Small Animal Barn, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is a working farm, complete with chickens. In summer, you’ll find them outside in the Poultry House, sometimes with other poultry. In winter, the chickens call the Small Animal Barn home. Among the numerous chicken breeds at the Museum are several rare breeds, most notably the Barred Plymouth Rock and the Black Cochin.
The average laying hen produces more than 270 eggs per year. Hens begin laying at around 20 weeks old and continue until around 71 weeks of age. In the industry, hens lay for one year and then are sold to processors for use in food.
Eggs take 21 days to incubate and require a constant temperature of 38 to 39 degrees Celsius. The older the hen is, the larger the egg. Shell colour depends on the breed of chicken and has nothing to do with the egg’s nutritional value.
Care and Feeding:
Chickens use their beaks to tear soft food to pieces. Hard food they swallow whole. Food is then forced through the gullet, where it mixes with gastric juices. In the gizzard, grit helps grind the food for digestion. Without the grit, chickens could not digest their food.
This American breed was developed in the mid-nineteenth century and was first exhibited as the Plymouth breed in 1869. The first Plymouth Rock was barred, but other varieties developed later. The breed became popular very rapidly. In fact, until the Second World War, no breed was ever kept and bred as extensively as the Barred Plymouth Rock. Its popularity came from its qualities as an outstanding farm chicken: hardiness, docility, broodiness, and excellent production of both eggs and meat.
Originally imported from China, the Cochin has undergone considerable development in the U.S. This breed is mainly found as an ornamental fowl and is known for its friendly, docile nature. Because of their excellent mothering abilities, Cochins are frequently used as foster mothers for game birds and other species. Their most remarkable feature is their feathered feet. Cochins lay an average of two eggs per week. Their eggs are brown.