Choosing A Breed

The breed of chicken to raise is determined by why you want to raise chickens. What is the purpose of raising them? Do you want chickens mainly for laying eggs? Are you looking to your flock more as a source of meat? Do you want to raise chickens mainly as a hobby?

In reality no single breed of chicken can totally serve every purpose. Some breeds are more suitable for providing eggs than meat, and some breeds will be better suited if you are raising them mainly as a hobby.

If it’s eggs you want, consider the Leghorn varieties or the Rhode Island Red. The best white shell egg layers will come from Leghorn strains while the best brown egg layers will be from Rhode Island Red stock.

The breeds best suited for producing eggs may not always the best choice if you primarily want meat production from your flock. The best egg layers will have smaller bodies meant to channel nutrients into egg production and will have less body mass.

The meat producing birds will be of a totally different generic structure. They have been bred and developed strictly for producing the largest amount of body weight in the shortest time possible. These are the breeds used commercially, by the large corporations who sell chickens to supermarkets and packing plants. They in fact are not really breeds at all, rather hybrids developed from crossing many strains together.

The small flock owner who wants to raise birds for meat would be well advised to look into the so-called “dual purpose” breeds such as Wyandotte, New Hampshire, and Barred Rock.

These breeds will not match the egg production of Leghorns or Rhode Island Reds, but are far better suited as meat producing birds.

For those who are raising chickens only as a hobby and for enjoyment, any breed can serve that purpose, although some may be a better choice than others. Game chickens are known for their fighting ability from days gone by, and are also more of a flighty bird than many other breeds. So they may not be the best choice for a hobby flock. Bantams are smaller and less aggressive and come in a variety of colors. These smaller birds also require less space to raise them in and may be one of the best choices for pure enjoyment.

Of course everyone will have their own views and opinions as to what breed my be the best choice for any particular purpose. In the end make your own decision based on personal preferences and enjoy your flock and this great hobby.

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