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Pekin Bantams came to Britain in about the 1860 from a place called Pekin in China. The Pekin is a true Bantam as it has no larger counterpart, however in America it is often referred to as the Cochin Bantam.
Your first impression of Pekin will be a ball of feathers on legs. The birds are short broad and have an abundant of soft fluffy feathers. Their legs are also covered in feathers giving the impression that they have none. The Pekin Bantams is perhaps the most popular of all the bantam breeds. This mainly due to the fact that they are so placid and soon become very tame.
They are in fact a small Chicken with a lot of character. As they are small and don't fly they are ideal for almost any type of garden and do very little damage to plants. The hens do lay eggs and a good number although they are smaller than your average egg they have a big orange yolk and the kids love them.
The Pekin is famous for being a good broody and will hatch and rear its own young with great success and there is no better site than seeing a hen walking around the lawn followed by a group of young, of course to bred you will need a cockerel and although they do crow it is relatively soft. the Pekin has been bred in a number of colours. Lavender, Red, Black, Mottled, White,Buff, Partridge columbian and may other colours. The pekin bantam will not fail to please you and you will soon find your self wanting more.
CARE OF ADULT BIRDS
Pekins because of their small size take up very little space and can be housed in a number of different ways. The most attractive is a purpose built house that has been designed for both the chickens needs and for ease of cleaning. However any type of house will be fine as long as it is glean dry and well ventilated. A rabbit hutch or similar can soon be adapted.
The size of the house will of course determine the number o chickens that you can keep. As a general rule four birds can be housed in a 3'x2'x2' house, remember that the house is only to keep them safe of a night and for them to lay their eggs. Whatever type of house they are to be kept in it is important that it is both weather and vermin proof.
The floor of the house should have a layer of wood savings that should be changed on a regular basis. I also like to add a small amount of straw in the nesting area for the hens to lay their eggs whilst they are sitting they will often pull the straw around them making a kind of nest.
If you bantams are not going to be allowed the run of the garden then you will need to build some kind of enclosed run for them. Although they don't need a great deal of space the bigger the run the better. The run itself can be made in two was the ark which is an inverted V or a square, again the sort that is used to keep rabbits in is ideal.
The run will need to be attached to the house to prevent the birds from pushing their way out and if the run is lower that 3' high you will need a roof as the chickens may be able to jump out. If you are able to it is best to move the run around the garden every will this will prevent the ground from becoming stale.
Pekins like all other chickens are omnivorous so will eat a wide range of seed,greens and animal matter. If they are allowed to free range they will of cause find a certain amount of their own food. This will however need to be supplemented if they are to be kept in top condition. some people like to make their own feed mix but to be honest over the years a lot of thought has been put into feed and there are some great feed that are available.
Layers mash or pellets
Commercial chicken feed comes in two forms a mash or meal as its sometimes called and also a pellet. In terms of nutrition they both contain the same but both have their advantages and disadvantages. mash is great for birds that are kept in a small area as they have to work a little harder in order to gain their fill one of the big disadvantages however is that the birds can pick out their favourite bits and can lead to a lot of waste.
Pellets are the same as the mash but its all been pressed together the advantage being that the birds can not pick out their favourite bits so get all the goodness. The disadvantage to birds living in a small area is that they don't have to do a great deal to get their fill so can become fat if not kept in check.
Feed can be given to your birds in a variety of ways my free range birds always have feed in a large hoper that's kept topped up. My caged birds on the other hand are feed each day this allows me to have a little control over how much they eat a fat chicken is not a happy one
All chickens love mixed grain,it usually contains a mixture of wheat,oats,corn and barley some times it will also contain a few small sunflower seeds.This mix should be provided as an additional feed and not as a main diet, If the chickens have little room they will very soon become very fat if feed on a diet of mixed grain. having said that there is no harm in feeding a broody hen on mixed corn as it will help encourage her to leave the nest and feed. It will also help to dry up her droppings so there is less chance of her soiling the brood. I tend to use this as a scratch feed that can be thrown on the floor for the birds to scratch at. This will not only give them a little exercise but also great enjoyment. One thing to point out is that if feeding corn to white birds it can turn the feathers a yellow colour.
How much should I feed.
Its not easy to say how much to feed your birds as a lot will depend on the amount of room they have to Rome the size of the bird and also the time of year. In the winter months the birds will need more feed in order to keep warm on average an adult pekin will eat about 30-80g of feed a day
Apart from the complete feed all chickens need some form of green feed this not only keeps them healthy but also provides lutin which makes the eggs nice and yellow. If your birds free range they will eatr a mixture of greens but i still like to provide a little extra.
Berries : Blackberries, raspberries, hawthorn, elder ect
Greens ;Lettuce, cabbage, sprout, carrots and tops ect
Weeds : young nettles, chick weed, dandelion,grass, ect Take care where you collect make sure they have not been treated with weed killer ect
As I have already mentioned all chickens are omnivorous so love to eat all sort of bugs. Worms can be collected from the garden or can be brought from bait shops,they will go made for these. Maggots can also be given but make sure that they are the white ones and no the coloured ones that can be brought. They will also love meal worms care should;d be taken with these as they are full of calories. They can also be given tinned dog feed.
These are what it says treat that should not be given to the birds all the time these include bread,cake, peanuts(not salted). don't over feed these as to much is bad for your birds.
Grit is a very important part of a chickens diet, not only is it absorbed by the body to help with good bone growth but it is also used in the gizzard to help break down the hard seeds that they eat. Poultry grit can be brought in a range of sizes fine for young chicks, medium for bantams and large for the bigger chickens. Its important to feed the right size, most will contain small amounts of oyster shell but I like to give extra as it helps to produce the egg shell. Grit should always be available to them and can be put in a small dish or a grit hoper.
Once a week I like to add some poultry spice to the chickens feed. This act as a little pick me up and I fined improves their over all health. The best way i have found is to mix a little corn with vegetable oil and then sprinkle and mix the poultry spice. The fine powder sticks to the corn and ensures that the birds eat it. It can be mixed with normal feed but tends to fall to the bottom and is then left.
Water as for any animal is a must,they should never be without not only is it import for all body functions it also help to produce eggs. Eggs are themselves made of largely water. If a hen goes without water for just one day it can prevent her from laying for up to a week.
Whilst chickens don't like to get wet they will enjoy a dust bath. Not only dos this help to maintain good feathers it will also help to get rid of lice I also like to add a litlte lice powder to the sand The best way of providing a dust bath is to use a large flower pot holder, this can the be put at the corner of the run or garden with dry sharp sand in it. If the chickens are allowed to free range they will soon find their own place to have a dust bath
Whilst Pekin Bantams arnt the greatest layers in the chicken world they will still lay around 200-250 year. Their eggs are are a little on the small size so you may need two of them having said that they taste great and kids seem to love them.
Why do chickens lay eggs ?
Chickens,Ducks quail and to a lesser extent some geese have a strange characteristic that they want to reproduce, lay eggs even if there is no male present this is a result of selective breeding. Pekins whilst still classed as show bird and not a commercial layer will still lay a good number of eggs however they are more seasonal layers than some of the bigger hybrids that will layer most of the year. Even at birth a chick will have a number of rudimentary (yolks to be) in her ovaries. the number of cells is the maximum number of eggs that she will produce in her life time.When and what pace these cells are used up will depend on a number of factors these include breed,feed hygiene and housing. a hen is most productive in her first season (a season is classed as the time between the first egg and the point at which she starts to moult.) In her second season the number of eggs will be reduced however the size of the egg will increase a little.
Stimulating birds to lay
Most Chickens lay most of their eggs in spring and summer, the main reason for this is the longer hours of light enable them to feed more most chickens need about 10 hours of light to produce regular number of eggs, therefore if extra light is provided in the winter they will still lay eggs. laying is also effected by the quintiy and the type of food that is feed. Layers pellets will also stimulate laying as the contain high amounts of calcium and vitamins.
Fertilized or unfertilized
If you are running a cock with your hens the chances are that they will be fertile, however as long as you collect the eggs on the day that they are laid and have not been sat on no difference will be noticed. the eggs can be eaten just as a infertile egg would be.
A purpose built ark is both attractive and practical. One similar to this will alow you to move your birds around the garde
This should only be used as a guide if you have any questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help.