While I jokingly call our bees our first livestock at this property, our Icelandic chickens probably hold that title more accurately. They are a land-race, not a breed of chicken, so ummm, Google that if you want to understand it better than I do. What I do know is that I chose them for many reasons. Here's the list, I love lists...
Why we chose Icelandic Chickens , aka Icies
1. Their nickname is "Icies", I didn't make that up.
2. They are a cold hardy breed (sorry land-race).
3. They're good at free ranging. So good they barely eat grain in the summer.
4. Bonus, they're really beautiful and come in colors I haven't seen elsewhere.
"They come in colors I haven't seen elsewhere"? I think it might be getting late. I'm starting to sound like a infomercial. Also, I have seen these colors... maybe just not on a chicken. Goodnight.
Number three is really what sold me, as there are quite a few cold hardy breeds available (that are much cheaper and easier to find). However, commercially bred chickens don't really need to fend for themselves. I'm not knocking these breeds at all. I've had a Rhode Island Red, Americaunas, and I'm still drawn to Buff Orpingtons and those big black ones... Australorps, had to look up the spelling on that one. But, we really wanted something that could (to some extent) fend for itself and forage.
We have not been disappointed. Knock on wood, we have yet to lose a chicken to a predator. And, especially during the summer, they ignore their feed and fill up on bugs, worms, etc... Their favorite treat is meal worms.
The downside (if you want a chicken buddy)
These chickens were raised in our house, handled by us daily, and still, they are not cuddly. There are no chickens free ranging in knitted sweaters here. The chickens we had a few years back, you could easily catch them, pick them up, carry them around, no big deal. These chickens... I gave up catching them long ago. Sure they call at you when you go outside or pull up in the driveway. They'll come running if they know you have their favorite treat. But bend down to pick one up, and it's as if you've deeply offended them. "How dare you even think about touching me?!"
Also, our rooster, Tiger, who was the kindest of the four roosters we originally had, has recently become a little aggressive. He knows who feeds him and he doesn't like to let anyone else near his honeys. For us, however, I can't complain. I wasn't looking for a pet chicken, so hats off to Tiger, may you live long and prosper.