Beau­ti­ful Brah­mas

Char­lotte Popescu goes in search of some pure breeds

Your Chickens - - Contents - * Tracey does 80 per cent of her busi­ness through her Face­book Busi­ness page. Her web­site is­down­poul­ and her email is black­down­poul­try@hot­

A breeder’s choice

There is a wor­ry­ing trend for poul­try breed­ers to give up on pure breeds and just spe­cialise in hy­brids. I was re­cently mak­ing a trip to Somerset and wanted to meet up with some­one who con­cen­trated on pure breeds. Af­ter con­tact­ing a num­ber of breed­ers who had ceased trad­ing or only sold hy­brids, I found Tracey who runs Black­down Poul­try. Tracey’s poul­try busi­ness is si­t­u­ated deep in the Somerset coun­try­side, tucked away on a farm reached by some very small roads but luck­ily the Sat­nav took me straight to her!

Tracey Rigby lives on the farm with her hus­band, Ian along with her sis­ter, Carey, her sis­ter’s hus­band and her sis­ter’s mother-in-law. Her sis­ter runs the liv­ery yard, but was all for it when Tracey de­cided to start sell­ing pure breeds only four years ago. Tracey al­ready had plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence with chick­ens hav­ing grown up with them. ‘My sis­ter and I built most of the hutches our­selves, us­ing old pal­lets,” she said.

I am im­pressed! There is also a shed which con­tains the in­cu­ba­tors and brood­ers and all is in full flow. First she took me to see her breed­ing stock, all on grass with the runs sur­rounded by elec­tric fenc­ing. “There are three acres of copse nearby which house foxes and badgers ga­lore,” said Tracy “but amaz­ingly we have never lost a chicken to ei­ther of these preda­tors. The elec­tric fenc­ing works a treat.” Tracey spe­cialises in large Brah­mas which are her favourites, Or­p­ing­tons which come a close sec­ond and Speck­led Sus­sexes come third.


“But don’t they lay rather small eggs de­spite their size?” I ask. “Absolutely not – the Brah­mas lay the big­gest eggs!” said Tracey. I asked about her Brahma and Or­p­ing­ton cock­erels and ag­gres­sive­ness. “They are very placid and tame; there are never any prob­lems with them. How­ever, I do have a very ag­gres­sive Pekin cock­erel in an­other pen who chases and at­tacks me. Only yes­ter­day I got pecked on my be­hind!”

They have a sort of ma­jes­tic mas­sive­ness

Tracey seems to love all her hens and cock­erels and makes sure they are well han­dled be­fore go­ing to new homes. Her cock­erels are all un­re­lated to their girls, en­sur­ing no in-breed­ing. The cock­erels are couri­ered to her and cost £25 each. “My breed­ing hens only get used for two years and then go to a very nice re­tire­ment home to live out their days,” she says.

Although Tracey has no prob­lems with large preda­tors, crows come and kill her chicks, and mag­pies are a real prob­lem be­cause they come and steal the eggs. Red mite have never taken hold be­cause Tracey uses Di­atoma­ceous Earth re­li­giously ev­ery week and also smears Vase­line at the ends of all the perches.

I loved her Lemon Cuckoo Brahma cock­erel who is run­ning with her Buff Or­p­ing­ton hens. This cross­ing will give her 50/50.

Tracey Rigby of Black­down Poul­try in Somerset with a buff Columbian Brahma cock­erel

Lemon Pyle Brah­mas

TOP: A group of Speck­led Sus­sexes

ABOVE RIGHT: A sil­ver laced Poland in among the Brah­mas .... a sight to be­hold

ABOVE LEFT: A trio of Gold Brah­mas

BE­LOW RIGHT: A Buff Columbian hen

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