The number of people who indicated they raise Basque Hens for pets and enjoyment increased from 2013 with 46% of owners indicating that their primary reason for owning Basques is for pets and enjoyment. Because it’s recognized that this is a very important trait for Basque owners, two new questions about the temperament of the hens and roosters were also added in 2014. For female EOs, 82% of owners indicated their girls are above the average chicken when it comes to friendliness. When it comes to the boys, 94% of owners indicated their roosters are average or above for friendliness. Only 6% of owners indicated their EO roosters were below average for friendliness; those unfriendly roosters, in particular if they are aggressive as well, always taste the best! For estimates of egg production, the second most important reasons people raise the breed, more owners indicated their EOs lay about 200 eggs per year than in 2013 with a few less indicating they lay more than 200 eggs per year.
For breeders of EOs, there was an increase in the number of people who hatched large numbers of Basque chicks in 2014 with several hatching more than 100! That said, average breeding flock sizes remain relatively small with about 60% of breeders keeping only 1-10 breeding quality hens over winter and almost all breeders keeping 5 roosters or less.
Six breeders indicated that more than 50% of their marraduna (red cuckoo) Basques raised in 2014, when all traits are considered, would meet the Standard of Perfection (SOP). This statistic represents a key measure for American Poultry Association (APA) recognition of the breed and is one to keep an eye on! There were also 18 breeders that indicated some interest in working towards APA recognition of the breed which is exciting as it would be fantastic to see the Basque Hen grace the pages of the APA SOP some day!
A big thank you to everyone who participated in the 2014 survey, please keep the upcoming 2015 version in mind as you go about the business of hatching chicks, evaluating birds, and generally enjoying your Basque flock!