Pros: Beautiful, Great Foragers, Inquisitive, Survivalists, Economical
I usually don't get an animal on a whim but that's exactly what happened with my Hamburg. I had reserved three 10 week old Easter Egger pullets from a local farm-share and made the arrangements to pick them up but when I arrived, they had forgotten to crate my girls the evening before so we set out on the task of catching my little ladies, none of whom had really been handled prior to this point. Although I'd previously been set on adding 3 EE's to my flock, These petite Spangled Hamburg beauties with their blue legs running around the tunnel caught my eye. They're very refined looking...more like some wild game bird than any chicken I'd seen. Not all of them were spoken for so I was offered to add to my reservation or swap my EE's for them. I opted to exchange 1 EE for a Golden girl.
I was in the process of upgrading coops and my old one was not large enough to house my established flock of two AND the new girls, so with the lack of space, I had to keep them in a large crate in the house at night and in a separate run alongside the older girls during the day.
I took this opportunity to handle them frequently and get them used to my children, our Newfoundland and our cat. My daughter read to them every night and my son loved to feed them strawberries and bugs. We also got them used to eating from our hands. Spending this time with them made a TREMENDOUS difference...especially for our GSH...now named Amelia Earhart on account of the breed being notoriously flighty...in every way.
They've all moved out to the finished coop with the big girls now and despite the size differences, on the extremely rare occasion she gets cornered by my Silver Laced Wyandotte (who is determined to keep her position as second hen in the pecking order) she has ZERO problem sticking up for herself but she's so small and quick she doesn't usually find herself in that situation. Spending all that time with her has also taught her that humans = safety so she will use me as cover when my SLW gets pushy. On occasion, Amelia Earhart will even let me pet her, although she prefers to be scratched on the chest vs. having hands near her back. I believe she feels less threatened.
She is very curious about her surroundings but definitely has a survivalist approach to everything. When they see something new, she hangs back and waits for the other hens to go first and when she sees they've not been harmed, she'll go for it too, then run like heck away from it before turning to approach it again...and again. And again. Just to be certain that new potted plant or bench that mysteriously moved from there to here isn't going to devour anyone. Her process is quite entertaining to watch. Especially when she knows what she's doing but confuses the rest of them into taking her lead and they all run into each other during the riot while she moves on from the event and goes about her business. Who needs television?
She loves to be up high on the branches in the run and when they get time outside of the run she's well hidden while she forages through the undergrowth and beneath the big leafy plants in the gardens. She's more likely to eat whatever she finds whilst the rest of my girls have far more particular tastebuds. Being so petite, Hamburgs don't require as much feed and they prefer to forage but are still prolific layers of small to medium sized eggs, making them rather economical to keep.
This is definitely NOT the breed for everyone but if you are someone who either has no preference or has a lot of patience who enjoys just sitting with your birds and observing them without having to handle them frequently, then you may enjoy this breed. And who knows...spending enough time with them may make them trusting enough that they won't mind a petting every now and then but keep the expectations on turning lap-chickens out them extremely low...or better yet, non-existent.
Overall, I'm glad to have welcomed one into my flock and if Amelia continues to grow more trusting of we humans (we're making progress every day), I will eventually add more to my flock but next time I will get day-olds to imprint instead of started pullets.