This beauty was from Nancy's site (don't go here unless you are prepared to be smitten...) and I hope she doesn't mind too terribly if I borrow this pic to show you what I'm working on...
It was she, in fact, that got me going on this. (Little does she know!) She discovered the beautiful little breed, started posting pictures on her sheep blog, and the rest was history. But here's the hitch - everyone on our farm has to make money or they can't stay. That pretty much rules out bantam chickens, as their eggs are not in demand for sale. We only have one set of bantams on the farm - they are Madison's pets and they won Best in Show at the local fair a few years back. They pay for themselves in chicks, as we hatch and raise a dozen or so of them each year to sell to the local poultry enthusiasts who want show quality Buff Brahma bantams.
So, that being said, I knew if I wanted those amazing chickens at our place, I would have to find some standard Mille Fleur Cochins. Not as easy as it sounds...so it developed like so many other projects around here - "I'll make it myself!" (She announces with naive confidence...)
You soon learn that there is no documented, direct path to get such a chicken. Many start with a Mottled Cochin roo over Buff, Red, or Columbian Cochin pullets. While these may all be recognized variants in Bantam Cochins, they are not recognized in Standard Cochins. Finding a standard Mottled Cochin roo meant $75 and over 6 hours in the car...not in the budget! Ordering the chicks to start our project meant waiting till Spring, raising them over the summer, and possibly getting some breeding in before short Fall days shut them down...not in my ability to be that patient!
So we started the process with what we had on hand - (Barred Rock over a Red Cochin)
Meet Step #1:
A pretty, little chick hatched just before Christmas with nice, fluffy Cochin-type fuzz, the striping which usually promises future color, and light feathering on the feet.
Here she (I'm guessing) is at around 6 weeks:
Pretty good Cochin body shape, mottling on feathers around head, neck, and wing. I expect the next generation will only enhance the chevrons and coloring. And we'll see how she changes as she ages.
Best part? - She can be bred in 10 weeks and we can be hatching 2nd generation project chicks around the same time we are raising the new foundation flock for Fall breeding. OK, second best part? - no cash investment so far, and I get a little more instant gratification. Third best part? - fun genetics lessons for the DD...