Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Raising Backyard Chickens - Choosing the Right Breed

Now that you know the laws and regulations in your area about keeping backyard chickens, it is time to decide on what type of birds you want.

There are a few factors to take into consideration when choosing the breed of chicken that you want. First are you looking at raising chickens for eggs, meat, or both? Certain breeds are better egg layers. For example Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns will lay an egg almost every day if the conditions are right.

If you have children it may be important for you to get birds that have a friendly disposition. Plymouth Rocks, Orpingtons, Ameraucanas and Australorps all tend to have gentle personalities. Along with being docile these birds are great egg layers.

If you are looking to grow chickens for meat Cornish hens are a good option. They typically are ready to butcher at 6-8 weeks old.

Another thing to think about is what kind of climate you live in. If you have long cold winters you may want a winter hardy bird. You may also want to add a heat lamp to their shelter on those really cold nights.

Here in Iowa we have very hot summers and cold, cold winters. The one problem with winter hardy birds is that they can struggle during the hot months of Summer. Always make sure they have access to fresh water. Last year I routinely feed my hens frozen melon rinds and added a box fan inside their house to cool them off during the really hot days.

Do your research before bringing home your new flock of birds. There are many books, magazines and articles out there to help you make your decision. If you are still stuck on which breeds to get you can use this handy guide from My Pet Chicken. It will ask you a few questions and then give you what breeds would suit you best.

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