Crested chickens – When to Ignore the Cons May 30, 2014

Crested chickens: To keep, or not to keep? That is the question—whether ’tis nobler in the, er, flock to suffer the obscured vision of an outrageous crest, or to keep other breeds, and by consumer choice, avoid them…

crested chicken3

Why would you want to avoid crested breeds?

There are a few good reasons to avoid crested breeds—but there are also some compelling arguments that those reasons shouldn’t automatically rule out crested chickens in your situation.

Splash silkie - crested chickens

Everyone should keep a silkie, right?

So, et’s look at the cons–and discuss when those cons don’t matter!

THE CONS OF CRESTED CHICKENS

Con # 1. Crested chickens tend to get picked on more often by other birds in the flock, because they can’t see a peck coming to avoid it!

When doesn’t that matter? If you keep nothing but crested breeds, everyone is on equal footing. Additionally, you can choose to keep mostly docile rather than aggressive breeds, and you can give your birds plenty of space. Picking is mostly an issue when you keep very aggressive birds, or when your chickens are closely confined. That isn’t the normal arrangement in backyard hobby flocks, where pet chickens often get pleasantly spoiled.

Crested1_edited-1

Which way should I duck?

Con #2. Crested chickens are more easily predated. With obscured vision, they can’t see a predator coming as well as clean-headed breeds.

This can certainly be a problem, especially in free range situations. But if you don’t free range your birds–if you keep them in a fully secure area, or range them only when you’re their to supervise—then this is usually nothing to be overly worried about. Some crested chicken breeds such as the Cream Legbar have small crests that don’t appreciably obscure vision. The Appenzeller Spitzhauben tends to have a smaller crest than Polish, Sultans and the like, too.

Crested chickens have obscured vision

Who’s there?

Con #3. Crested chickens are not typically “production” breeds, so if you want lots of eggs, choosing crested breeds is not likely to serve you very well.

Polish, especially–one of the more popular crested breeds—lay quite poorly.

crested chicken breeds

My head is shaped like an egg. That’s enough, right?

So do Sultans. Crevecoeur and Houdans are only slightly better. Silkies produce well when they’re not broody, but it seems sometimes that they’re almost always broody and “temporarily” out-of-lay. But there are crested chickens that lay well. Appenzeller Spitzhaubens lay reasonable numbers of eggs, and Cream Legbars lay quite well indeed! Plus, not everyone wants to keep chickens just for the eggs. Some people keep birds for show or pleasure. Others have a mixed flock consisting of breeds to provide plenty of eggs, and a few unusual crested chickens just because they’re so beautiful.

Do you keep crested breeds—and why? What are your favorites?

2 Comments
John40 June 1st, 2014

Beautiful breed, nice!

Katie July 13th, 2014

First time chicken owner, but I have had the pleasure of raising a male and female silkie! So far no problems, looking forward to the small eggs!

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