I fell in “just-gotta-have” love with these attractive little chickens when I first saw them shown at the nearby Chatsworth Fair. They were not for sale at the time, but the same three birds, a rooster and two hens, showed up, for reasons beyond my understanding, at the poultry auction at the Keady Livestock Market. I picked them up for half the price that I was willing to offer at the fairgrounds.
I don’t know how better to describe the ones that I have, other than to say they are a jet-black chicken with a pleasant shine to their feathers and a blushing red face, large, erect bright red comb, with matching oversize wattles. The earlobes are also large but are a showy chalk-white. They sport no leg feathers. Because of this makeup I feel I should caution that wintertime heat is advisable for them. Temperatures dropping below the freezing level could cause a lot of discomfort by frostbite.
As I understand it, the minorca chicken, both bantam and standard, were developed in England from stock originally imported from Spain. They come in black, white and buff, in both normal and rose comb. The standard size is one of the largest of the dual-purpose breeds. However, the bantams develop very young and are quite active and attractive at an early age, with the high-stepping, cocky young cockerels attempting to crow in their third month of age.
I only acquired this trio at the tail end of their first breeding season, but I gather from their actions that they don’t enjoy their wintertime trio confinement. They seem much more content in their outdoor runs. If it wasn’t for our necessary predator fencing, it would be fun just to watch them run completely free-range. It would be interesting to know just how far they would venture in search of the bugs, beetles, worms and snippets of greens, which they seem to fully enjoy.
The trio that I have seem to do well on the 17 per cent lay ration for hens, which we have especially mixed for us as we decline any medications added. While they are wintertime-caged indoors, we add a little more oyster shell and, of course, medium- sized gravel or grit.
As I picked these birds up late in the breeding season, the young ones that hatched were done so by a surrogate mother by slipping five eggs in beside one of my little silver Sebright hen’s five eggs. She seemed not to mind and just spread her wings further to cover all 10. Three of each hatched successfully.
The newly-hatched chicks were not hard to tell apart, as the minorca young are mostly black with a smidge of white on their wing tips and underbelly. The silver Sebrights were noticeably smaller and, of course, more yellow in colour, with twin stripes on their backs. Mom, the little hen, seemed not to discriminate based on size or colour and looked after her extended brood quite nicely.
If you hanker for a creature to tackle the unwanted bugs that converge on your organic veggie garden, I feel quite sure that you couldn’t go wrong with the attractive, high-stepping, poultry in motion, known as the black minorca bantam. Cock-a-doodle-do to you.
Take care, ‘cause we care.