Minorca Saves The Day

Hi there keepers, recently as some of may have read, we have had no eggs for the first time in nearly two years, last winter didn’t seem to effect


 the girls laying like this winter has. As my other half was doing alot of baking last week, she had go and buy some eggs from the supermarket, free range of course, I must admit I had a slight feeling of guilt mixed with disapointment.

Well this may have been just the prompting the hens needed, as no sooner had we bought the eggs, infact we hadn’t actually cracked any of them, when Manuella our Minorcan started laying again, as we were told by the chicken breeder we bought our hens from, Minorca’s are winter layers. So when all the other breeds are closed for winter, in steps the Minorca to bridge the gap.

So I urge to invest in at least one Minorca, so you have a nearly constant supply of eggs all year, not only that, they are also such a beautiful bird, distinct colouring, black feathers that emit all the spectrum of colours when the sun hits them,  they have these delightful white wattles that grow near the ears, and a floppy large red comb to top them off, Manuella Gonzales Conchita, her full name, is one of my favourites in our small flock.

My First Double

Hi there keepers, a quick post to say how thrilled I was today to finally get a double yolker, and it came from the least expected source, the little eggs that Manuella the Minorca produces, however this was the biggest egg she has layed to date. I thought that maybe one of the shavers with their giant eggs might produce one but no, not to our knowledge, but then we have sold quite a few of those, so maybe someone else got one.

Big Eggs Have Landed

Hi keepers, our Minorca has been laying now for some four weeks, which is a delight, as the eggs have been the tasiest little white eggs I’ve ever had. It seems though wherever I read about Minorcas, it says that they lay the biggest white eggs of all the mediterranean birds, so I enquired on several sites( listed in blogroll), and everyone assured me they would gradually get bigger, so as I wouldn’t really notice.

Well today Manuella De Minorca layed an egg about 5 sizes up from the previous day, we thought we heard her clucking loudly this morning, and I’m not surprised judging by the size of the egg.  It’s enormous, it’s actually bigger than the shavers eggs, which is some feat, as there’s are usually bigger than you get in the shops, unless you go for Jumbo size. Here’s hoping they taste as good as the small ones.Manuella's first large egg

Breeds We Have

Hi Keepers, just thought for those who may be intersted in the different breeds and a bit of history thrown into the bargain.



 The golden laced wyandotte is a golden color with black around the edge of every feather and black tail. Joseph McKeen of Wisconsin was the originator of the Golden Laced Wyandotte. In 1880 he crossed Silver Laced Wyandotte females with a large “Black Red” patterned fowl of unknown origin called the Winnebago. The variety was admitted to the American Standard in 1888.











 MINORCA. The black (occasionally blue or white) Minorca is the largest of the Mediterranean ‘light’ breeds, and famous for its extra-large white eggs.  A proud and stately chicken which does surprisingly well in confined surroundings. The Minorca can be traced back in Britain to 1780 but its origins lie in Spain, perhaps originally as the ‘Castillian’. The Castillian is the common black fowl of Spain, the name of Minorca being derived from the port from which most of the birds were exported. By selective breeding, the head features of the Minorca became famous during the twentieth century, with the white almond shaped lobes particularly striking.















The Sussex chicken was created over a century ago in the county of Sussex, England. The original colours were the Brown, Red and Speckled, and the Silver is the latest variety. The breed was prized as table fowl more than one-hundred years ago and, more recently, the Light Sussex was very popular for the laying trials of the 30’s. Today they are a popular breed for exhibitions as well as a backyard breed. The breed has made a huge contribution to the poultry industry and is even an ancestor to the modern broiler. Sussex is one of the oldest breeds of chicken that still exists today.
The Sussex was bred to be a dual purpose bird and is one of the most productive breeds of poultry. They lay large eggs that are cream to light brown in colour. A person owning a member of this breed should expect approximately 240 to 260 eggs a year, although the light and white varieties are the best choice for layers. Recently there has been an olive green coloured egg introduced to some Light Sussex breeds, although these green egg layers are very rare.







These are the brown chickens you get if you buy layers from a commercial poultry farm. The names Shaver and Hyline denote the different commercial breeding companies that created the bird. The two breeds look very similar and are a complex genetic mix, designed by humans over many years to get a strain of bird that is a good layer, that eats less for higher production and produces on average 300 eggs per year at its peak.



Manuella De Minorca Lays

Manuella first 2 eggsHi there keepers, the day has arrived, well it must have been two days ago now, for I found two little white eggs under the coop this afternoon, while cleaning. Manuella’s first eggs ever, I feel so honoured, however in my haste to retrieve the new little eggs, I forgot to leave one behind, to ensure her that her nest is safe.

At about 2.30 this afternoon I heard a commotion from the garden, apon investigating I found it to be Manuella, clucking near the coop, in her distinctive honking sound, more goose like than chicken if you ask me, I realised what I had done, and tried to replace an egg, but she wouldn’t have it, she tossed it out of the nest twice, so I took it back upstairs, I say nest, but really it’s just mud under the coop, so I furnished her with some straw, and on returning from the supermarket she was busy in there, arranging her new improved straw nest, and a new egg was layed.

They are so neat looking, about 2/3 the size of the shavers eggs, like a boutique egg. We shall have them with breakfast tomorrow. Keeping chickens can be so rewarding.

In the Big House

Hi there keepers, as some of you may know we have 3 new chicks, one of which only just arrived three days ago, as we had to swap Maria the rooster, for Manuella the Minorca hen, which has caused more pecking and general trouble at mill, so in an attempt to force them all to get on, I decided to put them all in the same coop for the night, as they don’t tend to fight in the coop, probably because it’s dark and they wouldn’t be too sure who they were pecking, and heaven forbid they should peck Nancy(boss) by mistake.

Well they went to bed in a peaceful state, and all was well, but in the morning a different story, once they could see who was who they were off, i arrived down in the morning to hear much fuss coming from inside the coop, only Nancy had escaped the coop, she seems to be the only one who can push the door open. I think it helped though, as they seemed to be slightly more friendly towards each other.

We put them in together again last night, and there was less fuss in the coop this morning, so hopefully by tommorrow or the end of the week, they’ll be all be firm friends ( except Nancy).

Manuella Steals Cuddle Crown

Hi there keepers, one of the parts of keeping chickens, other than the beautiful eggs, I enjoy,  is having a little peaceful time on a chair in the garden with a hen on my lap, stroking their soft feathers is very relaxing, simular I suppose to what people get out of stroking a cat , dog or other furry animal. I once had a school friend who had a piece of velvet with him at all times, he would get it out of his pocket and stroke it when he became stressed, I wonder what became of him?

So I was as pleased as Punch, when we got Manuella (Minorca) home, and took her out of the box she had been transported in, I thought I’d just try to calm her down a bit with a few strokes,  well to the amazement of us all, she layed down on my lap with her neck stretched out down my leg, then fell asleep. She stayed there for some time, and it wasn’t a one off either, the next day I brought her inside to show the family in Ireland on Skype through the PC, and she did the same thing, she sat on my son’s lap while he played PC games, she really likes her cuddles.

Gloria, one of shavers was the cuddle queen, but she would only endure 5mins maybe 10 mins at the most, however I think that crown has been well and truely stolen by Manuella De Minorca.

Maria could be a Manuel

Hi there keepers, the more I look at Maria, our Minorca ‘hen’, the more I think she looks like a rooster, however I’ve not had this breed before and so it’s hard to tell, others have commented on her sexuality before from a photo I posted.

She has got rather long in the leg and doesn’t seem to have much weight about her, and they are a heavy bird, yet she is still young, so it could just be that she hasn’t put the weight on yet, she/he does tend to frame up alot to the other chicks, but then runs a mile if the bigger girls come any where near, not to mention the very entertaining butterfly incident, scared of a butterfly, not roosters surely.

The breeder reakoned it was a she, and she has been breeding for many many years so I guess she knows, also she did say if any turned out to be roosters she would happily swap it for a hen, which is nice of her, but what just dawned on me yesterday, is that if Maria is a Manuel, and we have to take it back, that means getting a new bird, which won’t be freinds with any of the birds, at least the 3 new ones have each other for company and protection from the shavers, but it will be a nightmare trying to introduce another new bird to the flock.

Chicks Out

Hi there, yesterday we allowed the chicks out for a proper free range in the garden, they have been in the run before now, but never just let roam free in the garden, so ofcourse this was a bit scary for them, also mixed with excitment Í think because they reminded me of a bunch of school kids in Hamley’s toy shop,  ‘  and look what they have over here, wow,  oh oh look at this’  running around not stopping anywhere for more than a second, too many things to explore.

The entertainment value for us was great , but the highlight had to be when Maria the biggest of the chicks, she is probably as big as the shavers now, got frightened of a Monarch butterfly flying overhead, I know they are larger than some, but really, she hopped and skipped, ran, tried to fly away, ducked down as the buttterfly swooped overhead.

I keep saying she, as we are hoping that she is a she and not a he, as we’re not allowed roosters, however her comb is very large as is her tail and to top it off she has on occasion framed up to the bigger girls through the fence, time will tell. After loooking at pics of black Minorcan’s, the females do tend to have bigger features than some other breeds, fingers crossed.

Minorca hen

Minorca hen

Welcome One and All

dsc01819Hi there, and welcome to The Chicken Keeper, my name is Rob and this blog is devoted to the keeping of chickens, and the trials and tribulations that go with it.

We started keeping chickens in September 2008, the list of poultry we have at present,  one Minorca, and four Wyandotte Golden Laced .  At present we live on a 1/4 of an acre with a creek running through the back, in Waitakere City, which is part of the greater Auckland area in the North Island of New Zealand, although I’m originally  London/Irish from Hackney, and the other half  is from Waterford, in Ireland.  We are just keeping enough hens to provide eggs for the family, we also grow some herbs and vegetables.  I’ve built the coop and run from recycled materials, see DIY corner for more details.

Comments are very welcome, I hope you enjoy the site and maybe find some of it useful.             If reading is not for you then check out the pics in the Secret Layer ^.