Backyard Poultry Forum

At Home with My Pekins
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Author:  shairlyn [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 10:39 am ]
Post subject:  At Home with My Pekins

Having enjoyed the Adventures of Winglet and the Bantam Menace immensely, I thought that I might try my hand at this blog business myself in the hope that the antics of my farmyard might bring entertainment to others as the antics of Winglet's have to me.

A Little History

I first got chooks about four years ago when I was living in Wollongong, and I still consider myself new to them and am learning things every day. My first birds were some Heinz 57 crossbreds known as the Motley Crew where no two were alike, but they were entertaining and good layers. Then one of them went broody. This was a whole new concept for me, but some fertile eggs were aquired from my then partner's parents who have a farm, and cute fuzzy chicks ensued. Best of all they could go back to the farm when they were older. This was a fantastic experience and I was delighted.

Then the broody died. She had coccidiosis, but because I hadn't seen it before it took me some time to realise and it was treated too late. I was devastated. So I made enquiries on BYP as to what breeds made good broodies. Someone told me that Pekins did. Had they said Silkies history might have been very different. So I went out and aquired a Pekin. She was a little wheaten pullet with the gentlest nature, whom I named Wheaty - you'll no doubt notice a pattern in my naming practices as this thread progresses - and trained to sit on my shoulder and wrist. I was in love.

Then my job went insane, my relationship broke down and I became very depressed for a while. I couldn't see any way to fix the situation that I was in. Eventually I came to the realisation that some things break so badly they can't be fixed, and decided to Insert New Life Here. So I got a new job, sold the house and packed up and moved to Canberra.

At first I stayed with some friends on their farm outside of Canberra. I had rehomed the Motley Crew with the exception of Wheaty, who along with my cat Ginger Megs came with me. I couldn't bear to leave that chook behind. She was put in with my friends' silkies and rapidly became their rooster's new favourite, and things settled down while I looked for a new house and got used to my new job. Unfortunately Wheaty never got to see our new house, she laid an egg that would have done an ISA Brown proud and promptly keeled over. :upset: I shall miss that little chook, but the damage was already done and I was hooked on Pekins.

Eventually I did find my own place, and of course one of the first things I wanted to do was get more chooks. I was only going to get a few hens, honest. :D Over the last two years I have visited auctions (and I tell you, bidding at a house auction was a breeze after surviving the cut-throat world of poultry auctions), travelled hours to make pick-ups, drooled over birds at shows and bugged breeders for tips, and have gradually put together the two breeding flocks that comprise my little backyard hobby.

I am still just learning, every day, and I hope that never stops.

Author:  shairlyn [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with Canberra Pekins South

Introducing the Cast

The Wheaten Flock

This flock has taken some time to put together from a wide variety of sources as wheatens are not widely bred. I think they're a beautiful colour and hope to change that. Note that my hens are currently lacking their full tails as they are trimmed for breeding.

Alias: Pretty Boy, Ouch-Gerroff.
The Wheaten flock is headed by Major, a pullet-breeding one year old chap from Kevin Adams. He is genetically red-blue, but has so many melanin restrictors that you can only see the blue at the base of a couple of tail and wing feathers. This is because hens with clear ginger hackles with no black are preferred in the shows, and his daughters should have this trait.
He is a very attentive mate to his ladies; looks after them, dances for them and protects them from dangers. If anything he is slightly over protective and when he and his girls are free-ranging but hanging around their pen I have to be careful when I walk past because he has a tendency to go for my ankles. This is obviously territory related as he only does it in that location. I am trying to teach him not to bite the hand that feeds him by plying him with treats, but he even though I must have given him 30-odd meal worms the other day he didn't eat a single one, taking each from me and passing them carefully to his hens.

Alias: Bickies
A blue-tailed hen with good shape but a lot of melanin in her hackle, Biscuit is two years old and the first wheaten hen I aquired after Wheaty. She came from Newcastle. I love the paleness of her blue, and have at times wondered if she isn't a dark-coloured splash, but at the moment I don't think so. She is a very quiet, gentle hen.

Alias: Shorty
I am unsure of Shortbread's origins or age as I got her as a hen from someone who'd purchased her not long before and then decided to focus on a different colour. Easily the quietest of the flock, she does things in her own time and is generally a day late and a dollar short to everything. She has a lovely shape and beautiful white underfluff, although the darkness of the colour on her back makes me think that she is carrying Mahogany.

Alias: Greedy
Cupcake was hiding from the Paparazzi this morning. She is a one year old blue-tailed wheaten from a Queensland bloodline. She is one of my most friendly and assertive hens, and second in the pecking order. The plus side of her personality is that she will fearlessly follow me around the garden and eat grubs from my hand, even jumping for them which is just too cute! The downside is that she will push others out of the way to nab treats for herself. She makes a very grumpy broody.

Alias: Buff-buff
My first Pekin after moving to Canberra, Buffy is pushing three years old now. Even though she didn't actually make it as a buff I love her 'honey and cream' colouring, and I like to think of her as a 'Champagne Wheaten', which sounds better than a 'failed buff'. She is quiet, a good mother and surprisingly solid for a Pekin, something I like as many of them are all feathers and no substance at all.

Alias: Tuckers, Tucky Chicken, Kentucky Chicken, Gonna Add The 'Fried' In A Minute (when misbehaving)
The first thing that you will notice about Kentucky is that while she is wheaten she is not a Pekin. She is in fact a Japanese Bantam cross (don't know with what). She was a bit of an accident at an auction; she was in a box with a wire mesh lid with four chicks and I couldn't see her very well. But it was a very happy accident as she has proven to be arguably the best mother of all my hens, seeming to like nothing better than a batch of chicks to raise. She is placid, talkative, friendly and able to get into places she shouldn't be much better than the others. She is of course much sleeker and I tend to forget that she can fly (Pekins can't). When in the flock she is quietly assertive and occupies the top hen spot, even telling Major where to go when she's had enough of him. A little chook with a big personality.

Author:  shairlyn [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with Canberra Pekins South

The Cuckoo Flock
I was only planning to breed wheaten Pekins, but it's amazing what happens when you're not paying attention.

Alias: Handsome
Another Kevin Adam's bird, one year old, full brother to the bird that won Best Pekin in Show at the Canberra Poultry Show last year. Current trimmed for breeding. Yes he's fluffier than that. He might have been bred to show but he has taken to breeding with enthusiasm, giving me 100% fertility and probably 85% hatch rate. He's a big, quiet chap who's easy to handle and attentive to his girls. He doesn't like to eat out of my hand for some reason, but if I put him on my lap he will sit there. Seems to take an unusual level of interest in his offspring. He is heterozygous (dark) cuckoo and throws black and cuckoo offspring.

Albany's sister and Jet's aunt, currently broody. Three years old now, she's a quiet, gentle soul who is an excellent mother. The only way to tell her from her sister is those two tiny orange feathers under her chin.

With the Colonel in the background, giving everyone a wonderful view of what I did to her poor tail. Given Colonel's fertility I shan't be nearly so harsh next year. Ebony's sister, Jet's aunt. Quiet and gentle.

Bred by a friend who got her black hens from the same place I did, Jet is still a pullet and will hopefully fill out as she reaches full maturity. She is gentle and inquisitive and quite happy to be handled.

Author:  shairlyn [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with Canberra Pekins South

Supporting Cast

Ginger Megs
Alias: Megsie, Megs-Megs, Monster Megs, Trouble on Paws, Catzilla
7kgs of ex-feral, Megsie has been with me for five years and is probably nine years old. He is a lovely fellow, very friendly and sweetly natured and he changed me forever to a 'rescued cats only' person. His rough start in life has taken it's toll unfortunately, he has had every cat disease known to man including one where the tests had to be sent to America, and no longer has any teeth. But despite all this he is a happy individual who loves life and loves me; he's been my best mate and I wouldn't know what to do without him. He vaguely disapproves of the amount of time I spend playing with the chickens and occaisionally the roosters chase him, but generally they leave each other alone.

Alias: Shoogs, Sweety
A shy little Tortoishell girl who has just turned one, she is rapidly coming out of her shell and has the loudest purr I have ever heard. Spice's sister.

Alias: Spicey, Spice Girl, Porky Spice, Porklet
Sugar's sister and definately the more out-going of the two, Spice just wants to love you and drool on you. Battling the bulge.

Sugar and Spice were dumped at the vet hospital that Megsie goes to with a note saying they they couldn't be cared for any more. Despite being barely a year old both had had kittens, and they were terrified of humans. At best their previous owners were irresponsible, at worst they were kitten farmed. The staff at the vet hospital did a lot of work with them taming them, and once I had them home and they got used to their new environment they have both really flowered into lovely, friendly little girls. They play with Megsie and get tormented by him. I don't think they know what to make of the chooks yet.

King Suro
Alias: The Incubator
My wonderfully reliable RCOM King Suro 20 incubator. Actual hatch-parent to most of my chicks, who are then smuggled under broodies for raising. This allows me to set more eggs as I can remove infertile ones and fit the remaining chicks under a mother.

Yours Truly
And of course there's me. I imagine that I shall feature in these photos in this manner, if at all.

Author:  Kazaustralia [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with Canberra Pekins South


Your chickens are lovely and I am curious as I have recently hatched some pekin eggs and I am unfamilar with wheaten. I am sure the pekins are blue tailed wheaten. I am also hoping to purchase more from Adams as I currently breed with mottles originting from him. I also purchased a King Suro last year and am wandering how you find it?


Author:  shairlyn [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with Canberra Pekins South

Hi Kaz,

The wheaten colour can take a little while to develop fully. As well as the tail there should be black or blue on a few of the flight primaries as well. You could always post a couple of pictures in the 'What is this' forum and ask for opinions. Best of luck with them, they're lovely birds.

I love my King Suro, it's very reliable and because you can have as big a water reservoir as you want, I have gone away for a week and left mine going and it's been fine. I use an old vinegar bottle for the water. At a fraction of the price of the RCOM 20 but with the RCOM reliability I think it's a bargain.

Author:  konopiste [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with Canberra Pekins South

Hi Shairlyn

I've really enjoyed reading your posts. I hope you can keep it up! Your chooks are gorgeous. I can see why you're hooked on pekins.

I too have a King Suro and agree with you that it's the best value of the Rcoms. I also have an Rcom 20pro as well as an Rcom 50. Yes, that's way too many and if I had to sell one it would definitely NOT be the Suro. I have had some problems but after a few chats with James Finger at Bellsouth I had my first ever 100% hatch in it last week. He suggested that I leave the humidity at 45% right through to the end and this has made all the difference. I have also made an insulated box for it and that keeps the temp steady.

Looking forward to your next adventure.



Author:  NTgirl [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with My Pekins

Hi Shairlyn,

Thanks for the lovely descriptions. I admit I've been lusting after the Major and your wheatens after seeing him a while back in a thread about his fertility. I'm strictly a utility girl, none of these ornamentals for me, so your pekins have me really torn!

Author:  chooky2005 [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with My Pekins

Quite enjoying the story so far


Author:  Tia [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with My Pekins

Lovely reading...your wheaten peeks are beautiful....How well you know each of them!! wish could see more of you.



Author:  shairlyn [ Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with My Pekins

Well I have to say that I am very eggcited this morning, and have some good news for you NTgirl!

I had previously managed to hatch one wheaten chick, and had another that died in shell, and I was only setting a handful of wheaten eggs to check for fertility, mostly hatching cuckoos because I knew they would hatch. So I finally got a couple of fertile eggs. And then I swapped some wheaten eggs with another breeder and she said that she had got a reasonable hatch rate out of them

So on Sunday I set twelve wheaten eggs and ten cuckoo eggs in my King Suro (I can jam 25 bantam eggs in there if I do it carefully) and last night I candled them and almost all of them have obvious fertile rings appearing! So the Major is fertile! He was obviously just a bit slower to start than the Colonel. I will wait until the weekend to candle again and toss any obviously infertile eggs, I was just desperately hoping that there would be wheaten chicks this time, and there will!

Of course, I won't count my chickens before they've hatched. :lol:

That one wheaten chick is now eight weeks old and definately a boy. He's got a lovely ginger hackle at present, and a beautiful smoke blue body. He won't put his proper boy feathers on for a little while but I have good feelings about him. Probably biscuit's son from the amount of blue on him.

I have been enjoying selling the youngsters as well, most have gone to suburban families with children, who want chickens that the kids can treat as pets. It's wonderful to see so many people keeping backyard poultry, and so many young children so obviously entranced by their new fluffy chickens. :) Chicken fever is spreading!

Author:  osobrowns [ Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with My Pekins

Great post and photos....gorgeous chooks and cats. :thumbs:

Jacx Adelaide.

Author:  dooleyma [ Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with My Pekins

Hi Shairlyn! I enjoyed reading about you and your Pekins (and cats) and how you came to have them. Look forward to the next instalment. :)

I recently acquired my first Pekin that we named Sprinkles (wasn't intending to get a Pekin but my daughter picked her out so what could I do??) and since then have tried to learn a little bit more about them. Sprinkles is my husband's favourite too, he loves the feathered feet. Watching her run across the lawn with the other chooks is hilarious, she looks to me like she has snowshoes on. I didn't know that they couldn't fly!

I'll be interested to see how broody Sprinkles is -v- my bantam Wyandottes. Could she possibly be worse?? My current birds are POL, but I seemed to always have at least one hen in the sin bin with my old flock (they were killed by foxes in Sept last year).

Anyway, I'm thinking of hatching some Pekin chicks next year once the girls have matured a little. There's a lady near me who has a wheaten breeding pen so I'm hoping when the time comes I can get some eggs from her. I also really like the furnace (sp?) colour which would be my preference if I could find eggs.


Author:  shairlyn [ Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with My Pekins

I just went outside to close up the pens after the birds had put themselves to bed. The wheaten flock had been free-ranging and I always check numbers before I close up. Buffy was missing.

I found her dead near the end of the veggie patch; she was still warm.

She'd been sick with respiratory virus and wheezing a bit, and I admit that I had been a bit worried a couple of days ago because she was quite dark in the face, comb and wattles, but today she was looking much perkier and I assumed that she was on the mend.

When I found her, the skin of her face, comb and wattles was very dark, I can only assume that she died due to a lack of sufficient oxygen, possibly in combination with a shock or scare. I now wish that I had sought some treatment for her, but hind sight is always 20:20 and at the time I thought she was improving. :upset:

I can only hope that some of the fertile eggs in the incubator are hers. RIP Buffy.

Author:  dooleyma [ Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: At Home with My Pekins

Oh no, what a terrible discovery so sorry for your loss. :( They are great at hiding how sick they really are, aren't they?

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