The days of showing off to neighbours with your wine or vintage-car collection are over – the new trend is keeping exotic chickens in your garden, writes Sarah Moore.
Some breeds are easier on the eyes than others. “With their extravagant plumage and quirky traits, breeds such as Sebright, Burmese Bantam and Poland Frizzle (pictured, above) are in demand, with some sought-after breeds fetching extraordinary sums,” says Cally Law in The Times. They can fetch from 40 to hundreds of pounds per bird.
The ultra-rare Indonesian Ayam Cemani (above), a bird whose feathers, beak, tongue, eyes, bones and flesh are all black, is the “Lamborghini of rare chickens”, says William Cash in The Times. And it’s not just the chicken itself that is in demand. “We have seen people selling eggs of the extremely rare… Ayam Cemani for more than £1,000,” the Rare Poultry Society told The Times last year.
The Poultry Club of Great Britain “strongly recommends” that prospective chicken owners choose a pure breed that has been bred by a reputable breeder. See PoultryClub.org for advice. Just be prepared to pay – the rarest breeds can cost hundreds of pounds, although dedicated breeders often give eggs away to conserve breeds, says the Rare Poultry Society.
“Hipster hen” breeds, such as Silkies (above), are favoured by families for their “cute appearance”, says Lydia Willgress in The Daily Telegraph. You can see stock for sale on RarePoultrySociety.com. Or if you have a soft spot for your common-or-garden hen, you might consider getting in touch with the British Hen Welfare Trust, a charity that re-homes “ex-bats”, or former battery hens (BHWT.org.uk).
“At least a decade before dog breeders first strutted their purebreds in show rings, poultry aficionados flaunted their beautiful birds,” says Lauren Hansen on TheWeek.com. Enthusiastic chicken fanciers wishing to show birds such as the White-Crested Black Polish (above) and eggs can see a list of upcoming events on RarePoultrySociety.com.