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Chickens range in size from less than 1/4 lb (MALAYSIAN SERAMA) to over 13 lbs (JERSEY GIANT). Their brilliant plumage comes in a seemingly endless array of colors and patterns. Hand raised chicks make friendly pets that can add country charm to your garden as they search for bugs, helping to control insects. They are also fun to exhibit at fairs or poultry shows for ribbons and trophies. Rooster feathers are used by fly fisherman to make lures. A rooster is not necessary for hens to lay great tasting eggs that come in a variety of colors (white, tinted, brown, blue and green). The two types of breeds are the standard breed (large) and the bantam breed (miniature).
Ducks are called "waterfowl" because they are commonly found in places near water like ponds,streams and rivers. Frequent preening (rubbing oil from a gland at the base of their tail on their feathers) gives them the ability to remain waterproof. Down (soft,fluffy undercoat) protects them from the cold while webbed feet make them excellent swimmers. Hens (female) are generally drab and quack louder than the often colorful drakes (males). Ducks can weight as little as 1 lb (CALL) up to 12 lbs (MUSCOVY). Use one duck egg, instead of 2 chicken eggs, when baking. Their eggs come in white or green.
Geese are great "watchdogs." Ganders (males) protect their territory (especially during spring breeding season) by honking loudly, then grabbing with their bill and beating with their wings, any intruder. The "heavy" class can weight more than 26 lbs (TOULOUSE, EMBDEN) while the smallest "light class" is as little as 4 lbs (EGYPTIAN). A gaggle (group) of geese are often used as "weeders" in an orchard or field. When given clean water daily they tend to be very hardy (disease resistant). Females lay in the Spring and their evacuated (yolk and white removed) eggs are prized by crafters who use them for decorating.
Turkeys originated in North America and were introduced to Europe. The APA (American Poultry Association) recognizes 8 different varieties that range from 10 lbs (ROYAL PALM) to well over 36 lbs (BRONZE). Light weight turkeys make better pets than the "super heavy weight" birds who's feet can develop sores or worse yet, have their legs break under their massive bodies as they grow older. Most turkeys can breed naturally while the largest broad-breasted bronze (Thanksgiving) turkeys must be artificially inseminated. Turkey feathers can be used to decorate hats or make dusters. Some people believe they are lucky!