pekin chicken
karen johns / Flickr (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Ornamental
  • Eggs: White Or Cream
  • Egg Size: Small
  • Color: Blue, Buff, Black, White, Barred
  • Comb Type: Single Comb

Fluffy and cute doesn’t even begin to describe the Pekin breed. A true bantam, this tiny bird is a round handful of friendliness that is sometimes a mere 8 inches tall. If seeing this curvy, fluffy little ball waddle its way across a lawn doesn’t immediately induce “awws” from you, then you must have a heart of stone!

These cuddly chickens have a huge following, both online and in the real world. These ardent fluff-appreciators have bred the Pekin to be any color and feather patterning imaginable, with more variety being added all the time.

Characteristics

Pekins display a characteristic forward-tilting posture. They usually hold their cushion of a tail higher than their single-combed head. This distinctive feature, along with feathering that is so dense that it obscures their bitty feet, are just some of the endearing qualities of the Pekin chicken.

Pekins are an ornamental breed. So small that some people call them “mini-bantams,” they have no larger, standard-sized equivalent…at least, depending on who you talk to. In some chicken circles, Pekins are considered the bantam of the equally-as-fluffy Cochin, another Chinese chicken.

In other areas of the Internet, chicken keepers insist that the Pekin is distinctly different from the bantam Cochin, primarily based on the Pekin’s tilted posture. Wherever your opinion falls, it’s safe to say these birds are cute enough to merit the discussion!

The Standard of Perfection says that an ideal Pekin’s width should be the same as their height, giving you a sense of just how rotund these chickens appear. It’s not hard to figure out why this breed is beloved by new and old chicken keepers alike as an entertaining and affectionate pet. They are especially tame and docile if they are handled as chicks.

Pekins Require A Bit More TLC

Though that wealth of feathering is endearing, it is the source of pretty much the only drawback of owning a Pekin chicken as a pet. Any time your Pekin is exposed to muddy weather, she’ll come back far more matted and dirty than the typical clean-legged bird. Regular maintenance of your fowl’s fluffy feet will be necessary to ensure that they are healthy and happy.

Also, though you want to give every chicken a clean living space, free of mites and lice, this is even more important if you raise Pekins.

What’s The Yield?

A bird as small as this nearly demands to be a pet. Content to be petted and comfortable in the presence of people, these bantams may be the ideal starter breed for someone. The cocks may become a little protective of hens, but it is hard to be intimidated by a bitty ball of fluff, no matter how irritated it is. Those tiny roosters usually reach an adorable 1.5 pounds in weight, with hens tipping the scales at 1.25 pounds.

As you might expect, tiny hens lay tiny eggs. Since they were never bred to be omelet-producers, a Pekin girl may only lay around 50-100 small, cream or white shelled eggs annually. The upside to this, however, is that Pekin hens are known as being quite good mothers, and prone to going broody. If you just can’t get enough fluff, maybe you could let your hens raise their own brood!

Fun Facts

Those with a bit of background in geographical history may be able to infer that these bitty birds are Chinese in origin. The word “Pekin” refers to the Chinese capitol city of Peking, now more accurately anglicized to “Beijing”.

The stories of how this breed made it to the West are quite colorful and difficult to substantiate, but no less entertaining for it! It is said that they might have been stolen from the Emperor of China’s private collection, or perhaps gifted to Queen Victoria around the bird-crazy “hen fever” of the 1850’s and 1860’s. Suffice to say, I think anyone who gets a cuddle from a Pekin is glad that they made their way around the world, however it happened.

Photos of Pekin Chickens

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