How to Start a Flock of Purebred Chickens

young Buckeye rooster, buckeye cockerel, purebred chicken

When people first decide to raise their own food they often start with chickens. There are various styles of raising chickens. Some get whatever chicks in the feed store look cutest, not even knowing what they are going to grow up to be.  Some like a mixed flock because of the varying character of the different breeds. Some let all their chickens cross and end up with a glorious flock of mutts. Mixed breed chickens still lay eggs. Any chicken is edible. Any of these approaches is fine, however personally I like to raise a pure breed of chicken.

Why would a person start a flock of purebred chickens?

There are a number of reasons one might wish to raise purebreds. The main reason is that, with a pure breed, you know pretty much exactly what each bird is going to be like. Also, for those who struggle with butchering their own birds, it is a help if they all look alike. Additionally, if you ever decide to sell chicks or birds, they will bring a better price if they’re purebred. After some years of raising purebred Buckeyes we actually decided to invest in better purebred stock. You see, within breeds of chickens there are usually some strains which are better layers or be better for meat. Some are more hardy, etc.

chicks with their mother, hen and chicks, chicks
If you start a flock of purebred chickens you can sell purebred chicks.

Our Buckeye Journey in a Nutshell

Our family got into Buckeyes because we wanted a chickens for both meat and eggs.  We wanted a bird which would actively forage, diligently look out for predators and raise it’s own young. (The trait of raising their own young is known as “broodiness.” Our first Buckeye chicks came from a large hatchery. They were good, but after a couple years we decided to try some stock from a breeder who raised show stock. This new stock was larger, better colored and laid a larger, higher quality egg than the ones we started with. They were also more broody, making it all the easier to hatch under a hen.

High Quality Purebreds Can be Pricey.

If the breed is fairly uncommon, breeding stock can be costly. When we purchased our “show stock” we paid about $150 (which included shipping) for 25 chicks. This was a fair price but a stretch for us. With those 25 chicks we were able to start a flock of high quality Buckeye chickens.  For yearly a decade we have hatched chicks from this stock. The investment was well worth it. We’ve enjoyed all the eggs we could want and lots of the finest meat we could ever desire. Some years I have sold a few hundred dollars worth of chicks to supplement our income.

chicks in a brooder, start a flock, lots of chicks
We can sell purebred chicks for more than mixed breed ones.

If Purebreds are Expensive, What’s the Best Way to Start a Flock of Them?

  • Remember, you’re going to want to multiply these birds. You can recoup the cost.
  • Day old chicks are usually the most economical way to start, but be prepared to cull (eat) those which don’t meet the breed standard.
  • Another option, if available, is to purchase a pair or trio of adults. These, you can tell the quality from the get go. From these, it should be easy to start a flock of at least 20 birds in a single season. Remember, even if you spend a lot of money on two or three adults, you’re actually investing in an entire future flock.

Miscellaneous Tips

  • Before purchasing breeding stock it would probably be good to find a club which promotes the breed you’re interested in. They can teach you what constitutes good stock and who sells it.
  • If you’re going to start a flock of purebred chickens, be sure to hatch a good number of chicks (ball park figure: 40) and select strictly for quality. Eat the rest. By doing this, you can improve the quality of your flock, even more, over time.

How to Cook Homegrown Poultry

  • If you maintain a fair size flock, as in 20 hens and two roosters, you can easily go a decade without bringing in new blood. We selected from a flock of Kraienkoppes for about 15 years with almost no problems due to inbreeding. I hatched 40-100 birds a year and ate close to that many, saving only the best for breeding., Poultry is very resistant to inbreeding problems when properly culled.

Thread on inbreeding: Backyard Chickens

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