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Choosing a chicken breed

Agriculture.com Staff 03/24/2011 @ 2:10pm

There are many reasons for raising chickens. People raise chickens for eggs, meat, exhibition, and rare breed preservation, as well as for the enjoyment of raising, caring for, and watching their interesting behavior. Some people raise them to hear a rooster crow to symbolize past days on the farm.

There is a wide array of chicken breeds. Choosing the right type of chicken can be difficult. The purpose of this publication is to help beginners determine which types of chickens are most suited to their needs.

Egg production

White Leghorns (pronounced leggerns) are prolific layers of white eggs. Golden Comets and Red Sex Links are excellent layers of brown eggs. In general, chicken breeds with white ear lobes lay white eggs, whereas chickens with red ear lobes lay brown eggs.

Eggs and meat

Dual-purpose breeds include several American and English breeds such as Plymouth Rocks, Sussex, and Wyandottes. These breeds lay reasonably well and are large enough for meat production.

Meat

For meat production only, nothing compares with the fast growth of Cornish Cross (White Cornish x White Plymouth Rock). They reach 4-5 lbs in 6 weeks and 6-10 lbs in 8-12 weeks.

Exhibition

Exhibition poultry shows are popular in Indiana and the Midwest. The American Poultry Association (APA) publishes, The American Standard of Perfection. This illustrated book gives a complete description of all recognized breeds and varieties of domestic poultry. Chickens are judged according to those descriptions of ideal breed type, color, weight, and other characteristics for the particular breed and variety.

Bantams, in most cases, outnumber large fowl at poultry shows. Bantams are 1/4 or less the size of large fowl. They are easier for young 4-H members to handle, eat less feed and take up less space than large fowl. Although smaller, their eggs are just as good to eat as large chicken eggs. Some of the most popular exhibition bantam breeds are Old English Game, Cochins, Plymouth Rocks, and Wyandottes.

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