Best crested breed hen for cold and free range. Appenzeller the winner?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by off-grid hen, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I've done a tiny bit of research into Polish, Houdans, and Appenzeller Spitzhauben breeds. I'm new to chickens, and my mother-in-law wants a crested bird. She orgininally wanted a Polish hen, but I have read several places that Polish aren't the greatest choice in areas where they need to watch the sky for predators.

    I live where the winters are cold, with an unheated coop. I have a 10 x 30 enclosed run but we are expanding it in the spring. At noon every day (usually) I let the girls out to roam in the yard, which is in the middle of 300 undeveloped acres and mostly wooded with the 8 acres of yard being open. We have hawks, eagles, owls, etc. I would hate to order a chick, raise it up, to set it up for failure. Are polish that ditzy/can't see well? Are the Appenzellers super flighty or aggreessive? If they are real charcters, would just one be a loner with the rest of the flock or would she fit in? Would she even stay in the coop, or roost next to the barred owls up in the tall pines? ;)

    Can you tell I'm willing to do a lot to keep the mother-in-law happy? :p
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  2. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    I don't know about Spitzhaubens but I'd assume they would be a good choice, I just know that I've free ranged/pastured my Polish here with a not-the-greatest coop for years, and never lost anyone to a hawk, eagle, etc. I trim back the front of their crests just in case, but, so far no problems. It also highly depends on the quality of stock you're getting too when it comes to Polish and Houdans alike. With that varying, so will crest size, shape, and density. Otherwise mine have survived some pretty cold winters, have even survived being lost in the forest for over a week, and endure endless rainstorms every year (or, nearly every day [​IMG] ) They're great foragers too, among the top three of all the breeds I have experience with.

    But if you really do worry of hawks, and don't want to "butcher" some crests if need be (I mainly do mine because it rains so much) then I would indeed suggest Spitz over Polish or Houdans.
    1 person likes this.
  3. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY

    Thanks! I had been wondering if I could just trim the crests, I'm not opposed to doing that at all. What about dispositions of those breeds? I love the photo you've used for your avatar. I think you've answered a lot of questions for me in a few of my threads, thank you. :)
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  4. Blue

    Blue Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2010
    Spitz would be good for your specifications. You may also want to look into brabanters. They also have smaller crests, and I haven't had any trouble with mine this winter. They also free range well.
  5. hallerlake

    hallerlake Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 30, 2010
    I love my Spitz. Coming from Switzerland, they should be cold hardy. I have had no problems with Brabanters and cold, but it doesn't get that cold here. I have a friend who found them not hardy in below zero temperatures.
  6. stoneunhenged

    stoneunhenged Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2008
    Crested Swedish flower hens might be on your list to consider.

  7. code2142

    code2142 New Egg

    Dec 23, 2011
  8. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    Pretty bird!
  9. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    Well, thanks to everyone for your input. I would love to give this breed a try, but of course, every hatchery on the net big and small seems to sold out of this breed for the season. I just want 2 hens/ chicks near April 9th to be close in age to the chicks I have coming. Maybe hatching eggs... I had a feeling I was ordering late... :(
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  10. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    I love my Spitzhaubens and they are very cold hardy birds! There are times that it was below zero and they did well in it. If you are worried about frozen wattles, get the Brabanters!

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