These little guys are my absolute favourite bird. They are so sweet tempered and inquisitive. They follow you around wanting to know what you are up to; and, the little fellas have the most adorable crow. The roosters are sweet and non-aggressive, which just makes them all the more wonderful in my opinion. They do very well in confinement and don’t wander far if left out to free range or pasture. These little birds can fly and love to roost in trees.
The Livestock Conservancy has a great article on Nankins that is worth a read.
Nankin hens are very sweet and lay regularly. Their eggs are very small – about the size of a pheasant egg. They are creamy-white coloured. Not bright white, not brown. If you put a Nankin egg next to a store bought or ceramic white egg, you should see a difference in the colour of the eggs. Anyone selling Nankin eggs that are bright white or brown are not selling pure Nankin eggs. The size of their eggs make them great for snack sized pickled or brined eggs, using in salads (cobb, tuna, egg, potato, etc) and making mini-deviled eggs that are great as hor d’oeuvres.
Nankin roosters are a gorgeous burnished chestnut colour. Rich and vibrant to the eye. The gals are softer in colour, looking like a soft, buttered chestnut. They are sweet and easily worked with as they are non-aggressive and take to handling well. Even when not handled daily, these birds do not take issue to being snagged and carried about. They adjust to new environments easily, particularly if something is provided to engage their curiosity. They love to find out what you are doing and will move in close to watch you work. We call them our little supervisors.
Nankins can be difficult to hatch if you don’t find the sweet spot on their requirements. The right location, right temperatures, right humidity. We have had a 100% hatch rate on our eggs, this year. Last year we struggled. I think I’ve found the magic mix on what these guys need for hatching, which oddly enough includes varying the temperatures during incubation. The little chicks come out a cute butter yellow with a black mark on the tops of their heads. They are not auto-sexing.
Nankins are fairly hardy, though they do not handle the cold all that well due to being so small. Here in Texas, we thankfully don’t have much of that cold stuff to deal with throughout the year. They handle our heat wonderfully. When most of our other birds are panting, the Nankins are still behaving as if it were a comfortable temperature. This is wonderful for a place like this that sees weeks of triple digit weather.
They are not too difficult to brood, though I’ve found they do best when the brooder is set up for them to find the temperature zone they want. We have a long brooder that has high heat on one end and no heat on the other with variations in warmer lamps between to allow them to move back and forth where they wish to be. We also provide a “hidey corner” for them to huddle in when they feel the desire. Nankins tend to hide less than the other breeds – they want to see what’s going on in the world around them.
Given their temperament, it is easy to work with Nankins in training and show. The APA Standards of Perfection has added the Nankin. You can find the standards addition documentation here. This is errata for the 2010 publication. This information is not in the published Standards of Perfection 2010 book. For quick reference on defects, I will provide them here:
- Mealiness in surface and undercolor
- White in undercolor
- White or pale feather shafts (shafting)
- Lacing or frosting in surface color