At the house we have a fair number of traditional, Italian heritage breeds of poultry: Tuscan Bantams, ‘Nana Muta’ Ducks, and Roman Geese: Sufficient to provide wonderful pastured eggs for baking and for your ‘English Breakfast’, during the peak laying season.
The ducks and geese are ‘confined’ to the lower slopes below the house: you will see them grazing and lazing on the olive terraces and saffron lawns during the day. Our traditional / primitive Tuscan bantams have total freedom to forage where they choose. We leave numerous wild areas at the perimeter of the villa’s garden, including the slopes and road sides, with untouched wild flowers and grasses to attract them. These wild areas assist with insect reproduction, including butterflies, and we watch several generations of plants and butterflies mature and reproduce every year. Our flock is a breeding flock – we do have males – but with a primitive breed they are required for egg production. They are also essential for keeping the females safe from predators. Our males do crow, but their call is softer than that of the much larger, standard sized modern chicken. Our bantams are not only a charming addition to the gardens, but are authentic Tuscan farmhouse birds, and would have been the chicken of choice at a property such as this until the 1940s or so, when the incubator was invented. Due to the strong maternal instinct of the hens, they were used until that time to incubate the eggs of birds utilised in the hunting reserves: Pheasant, Grouse, etc.