Over the years, my family has helped a lot of people with getting into chickens. There’s something we’ve seen repeatedly that we thought would be worth a mention. Often people are not clear in their thinking about what they want from chickens. Right up front ask yourself why you want them and what do you plan on doing with them as they get older?
Having chickens for pets is a special situation. Some people just want to keep chickens as pets, but they don’t think much about types before they get them. We recommend getting bantams if you want pets, and only a few of them. You also need to know the laws of the area where you live before you get your birds. Are chickens allowed in your neighborhood? When you get your birds for pets, it’s best to not keep a rooster or you may end up with chicks.
Other people primarily want chickens for eggs. The thing you have to recognize if you want them for eggs is that your hens will age out of laying eggs, and you will need to do something with them. You’ll either need to sell old hens, eat them or keep them as pets (Remember pets cost money to keep.). There is a misconception old birds are always tough. Actually, when cooked long and slow, old hens make the most savory birds to eat.
Some want to raise chickens for meat. Remember, any chicken can be eaten and will be delicious. But some kinds are much better for meat than others. Meat bird are primarily large, fast growing chickens. Some meat birds are pretty good for laying eggs, though, a large meat chicken will never rival a dedicated laying breed in that area. On the other hand the best laying breeds generally produce scrawny carcasses.
No matter why one wants chickens, there will be a good many breeds to choose from, all of which qualify for that purpose. Just because a type is readily available in your area doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good fit for your homestead. Do some reading about breeds before you pick your birds. Right up front check out Homesteading Edu’s chicken course and read some of the breed descriptions. Consider heritage breeds. One of those breeds that is in danger of extinction could prove to be a fantastic fit for your homestead. You could be a help in preserving a piece of living history.
Until next time,
Homestead in health ya’ll!