Rare chicken breed in Te Anau
Te Anau breeder Sonya Harris got hooked on Cochin chickens when she travelled to Nelson nine years ago to buy 14 of them, all different ages.
Harris borrowed her mother’s car for the round trip of 1940 kilometres, because ‘‘her car is a lot cheaper to run than mine’’.
Harris said the drive home with 14 caged birds, including a rooster, was not too noisy. ‘‘Usually when you’re travelling they sit down and go to sleep.’’
Before buying the birds, Harris owned two egg-laying hens. She was surfing the net when she came across information on Cochins, who originate in China.
Cochins have been in New Zealand for about 25 years.
Harris, one of about five Cochin breeders in the country, runs her poultry on a lifestyle block owned by her parents.
Last month, one of her Cochins became a New Zealand champion at the national show in Christchurch.
It is the best award Harris has won in her three years of showing poultry.
‘‘The next goal is to have the Best Bird in the Show.’’
With shows in mind, Harris puts a lot of thought into breeding programmes.
‘‘You have to put the right girl with the right boy to get the right offspring.’’
She took a mixture of 12 Cochins and Orpingtons to the Invercargill Poultry and Pigeon Club’s annual show at the weekend.
‘‘They’ve all got their own personalty,’’ Harris said of the birds.
‘‘They’re good pets, big and fluffy, really docile and they give you breakfast [eggs] ... The roosters are pretty tasty.’’
She also owns 50 Orpingtons and 30 Pekins.
Some of Harris’s favourites will remain in her care until they die of old age, including a 12-year-old exshow bird.