What is and how good is the Heritage Breed

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Caleb M, Feb 4, 2016.

  1. Caleb M

    Caleb M New Egg

    Feb 2, 2016
    My friend said he had Heritage breed chickens before he moved and said they played all through the winter laying once a day and playing out in the snow. They looked a lot like the barred rock chicken but they were heritage breed, are there more than one type of heritage breed, and does anyone know what type he was talking about and how good they are?

  2. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

    May 14, 2014
    There are a large number of heritage breeds including Plymouth Rocks (of which barred is a variety). Here is the definition of heritage breeds from the Livestock Conservancy (http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/heritage-chicken):

    Chickens must meet all of the following criteria to be marketed as Heritage.

    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.
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