Bred animal myself
Pennsylvania, United States
Posted Jul 18, 2011
Most people end up getting Chanteclers because they are sick of their birds getting frostbite. And this was our main reason for starting with Chanteclers to. These birds are extremely winter hardy. They have itty bitty combs and wattles, and frostbite is simply not a concern. They also love the snow, and enjoy foraging about the yard, no matter the temperature, provided the wind is tolerable.
The breed can handle some heat, but they are not recommended for climates with extreme heat. Our average summer day is around 80 - 90 degrees F, and the Chanteclers did just fine if they are provided ample shade and water. But, they will stop laying in hotter weather.
Chantecler chicks are fast growing and energetic little buggers. Ours would race over to their brooder door when they saw visitors, and loved climbing up and down our arms. They can occasionally be a bit hard on more docile breeds, because they grow so quickly, hog the feeder, and move around so much. Ours also enjoy eating all the foot feathers off our Breda chicks. Which, turned into a bit of a bloody mess. So, we don’t recommend brooding them with feather footed breeds.
The roosters grew at amazing rates, when compared to an average dual-purpose breed. We weighed our boys weekly, and discovered they packed on about 1/3 pound a week. Ours were ready for butchering as soon as 4 months, but if you wait 6 months there will be more flesh. The bird was easy to butcher and meat was of average quality. Not as fantastic of a taste or fleshing as a Dorking, but certainly much better than store bought.
The Partridge roosters had excellent personalities. We hatched over a hundred roosters, and never had an aggressive one. With their large size and bold personality, they would stride right over to be held and pet. Which, did terrify many a farm visitor.
Hens matured around five months of age, and produced approximately 4 eggs a week. Our bloodline layed medium sized eggs, which was a bit disappointing. With such a large bird, I was hoping for a basic large egg. The hens would lay right through the cold spells, but would stop at a molt, hot spells, and took quite a few breaks to brood. Oh yes, the hens love their chicks. Most of our hens would brood once or twice a year.
The hens had okay personalities. They were social if we had food. But when left to free-ranging they ignored human involvement. They also liked to bully our other breeds, which could be a bit frustrating at times. The smaller the space, they more they would bully their flock mates.
Health wise, the breed was exceedingly hardy. We had a couple of outbreaks of coccidiosis on the farm, and the Chantecler chicks where rarely sickened by it...even when they were in the same pen as the infected birds.
When purchasing Chanteclers, I really recommend giving some consideration to what kind of bird you want to end up with. The Chantecler’s from hatcheries, at best, are poor representations of the breed. They are smaller, tend to be skittish, and have poor coloration. So only go the hatchery route if you want a cold hardy egg layer. If you want a friendly, properly colored, dual-purpose bird, or care to exhibit fowl, then get some birds from a breeder.
If you live in the States and want partridge Chanteclers: I recommend Shelly Oswald or Mike Gilbert.
Breeding wise, there is a great deal of work to be done with the breed. I see a lot of breeders trying to focus on coloration, which is important, but the frame of the fowl is more so. Tails are a bit of a disaster with the partridge variety, as most hens are bunny tailed. Also, it is important to keep an eye on how tightly feathered the birds are, getting rid of fluffy feathered birds is a must.
Chicks hatch with a few defaults, so culling them after hatching will save you on the feed bill. Not all chicks will hatch with cushion combs, so cull pea, single combs, and rose comb chicks. Cushion combs are completely flat and sometimes have a crease going across them in the middle. Also, cull chicks that hatch with completely brown legs, or have feathering coming down their legs at the top (A cochin bloodline issue).
A note about sexing: female chicks tend to have brown heads, while the males are more yellow. The lighter males tend to have better adult coloration.
We did end up trying white Chanteclers for a short while, but we ended up with a very poor bloodline. They were smaller than the partridges and where excellent layers, but the roosters where horribly aggressive.