Back in April 2011 I ordered some new chicks. We wanted good foragers and smaller hens so they would eat less. I picked out 15 Lakenvelders as the core of my new flock and everything sounded great on paper. We’ve had this breed for 8 months now and I will go so far as to say we absolutely hate them.
I should note a couple of nice things about the breed before I start complaining:
- They are pretty.
- They are excellent at foraging.
- They are very alert and unlikely to be eaten by predators.
As chicks the Lakenvelders were extremely dominate over the other breeds and would beat them up. The male Lakenvelders reached chicken puberty about a month early and it was all downhill from there. We soon had to separate all the non-Lakenvelder chickens from the piranhas (as we came to call them).
The Lakenvelder rooster violence was partly our fault. We kept holding off butchering because the roosters were so tiny and it was our first time butchering chickens by ourselves. If we were to do it again we would have culled the tiny roosters and just composted them. It would have been better management on our part, I think, and we wouldn’t have had so many shredded hens.
One of the most annoying Lakenvelder rooster traits was their crowing. They NEVER stopped. Listening to continuous crowing all day was literally making Lee and I irrationally angry. We were originally going to keep at least one rooster but decided against it for the sake of our sanity.
The Lakenvelder breed is very flighty. This is a good trait for a foraging breed, granted, but an annoying trait when you walk into their pen everyday and they are trying to kill themselves getting away from you. The hens are very good at flying so we have about four that roost high up in the trees at night
The hens lay tiny, and I do mean tiny eggs. I knew they would lay smaller eggs when I got them, but I was not expecting the actual scale (or rather lack there of). Even worse, with the short winter days the hens have completely stopped laying. Every other breed we’ve tried has still laid all winter without supplemental light. By comparison, our original 2 1/2 year old hens (who need to be retired) are still laying at about half their usual rate.
So here Lee and I are stuck with 7 Lakenvelder hens and we don’t know what to do with them. They are too small to be worth the trouble to butcher, they aren’t laying eggs, and I don’t think I could even catch them to sell them. I don’t suppose that anyone reading this blog is desperate for some backyard Lakenvelder hens after reading this indictment of the breed? 🙂
Lee and I feel like every new chicken breed we ordered this year has been a failure for various reasons. As mistakes go, it hasn’t been that expensive. At least you gain experience from your failures. We’ll think twice before ordering another “good forager” in the future. I’m not sure the high cost in frustration is worth the potentially small savings in food.