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!
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.