I wasn’t sure, until now, what type of chicken I would choose for our flock. My main criteria: a winter-hardy chicken, and beautiful (to my eye at least) known to forage well (I want them to eat bugs and ticks), and a somewhat unusual chicken in that not everyone has them. I seriously considered the Australorp, and then I came across the Java chicken.
The Java chicken is a heritage breed listed as “threatened” on The Livestock Conservancy 2014 Conservation Priority List. They are reputed to be good foragers, which I hope will have a… decimating… effect on our tick population, as well as reduce the feed bill. I want chickens that explore, but that come back to the coop. While I am raising them for eggs, the Java is a dual purpose breed, raised for both meat and eggs. I am reading that they are slow to mature, so it may be a while before eggs are available.
Finding available chicks or eggs was difficult, and I hope the source I found pans out (more on that later if I am successful). I’ve put an order in for 25 chicks, mainly females, but a few roosters too. I would have ordered a straight run, where you get them without knowing whether male or female, but was afraid of ending up with 23 roosters. I do want a few roosters, I’ve heard they protect the hens, and then of course, they make possible to have a few baby chicks, and a self-generating flock, if things work out that way.
I think it’s important to protect genetic diversity, and I think it would be interesting to have a breeding flock. Although I suspect that more research on that subject might prove otherwise, because I have a vague idea it involves quite a bit of culling, which I might not want to do on a regular basis. I think I can cull the occasional chicken, but… well, more research on that is needed.
A 2002 article in Mother Earth News explains more about the history of the Java, and the effort to repopulate them.
Dot Ranch Navajo has good information and gorgeous Java pictures.