Chantecler Chickens / Some great information from

fayrehale(4a)December 5, 2008

a breeder in New York State who has hatching eggs available to people SERIOUSLY interested in preserving this great cold climate breed:

You wouldn't be able to rely on the White Chantecler pullets to hatch

their own eggs. The White Chanteclers were selected against

broodiness. That doesn't mean they never go broody, but they tend to

be significantly less broody than other old breeds, and those that do

go broody on eggs, are often not reliable to carry through the

incubation (they tend to be easier to discourage). It is one of those

trade-offs, as the breed was developed just when artificial

incubation was becoming popular and do-able for ordinary farmers (50

and 100 egg incubators) so selection against broodiness was

considered the right way to go . I have been using a styrofoam

incubator for years and it is okay, but now I'm starting to think it

might be better to use broody hens because they get the chicks really

into foraging for bugs, and I think the chicks grow slower and might

end up tougher and healthier in the long run. However I've had bad

results in many different ways when I've tried broodies of various

breeds and mixes over the last 10 years (and also many decades ago

when I was a kid). But last year decided to give it another go, and

had good results with a couple of young hens that are a mix between

the Partridge variety and the White Chanteclers. I've never had many

Partridge, and have not liked the type of those I had, and the pure

Partridge pullets tended to be too broody too often, when I didn't

want broodies. When I tried crossing Partridge with White to improve

the type of the Partridge, most often the results didn't have good

type, but occasionally a White rooster would seem to really improve

type or the combination of individual mates seemed to nick and be

better than both parents. Anyway I now have a couple broody hens that

were about 1/4 Partridge 3/4 White (they are actually a solid red

color) and both were excellent broodies and good mothers. Both would

bring the chicks to me for hand feeding and hand taming. So I will

try to keep doing that.

However, if you do want to do the natural incubation, of course it is

just fine to use proven broodies of any other breed, if you can get

ahold of them locally somehow. Some people favor silkie crosses, but

I don't like to keep silkies in my cold coops. I have ended up with a

couple odd breed hens around here, and I let a muffed tufted Old

English Game hen brood some White Chantecler eggs in August, just to

see what might happen. Have always heard the Games make excellent

broodies but I was a little concerned this one would raise the

Chanteclers to be wild and fierce. But she was just fine, she didn't

attack me or make her chicks fear me (however she couldn't cover many

eggs, only 6, she is fairly small bodied). And, though so late, the

chicks seem pretty healthy and are tolerating the cold. They do have

feathers but not much underdown development at this age, about 14

weeks old.

Also, I just want to point out that the White Chanteclers are a true

old fashioned multi-purpose breed along the old lines, what was

expected around the end of the 19th century. That means that the

males are quite meaty for roaster age butchering (usually between 6

and 9 months) and were never selected for rapid growth nor for

putting on meat before their bones are developed. And the females

grow up to about 6 to 8 months before they start to lay (depending on

the month of hatch, March hatched will probably lay at 6 months but

May hatched usually wait until January) AND they are not at all

uniform genetically as to egg laying. Their originator expected the

best pullets to lay 150 eggs the first year, and the hens to lay well

though less than that for several years after the pullet year. But he

and all chicken breeders of the time expected to cull pullets quite

heavily for rate of lay, even when they only hatched eggs from the

best layers. So, a really good flock average for the time for any

breed was about 120, and only achieved that through active culling of

the poorer layers of any age, given a mixed age group of hens and

pullets. Some people did like to keep hens only for a couple years

even then, but many people would simply keep all hens no matter what

the age, as long as they were healthy and laying pretty well. And

most people thought only older proven healthy hens that had gone

through at least a couple winters should be used for producing the

hatching eggs to perpetuate the flock.

Many people know all this about old breeds, but some people have

gotten used to the extreme rate of lay and uniformity of the more

industrially selected "production" breeds and therefore have been

disappointed with Chanteclers or other old breeds they've had. A

couple people who got Chanteclers from me really thought they were

defective in production and wanted to cross them with some modern

breeds to "improve productivity"---- HEAVEN FORBID!!! So I like to

mention this general thing about old breeds, that their rate of lay

is and SHOULD BE less than half that of the modern breeds because

they have other adaptive traits that are needed more than sheer egg

production. They aren't broke, and shouldn't be fixed. They are

simply bred to a completely different set of expectations as to

health, adaptiveness to environmental conditions, longevity, and

management inpputs. Their lack of genetic uniformity is a plus that

allows them to be regionally adapted and have healthy immune systems.

If you don't keep these chickens under low input conditions in a cold

climate so that you really need the old type of characteristics that

they have to offer, then you probably can't and won't appreciate

those traits and probably would select againt them in favor of some

aspect of modern productivity. In that case, you would probably be

happier with a newer kind of breed that has already been made more

genetically uniform for mordern production traits under higher input

conditions. But since you are in a coooold climate, I'm guessing you

probably already know all this about old breeds and are inquiring

about the White Chanteclers because you really do want the old type

traits.

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dunwaukin(Ontario 5b)

Fayrehale:
Someone should tell my white Chantelers that they don't know how to brood.
I didn't have a fresh rooster this year for them, so made them take a break. It wasn't easy collecting eggs from them! I had to actually block them from the nests to keep them off.
All my chicks have been brooded by the hens. It was only the first year that I had a heat lamp, after that, I left the hens on their own. They will grind up the food for their chicks -- I never use chick starter.
One year I had two hens brood a nest. There was no way to keep only one on, without the other pushing her off. they were successful at it.

But I NEED a rooster! My girls need some fresh blood in the barn.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 5:49PM
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Bette_WI(zone 3)

Hi, I am very interested in this breed.How does one go about getting some hatching eggs? Thanks, Bette

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 6:21PM
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