When we started keeping chickens here at Merrybower, little did we know it would lead us to this wonderful, and rare, breed. The road was long, but here we are.
We noticed this breed on the front page of something once upon a time, and the name intrigued us. Contrary to popular belief, it is *not* a great birds for wet ground. As someone much wiser once said, “If you want a chicken suited to boggy conditions, get a duck.”
However, having kept them for four years now I can honestly say they are perfect for Merrybower. They are:
The grandfather of the flock, Mikey, was at least seven when he passed away. I know of hens in his line that are eleven years old. We have never, touch wood, had a Marsh Daisy pass away from a prolonged illness such as egg peritonitis.
They are active and like a good scratch, and are also classed as a (Rare) Soft Feather Light bird, according to The Poultry Club of Great Britain. The little eating they need is supplemented greatly by their tendency to free range, eating bugs and grass along the way.
Along with their love of free ranging, the bugs they collect along the way form a not insubstantial portion of their diet. This protein helps with egg production and also to keep them healthy.
Their bug eating tenacity ensures the ground beneath the orchard trees is cleaned of fallen moth larvae and sawfly larvae, amongst other insects. They manure the ground as they walk, as do any poultry.
At the last count there were less than twenty active breeders in the UK. At one point, as the story goes, there was only one flock left in the South West, but this doesn’t seem to be entirely true – although the numbers in the 1970s were very depleted. There are five colours in total – wheaten (which ours is), brown, white, black and buff.
We have never been attacked by one of our Marsh Daisies, unlike the Light Sussex. This may well be a flock tendency, and it may be a fluke, but we like the idea that they’re friendly.