The marans in is a breed that originated in France around the 1940's. They come in many different colors, ours are the "cuckoo" color. Cuckoo is a black and white mottled coloring, similar to a barred plymouth rock, but the bars don't line up perfectly with the cuckoo coloring.
They are best known for their dark brown eggs. Some strains will lay a chocolate brown colored egg. Solid chocolate brown egg layers are hard to come by in the US, most US hens will lay very dark brown eggs with chocolate brown speckles.
My other favorite trait with this breed besides the beautiful eggs is that they mature very quickly for such a large bird. They mature at about 5-7lbs and started laying eggs at about 5 months old. They are also a calm bird and don't spook easily.
This dutch breed lays darker brown eggs with a terra cotta color. These pretty birds forage. The breed was developed around 1900 in the Dutch town of Welsum. They are classified as a large breed with the hens being about 6lbs. *Brownish Hen in the center of the picture, the one looking at the camera, is a Welsummer.
Anconas are a light weight breed from the Mediterranean that are black with white tipped feathers. They lay lots of small to medium sized white eggs. They come in single comb and rose comb varieties. We have the single comb variety.
They are an active breed, but not as flighty as leghorns. They mature at 4-5lbs and began laying at about 5 months of age. They do not eat as much food as the larger breeds and they lay very well from spring to late fall.
Lays brown eggs. This breed has been around for years. It is a popular breed due to its laying ability and hardiness. These hens are great natural mothers and lay eggs well through the winter. We have the barred variety (pictured) as well as the white and partridge varieties. This breed makes up a large portion of our laying flock.
Lays dark brown eggs. This is a rare (in the US) Dutch breed of chicken developed in the late 1940's. Our birds are obviously from a show strain, they don't lay really dark eggs like some of our marans but they are beautiful birds that lay quite well. This is one breed we are breeding this year.
These little ducks were developed in England in 1900 by Mrs. Adele Campbell. The come in other colors, but the brown "khaki" color seems to be the most common in the US. This breed was created specifically for laying ability. It will out lay the best chicken hen. These ducks are excellent foragers and blend in well to their surroundings, making them less visible to predators. The eggs are larger than chicken eggs and typically off white in color with occasional spots and even a green tinted egg.
Golden 300 Hybrid Duck
This hybrid was developed by Metzer Farms in California here is their description of the breed: "In 1996 we developed the Golden 300 Hybrid as they lay more and larger eggs than the Khaki Campbell duck and have a calmer temperament with a higher fertility. The Khaki Campbell may be a good egg producer in small flocks but we were never satisfied with their production in our larger commercial flocks. Because of this inconsistency, we developed the Golden 300 Hybrid by crossing and utilizing the attributes of different duck breeds. The Golden 300 Hybrid can be sexed at any age by its color as the males are shades of black and the females are shades of brown. Unfortunately, they do not retain this characteristic in future generations. Their progeny will hatch in blacks, yellows and browns with no relationship between sex and color." Metzer Farms website
Welsh Harlequin Duck
The Welsh Harlequin duck is a somewhat new breed, developed in 1949 from some light colored Khaki Campbells. They are an excellent layer with a calm temperament. They will also set on eggs and are excellent foragers. Picture of the Silver coloration of the Welsh Harlequin, they also come in gold. We have two of each color. *I have fallen in love with this breed and have since added many more of these ladies to our farm.
American Buff Geese
Buff geese are one of the few breeds of geese that originated in the US. Bred for meat production, these medium sized geese can grow to 18 pounds. The buff color is very rare, only occurring in domesticated geese, not wild geese. They are calm and docile geese and a fantastic parents. They are also described as a very curious breed. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists this breed as Critical, meaning there are "fewer than 500 breeding birds in the United States, with five or fewer primary breeding flocks (50 birds or more), and estimated global population less than 1,000." Our pair of Buff geese at 2 1/2 months old.
Described as a "dual purpose" breed that was developed in Wales around 1918-1919, Magpie ducks are the newest breed to our farm. A rare breed in the US, it is listed as "critical" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. I was drawn to the breed as I read that it lays blue eggs and I liked that all resources said they are active foragers. Ours lay mostly white, but a few lay charcoal grey eggs. And they are definitely active foragers!