Are you seeking to add a gentle giant to your backyard chicken flock? The Cochin chicken might be exactly what you’re looking for. Even better, these hens make wonderful, attentive, and devoted mothers if you allow them to breed…
What are Cochin Chickens?
Cochin chickens originated in Shanghai, China. They were developed by the Chinese for both meat and modest egg production. Via Europe (where Queen Victoria fell in love with the breed and kept them in her menagerie), they were introduced to North America from 1845 and were first mentioned in the Standard of Excellence in Exhibition Poultry in 1865. Today, they are a very popular exhibition breed.
Characteristics and Appearance
Cochins look very unique: buxom of body, fluffy of buttock, and feathery of leg, they are distinctively stunning to look at and are big, adorable barrels of love.
Physical characteristics include:
- Robust body
- Dense soft feathering
- Small head
- Serrated single comb
- Feathered legs and toes
- Small, low tail with prominent “bum” feathers (“cushion”)
Cochin chickens are among the largest poultry breeds in the world. Hens typically weigh 3.5-4kg, while roosters reach 5-5.5kg. Due to their very fluffy feathers, they look even bigger than this!
With a wide variety of colors, those accepted by the American Standard of Perfection are:
- Brown red
- Golden laced
- Silver laced
Cochins are among the friendliest, calmest chicken breeds you can have in your backyard flock. They can be very submissive in the company of other birds, even those significantly smaller than they are, and they are great with kids.
Hens tend to be very broody, and if they are allowed to hatch their eggs, they make outstanding mothers. Thanks to their size, a hen can easily incubate a dozen eggs (or even more). Chicks are well cared for from hatching until they reach adulthood.
Cochin chickens do well in cold weather, thanks to their high body mass and dense feathering, though their large combs can be vulnerable to frostbite. These chickens don’t cope well with humid, harsh summer conditions and will need help to keep cool in heatwaves.
Perhaps because they are so focused on brooding and caring for chicks, egg-laying is not the forte of Cochin hens. The average cochin hen at her peak will lay only 160-180 eggs annually at most – this is just 3 eggs per week. When they do provide an egg, it will be brown and medium-sized. They do continue laying throughout winter, unlike a lot of other chicken breeds.
Why You Should Keep Cochin Chickens
- Great family backyard pets – get along great with people, including kids
- Sweet, gentle disposition
- Easy to handle and approachable
- Quiet – they won’t annoy the neighbors
- Not good fliers – will not wind up in trees or escape your yard
- Gorgeous and unique appearance
- Wonderful foster mothers for brooding and hatching the eggs of another bird – including turkeys and duck eggs
- Laid-back attitude
- Not overly active– they love being in their coop, run, and a small patch for confined foraging.
- Bantam Cochins are full of personality and oh-so-cute!
Caring for Cochins
- Provide plenty of space in the coop and run to comply with the large size of these birds – and extra 50cm x 50cm in the coop and an extra metre square in the run is ideal. Cochins are easy to raise and don’t require particularly special feed or care.
- You do need to be mindful of mites and lice due to their very dense feathers, as well as scaly leg mites. They need a dry coop and run and a small foraging patch.
- Don’t overfeed or offer too many treats, as they are inclined to put on weight.
- Cochins may occasionally benefit from grooming/cleaning after rain as their feathery legs can get muddy. Simply soak legs and feet in warm water and scrub mud gently away with a soft toothbrush. Make sure the feathers are dry before you send your chicken back outside.
If you want a charming big chicken that provides a modest number of delicious eggs but is more a family pet, the Cochin is right for you. Well cared for Cochins will live 8-10 years on average. A sweet ball of fluff, she is literally the “Mother Hen” of the chicken world.