See one and you’ll fall in love. Megg Miller says Hamburgh chickens are the hot pick for fashionable backyard poultry keepers – and they’re good layers, too.
Hamburghs are hot. They are such an engaging bird that once people see them they want them. Advice that they are quite naughty falls on deaf ears. No-one will believe such a divine looking bird could wreak havoc if left unsupervised in the garden.
The name Hamburgh suggests Germanic origins but both Blacks and the Spangled varieties were popular in the north of England as early as 1700. The two Pencilled varieties hailed from Holland and were originally called Dutch everyday layers.
Hamburghs are an economical size and smaller than most popular purebreds. As well, you can select large (about 1.80kg) or bantam (625–740g) females, males being a little heavier.
You have a choice of colours, too. Blacks are sleek and shiny or choose between a Gold or a Silver spangled variety: black circles and semi circles on rich gold or pure white. The pencilling pattern is arresting, alternate fine black lines across feathers on either gold or white backgrounds with a plain coloured neck hackle. The Gold and Silver Pencilled varieties are relatively uncommon, as are the White and Blue varieties.
Neat & natty
Hamburghs are neat looking birds. Their feathers sit close, the male has a showy tail while the female’s is daintily fanned. Their headpoints are eye-catching, too – a cherry-red rose comb with tiny crenations, terminating in a neat spike. Their rounded wattles are red, round earlobes white and the bold, full eyes are red. Legs are lead blue in all varieties except Black, where they’re black.
Because Hamburghs are so bright and busy they love time in the garden. Their inquisitive nature has them scratching out plants and enjoying greens in the vegie patch. If the silverbeet is skeletonised, blame it on the Hamburghs. Net off garden beds and cover emerging seedlings. Netting 300mm high will keep hens out.
The Hamburgh’s medium-sized, white-shelled eggs are gorgeous. Kids love decorating them, and better still, the hens lay for years.
Good management is the key to a happy life with Hamburghs. They like a pen with a ladder roost, lots of floor litter to turn over, hanging greens to keep them busy and restricted periods in the garden. Keep your back door firmly closed, they’re quick to slip inside and adore being chased around the kitchen. Yes, they’re cheeky, funny and quite irresistible. Who can resist spoiling them?
Direct your enquiries for stock to Ian Nash, of the Hamburgh Network, phone 0414 986 232.