The Cochin breed of chicken originated in China in the 1850’s and was originally known as the Shanghai or Cochin-China chicken. Their name comes from an original Chinese word meaning “nine jin yellow”. “Jin” is a Chinese unit of measurement and perhaps referred to their large size or their plentiful plumage.
It is believed that they were bred for their feathers that were then used to fill duvets. They were later imported to Britain and America in the mid-19th century. The first birds to be imported to Britain were gifted to Queen Victoria perhaps explaining why they gained such popularity in Great Britain.
The birds that went to America were the subject of considerable development and a bantam breed, named the Pekin bantam, was created. However, this breed should not be confused with the true Pekin bantam.
Cochin’s are friendly, docile, and tend to be submissive when kept in mixed breed groups. Their laid back nature does tend to make them lazy and they have been known to suffer from metabolism and heart problems.
They prefer to be kept on shorter grass and although they are one of the larger breeds of chicken they don’t require a lot of space to roam.
They’re a favourite with show producers, breeders, and hobby keepers a like because of their friendly nature and attractive appearance.
Here’s more about the Cochin breed:
Name: Cochin (originally known as the Shanghai or Cochin-China)
Type: Large fowl and bantam
Weight: Heavy – usually 8lbs+ and have cock birds have been known to reach 12lbs
Popularity: Very common both as show birds and pets
Eggs: Medium sized, brown eggs. Hens lay roughly 2 per week
Physical features: Large, rounded body, yellow legs, red earlobes, reddish eyes. Very fluffy plumage with feathers covering the legs and feet.
Colours: There are a wide variety of colours available in the modern Cochin. Recognised varieties include: Black, Buff, Partridge, White, Barred, Brown Red, Golden Laced, Mottled, Silver Laced, Birchen, Blue, Columbian, and Red.
Other characteristics: Although Cochin hens aren’t prolific layers they do make good broodies and protective mothers. They are easy to tame, cope with being kept in enclosures well, and are quieter than other breeds.
As the Cochin is a larger breed of chicken care will need to be taken when considering which chicken house to buy. They’ll need stronger perches, large nest boxes, and a wider door.
Their environment in wet weather will also need to be considered as their feathery feet can be damaged or become caked in mud when it rains. Some chicken keepers opt to house them in wood chip runs to prevent the feathers becoming damaged.