After dabbling with various chicken breeds for years, I can say without hesitation, that I love the Standard Cochin the best. They don't lay green eggs, they don't have funky hair-do's. But really, what could be better than a chicken wearing snow pants?
Cochins - both standard and bantam - have thick, fluffy feathers that cover their legs and feet, making them a cold-hardy bird. In addition, cochins remain one of the broodiest birds one will find. They will brood everywhere, and will happily mother not only chickens, but keets, goslings and ducks as well. Our rooster George has even been known to sit on eggs while his ladies take a break!
Standard Cochins are large enough to make a good meat bird, but also lay large, lovely eggs. While they may not be as prolific a layer as some breeds, their ability to deal with the cold allows for them to lay through late fall and winter, especially if given a little extra nutrition and light.
The roosters are great for a family setting - being defensive of his hens and chicks, but generally easygoing with his humans. Woe to the person he hasn't met who tried to handle his new chicks though! Multiple roosters have even been known to get along well, especially if given enough space and ladies to occupy them. However, we have had issues with roosters fighting, so it is best to keep an eye on the situation until you are certain they will be friendly.
Cochins in general are noted for being calm birds that do well free ranging as they rarely go far from home. They tend to be healthier if allowed a diet that includes greens, rather than just straight grain. Beware though! Cochins love to eat, and can be prone to getting fat, which can affect their egg production.
The standard cochin's size also seems to be a deterrent to some smaller predators, but that could also be just our experience. We certainly continue to have issues with raccoons and aerial predators, so we keep geese as well for protection. Which leads to the final thing we have discovered about the size of a standard cochin - the geese don't pick on them very much!
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