Female chickens are called hens, and males are called cockerels – they are larger and more colourful, but also more aggressive and noisy. You may see the chickens ‘bathing’ in soil or dust – they do this to clean their plumage and rid themselves of insect parasites.
Most of our chickens are cross-breeds. However we do have some pure bred chickens amongst the flock. The chickens with feathered legs are Brahmas, a breed originating from India. Others you may see here include the red-brown Rhode Island Reds and the Light Sussex, which are white with black napes and tails, and brown barn hens.
We keep chickens for their eggs, to sell here at the Farm. The eggs are collected daily and are sold through our Farm shop. Our hens lay an average of 280 eggs a year each. Some are ‘rescue hens’ from chicken farms, no longer productive enough for commercial egg-laying. Chickens also slow down their egg-laying in winter in line with the shorter days and on some occasions we might not get any at all. As such we buy in organic eggs from another Farm so we can give our birds a rest, but still cater for our customers!
Ducks are water birds, so have webbed feet for swimming and an oily coating on their feathers to keep them waterproof. A male duck is called a drake, a female is simply called a duck, and baby ducks are called ducklings. The males are usually more colourful than the females, and can also be recognised by the backward-curling tuft of feathers on their tail.
The breeds we keep here include domestic Aylesbury ducks, which are white with orange beaks, Indian Runner ducks, which have an upright leaning stance and run rather than waddle, Brown Ducks, and Crested Ducks. Many of the ducks are crosses between these breeds.
Geese are also waterfowl, but are larger and louder than ducks. They make excellent guard animals, as they react noisily and aggressively to any unexpected sound or approach. A male goose is called a gander, a female is simply called a goose, babies are called goslings, and a group of geese is called a gaggle.
The two breeds of geese kept here are Chinese Geese, and white African geese. The African goose is a heavier build and has a larger dewlap (under-chin skin flap).
Duck and Goose Eggs
Domesticated waterfowl such as ducks and geese are farmed for eggs and meat, and sometimes their feathers are also used. Duck and goose eggs are richer and stronger-tasting than chicken eggs and are ideal for baking. Goose eggs are so large that you only need one egg to make an omelette!
We sell both duck and goose eggs from our onsite farm shop. The ducks tend to stop laying over Winter but we usually have duck eggs most days in the Spring-Summer. Goose eggs are far less frequent and a rare treat! Pop into the farm shop to see what’s freshly laid on the day.