By: Gregory S. Archer
When selecting laying hens for your backyard, you need to consider what it is that you expect from your chickens. Do want to raise poultry as a business to make a profit? Do you want to produce eggs to reduce your grocery bill? Or, do you want poultry in your backyard just for your own use and satisfaction?
If you want to raise poultry for profit or for eggs, egg-laying ability, space needs, and broodiness will be important factors to consider. You will want birds that lay many eggs to maximize your efficiency. Having birds that require less space or do well in cages may also be important if you plan to have a large flock. Finally, choosing birds that are not usually broody will minimize the time your birds are not laying eggs.
If you want birds only for your own use, the fac- tors mentioned above may be less important. If your goal is to raise birds (in a way you find acceptable) to produce food for yourself, and maximum production numbers are not important, the number of breeds that can meet your needs increases dramatically. In this case, you may also be selecting birds based on their appearance. Chickens vary in the color and pattern of their feathers, combs, eggs, and even size. Regardless of why you want to have chickens, it is important to select birds that will fit your needs and do well in your environment.
The following terms are important to understand as you select the breed that will best fit your situation.
Broodiness: readiness to brood eggs that is characterized by cessation of laying and by marked changes in behavior and physiology
Bantam: any of numerous small domestic fowls that are often miniature versions of the standard breeds
Popular breeds for backyard egg production can be found on the following pages.
Hatcheries to obtain birds from include:
PO Box 529
Lebanon, MO 65536
Hoffman Hatchery Inc.
P.O. Box 129 Gratz, PA 17030
PO Box 591
Cameron, TX 76520
626 State Route 89
Polk, OH 44866
Murray McMurray Hatchery
P.O. Box 458 191 Closz Drive
Webster City, Iowa 50595 (800) 454-3280
Ridgway Hatcheries, Inc.
615 North High Street Box 306
Larue, Ohio 43332
Stromberg’s Chicks and Game Birds
100 York Street
P.O. Box 400
Pine River, MN 56474
PO BOX 77
Bancroft, Iowa 50517
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