Monday, June 17, 2013

How to choose your chickens

When we first got chickens we thought we did a lot of research.  There is nothing like trying them and seeing what works for you.  But where do you start?

1.  What do you want from your chickens?
      This is going to be the most important question.  If you want a breed that is great for laying eggs, then you do not want something that lays very little eggs or very few eggs.  If your reason is meat, then you do not want something that will not give you what you want.

2.  How are you going to house them?
     How you are going to house them really makes a difference.  If you are in the city or a small urban acreage and they will be confined in runs or huts, then you need a chicken that will do good in that situation.  If you will have free range or pasture birds, then you need something that will fit in that environment.

3.  What do you want to do with the chickens?
     Will your chickens be pets, show birds, a backyard flock, or there for production only?  Some birds are very flighty and not suited for pets.

4.  What type of environment do you live in?
     This is one people often forget.  If you live in marshy areas where it rains a lot and is wet, then you need something suited to that.  If it is very hot, you do not want something with a lot of feathers.  If it is very cold, then something with a smaller comb is good.

5.  Color of egg matters?
     For some people it does.  So, knowing the color of egg is something to be looked at.  Eggs come in three primary colors.  White, brown, and blue.  There are varying shades within this group, but those are the primary three visual colors.

There are so many variations inside each of these questions that it would be impossible to narrow it down to one breed great for you.  Personal opinion will always be part of it.  So, how do you narrow it down?  Well, that is where the questions help.  Once you have the answers to the questions above I suggest you visit Henderson's Chicken Bred Chart.  This is an excellent chart to narrow down your choices.  Once you have an idea of what breeds you are looking for you can then source them out.  My suggest on that one is highly dependent on where you live, but in general you can either purchase from a hatchery or breeder.  If you look for a breeder you can Google it, look at local charters for that bred, or attend poultry shows.  Information on hatcheries are readily available online.  I hope this helps for those just getting started.