Canberra Pekins

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The pekin bantam

The following breed profile has been taken from  

Breed: Pekin Bantam

Origin: China

Colours: barred (light and dak), birchin, black, black red, blacktailed wheaten, blue, blue red, blue tailed wheaten, brown red, buff, Columbian, cuckoo, grey, golden creel, lavender, mealy grey, mottled, partridge, red, splash, white.

Eggs: tinted brown or white. They can lay every day but usually every second say. Clutch size can vary before the hen goes broody, younger birds laying a large number of eggs than older birds. Size of eggs is reasonable, about half the size of a large hen egg.

Comment: very friendly little bird, popular as pets and for exhibition. Very dependent on good care due to the feathered feet and low statue. Suitable to small areas, cannot fly.

Cost: They can demand high prices of up around $100 per bird or more, but often cheaper stock can be found. A pure bred show bird is not always most desirable as a pet as the less show type birds have excellent natures, often lay more and are more hardy to not so ideal conditions.

History: an early book “Bantams” by W. F. Entwisle, 1894 says that pekins were first introduced into England in1860 or 1861 from china. These original birds “ were all buffs- the cocks rather a rich darkish cinnamon, the hens some shades lighter”. He goes on to state that several years later there were an importation of blacks ‘the hens were excellent in every particular way, but the cocks were none of them free from white, or straw colour in the hackles, and several had brassy wings”. Entwisel is a well known early breeder and developer of many bantam breeds and he helped develop new colours and started on the early pekin, unlike in shape to the bird we see today. He exhibited his birds at the crystal palace with great success.

Over time styles and fads have developed the pekin as we know it today. Different countries have different preferences to how they see the ideal pekin, just look at the birds from America, germany and England and compare them with each other and our own and you will see how tastes differ. Australia is steadily introducing new standards for new colours and other countries have already got a greater array of colors including laced and mille fleur.

Exhibition: pekin bantams are very popular at shows, often winning the major awards. However the colour of these birds are usually black or white because these birds are easier to gain perfection as the subtleness of colouration and pattern are less problematic. However one does sometimes get to see an off colour go up for major awards in some shows.

Suitability: the pekin is suitable for the home garden as it is not so destructive due to its feather feet. It has difficulty flying to a meter so fencing is easy to keep them in or out. The birds are usually gentle with the occasional aggressive rooster. They make great mothers and can be used for hatching an array of eggs from different breeds and species. pekins are very vulnerable to predators like dogs, foxes and hawks. Pekins are great to enjoy for exhibition purposes or to have as animated ornaments. I would highly recommend them as pets for those who are elderly or incapacitated as they respond and return affection and are easy to manage and care for.

Selecting birds: it is important to selest a bird that will suit your needs. If exhibition birds are wanted then seek out successful exhibitors of long standing. Don’t mix your strains of the breed and learn about colour breeding if you plan to breed your own. For pets there are plenty of culls from exhibitors and backyard breeders alike.

I cannot state how important it is to get healthy birds. One trip to a vet will cost what it would to buy a good bird. Pekins being birds are very vulnerable to diseases, however many breeders today find it easy to vaccinate and use antibiotics rather than breed disease resistant birds. Hence if you want to breed your own pekins it is wise to decide what sort of breeder you will obtain your birds from, one that vaccinates and theat for you must incubator hatch and vaccinate your birds or one who has healthy birds, breeds naturally and thus you can breed your birds naturally under a broody hen. If you do not want to breed your birds then a vaccinated bird is fine but with no garantees.

Breeding: pekin bantams are very easy to breed as long as you are prepared to learn about basic poultry husbandry. Pekins can be kept in small spaces but without adequate nutrition and exercise fertility is decreased. The better the quality of pekin the more likely the vent feathers of both sexes will need to be trimmed for proper fertilization by natural fertilization. Many breeders use artificial inseminantion (AI) so that they can still exhibit their fowl (you cannot exhibit birds that have had feathers cut). AI is also used as a breeding strategy to ensure fertility and if one on one mating is used. Trimming a bird has the added benefit that it keeps the vent area clear of faecal matter that otherwise can build up to an extent that it can be a life threatening issue if birds are not checked very regularly.

Feeding: pekins are a form of poultry and accept commercial poultry feeds. They enjoy treats and other things like plants and bugs picked up through free range. It is important to understand the nutritional needs of pekins and it does not differ from the average chicken. However if success is wanted in the breeding pen it is advisable to ensure birds are getting adequate vitamins and minerals not available in off the shelf poultry food. Also chicks benefit from a high protein intake in the early stages.

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