Flamingo Land has recently acquired five new chickens. They are a type of rare breed called the Marsh Daisy. They are currently off show but will be going on show soon into the Muddy Duck Farm area of the zoo.
The breed originated in Lancashire in the late 1800s and initially there were three colours; partridge, wheaten and white. Then over time black and brown variants were produced, with the most common being the brown and wheaten ones today. We currently have two white and three brown chickens. They can be identified by having a pink comb, willow green legs and an upright stance. This breed are known to have a calm temperament and are good egg layers. Unfortunately their eggs are not as large as some other breeds of chicken, they might not be able to lay excessive amounts of eggs and their small body size doesn’t produce as high amounts of meat, therefore their numbers decreased rapidly in the 1940s due to breeders and farmers preferring other types.
As farming methods and breeding has intensified over the years to current modern times, many traditional breeds have become rare. Modern farms require chickens to produce high yields with a minimal amount of cost spent on food for the chickens. The chickens are chosen for either large body size, producing lots of meat, or high volumes of eggs being laid. To achieve this, hybrids are often used and they can produce more than 300 eggs per year, which the Marsh Daisy is not able to compete with as it will lay around 100-250 eggs per year. If it wasn’t for the attractiveness of this breed of chicken, there might have been a chance that it would have become extinct. Maintaining pure breed Marsh Daisies can be difficult as their numbers are quite low and breeders would try to avoid inbreeding if possible as it can lead on to health issues.
In general, chickens are very common and they are the most numerous bird on the planet. They are omnivores, which means that they would eat a variety of seeds and insects.
The chickens have a fairly short lifespan of around five-10 years and would live together in flocks.