when they are four months old.
In a week, Cochins can lay approximately two or three eggs. This translates to about 150 to 170 eggs in a year. The eggs are mostly large in size and light brown.
The hens are known for going broody and can even hatch eggs that are not theirs.
Since Cochins are not good producers of eggs, most keepers raise them for meat production. The texture of the meat is usually coarse. They are better for harvesting when they are about 15 months old and about 12 pounds.
Health Issues and Care
Based on the rearing conditions and the individual breed, Cochins have a lifespan of between 6-8 years.
The birds are reasonably healthy chickens. However, they have over the years inherited a few health issues because of selective breeding.
One of the main health issues is obesity. The birds move slowly because of their large size. They prefer feeding on food given to them over foraging. This can easily lead to obesity.
When they become obese, they are more likely to suffer from various health problems. It is therefore important to keep them active by providing enough space for them to move around. You can also ration the feed that you give them to avoid any unnecessary weight gain.
It can be very difficult to ration their food if you have a mixed flock. Weighing them regularly to monitor their weight can also be done too.
Cochins have densely feathered toes and legs; thus, mud can easily cake on them and become frozen. This puts them at risk of suffering from frostbite. It is therefore essential to remove mud from their legs and feet in muddy conditions or after rains.
The feathers on the legs and feet must also stay dry, especially during the cold seasons, so that your birds do not experience frostbite.
Since the birds have extremely dense feathering, they may find it challenging to stay well in hot weather. You can ensure that they are supplied with plenty of water if you are keeping them in a warmer climate. They must also access shade whenever necessary.
The birds may be a target for predators since they are not able to fly because of their large bodies. You will therefore have to ensure that they are kept safe in the coop.
Cochins are susceptible to mites. You must check and treat mite-related issues.
Raising Cochin Chickens
Aside from monitoring their weight, Cochins are easy to raise and care for. Raising them is similar to how other chicken breeds are raised. Here are some tips that can help in keeping your Cochins healthy and happy:
Protecting them from predators
The birds can be a target of most predators such as foxes, dogs, and raccoons. However, this can be easily prevented since you can confine the birds with short fences. Fences should also be made when constructing outdoor play areas to keep out any predators.
If your chickens are roaming under close supervision, then a short fence can be just ok. For a permanent structure, it should be tall enough so that predators can not access them.
Keep the chickens clean
Cochins have beautiful and abundant plumage. The extra feathering may mean that you will have to keep your chickens clean for them to be in good health. Feathers on their feet and legs can easily become muddy and wet. You will therefore have to keep them clean to avoid frostbite and various foot diseases in colder seasons.
It is also advisable to check regularly for mites. Since they have extra feathering, they are more likely to carry along mites. Treatment of mites should be done to control them.
Keeping attention to their diet
Since Cochins can easily become obese, it is always advisable to ration their food. You can also keep their weight off by offering some healthy treats. Besides, it is recommended that you give them food that has lower calories.
Vegetables, fruits (in moderation), and greens can help in adding some dietary variety. You can also create several feeding stations or spread out their feed. This will encourage your Cochin birds to stay active.
Cochin chickens are sweet-tempered birds that can be very easy to keep. As a backyard poultry keeper or an exhibition breeder, the birds can be a good addition to your flock. With their docile and friendly nature, they can be kept alongside other breeds.
The birds can be kept for both egg-laying and meat production. Just like any other breed of chicken, Cochins will need good care for them to stay healthy. Giving them good care will also ensure that they have good productivity.