Observations on behavior of different breeds - add your experiences

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tikidoc, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. tikidoc

    tikidoc Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 23, 2007
    We are relatively new to chickens and bought a bunch of different breeds to help figure out what we like. Our primary purpose is eggs, but we have bought straight run so far and are eating the roosters. I'd like to start sort of a reference on the personalities of different breeds, as I could have used this when I was deciding...

    We got two batches of chicks. The older ones are 19 weeks old now, and were purchased from McMurray. My comments will pertain to the pullets unless I state otherwise. They consist of:

    Buff Orpingtons - Quite friendly from day one. They don't mind being picked up, and seem content to sit in my lap. They are quite happy to eat mealworms from my hand. The roosters (now in the freezer) were not terribly aggressive, either to people or other chickens. We didn't give the roosters much attention (didn't want to like them) but they were relatively easy to catch.

    Delawares - Also pretty outgoing. My favorite hen is a Delaware. She will often jump on my shoulder when I sit down on a bucket to dole out the mealworms. Very close to the Orps in personality. The roosters are not aggressive with people but were more aggressive than the Orps to other chickens.

    Easter Eggers - Another friendly breed (hens). Also the only hen laying so far for me is an EE. They were less friendly as babies but have warmed up as they have gotten older. Also like to be fed by hand, often jump on my lap. One is a real loudmouth - as soon as I walk in the stall where their nests are, she stands in front of me and scolds me loudly until the mealworms come out. The roosters were a major pain. People could never get near them but they were very, very aggressive to the other birds. I was not sad to see the roosters go, but I like the hens a lot.

    Buff Brahmas - Super standoffish as little ones, now more friendly, but not as much as the above breeds. All my hens (4 of them) have a tendency to stand behind me and pull on the hem of my shirt when I feed treats, as if to tell me to turn around and give them some. They got beat up a lot by the other chickens when the cockerels were still with us (lots of bare patches on their backs) but seem to get along fine now that the boys are gone. I did not end up with any males that made it to adulthood so no comments on the roosters. The one male (I think) we had, had some sort of leg deformity and had trouble getting around, so we culled him at about 2 months of age. Of note, one of the hens also has a similar leg deformity which seemed to develop over time (not the messed up legs they get from being on a flat surface as chicks). She is the biggest of the 4 and gets around fine, so we elected to let her be. We are not breeding, so I am not worried about passing it along. Also of note, these hens are all homebodies. They rarely if ever venture outside, although they have access to the outside all day (nests are in a stall with a door leading to a pasture, door is closed at night).

    Golden Polish - Also quite standoffish. Now that they have big puffy heads, with feathers down in their eyes, they can't see well. So they are easy to catch, but they never seem to relax while held. They go outside but then can't find their way back in, so we have to go pick them up and bring them in at night. When all the other hens come in (they come running inside when I go in to feed mealworm treats), the Polish sit outside yelling (sounds like a distress call) until we go gather them up. We mostly got them for amusement value (the kids thought they were fun to look at). The roosters were not aggressive to us or other chickens. They sure crow a lot though. None of them, male or female, has ever taken a treat from my hand.

    Batch #2, from Sand Hill Preservation. These guys are still young (8 1/2 weeks) so I will likely amend this later.

    Rhode Island Reds - PUSHY!!! These guys (both male and female) are all over me when I go to feed them. Friendly and outgoing. I sit down, and within a couple minutes, have 3 or 4 perched on me yelling for mealworms. They have a tendency to peck.

    Black Jersey Giants - Not sure on genders yet. They are also friendly/outgoing, with less tendency to peck than the RIR. They are huge! One is at least twice the size of several RIR - we call him 'Baby Huey". Do not seem to mind being held.

    Blue Cochin - Only 2 of these, I think both male. Lovely little puffballs but won't let us get near them. Very shy. Won't take treats.

    Silver Gray Dorkings - Similar to the Cochins, we cannot get near them. I think we have 2 each male and female. None of them are friendly. Again, won't take treats from me.

    "Black Crested Blue Polish" - I put the name in quotes because they we actually have a splash with a splash crest, 2 blacks with black crests, and a blue with a blue crest. One of the black ones, a cockerel (I think) is VERY friendly, begging for treats, hopping on my lap or shoulder. The others act just like the Goldens from the other group - don't seem to want anything to do with me.

    So, that's my crew. Feel free to chime in and let's create a reference for other newbies like me.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
  2. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 23, 2008
    Bailey, Mississippi.
    Old english game bantams- Mostly friendly if spent a lot of time with, good foragers, Mothers and broodys. can be trouble with other roosters, a certain "cocky' Personality which makes for a great laugh since their so little."pretty" quiet, but the more you have the more noise.

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2008
  3. tikidoc

    tikidoc Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 23, 2007
    No additions?
  4. ChickyPooh

    ChickyPooh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 3, 2008
    South GA
    I love the OEGB but my JBG hen isn't big yet and shes laying!
  5. Henrietta23

    Henrietta23 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 20, 2007
    Eastern CT
    Red Stars from McMurray. Very calm and friendly, friendlier than any breed I've owned. First to lay.
  6. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    I've only got 1 of each breed (did that to see what I did/didn't like), so my observations are based on just one animal. I raised the top 3 from chicks, and got the cochin at about 2 months old.

    Black Star/Black Sex-link - Our favorite of the group. Friendly, tolerates kids, talkative, and a very sweet bird. Always the first to greet me. 2nd out of the coop.

    Barred Pymouth Rock - the 2nd fav of the wee flock, very food-oriented: a feathered pig. DBF calls her a "yard shark" because she's so aggressive about getting food. Good personality, tends to jump up in my lap... if food is involved or potentially involved. First out of the coop every morning.

    RIR - Quite standoffish, though she'll take food from my hand and run away with it. She is the resident "complainer" and I can always hear her out in the yard doing a soft but whiney "baaawwwwwk". Makes an awful fuss if you try to pick her up, and will not jump on my lap unless she absolutely has to. Will go without treats rather than jump in my lap. 3rd out of the coop but tentative about coming out if I'm by the door.

    Banty black cochin - Feisty but has a twisted beak and tends to lose treats quickly b/c the other girls steal them. She'll chase off the much bigger girls if they're eating something she wants, like watermelon or yogurt. Doesn't like to be picked up but will settle in once on a lap. I suspect this is because I didn't raise her from a chick. She's the first one to send up a warning alarm. Freaks out when she can't find the other 3 in the yard - makes an awful ruckus until DBF or I come to see what's wrong, at which point the other 3 come from some corner of the yard to see if treats are being doled out. Crisis averted! First to roost, always last to exit the coop.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
  7. Adri

    Adri Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 29, 2008
    Interesting topic, I wish I had been able to find out more about our breeds before I got them, although learning on our own has been kind of fun. Here's what we've found with our gang. First of all, I am amazed at how the chickens seem to stay together in groups according to breed!

    Buff Catalanas - They are very curious birds swarming me when I give treats. They were the "early bloomers" of the group, getting their combs first, the rooster (a surprise from what was supposed to be 12 pullets) was crowing first, etc. They sort of stick together, and don't have much of a problem getting along with the others. They are fairly easy to handle, especially our rooster, who enjoys all of the attention that the kids and visitors lavish on him. The rooster rushes to the defense of any hen that the Polish roosters are bothering. Added 11/05/08: These hens were our first to lay, they are GREAT layers, but after a few weeks of laying we had 3 of them go broody on us!

    Buff-laced Polish (non-bearded) - The hens are absolutely the sweetest most docile things. Visiting toddlers are able to pick them up and handle them. My 22 month old daughter holds them like a baby doll and they just lay in her arms. They just quietly mingle amongst the rest of the flock. The roosters on the other hand are turning out to be trouble! They are the least friendly of all the chickens we have. They start fights with the other 3 roosters and pick on the hens. Most recently, they have started trying to mate with the Catalana hens and the hens are NOT having any of it. And they are crowing constantly. We are hoping to find homes for three of them, but whenever I post them on Kijiji, everybody always wants a hen to go with one (I only have 2 hens, and 4 roosters, so I'm not giving away hens!).

    Buff Chanteclers - These were some of our friendliest chicks. They were very curious. As adults they are still pretty friendly, although vocal when we handle them. They run up to us for treats. They get along with everybody. I love their soft feathers. Added 11/05/08: These girls are great foragers. I've seen them foraging well in the yard, but today I saw the difference between them and the Buff Catalana hens. I had a separated a Catalana from the rest of the flock and when I opened up the pen to let her out, two of the chanteclers jumped in the empty pen and started foraging for everything the captive hen had missed on the ground.

    Ameraucanas - We have a blue hen, a silver hen, a white hen and a brown-red rooster. The hens are all pretty shy, but easy to handle. They tend to fly off their roost when we enter the coop and they fly the most when they are out in the yard. Our rooster was without a doubt the friendliest chick. He used to climb right into my hands. Now he follows me around waiting for me to pick him up. When we handle any other birds, he pecks them when we return them to the yard. At the risk of anthropomorphizing, is he jealous? The rest of the time, he gets along with everybody.

    Barnevelders - These are probably the least friendly of our birds, although the biggest hen lets my 4 year old daughter pick her up. They seem to be higher up in the pecking order.

    Buff Brahma - We have one lone Buff Brahma rooster. He didn't like being handled much as a chick, but knowing he was intended to be our guard-rooster, we spent a lot of time handling him. He is quite happy to be carried around now. He has been the most abused by the other chickens, and finally has most of his feathers in. He is definitely taking longer to mature than the other chickens, and still doesn't crow. He seems to think that he is one of the hens. Added 11/05/08: He has now taken on the position of a guard rooster. He definitely keeps watch over the flock. He throws his weight around when he wants to get somewhere, but is still submissive to the Catalana and Ameraucana roosters.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  8. Henrietta23

    Henrietta23 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 20, 2007
    Eastern CT
    I have Barnevelders too and find the same thing. They stay away from the other birds and hang out with the welsummers.
  9. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    Buff Minorca - Very skittish, timid and extremely flighty bird. Does not like human contact, but does not flog or bite when picked up. The scaredy cat of the chicken world.
  10. DawnSuiter

    DawnSuiter Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've not had anyone full grown yet, so I'll comment on chicks if that's ok..?!?

    I brooded some Australorps with some regular old Blue/Black Orps and found the following:

    Australorps - Friendly toward other chicks, motherly even, but no so much to us people. Actually a little flighty with the people. They are now 6 weeks old and still not as friendly as the Orps. (Hatchery birds from mypetchickens source)

    Black/Blue/Buff Orpingtons - Color doesn't seem to matter, they are all just SO friendly and not really all that scared of us. While it takes a couple of weeks of slow movement, by the end, they all want to be touched & visited with.

    Gold Laced/Silver Laced Wyandottes - Seem pretty friendly to me, not quite as friendly & sure of themselves as the Orpingtons but really close. I'm currently brooding some buff orps with GLW & SLW and they are doing well together with similar personalities. Wyandottes are very curious and more vocal than any of my Orpingtons.

    ---- Jersey Buff Turkeys ---- My turkeys are the friendliest, cutest, smartest little things anywhere. They are nothing like chickens and are NOT scared of us at all. Right away they are curious and aware of you. Love the turkeys!!!

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