Getting started. Why raise chickens? 0/3
Requirements (parts list) for raising chickens 0/4
Basic breed types and their characteristics 0/2
Purebred flock vs. assortment 0/1
Incubators and hatching chicks 0/3
When things go wrong and predators too! 0/5
Processing birds 0/4
Purebred Flock vs. Assorted
Not all chickens are created equal
Literally, I have never met a chicken I didn’t like. Between different breeds there are some great differences. But I have never met a breed which I didn’t consider to have merit. When a person first wants to get into chickens, the fact that there are so many breeds from which to choose can be confusing. Most people finally choose a selection of various breeds so they can get to know them. There’s some merit to this approach, as, for whatever the reason, certain breeds tend to do better under certain circumstances than others. Offhand I would say, for the new “chicken person,” that it is next to impossible to predict which breed will do best. A lot of how well they prosper has to do with the kind of accommodations they have, whether or not they are allowed to range outside of an enclosed pen, and the kind of predators to be dealt with.
Advantages of having a mixed flock
A mixed flock can be a good thing. Certainly, mixing breeds won’t hurt production very much, if at all. Crossbred chickens are generally good too. One is amazed at the kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and characters which appear when various breeds cross. Also, certain breeds lay better at certain times. For instance, both the Buckeye and the Kraienkoppe are good winter layers. But some breeds absolutely shut down when it’s cold.
Advantages of having a purebred flock
So, why wouldn’t everyone want to have a mixed flock? For one thing, with a mixed flock it is very difficult to maintain a pure breed. Some people like the challenge and satisfaction of getting to know a given breed, learning the breed standard and selecting to improve stock. Also, when one raises a pure breed, it’s possible to sell purebred chicks for a higher price than others. And, within a pure breed one generally knows the character of bird. For instance, with Buckeyes (with the exception of one rare strain) or Orpingtons, one knows that they are going to have very gentle, calm birds. Almost any breed which has “leghorn” (pronounced “leg-urn) in its name will have higher egg production than most other breeds. Leghorns tend to be more high strung than average.
I try to raise purebreds. It amazes me how many years it takes to really get to know a breed. After some years, the flock itself has become like an old friend. Additionally, I can definitely see overall improvement in the quality of my birds.
A Disadvantage of Having a Mixed Flock
One of the biggest challenges for the new poultry owner is that of getting attached to the individual birds and not being able to rotate stock when it is practical. Thus, when a new person starts out with a mixed flock, it can be quite difficult to switch over to a pure breed.
However, when one starts with a pure breed, the birds resemble one another. It’s easier to rotate the flock, as individuals don’t stand out as much.