We’ve decided that we want chickens on our homestead so the search for the perfect bird is on.
The first thing we have to decide is what we want these birds to do for us. Of course we want eggs, who wouldn’t want fresh eggs every day? So egg production is a high priority. Second, I would like to be able to butcher a few for meat as well. Over the years I’ve had yard chickens and usually they are tough and not fit to eat so I really want to know which kinds will make for meat good enough to use for fried chicken. That is, after all, the best kind of chicken there is of course! And last, I want a bird that is easy going and will be easy for the children to help care for as well.
It seems that there’s more to consider with egg production than just how many eggs a hen will lay. What will you be doing with these eggs? Eating only? Raising a few to replace those you butcher? If you decide that you do want to raise some of them then you have to consider how you will raise them. Will you use an incubator or do you want your hens to ‘go broody’ and raise them for you?
According to EggLayingChickens.com it seems the best egg layers are not the best brooders. Okay, then how do you raise those eggs for the best producers if they won’t raise them and you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) go to the expense of an incubator? It seems that a hen that will go broody will sit on not only her own eggs but any eggs you put under them. So you may want to consider having a few that are good producers and a few that are good brooders.
When it comes to meat production, everything I can find seems to be pretty subjective so on that front it’s gonna be a trial and error process I guess.
Mother Earth News has polled their users and has come up with a few that they suggest as the best for all purposes which includes Rhode Island Whites, Plymouth Rocks, Orpingtons, Australorps and New Hampshires which all produce brown eggs and acceptable meat.
So it looks like our first flock will be made up of a few of these breeds and we’ll see how it goes from there.