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Pekin Chicken: Pictures, Info, Traits, And Care Guide

Pekin Chicken

Adorable, egg-laying balls of feather, Pekin chickens are the perfect pet poultry. Easily tamed and entertaining to watch, these birds earn themselves many devoted fans. If your backyard seems a little lonely, why not consider adding a few of these tiny chickens? But first, read this article to find out some facts and information about the Pekin chicken!

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Quick Facts About the Pekin Chicken

Breed Name: Pekin
Place of Origin: China, Great Britain
Uses: Pet, ornamental
Rooster (Male) Size: 1.5 pounds (680 grams)
Hen (Female) Size: 1.25 pounds (570 grams)
Color: Black, blue, buff, lavender, white, silver, salmon, mottled, barred
Lifespan: 5–7 years
Climate Tolerance: Does not tolerate cold well
Care Level: Easy-moderate
Production: 100 eggs/year

Pekin Chicken Origins

The Pekin chicken originates from China, taking its name from the city of Peking, now called Beijing. In the mid-19th century, Pekins were first brought to England, most likely by members of the British army. In England, the breed was further developed by interbreeding with another bantam chicken, the Cochin. Pekins are sometimes called Cochin bantams but they are, in fact, a separate breed.

Pekin Chicken Characteristics

Pekin chickens are one of the smallest of all chicken breeds. They also have one of the sweetest personalities. The birds are known for being gentle and easy to handle, making them a good choice for inexperienced chicken keepers.

When handled frequently, Pekins often become tame and even cuddly, enjoying human attention as more of a pet than a working bird. They typically do well with children as well, although the kids should be supervised when interacting with Pekins because of the small size of the birds.

Pekin roosters can be a little feisty and protective of their flock, as most tend to be. These chickens don’t lay a large number of eggs per year, but the hens are good mothers. Pekin hens enjoy sitting on the nest and hatching chicks.

Because of their small size, Pekin chickens don’t require a lot of space and are easy to keep even in a backyard setting. They enjoy foraging but usually don’t disrupt flower gardens or landscaping.

Despite being so small, Pekins are tough little birds that are generally healthy overall. They are fairly climate tolerant but don’t love very cold weather and may need some help keeping warm in the winter.

An abundance of feathers is one major physical characteristic of this breed, one which makes them a bit more work to care for. Their feet feathers need to be kept clean, and their vent feathers often need to be trimmed for cleanliness as well.

Uses

Pekin chickens are primarily kept for ornamental purposes. Their sweet, friendly temperaments and small size make them ideal pet chickens. Pekin hens only lay about 100 small eggs per year, minimizing their usefulness as commercial laying chickens. Because the hens are naturally broody, however, hatching and raising Pekin chicks offers another potential income stream.

Appearance & Varieties

Pekin chickens are small, with both hens and roosters weighing in at less than 2 pounds each. Their full feathering gives them a round, fluffy appearance. Pekins also have an unusual, forward-tilted posture.

The breed has long, luxurious tail feathering and a single comb on the head. They typically hold their tails higher than their heads. As mentioned earlier, Pekins have feathers on their feet that need to be kept clean.

Pekin chickens are available in various colors and patterns, with breeders constantly tinkering to produce new and extravagant shades.

Some of the colors you may see include:
  • Blue
  • Buff
  • Black
  • Cuckoo
  • Lavender
  • Mottled
  • White
  • Partridge

Distribution

Pekin chickens are usually easy to find for sale in many countries worldwide. However, not all countries recognize them as a separate breed. For example, they are recognized by the Poultry Club of Great Britain but not the American Poultry Association. In some areas, Pekins are considered a bantam (miniature) version of the Cochin chicken.

Are Pekin Chickens Good for Small-Scale Farming?

Because they are calm, friendly, and don’t take up a lot of room, Pekin chickens can be housed in almost any size space. While they would be easy to keep on a small-scale farm, they don’t offer much value in terms of income. They aren’t big enough to raise for meat, nor do they lay heavily enough to sell eggs. Raising and selling chicks is a possibility, otherwise, Pekins are generally only kept as pets.

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Conclusion

As backyard chicken coops remain a popular trend, finding the perfect bird for small spaces is essential. Pekin chickens are a good fit (literally), for a backyard or small homestead, with reasonable care requirements. Those looking for a chicken who earns their keep should probably consider other breeds, but the Pekin will bring you joy and even some feathered cuddles instead.


Featured Image Credit: Julie Beynon Burnett, Shutterstock

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