I blogged recently about the great egg disaster. I ordered a batch of Brahma, Wyandotte and Faverolle eggs, most of which were either smashed or scrambled when they arrived through the post. I was therefore pinning my hopes being able to buy a breeding pair of Brahmas – very large chickens with feathery feet – at one of the autumn poultry shows, but Caiti spotted some chicks for sale on Le Bon Coin. That’s France’s popular buy and sell site. The chicks were in the neighbouring département of Haute Vienne, not too far, so after a few text messages to and from the vendor, Caiti and I headed out. We had the cat box, lined with soft towels, and a warm blanket to wrap around it to keep its imminent occupants cosy on the drive home. We took the scenic route with lots of twists and turns and ups and downs, not one I’d be in a hurry to take again! Especially not towing a large boat, which is what the car in front of us for quite a long way was doing. But the roads were quiet and the scenery was lovely, so it wasn’t all bad. We found the chicken guy after only a few wrong turns, and collected our twenty assorted Brahma chicks. I’m not sure what they’ll turn out looking like, but it’ll be fun to see. I’m certain I have some herminées, which are like a UK Sussex chicken, and some gold brahmas, and I hope I have some splashes (barred) and some blue partridges. Time will tell.
Brahmas were originally bred using Shanghai chickens from China, although for a while some fanciers believed they came from near the Brahmaputra River in India, which the name appears to reflect. However, the official decision is that the Chinese origin is the correct one. In the 1840s lots of Shanghais were imported to the United States, and it was from one batch that arrived in 1846 that the modern version was bred. The plumage patterns were refined and their characteristic ‘pea comb’ was introduced. This type of comb is smaller than the one you usually associate with chickens, and consists of a triple row of pea-like caruncles (fleshy excrescences). These are less prone to frostbite than bigger, more flamboyant combs which may come in handy here during Creuse winters!
We got our chicks safely home, coming a longer but less twisty way this time for the sake of our passengers. I’d already assembled my usual chick rearing set-up of brooder over a soft towel in a large ex under-bed-drawer, with bowls of food and water, and sawdust sprinkled over the floor. We popped the chicks straight in when we got home. Unfortunately, these little pedigree chooks are a bit more delicate than my tough farm mongrel chickens, and we’ve had a couple of casualties, so we’ve racked up the heating system with a heat pad and a red lamp. The littl’uns are definitely livelier now. We’ve been watching them on chickcam which Chris has patched through to our TV.
Fingers crossed that the survivors will continue to thrive. It will be great to have giant chickens striding around the farmyard come next spring when this batch will be fully grown. The cockerels weigh up to 5.5kg, which is colossal!
But for now they’re very cute little bundles of fluffy down, with long legs and fluffy feet. Trop mignon.
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