It was an accident that we ended up with two different breeds of chicken. We’d planned on eight buff Orpingtons because we’d read that they were friendly, docile, and cold-hardy. When we showed up to pick up our chicks at Cape Cod Feed and Supply, though, there was a run on Orpingtons. This had the two-fold consequence of making me act like a jerk and forcing us to integrate our flock, which is four buff Orpingtons and four Rhode Island reds.
Everyone should have an integrated flock. Having more than one kind of chicken has a couple of advantages that we, as first time chicken owners, hadn’t foreseen. For starters, they’re easier to count. You can also compare breed personalities. The Rhodies are more outgoing and, we think, smarter than their Orpington cousins, but the Orps seem a little less greedy and demanding.
We had read that the Orps were easy-going to the point of being a target for bullies, and we were afraid that the Rhodies would pick on them, but we’ve never seen it. At feeding time, on the roosts, at the waterer, there has never seemed to be any tribal animosity between the buff chickens and the red chickens.
It is, of course, ridiculous that we take pleasure in the fact that our chickens seem blissfully unaware of their feather color. When we watch them pecking at a pile of corn – red next to buff next to red – we have a sense that all’s right with our peaceful, colorblind barnyard community.
On Martin Luther King Day, though, when Kevin went up to close the chickens in for the night, for the first time he found a segregated coop. Buffs to the right, reds to the left. We figure, though, that as long as we stick to one drinking fountain, they’ll get over it.