Friday, 15 January 2010

Raising Chickens for Food

The commercial breeders have devised a strain of birds that grow up in only six weeks of living on chemicals during which time they never have a chance to be chickens. They live in a totally controlled artificial environment. They never breathe fresh air or feel the warmth and health-giving rays of the sun. Then they are sent off to market. No wonder they don't taste like anything. Home-grown chickens live a full chicken life, as they were meant to. And they taste like a chicken should without using any flavor enhancers.

In choosing chickens for raising, there are five basic types to choose from:

For Eggs - The egg producers are White Leghorns and are white-feathered, skinny temperamental birds. They will lay some 200 large white-shelled eggs in the egg factories in their sixth through nineteenth months of life. After that, they give up laying eggs and are sold for cat food, as the meat they do have on them is pretty stringy.

For Meat - The meat producers are bred to fatten out rapidly with a maximum feed economy. Most of these are hybrids between a cross of White Cornish and White Rock breeds. They are slaughtered at four weeks of age and sold as Rock Cornish game hens.

For Meat and Eggs - Hybrids of several kinds are common in New England where they produce jumbo-sized brown-shelled eggs and develop into roaster size. If raising chickens for eggs, the disadvantage to this breed is that they show more of a maternal instinct than other full-sized breed. If the hybrid eggs are hatched, the offspring will be all different colors and if left to breed themselves, they would probably revert back a generation or two and become unproductive, multicolored and scrawny wild creatures.

Fancy Breeds - This is a breed kept for show or hobby. Some will have odd coloring or plumage or lay odd colored eggs. As far as meat and egg production goes, this breed isn't worth their feed bill and are only good for a hobby. Bantams are pint-sized and seem to have more sense than the larger chickens and they will do a good job of keeping the bug population down in the garden.

Best Choice - According to the hatcheries, the main flock should be a variety of Purebred Multipurpose chickens. These would include the heavy-bodied breeds such as the Rhode Island, New Hampshire Reds, the White, Plymouth and Barred Rocks. These breeds will produce good brown eggs and fine meat. Most importantly, they will produce good strains. The Barred Rocks have black and white feathers and are reported as being of calm temperament with good meat and eggs.

For more information on raising chickens, please refer to the author's blog at

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