Recently someone extolling the virtues of a breed of chicken described them as being neither flighty nor clingy. Well, having raised Icelandic and Buckeye chickens I know all about flighty and clingy. The Icelandics are flighty, sometimes choosing to roost in a tree or on the roof on their first night out, which usually proves fatal. And catching one is nearly impossible. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are definitely clingy — following me around like cats and getting underfoot all the time when I’m working in the garden.
Though I don’t like losing my flightier Icelandics right off the bat, I do like their flightiness for this reason: I feel it gives them the best chance at evading daytime predators, and since they’re free-ranging in an environment with cats, hawks, snakes, and the occasional daytime visit from a raccoon or coyote, this is of the utmost importance.
As for the Buckeyes, I’ve pretty much decided to phase them out since they make it so difficult to work sometimes. They have no fear of a hoe or shovel that could take their foot off with one blow, so I’ve had to learn to work carefully around them. The same goes for mowing with a scythe or sickle. Having my garden fence electrified will at least keep them from interfering with my garden work, I think. But I still have to deal with them running after me or coming up on the porch looking for treats all the time. I can see them being a good dual-purpose homestead breed, with their large size, active foraging and moderately good egg-laying. But having them does require some strategy for keeping them out of the way!
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