The Cochin chicken is one of the most popular breeds to keep as a pet. Originally they were referred to as Chinese Shanghai, and were even a choice kept by Queen Victoria back in the nineteenth century.
Today they are known as being gentile and sweet creatures, that are more attractive than other breeds due to their thick fur and feathers.
Though not the most prolific layers, they can still produce two or three eggs a week. These are usually of a medium size and are brown in color. It is because they are not known for their egg laying skills, that they have developed a reputation as being more of an ornamental bird.
They are a great choice for families who have an extensive backyard or garden, they can help to keep down the number of bugs and grubs that would normally exist in a backyard.
Compared to other varieties, the Cochin is quite a hardy species, and can adapt quickly to the vagaries of the northern hemisphere climate. This chicken does not need to be around other birds, and can be comfortable when confined.
If you have young children and are looking for a breed that would not start pecking at their young bodies, this species would be well suited. They’re docile, quiet, and friendly, and do not lash out when handled or touched.
Compared to other chicken breeds, they are on the heavy side, a mature adult can weigh upwards of eight pounds. There is a diversity in the varieties of Cochin chickens that are available, for example white, black, red, brown, mottled, golden laced, barred, blue, silver laced, partridge, buff, and columbine. Below the plumage the skin is a distinct yellow shade. Their feet are feathered, and each has four pronounced toes.
The average lifespan of this bird is anywhere from eight to ten years, dependent upon factors such as climate, breeding, and diet. Compared to most poultry species, they are low maintenance.
Though they’re extremely adaptable, they should not be kept outdoors in the sunlight for prolonged periods during the hottest times of the year, as their thick plumage can result in heatstroke. In such a scenario, a garden hose or sprinkler can help to ensure that they are cool.
It is desirable to provide an enclosure that is dry, and which has a covering of fine wood shavings or soft rice-hull. Cochins are most comfortable when allowed to roam freely, though at night it is desirable to ensure they remain safely within their enclosure.
Cochin chickens should be provided a nutritious and balanced diet, involving an adequate amount of protein and vitamins. Fresh clean water needs to be available at all times to ensure good health.
As they’re not necessarily the cheapest breed, they are a species that are perhaps best kept as pets. They befriend people and other animals easily, and can be a pleasure to care for. Cochins can also be kept as breeders, but their reproductive ability lasts only a couple of years.