The Cochin is an ancient breed from China. It's arrival in the West was probably one of the first occasions of 'spin'. Although a form of Cochin, then known as Shanghai Chickens had been presented to Queen Victoria some years earlier by the Emperor of China, it was at the Birmingham Exhibition of 1850 that they became generally known. Visitors went home with the idea that the Cochin could grow to an immense size, that the hen could lay several eggs a day and that the cock, whose crow was similar to the roar of a lion, could be kept in the house and make an exceptionally loving pet. All this coupled with the idea that breeding them would be a very profitable enterprise, drove the prices of the birds sky high. This 'Cochin Craze' as it was known swept the country, until in 1853 a Cochin changed hands for the record price of £2,587 today that would be around £188,000.
These are our little Cochins who hatched the day before yesterday. I always like to get chicks outside but we have had terrible weather, storms with occasional 'sunny spells'. An easy improvised run is a cardboard box with the bottom folded back. It keeps the chicks near the mother so they can easily get under her if cold and provides an all round shelter against the wind. On their first day I just put them out inside the cardboard box because the grass was too damp. The Cochin like all ancient breeds are excellent foragers and quickly become a vital part of any garden, keeping down weeds and pests and as not all of the story was 'spin', once they have gained your trust, both male and females can become tame and friendly.