I mentioned before that Silver Spangled Hamburgs are known as difficult chickens. I have come to admire the breed and after a year together we get along really well but if someone were to ask me if I'd get them again my answer would be "No." The main reason? This:
That's a chicken up near the top. There's a misconception that chickens can not fly; most get old and lazy and lose the desire to, but some are really good at it. Here's the close up for proof:
I started off with 25 Hamburgs- 6 died because of the shipping time which left me with 19. I gave away 7 roosters and another one died which leaves me with 11. Out of that I only have 5 left. Why? Hamburgs are rare and haven't been nearly domesticated as other breeds which means their instincts are mostly intact.
There are some positives to this:
1) As chickens go they're very smart. You won't catch them drowning in rain or anything like that.
2) They prefer to find food for themselves which is GREAT if you have them for tick eating purposes as I do. I spend very little money feeding them because they do so well for themselves out in the woods.
3) I've never lost one in the daytime because they know how to get out of the way of predators. Sometimes I'll notice every single chicken frozen in place like a still photograph and many times I won't even be able to tell what they're hiding from, but it's very effective. Even with their splashy black and white coloring it's easy to overlook them in that frozen state.
4) A good relationship with them actually means something because they are not known as people lovers. I carefully hand raised mine and did everything I could to make them friendly and still there's NO touching them. However they come running as soon as they hear me and follow me all over the yard and that really makes me happy.
Some negatives to their independent natures:
1) THEY LIKE TO SLEEP OUTSIDE which is why they keep dying. I mentioned before that I was very careful to do everything I could when raising them to make them know that they're supposed to stay in the coop but they will sleep outside much of the time. Even the laziest predator can have a tasty chicken dinner because in the night they will not move. Very easy targets.
2) They do not like surprises, do not like to be disturbed especially while laying, and they do not like strangers in their coop. If any of these three things happen they will take their egg laying out into the forest and I won't get an egg for two weeks easy. Very frustrating since their eggs are so delicious and that's one reason we have them!
3) They do NOT like to be shut in or have their freedom reduced in any way. I have 5 hens in a 170 sq ft chicken coop which should be plenty of room but still if I shut them in for a week or two to try and "reset" their definition of home (not a tree branch) or make them lay inside again they will peck at each other horribly. My less dominant hens all have scraggly awful looking necks because of the pecking. Eventually I feel so sorry for them I have to let them all out so they'll stop!
This is a little list to sort of sum up the Hamburg Chicken in my experience. They are gorgeous birds, VERY prolific egg layers (if conditions are perfect and they decide to actually lay in a place I can find!) fantastic bug eaters, and I appreciate the fact that they think for themselves. However, because of their tree sleeping habit and the fact that they keep getting eaten as a result I have different breed chicks coming up now and will not be getting any more Hamburgs- so I hope my five stick around for a long time!
Here are some pictures of my pretty Silver Spangled Hamburgs...