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Heritage chicks?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Forgive me if this is not the right section but it appears to be the closest to what I need. Also, if I misunderstand a term or two, I am new so don't feel bad about setting me straight. Anyway, My parents and I are experimenting with our first set of chicks that are from a feed store. My mom only wants a few chickens for egg production but I am looking at getting 4 different breeds and housing them separately eventually. But I have a few questions first. 

 

I am interested in four breeds: Silver Laced Wayndottes, Buff Orphingtons, Australorps and Rhode Island Reds. If I read correctly these are what are considered heritage breeds but in order to be a heritage quality bird they must meet a set of standards? For example: If I bought my birds from a hatchery they would still be a heritage breed but likely would not conform to the set standard to be considered a heritage quality bird. Am I understanding that correctly? 

 

As for my second question. My intention is to raise chicken for my own enjoyment, meat and egg production and maybe hatching a few dozen chicks each year. Both for myself and for family and friends. My question is, is there necessarily a need to get birds that meet a set standard or will production grade birds be fine for what I intend to do? I have zero intentions of showing my birds but I would still like them to be normal and healthy. 

 

My last question is, I am from the Northwestern area of Pennsylvania and if I do decide to go with quality birds does anyone have any suggestions for where to look for them? Maybe someone knows of a list of breeders or hatcheries even that produce quality birds in my area or that ships? I have been searching but this site has so much information, I am on information overload at the moment. 

 

Thank you in advance for any advice you may have to offer about any of these subjects!

 

Regards, 

 

Travis

 

PS: If you feel that for some reason one of these breeds would be a bad choice for me please feel free to say so and or suggest something in its place. I chose them based off of two things. The information I have gathered over the winter and because they are the birds I find most attractive for aesthetic and production reasons. 

post #2 of 8

To answer your questions in order. 

Yes, you do understand correctly.

No, unless you are wishing to show them they do not need to meet the breed standards.
Sadly I cannot not answer your last question but you could ask around in this thread:Pennsylvania!! Unite!!

 

Also all of those breeds I have/had and are amazing breeds that I highly recommend! I hope you enjoy your chicken raising adventure!

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicken Girl1 View Post
 

To answer your questions in order. 

Yes, you do understand correctly.

No, unless you are wishing to show them they do not need to meet the breed standards.
Sadly I cannot not answer your last question but you could ask around in this thread:Pennsylvania!! Unite!!

 

Also all of those breeds I have/had and are amazing breeds that I highly recommend! I hope you enjoy your chicken raising adventure!

Thank you so much, I will ask in that thread!

post #4 of 8
Some interesting questions. They show you are thinking. Never be worried about asking anything on here, no matter how basic. We all have to start somewhere. I’d hate for something bad to happen because you were afraid to ask a question on here.

Your choice of breeds are fine. The word “heritage” is a bit nebulous. I may get pretty long on my response so be ready. All chicken breeds are manmade. Breeds are not natural at all. Through selective breeding people developed certain “types” of chickens to fulfill certain niches. Maybe they wanted a dual purpose bird that provided meat and eggs, maybe they wanted an egg bird only, or maybe they wanted a decorative really weird bird withy strange things on its head. Eventually people decided they wanted to compete with each other in raising and breeding these chickens so they wrote what is now called a “Standard of Perfection” (SOP) so they had rules to judge the chickens against. Once you have an SOP you have defined a breed.

Let me use the Delaware as an example. The Delaware was developed as a meat bird, it was light feathered so you got an attractive carcass when you plucked it, and it packed on meat fairly early and did a decent job of converting feed to meat. It had a certain conformation that gave certain cuts of meat. It took confinement well. These were the original traits Delaware were developed to have, things that made them good meat birds. But then somebody decided they wanted to show Delaware so they wrote an SOP and go it accepted. They added things like eye color, number of points on the comb, and the color and shade of egg they should lay. These things had nothing to do with them being meat birds but it allowed them to show Delaware and get them judged.

So which are the heritage Delaware, the ones raised for meat or the ones raised for show? A common definition for some is one that combines both, show qualities and production qualities. Some ignore production qualities and consider show birds to be heritage. Most people do not consider hatchery Delaware to be “heritage” because they are not bred for show or meat qualities. Hatcheries mass produce chickens that look somewhat like the breed should to keep prices reasonable. Very few people are willing to spend what it would take to get true heritage stock, even if they could find it. Hatchery birds are great for the vast majority of people on this forum.

When the Cornish Cross was developed in the 1950’s people quit breeding Delaware for meat, they just could not compete. If you don’t continually select your breeders to maintain certain traits they are quickly lost. This has happened to all the “heritage” breeds with the development of the hybrid meat birds and the hybrid egg birds. If you read the heritage chicken sites you will find that there are very very few flocks in the US that are bred to both show and production qualities.

I don’t see any reason for you to even worry about “breed” or keeping a breed pure for your stated goals of egg or meat production and hatching your own chicks. It would sure make your life easier and cut your costs dramatically if you don’t try to keep separate breeds. Plus I really like getting a rainbow of chicks when they hatch. What I suggest is that you get various breeds from a hatchery and see how they perform for you. Keep and breed the ones you think best meat your goals and eat the rest. Over time you will get a flock that better suits your goals. Instead of picking certain breeds you might get one of their specials where they pick the breeds for you, giving you some surprises and saving a bit of money on the original order.

If you want specific breeds you can always go with a hatchery. You might find the Pennsylvania thread and chat with your neighbors, they may have what you want or be able to give you local knowledge about where to find something. I see someone gave you that thread while I was typing.

Good luck!

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #5 of 8

All of those breeds would do fine in PA.

 

Hatchery birds are fine if you just want eggs. However if you want a true dual purpose bird, then you will probably want to find better stock. Hatcheries breed towards egg production, not breed standards. Their birds are often half the size of those from a breeder and therefore will not have much meat on them. 

 

There is a thread for exhibition RIR  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/407294/the-heritage-rhode-island-red-site/10240

 

exhibition Austrolorps  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/882318/australorps-breeding-for-sop-and-exhibition-thread/390#post_16770109

 

I can't seem to find ones for Orps or Wyandottes. 

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridgerunner View Post

Some interesting questions. They show you are thinking. Never be worried about asking anything on here, no matter how basic. We all have to start somewhere. I’d hate for something bad to happen because you were afraid to ask a question on here.

Your choice of breeds are fine. The word “heritage” is a bit nebulous. I may get pretty long on my response so be ready. All chicken breeds are manmade. Breeds are not natural at all. Through selective breeding people developed certain “types” of chickens to fulfill certain niches. Maybe they wanted a dual purpose bird that provided meat and eggs, maybe they wanted an egg bird only, or maybe they wanted a decorative really weird bird withy strange things on its head. Eventually people decided they wanted to compete with each other in raising and breeding these chickens so they wrote what is now called a “Standard of Perfection” (SOP) so they had rules to judge the chickens against. Once you have an SOP you have defined a breed.

Let me use the Delaware as an example. The Delaware was developed as a meat bird, it was light feathered so you got an attractive carcass when you plucked it, and it packed on meat fairly early and did a decent job of converting feed to meat. It had a certain conformation that gave certain cuts of meat. It took confinement well. These were the original traits Delaware were developed to have, things that made them good meat birds. But then somebody decided they wanted to show Delaware so they wrote an SOP and go it accepted. They added things like eye color, number of points on the comb, and the color and shade of egg they should lay. These things had nothing to do with them being meat birds but it allowed them to show Delaware and get them judged.

So which are the heritage Delaware, the ones raised for meat or the ones raised for show? A common definition for some is one that combines both, show qualities and production qualities. Some ignore production qualities and consider show birds to be heritage. Most people do not consider hatchery Delaware to be “heritage” because they are not bred for show or meat qualities. Hatcheries mass produce chickens that look somewhat like the breed should to keep prices reasonable. Very few people are willing to spend what it would take to get true heritage stock, even if they could find it. Hatchery birds are great for the vast majority of people on this forum.

When the Cornish Cross was developed in the 1950’s people quit breeding Delaware for meat, they just could not compete. If you don’t continually select your breeders to maintain certain traits they are quickly lost. This has happened to all the “heritage” breeds with the development of the hybrid meat birds and the hybrid egg birds. If you read the heritage chicken sites you will find that there are very very few flocks in the US that are bred to both show and production qualities.

I don’t see any reason for you to even worry about “breed” or keeping a breed pure for your stated goals of egg or meat production and hatching your own chicks. It would sure make your life easier and cut your costs dramatically if you don’t try to keep separate breeds. Plus I really like getting a rainbow of chicks when they hatch. What I suggest is that you get various breeds from a hatchery and see how they perform for you. Keep and breed the ones you think best meat your goals and eat the rest. Over time you will get a flock that better suits your goals. Instead of picking certain breeds you might get one of their specials where they pick the breeds for you, giving you some surprises and saving a bit of money on the original order.

If you want specific breeds you can always go with a hatchery. You might find the Pennsylvania thread and chat with your neighbors, they may have what you want or be able to give you local knowledge about where to find something. I see someone gave you that thread while I was typing.

Good luck!

 

Thank you so much, there is a lot of information there and has helped shed some light on what I have been reading into. What you say about selecting a few of each breed at first to see what I like about them and what I don't makes perfect sense. TBH there is a mix of reasons that I chose the birds that I did. Foremost is that they are all dual purpose birds that seem to be hardy. Second is egg production numbers. Third is simply because they are pretty birds. I am not adverse to having a coop of lookers and a coop for meat. 

 

Again, thank you for all of the information, I am taking notes. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by keesmom View Post
 

All of those breeds would do fine in PA.

 

Hatchery birds are fine if you just want eggs. However if you want a true dual purpose bird, then you will probably want to find better stock. Hatcheries breed towards egg production, not breed standards. Their birds are often half the size of those from a breeder and therefore will not have much meat on them. 

 

There is a thread for exhibition RIR  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/407294/the-heritage-rhode-island-red-site/10240

 

exhibition Austrolorps  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/882318/australorps-breeding-for-sop-and-exhibition-thread/390#post_16770109

 

I can't seem to find ones for Orps or Wyandottes. 

 

Thank you very much, I will read through both of those threads. It is good to know about how meaty the bird is as chicken is our primary meat source even now that we eat store bought. I'd say we eat about 3-4 birds a week and 2-3 dozen eggs in my household. Raising and butchering chicks at the beginning of the season and again at the end of the season will be a big factor for me. 

 

As a side note, I have looked into everything I need for the butchering. Where as I have never butchered on a large scale I am a hunter and grew up with a grandfather that was a farmer and butcher so that part isn't new to me. Though...I am going to have to have dedicated pet chickens too, LOL.

post #7 of 8
That is a lot of chicken. Since you are a hunter the butchering won’t be that bad but there are a few tricks to doing it in volume, like keeping a sharp knife. There are also a lot of different ways of butchering, skinning versus plucking or cutting it into serving pieces or keeping the whole carcass for example. You’ll work that part out.

How important is size to you? Half of what I hatch are female so half of what I eat is female. Something to maybe consider. Also how do you plan to cook them? The older the chicken is the slower and moister they need to cook. We all have different tastes and preferences, but how you cook them might influence how old you want them to get.

If all you want is meat, you cannot beat the efficiency of the Cornish Rock. They are bred to pack on a lot of meat and be butchered at a very young age so you can cook them any way you wish. Same with the hybrid laying hens, you can’t beat them for eggs. Those are probably the most cost effective, especially if you are buying or raising most of what they eat even if you cannot hatch your own eggs. If you are depending in pasture that becomes less of a factor.

How big of a freezer do you have? It sounds like you are planning on raising two batches of around 200 to 250 birds a year. That’s a lot of freezer space. Do you have a generator to keep that frozen if you have a power failure?

You have to have an incubator to hatch those numbers of eggs at a time, probably a cabinet model. How many hens will you have laying? You probably don’t want to store hatching eggs for more than a week before starting them unless you have a dedicated storage space, like a refrigerator set on about 55 degrees. It will take a lot of hens to lay that many eggs in a week. I personally go with a few smaller batches spread out instead of raising them all at the same time.

I’m not trying to be negative, I’m all for people raising their own meat. Just trying to give you things to think about. One thing you’ll learn about keeping chickens is that being flexible is important. Things seldom work out as you plan. But they can work out.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridgerunner View Post

That is a lot of chicken. Since you are a hunter the butchering won’t be that bad but there are a few tricks to doing it in volume, like keeping a sharp knife. There are also a lot of different ways of butchering, skinning versus plucking or cutting it into serving pieces or keeping the whole carcass for example. You’ll work that part out.

How important is size to you? Half of what I hatch are female so half of what I eat is female. Something to maybe consider. Also how do you plan to cook them? The older the chicken is the slower and moister they need to cook. We all have different tastes and preferences, but how you cook them might influence how old you want them to get.

If all you want is meat, you cannot beat the efficiency of the Cornish Rock. They are bred to pack on a lot of meat and be butchered at a very young age so you can cook them any way you wish. Same with the hybrid laying hens, you can’t beat them for eggs. Those are probably the most cost effective, especially if you are buying or raising most of what they eat even if you cannot hatch your own eggs. If you are depending in pasture that becomes less of a factor.

How big of a freezer do you have? It sounds like you are planning on raising two batches of around 200 to 250 birds a year. That’s a lot of freezer space. Do you have a generator to keep that frozen if you have a power failure?

You have to have an incubator to hatch those numbers of eggs at a time, probably a cabinet model. How many hens will you have laying? You probably don’t want to store hatching eggs for more than a week before starting them unless you have a dedicated storage space, like a refrigerator set on about 55 degrees. It will take a lot of hens to lay that many eggs in a week. I personally go with a few smaller batches spread out instead of raising them all at the same time.

I’m not trying to be negative, I’m all for people raising their own meat. Just trying to give you things to think about. One thing you’ll learn about keeping chickens is that being flexible is important. Things seldom work out as you plan. But they can work out.

Well, I already buy my chickens whole from the store and break them down. They are typically around 4-5 lbs. As for keeping a sharp knife, no problems there as I am a knife and sharpening nerd. I have Japanese synthetic and natural waterstones, DMT diamond plates and Arkansas stones to accommodate steel type and hardness. 

 

As for only worrying about mean, I am more into the dual purpose aspect of both meat and eggs. As for the number I figure 4x per week x52 weeks which is 208 birds. That is 104 twice a year, give or take. 

 

When it comes to incubators, I have been looking into that. I will likely only hatch a few dozen the first year to see how things go. Yes, we have three deep freezers and two generators. That was an acquisition after our house was struck by lightning and caught fire...we went about 3 weeks without power living out of the camper before they put in a temporary connection. 

 

Thank you for the honest input, I know this is going to be a lot of work and things may not always go as planed. I figure I want to start out small and build up over a few years time. If after the first year or two it seems that more would be too much then we can stay with what we have or even scale it back. 

 

Oh, and as for how I cook the birds; well that depends on my mood. I like to bake, roast, fry, soups, make club sandwiches and you name it. I love cooking! 

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