Spring chickens

The class of 2010 in the brooder
We last hatched out chicks in 2010, including Buff Orpingtons (top left and right), Rhode Island Reds (left) and Araucanas (centre and below)

Now James’ cobb chickens have been dispatched, with two served at Christmas lunch and three stowed away in the freezer, his thoughts have turned to rearing more chickens for the table. While researching a piece for Country Living on rare breeds last spring, I became interested in the Ixworth, a utility or dual-purpose chicken (meaning that the hens make good layers and cockerels good eaters) bred by Reginald Appleyard, of Appleyard duck fame (a type favoured by the community supported agriculture scheme CL featured in the series ‘A Share of the Smallholding’ last year).

It may not be a particularly attractive chicken, being quite plain, but The Ixworth is a hardy bird that needs help as it's defined as 'vulnerable' on the RBST Watchlist
It may not be a particularly attractive chicken, being quite plain, but The Ixworth is a hardy bird that needs help as it’s defined as ‘vulnerable’ on the RBST Watchlist

An enquiry through Rare Breeds Survival Trust led me to contact Gillian Dixon at South Yeo Farm East in Devon, who offered to post us fertile eggs (packaged in polystyrene so they’re well-protected). I’ve sat on the idea until now as last year was a busy one – among other events, we got married, had a party, acquired the pigs, continued with renovating the house and there were quite a few exciting projects at Country Living, too! However, this year there’s a little more time for poultry pursuits such as the delightful business of raising chicks. So, I’ve contacted the Dixons to see if I can order a dozen to arrive in a few weeks. Time to dust off the incubator! Anyone else hatching similar plans?

PS More information on the Ixworth:
A recent search online for information about the breed shows that we’re not the only ones interested in the native East Anglian – see this article from The Guardian

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I’ve been enjoying watching the Old Spots dash around their run like dogs and then suddenly freezing and staring into the distance. Fantastic entertainment value

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