The Potch Koekoek

image1image1This is one of the most popular free range combination meat & laying birds in South Africa!

The Potch Koekoek was evolved, by the University of Potchefstroom from the English Barred Rock. They line bred and selected these layers over a period of years to adapt to South African conditions. The result is a large hardy, dual purpose fowl producing a regular egg a day. The hens will become broody and successfully hatch and rear their own chickens, fiercely defending them against any predator foolish enough to try and add them to their lunch. Some cocks become aggressive and will occasionally attack a person especially if they sense fear. Women seem to be their favorite target! One is tempted to lash out at the offending cock with foot or newspaper, this however only results in a redoubled effort and a scratched leg.This behavior can usually be cured by dumping a few litres of water on the offender!

The question often arises about keeping a number of cocks together with hens in the same area. This is acceptable in a free range situation if they have grown up together and there are a sufficient number of hens to go around. There is also be no problem if caged, providing the space is large enough to accommodate all the birds. But the breeder must not make the mistake of adding a strange cock, even a youngster to a flock with existing cocks ruling the roost. A cock can be used for breeding till about 6 years of age. 5 Hens to one cock is a good ratio for successful breeding. No cocks are needed if the hens are used only for egg production, but I do believe that the occasional cock will stimulate the hens to lay better.

 

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The spurs on the cocks legs can be used to estimate the age of the bird. These start to develop at about 25 weeks, the longer and thicker the sput the older the cock. These spurs are the birds weapons and can do serious damage to a threatening predator or an opposing cockrell. They can also inadvertently wound a hen during mating, I have seen the whole back of a hen cut to the bone as if by a surgeon's scalpel! This can be avoided by trimming the tips carefully with a nail clipper and then using a medium sandpaper wrapped around a flat block of wood to round the spur till no longer sharp enough to inflict a wound. Care must be taken not to draw blood by cutting too deep or sanding too much.

 

Chickens