Are you looking for adorable house chickens that are big in size and personality? Well, there is no other breed that makes a better pet than the Cochin chicken.
This big and fluffy chicken is a beautiful large fowl that bears confinement pretty well, and if they were good enough for royalty, they’ll certainly be good enough for your backyard!
Let’s look at whether this oriental breed is right for your coop by exploring their history, personality, egg production, and general care in the following guide.
The Origin Of The Cochin Chicken
The history of Cochin chickens can be traced back to Asia which is the reason they are known as an oriental breed.
They were called “Cochin Chinas” because Cochin derives from the Shanghai province of China.
Their origins actually date back to the 1840s where they looked more like Malays than the graceful birds they are today.
From Vietnam to China, breeders focused on developing them for size, large eggs, and table fare.
While the breed did receive favorability for its meat, it suffered from coarseness and soon fell out of favor compared to other breeds.
The Cochin chicken breed was passionately presented as an all-round bird in the 1800s but simply never reached the commercial success achieved by other breeds.
Sadly, they generated the least profitability of all chicken breeds between 1850 and 1895.
Later, Captain Edward Belcher would present the original Cochins to Queen Victoria who absolutely fell in love with them.
The Queen and her husband, Prince Albert, admired their beauty and displayed them in her custom aviaries.
Because the Queen made such a fuss over her chickens, more people followed suit, and soon “hen fever” hit the UK and spread across the US.
They were accepted into the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1874.
The sporadic hen obsession mainly involved the Cochin and Brahma as breeders started focusing on refining the traits they desired most.
The very first Cochin chickens were healthy egg layers; however, after much refinement by poultry fanciers, the breed lost much of its egg production and instead, they became popular for their appearance.
Which Breeds are Part of the Cochin Chicken?
No one really knows exactly which breeds were used in the development of the Cochin but it is believed that influences from China and Europe led to the large and fully feathered chickens we know and love today.
Despite them not being great layers, no other breed of chicken has inspired so many chicken keepers to add exotic-looking poultry to their flock.
Their excessive plumage in combination with their gentle disposition have contributed to their favorability as a pet chicken.
But before you decide to add a Cochin chicken to your coop, let’s look at their breed standard and what they need to live happily and healthily as backyard chickens.
Breed Standard and Appearance
Cochins are a large size with excessive plumage making them an astounding sight to behold.
The feathering is so dense that they appear larger than their actual size which can make them look intimidating especially to other birds.
Cochin feathers are incredibly soft and because it covers leg to toe they tend to do well in cold climates.
Their breed profile includes a five point single comb with bright red ear lobes and wattles. The small heads fade into their feathering, but the bright red, single comb stands out in any of their color variety.
Their eyes are a beautiful hue of golden yellow to complement their yellow skin, shanks, and legs. The color of the beak will differ according to the color of the chicken but can range from shades of yellow horn to black horn.
The rounded and fully feathered appearance of their tails creates a heart shaped body. Their feathers are short and because of their large size, they are not good flyers.
The hens weigh up to 8½ lbs compared to the Cochin roosters weighing between 10-11 lbs. The bantam variety is called Pekin bantam and hens weigh 26 oz versus the roosters of 30 oz.
The bantam varieties are not recognized by the UK; however, their little size makes them perfect for a small backyard if you want a fluffy and docile chicken.
Cochin bantams are accepted in the US and lay small eggs.
Apart from standard Cochins, you can also find the frizzle Cochin variety.
With feathers curling outwards it gives them an unusual appearance, like someone having a really bad hair day!
While certainly unique in appearance, frizzles do not handle the cold well because these curling feathers provide little to no insulation.
In Australia and some parts of Europe, the frizzle is recognized as an independent breed.
You can find frizzle feathering in breeds such as the Cochin, Plymouth Rock, and the Polish.
It is caused by the frizzle gene in which the alleles of the offspring are not dominant or recessive.
This is known as incomplete dominance and only occurs when two true-bred parents are crossed.
Accepted Color Varieties
The APA Standard of Perfection accepts the following color varieties:
- Golden laced
- Brown Red
- Silver laced
The blue, partridge, golden laced, and silver laced are rare colors with the blue and silver laced considered the most impressive among all the varieties.
You can also find lavender Cochins; however, this unique shade is not yet recognized by poultry associations in the US or the UK.
The lavender feather color is new to the Cochin breed and is undergoing careful refinement and professional assessment to determine its eligibility for acceptance by the relevant poultry authorities.
Here’s what lavender cochins look like…
How to Sex Cochin Chicks
Cochin chicks can be difficult to sex because growth rates and traits differ between each color variety.
Cochin roosters tend to start growing their combs out three weeks after hatching. Look for signs of a pink comb and a more assertive or confident stance in the roosters between 3 to 6 weeks of age.
Despite the Cochin’s popularity as a fancy breed in the mid-1800s, their lack of egg and meat qualities led to a decline in the breed.
The Livestock Conservancy lists the Cochin chicken as recovering owing to the dedication of poultry fanciers.
Are Cochin Chickens Good at Laying Eggs?
Cochins are not good egg layers! The modern Cochin chicken was bred for her beauty but not her egg laying abilities.
While they don’t produce many eggs through the year you can expect their modest production to continue in the winter months.
What Egg Color Do Cochin Chickens Lay?
The hens will lay a color brown to medium brown eggs.
Her eggs will become lighter over time and as they reach their golden years, they will lose the color in the shell turning it light to almost white.
How Frequently Do Cochin Chickens Lay Eggs?
Cochins will lay between 150-180 eggs per year which is around 2-3 eggs every week. Their brown eggs are medium to large in size and they take some time to mature before they start laying.
Cochin hens only lay eggs at 8 months of age, so if you’re willing to be patient, you can expect winter eggs.
Are Cochin Hens Broody?
A hen can become quite broody through the year which means that she is also excellent at hatching eggs! Cochin hens will happily sit on eggs and they make great mothers.
They are so great at being broody, many breeders have used Cochin hens to hatch the eggs of ducks and even turkeys!
Cochin Raising Other Chickens
Even roosters are known to brood and will happily sit on the odd clutch which is amazing for this large chicken breed.
Because they are such good mothers and you come across a very special Cochin hen, she may be inclined to raise a few abandoned chicks but this will differ between birds. If you need more info on how to raise chicks, this review of chicken starter kits might help.
If you are thinking of getting your broody Cochin hen to hatch eggs, always ensure that the egg shells are strong.
Thin and fragile egg shells will be cracked under the weight of these heavy-set hens.
What is The Meat Quality of Cochin Chickens?
In the 1800s, Cochins were bred for meat and egg purposes but they didn’t perform too well with laying egg so commercial farmers turned to them for meat.
Compared to many other breeds of chicken, these sizable birds would seem to make great table fare; however, the refinement of their appearance rather than their meat qualities has led to their meat being described as coarse and lacking favorable texture.
They also eat a lot of food, believe me, Cochins tend to eat all day long! So, their feed-to-cost ratio is quite high.
What is the Cochin Chicken Personality?
The most distinctive feature of this breed is their gentle nature.
For those who have owned Cochins, one thing that they all agree on is the friendliness of this breed.
They enjoy spending time with you and are easy to handle no matter their size.
Interacting with Kids
Cochins are wonderful for kids but very young children should always be cautious around such big birds.
Teaching children how to handle Cochin chicks can also help you raise tame and calm chickens. Even the roosters are known to remain calm and friendly when around their keepers.
Are Cochin Chickens Noisy?
For such robust birds, you would think that the Cochin is a loud chicken that will keep the neighbors up!
The Cochin chicken is actually a quiet breed and while they enjoy talking to you, they are less likely to screech and squawk making them perfect for the urban backyard.
Do Cochins Get Along with Other Chicken Breeds?
If you’re interested in getting a Cochin chicken but you want to create a mixed flock, you’ll want to know whether they are good with other breeds?
Cochins are so gentle they get along with most chickens who are also calm and docile in temperament.
Despite their heavyset bodies, they can be picked on by more dominant birds and tend to remain at the bottom of the pecking order.
For happy and healthy Cochins, consider breeds such as the Brahma, Polish, and even Silkies to house with them.
How to Keep Cochin Chickens Happy?
Cochins are large-sized birds and they need space to prevent stress.
Full-sized Cochins can reach a height of 21 inches for the roosters, while the hens can grow as tall as 15-16 inches, so they will do best in a roomy coop with the chance to free-range.
Being such a big breed you would think that they wouldn’t be as susceptible to predators as smaller chickens; however, Cochins can be quite lazy.
They become so relaxed in their environment, they might easily become prey to a passing fox or coyote.
Their heavyweight also makes it impossible for them to outrun a predator. You can secure your Cochins within a two feet high fence to prevent them from roaming into unchartered territory.
Do Cochin Chickens Do Well in Hot Climates?
We know that Cochins are the perfect winter chicken but what about warmer temperatures? Can our feathered friends cope in the midday heat of summer?
Cochins do not do well in a hot climate because they are densely feathered from head to toe.
They need help in warm spring and summer temperatures, which means access to freshwater along with enough shade and ventilation inside the chicken coop.
Raising Cochins in Warm Regions
Cochins are not very popular in hot climates but if you do stay in a warm region and you want to add a Cochin chicken to your flock, pay careful attention to overheating.
A shady coop and airflow around nest boxes can help them tolerate high temperatures.
To keep chickens cool in summer you can install a misting kit inside the coop.
Are Cochins Healthy Birds?
Cochins love to eat and they are quite content with staying inside their coop and picking up whatever morsels are tossed in front of them.
The problem with greedy chickens is how quickly they gain weight and become obese.
Overweight Cochins can suffer from early-onset arthritis and leg injuries so keeping the roosts low and nest boxes easy to access can prevent these problems from developing.
Along with a low roost, a well-rationed diet goes a long way to keeping them healthy.
I would avoid feeding them table scraps such as bread and pasta because it can lead to rapid weight gain and refusal to eat their regular feed.
It also reduces the risk of them developing an impacted or sour crop.
When a Cochin chicken jumps off a roost or raised area you’ll hear a loud thump because of their weight!
Unfortunately, their hard landings can also increase their risk of injuring their feathered feet should they land on a hard or sharp object.
Bumblefoot is a serious issue that can lead to infection and even death so keep an eye out for limping and swollen feet in your chickens.
In winter, Cochins will suffer from muddy or wet feet because their toes are covered in feathers.
Should mud balls become stuck within their foot feathers it can freeze and cause frostbite.
If you notice mud-covered or frozen feathers around their legs and feet, dip these parts in warm water so you can remove the mud and ice.
Cochins have good longevity and with the right care, they can reach 8-10 years of age.
In a mixed flock, you’re going to have hens competing for the nest but when you have a Cochin hen she’ll take up the entire nesting box with little room to spare!
Ideally, the nesting box for Cochin hens should be 12 inches x 12 inches.
Is the Cochin chicken the right breed for you? They are large and fluffy, have the gentlest personality, and some are so special they make good mothers to chicks that have been abandoned.
So, if you want more of a pet for your coop, this is definitely your chicken!
Variety and Temperament
Cochins are immensely fluffy birds available in colors from black and buff to the very rare blue and silver partridge.
You’ll have hours of fun enjoying their friendly company and because of their docile nature, they are also great with children.
Cochins are not good egg layers so if you want a productive hen, it is best to consider other breeds to avoid disappointment.
While Cochins might not be the best at laying eggs and they can be a bit lazy, they are gentle, friendly, and simply beautiful birds.
Feel Free To Share!
Please feel free to share this guide with other backyard chicken hobbyists and homesteaders looking for a cuddly oriental breed to add to their coop.
The Cochin chicken is one breed not to be missed for the urban keeper!