My future flock (cross my fingers)

Mottled Javas in the American Poultry Journal, Sept. 1886, as bred by J.Y. Bicknell of New York state, clipped from “The American Breeds of Poultry…” by Frank L. Pratt, published 1921 by Jas. A. Bell & Co.

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.