Key West aka Gypsy Chickens Thread :)

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by flgardengirl, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. flgardengirl

    flgardengirl Crowing

    Dec 2, 2009
    Sunny side up :)
    Who else has these lovely birds? Please post pictures and information about your birds or the Key West Chickens in general.
    I find the Key West Chickens history to be fascinating and romantic [​IMG] There isn't a ton of in depth information out there but I found some general information on the internet.

    It is believed that they have been roaming around KW for around 150-175 years or more (depending on the source). Thier ancestors were game birds derived from Cuban, Spanish, and Puerto Rican lines. They were originally brought by pirates, settlers, and later immigrants (Mostly Cuban during the revolution) who brought thier beloved chickens over by ship for either food, or cockfighting entertainment. I read somewhere that the gamebirds used for cockfighting were worth quite a bit of money in those days and highly prized. Eventually, as cockfighting lost favor, the birds went by the wayside or some just escaped and continued to flourish on bugs like roaches, ants, and scorpions, lizards, and handouts hanging around the restaurants (Yes even at the KFC!) in thier tropical paradise of Margaritaville. The females are good protective mothers and the males are excellent protectors (aware and alerting to the slightest percieved threat) as I have already observed here.
    I found one article that suggests that the cubalaya chicken may have some heritage in Key West game chicken lines via the Cubans in the 1800s buying breeds of Filipino fowl in Spain and introducing them to the European chickens resulting in excellent fighting cocks. You can read that article here Weekly/Those Clucking Neighbors/Clucking Neighbors 2.html

    Reference for Bird Flu sparking fear in KW citizens in regards to chickens

    Somewhere around 2004 some of the KW locals became concerned that there were too many chickens running around loose. Crowing, pooping on and scratching up the lawns, visiting the shops, etc. The idea of the bird flu also fueled some peoples concerns about 'feral' chickens. An official chicken trapper was hired and many chickens were trapped, rounded up, and sent to exile on a farm on the "mainland" and there was suspicion from some folks that the Key West Chickens were being killed in secret. Now they are only sent to farms to be adopted out or to people directly who will not harm them.

    Today the Key West Chicken population in the wilds of KW is only a couple thousand or so. Mostly only the "nuisiance" chickens are trapped and taken to the Key West Wildlife Center and then distributed to farms to be adopted. Some of these will ship chickens or eggs to people who want to adopt them. I got mine from Sally in Eustris, FL that puts all her money recieved from chicken adoptions and donations into feeding and providing for the birds while looking for a home for them. Her contact information is posted here at the end of this article. I got a certificate of authenticity signed by the mayor with my adoptions.

    There are some folks (The Key West Chicken Club) who would like to have the Key West Chickens approved by the APA in several years. They have a rough draft on colors etc that they are working on. You can see that at the following link.

    These babies have sure come a long way!! They come in an array of colors and can have peacomb or straight combs.

    My Key West Chickens:
    I have five that I picked up that were up for adoption. I got one roo and 4 hens. I have some of thier eggs in the incubator. They are small birds, not as small as bantams but smaller than the regular large fowl. They seem very self sufficient and very wary of predators, which I guess, have helped them and thier ancestors survive so long wild on Key West. They were pretty wild at first and we had a fun time trying to catch them lol. I feed them a few treats every day and the hens who are especially skittish will now approach me and eat from my hand. I can't touch them yet or they run lol. The roo will allow me to pick him up. I think he is younger than the hens though.

    Rooster, Captain Morgan

    Hens (these 3 are more similar looking) There is one that has more of a wheaten coloring than the other two.

    Another hen- she is different looking: darker with nice lacing all over her front and back.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2011
    HeidiEmbrey likes this.
  2. Celtic Hill

    Celtic Hill Songster

    Mar 7, 2010
    Scotland CT
    Ohh wow how lovely. Is there an association for these birds and a standard set in place?
  3. stoneunhenged

    stoneunhenged Songster

    Aug 21, 2008
    I've eaten breakfast at Blue Heaven many times in Key West and watched the hens lead their chicks under the tables while diners stare with open mouths. They're very cool birds. They seem to deal with the car traffic really well; not so much with the descendants of Ernest Hemingway's cats.
    HeidiEmbrey likes this.
  4. flgardengirl

    flgardengirl Crowing

    Dec 2, 2009
    Sunny side up :)
    Celtic Hill. There is a Gypsy Chicken Project by the Key West Chicken Club that I found online that has a rough draft of the proposed standard that they will present to the APA whenever the time comes after some years of selective breeding. I don't know how active the club is ...just found the info. Here is the link

    stonehenged: Yes they are very efficient. I think many tourists really enjoy them. Some of the locals like them as well and then there are those that think they are a pests. They can have large broods of chicks. Mine have really been prolific with thier egg laying since I got them but so far none have gone broody. Maybe when it warms up a little...I put a dozen eggs in the bator and it looks like at least 9 are developing. I haven't had mine very long so some of the hens eggs might be fertilized from other key west roos from the rescue. I will post pics of the chicks on here when they hatch.
    HeidiEmbrey likes this.
  5. scooldog

    scooldog Songster

    Dec 15, 2008
    Where might I pick up a dozen of these very cool eggs?
  6. magoochie

    magoochie Songster

    Dec 26, 2010
    Grantsburg, WI
    I took pictures of some chickens when i was in Key West last January. I wonder if these are it?!

    Sorry for the blurry pics, we were in the car.


  7. Luke0987654321

    Luke0987654321 Songster

    Aug 10, 2009
    any more pics?
  8. VangorChick

    VangorChick Hatching

    Mar 24, 2012
    how are your Key West chickens doing?
  9. flgardengirl

    flgardengirl Crowing

    Dec 2, 2009
    Sunny side up :)
    Yes those do look just like them. Nice photos![​IMG]

    scooldog, here is an article that has some contact info at the bottom of it on where you can adopt some KW chickens. Last I knew she also ships eggs too.

    I am in my 3rd generation of them now. They have fared pretty well here in NE FL and pretty much free range and most of them sleep up in the pines even though they have a coop available to them. They go into the coop to lay their eggs in the nest boxes and the hens have turned out to be the broodiest things ever!! I hatched silkies, olive eggers and Marans eggs under them so far this year lol. They laid all through the winter but didn't really start going broody till early Feb. I am getting ready to let several hatch their own next generation soon. One of my hens has Crele coloring and threw some male babies that are really pretty barred pattern, so I am going to try and make a line of Crele colored Key West Chickens if I can.
    One of my original hens must have mated the Spangled colored rooster that was at the rescue place where I got them from because in the first batch of chicks (that hatched soon after I got them) she had a little rooster that has a sort of spangled breast on him. He is kind of cool looking. I will have to get some more recent photos up. One also has some blue on it. I know there were some blue KW chickens at the rescue place that the lady was holding back to work with that color.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012
    HeidiEmbrey likes this.
  10. DawnM

    DawnM In the Brooder

    Aug 21, 2010
    Tacoma, Wa
    I took this picture when my daughter and I went in 2007. I thought I had more chicken pics than this but maybe not. They are cool birds, especially the roosters. They have learned to live off the tourists.
    HeidiEmbrey likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: