Posted Dec 24, 2013
Sandy, so named because of her origins as a chicken who mysteriously showed up in our sanctuary's sawdust pile, has been nothing but pleasure from the start. Watching her grow and really come into her own as a chicken has been fantastic - she's a quieter chicken, and I'm not sure whether that's breed inherent or just her personality.
We have no idea who dropped her with us, but we're definitely glad they did. She's peaceful and often steps in when there are squabbles between the laying hens. She has the nerve to stand up to some of our cockier roosters and she has never bitten, nipped, pecked or scratched a visitor at our sanctuary, even the grabby and enthusiastic toddlers.
She is a frequent layer and produces medium to small eggs, seemingly depending on mood. She's never gotten broody and always is thrilled to give up her eggs for collection, sometimes kicking them out to the pigs for their enjoyment.
I can't speak to her value for meat, sale or breeding as our sanctuary is a rescue and we don't focus on those things here. While she's never been entered in a "show" of any official capacity, she's more than eager to greet visitors and happily participates in our Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) training exercises, letting newbies handle her and learn proper chicken capture and restraint techniques.
We're a minimal management farm and she's free to roam as she sees fit, so I also can't speak to how this breed of chicken would do under intensive management. As it is, she's more than happy to roam freely and will return to the coop when she feels the need. She's happy and has never gotten anything but a clean bill of health from the vet.
The costs associated with her are minimal - quality feed to supplement what she digs up from the woods on her own and scraps here and there. The bigger investment with Sandy is time. She prefers the coop to be nearly immaculate, where our other hens couldn't care less. She's a little more susceptible to cold than our other hens, but not so much that it would make a huge difference to an experienced hobbyist who already takes note of conditions and houses their livestock appropriately.
My only complaint about Sandy is that she's very meticulous about her appearance. Heaven forbid there's a feather out of place, she'll spend more time preening than my husband does! It got to the point where she was a little too concerned at one point - it bordered on obsession. After spending a little more time with Sandy, we realized she's a rather social chicken and needs a bit more one-on-one human interaction than our other ladies do. Once we learned to meet her needs, the obsessive grooming stopped, though she's still very vain about her appearance.