“Sprightly…good forager…one of the snappiest, most alert breeds…look after themselves well in the field”. Any one of these descriptions are desirable for a chicken in a free range environment but add all of them together and you have the Silver Spangled Hamburg, my favorite chicken breed so far.
And alert they are, when they’re not kicking up leaves looking for a natural source of food they’re scanning the skies for hawks and eagles. If danger approaches they’re the first to give the alarm and head for cover which alerts the rest of the flock to do the same. They have a small body size which allows them to be good fliers and they lay a nice sized white egg. If a stray hunting dog wanders in from the deep woods I’ve seen the Hamburgs fly well over 200 yards into a tree, all without ever having to land on the ground every 30 feet like other hens do.
Their only weakness? They hate to be confined in a coop for the night, preferring instead to roost out in the open which leaves them vulnerable to raccoons, possums and especially owls. One morning last week I found one dead in the field with its head missing, the calling-card of an owl. Needles to say the other Hamburgs wised-up and are now roosting safely in the coop.