Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom
Posted Oct 13, 2012
This is a new chicken breed for me. I'm building up the menagerie of rare breeds again, as we're planning to move next spring to somewhere with more acreage. So I have spent the past six months either gathering new animals to where we live now, or housing them at a local rare breed park where I help out when I can.
I came across the Scots Grey by accident when looking to try and identify a barred chicken we used to keep when I was growing up. It wasn't the Scots Grey, but when I learnt that this breed had gamefowl ancestry I wanted to look into it further.
The cock bird looks much like other domestic chickens in terms of appearance, but you can definitely see the gamefowl ancestry in the hens (particularly in the poults), with their large heads and breasts that project beyond the neck.
They have a bit of a reputation for being flighty and the cocks can be aggressive. You can see their gamefowl heritage when they squat down, ready to spring and attack. But they soon lear who is feeding them and will even run towards you when you call.
In Scotland this was the traditional crofter and smallholder's bird, being very hardy and able to take care of themselves. They are very active scratchers and foragers. From what I have seen, this would be an ideal bird for a new garden or a patch of ground where you want to clear the pests, slugs and snails.
Though quite heavy birds (they can reach 3kg) they do take to the wing readily and will fly short distances. If possible they like high perches and can be trained to clamber or half-fly up to a coop set well above the ground.
They are quite regular (if not particularly prolific) layers, but they are expert at hiding their eggs and you may have a bit of a treasure hunt on your hands if you want to find all of a day's clutch.
This is a free range bird and they can become destructive if confine. At the very least, they need to be allowed to roam freely during the day.
From what I have seen, the breasts are quite narrow and I am told they have quite a gamey flavour (another reason for getting them). So I look forward to increasing the flock to be able to raise for meat and eggs whilst also helping to keeping this rare breed going.