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What is a "Heritage Breed" chicken?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

So what is a "heritage breed" chicken and how does it differ from a commercial breed?

1 Barred Rock (Storm), 1 Red Sex Link (Jesse, of Toy Story fame), 1 Black Australorp (Lightning), 1 Buff Orpington (Barbie)
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1 Barred Rock (Storm), 1 Red Sex Link (Jesse, of Toy Story fame), 1 Black Australorp (Lightning), 1 Buff Orpington (Barbie)
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post #2 of 7

the ALBC wrote:
Definition of Heritage Chicken

Purpose:

Chickens have been a part of the American diet since the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Since that time, different breeds have been developed to provide meat, eggs, and pleasure. 

The American Poultry Association began defining breeds in 1873 and publishing the definitions in the Standard of Perfection. These Standard breeds were well adapted to outdoor production in various climatic regions. They were hearty, long-lived, and reproductively vital birds that provided an important source of protein to the growing population of the country until the mid-20th century. With the industrialization of chickens many breeds were sidelined in preference for a few rapidly growing hybrids. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy now lists over three-dozen breeds of chickens in danger of extinction. Extinction of a breed would mean the irrevocable loss of the genetic resources and options it embodies.

Therefore, to draw attention to these endangered breeds, to support their long-term conservation, to support efforts to recover these breeds to historic levels of productivity, and to re-introduce these culinary and cultural treasures to the marketplace, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is defining Heritage Chicken. Chickens must meet all of the following criteria to be marketed as Heritage.     

Definition:

Heritage Chicken must adhere to all the following:

1. APA Standard Breed. Heritage Chicken must be from parent and grandparent stock of breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) prior to the mid-20th century; whose genetic line can be traced back multiple generations; and with traits that meet the APA Standard of Perfection guidelines for the breed. Heritage Chicken must be produced and sired by an APA Standard breed. Heritage eggs must be laid by an APA Standard breed.
2. Naturally mating. Heritage Chicken must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating.  Chickens marketed as Heritage must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.
3. Long, productive outdoor lifespan. Heritage Chicken must have the genetic ability to live a long, vigorous life and thrive in the rigors of pasture-based, outdoor production systems. Breeding hens should be productive for 5-7 years and roosters for 3-5 years.
4. Slow growth rate. Heritage Chicken must have a moderate to slow rate of growth, reaching appropriate market weight for the breed in no less than 16 weeks. This gives the chicken time to develop strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass.

Chickens marketed as Heritage must include the variety and breed name on the label.

Terms like heirloom, antique, old-fashioned, and old timey imply Heritage and are understood to be synonymous with the definition provided here.

Abbreviated  Definition: A Heritage Egg can only be produced by an American Poultry Association Standard breed. A Heritage Chicken is hatched from a heritage egg sired by an American Poultry Association Standard breed established prior to the mid-20th century, is slow growing, naturally mated with a long productive outdoor life.

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has over 30 years of experience, knowledge, and understanding of endangered breeds, genetic conservation, and breeder networks.

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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Punky.  Very informative.

So my next question...How do I determine the source from which I get chicks is providing heritage breeds?  For example, if I have a Plymouth Rock, is it a heritage breed, or do PR's that aren't heritage exist?  Do most major egg/chick suppliers adhere to heritage standards?

1 Barred Rock (Storm), 1 Red Sex Link (Jesse, of Toy Story fame), 1 Black Australorp (Lightning), 1 Buff Orpington (Barbie)
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1 Barred Rock (Storm), 1 Red Sex Link (Jesse, of Toy Story fame), 1 Black Australorp (Lightning), 1 Buff Orpington (Barbie)
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post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChopperLinc 

Do most major egg/chick suppliers adhere to heritage standards?


Do you mean hatcheries?  Hatcheries do not adhere to ANY standards. Hatcheries are all about quantity, not quality.

RIP my son, Michael Bonham, Jr. 1972-2013

A son, brother, friend, wrestler, father, Army Airborne Ranger, wrestling coach, and so much more....

A memorial video with some of his (too short) life HERE.

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RIP my son, Michael Bonham, Jr. 1972-2013

A son, brother, friend, wrestler, father, Army Airborne Ranger, wrestling coach, and so much more....

A memorial video with some of his (too short) life HERE.

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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm sorry for all the questions.  I've only owned chickens for two weeks.

So, what is the best source of heritage breed eggs or chicks?

1 Barred Rock (Storm), 1 Red Sex Link (Jesse, of Toy Story fame), 1 Black Australorp (Lightning), 1 Buff Orpington (Barbie)
Reply
1 Barred Rock (Storm), 1 Red Sex Link (Jesse, of Toy Story fame), 1 Black Australorp (Lightning), 1 Buff Orpington (Barbie)
Reply
post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChopperLinc 

I'm sorry for all the questions.  I've only owned chickens for two weeks.

So, what is the best source of heritage breed eggs or chicks?


Breeders are your best bet. Decide what breed you are interested in and then go check out that breed's club. They will be a great help in helping you obtain pure stock.

RIP my son, Michael Bonham, Jr. 1972-2013

A son, brother, friend, wrestler, father, Army Airborne Ranger, wrestling coach, and so much more....

A memorial video with some of his (too short) life HERE.

Reply

RIP my son, Michael Bonham, Jr. 1972-2013

A son, brother, friend, wrestler, father, Army Airborne Ranger, wrestling coach, and so much more....

A memorial video with some of his (too short) life HERE.

Reply
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathyinmo 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChopperLinc 

I'm sorry for all the questions.  I've only owned chickens for two weeks.

So, what is the best source of heritage breed eggs or chicks?


Breeders are your best bet. Decide what breed you are interested in and then go check out that breed's club. They will be a great help in helping you obtain pure stock.


I agree.

Good luck,

see ya,
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see ya,
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