If you've talked to me about chickens you know I'm pretty obsessed. After researching for weeks now, I can rattle of facts about heritage breeds like a pro but I still can't tell you which breeds I want to try! I keep narrowing it down to three breeds or so, and then I discover another one I like.
My favorite for now is the Buckeye. Developed by Nettie Metcalf in the late 19th century, it is the only APA recognized breed to be developed exclusively by a female. Unfortunately it was being developed simultaneously with the Rhode Island Red, and which of the two birds have you heard of? Exactly. The Buckeye is a dual purpose chicken that isn't a spectacular layer or meat bird, but is good for both, and everything that I've read says their personality and mousing ability makes up for that. Yes, I said mousing ability. These birds are known for catching and eating mice!
Another breed I'm determined to try is the Wyandotte. They're another dual purpose heritage breed and they come in so many color varieties it makes my head spin! I was set on the blue-laced-red wyandottes, but they are proving difficult to obtain, so now I'm considering the blue wyandottes which are a beautiful dark slate grey color.
The last breed I'm pretty sure I'm set on is the Buff Cornish. I want to have chickens for meat, and while I really would like to raise dual purpose heritage birds, I'd also like to have meat before Christmas, haha. The Buff Cornish is a heritage meat breed, derived from the Dark Cornish, which is the ancestor of the modern Cornish X meat birds that everybody grows. The Buff Cornish is pretty much the same as the Dark Cornish, they're just a prettier color.
Those are the three I'm set on, as of this morning. Give me two hours and I'll be all over the place again. Also, I have two mature Black Marans hens reserved at a local farm to provide quick eggs for us this spring.
Some of the other breeds I have considered are: Speckled Sussex, Ameraucana, Dorket, Brahma and even Welsummer. They all have their perks. I'll have to keep you all posted about my final decisions.
I've been putting off getting chicks so far since Jeremy and I are heading out to a couple comic book conventions and we don't want to have little chicks for our farm-sitters to have to worry about in addition to ducks, dogs, cat and sheep.
Do you raise chickens for meat and eggs? Are they heritage breed, or more conventional, modern breeds?