Have you ever wanted to have fresh eggs from your own backyard chickens? Consider purchasing pullets that are at least 2 months old. What are the advantages? Chickens that are between 28 and 63 days old do not need supplemental heat. They have their adult feathers and have made it through the precarious first few weeks of life when many chicks die. They are ready to live out in the coop right away. Another real advantage to buying juvenile birds is they will start laying sooner!!
It is also a good idea to buy chickens that have been innoculated against Mareks disease and Coccidiosis, two diseases that can be a real problem for chickens.
Another difficulty for the new chicken owner is what kind of chickens to buy. The answer depends on what you want to do with your birds as well as the climate you live in. If you are looking for meat birds as well as layers, then you would want a heavy bird that also lays well. If you just want eggs, you can look for smaller birds that are good layers. Perhaps you live where winters are harsh and you need a bird that is fairly winter hardy when it comes to laying eggs. Then there are those who are only after the meat. They would look for birds that put a lot of weight on fast. So, it is best to take some time to consider what your needs are and what you expect out of your flock. There are many birds that will fit your needs.
Below you will find a variety of layers including winter layers and meat birds. These are some of the breeds we raise on our ranch and we have been very pleased with egg production as well as the size and quality of roasters. I have highlighted my #1 picks in the different catagories, but I have also listed other breeds that would do very well. You can also purchase birds that are just fun to look at or birds that lay green eggs. They always add interest to the coop and the carton.
Dual Purpose Birds
Rhode Island Reds – one of the best dual purpose birds. They do well in a free range environment or in confinement and are a super choice for backyard flocks. They are good producers of large brown eggs at around 24 weeks, and are large enough to be considered meat birds.
Dorkings, Barred Rocks, Black Australorps, Pioneer, Red Star, Black Star, Orpingtons, Welsummer, White Rocks, Dark Cornish, Delaware, Columbian Wyandottes
White Leghorn – The best white egg layer. These birds will lay at around 4 to 5 months and will continue laying for 3 months longer than most breeds. They give you more eggs per amount of food they eat than any other breed, so are less expensive to keep.
Also try: Red Star, Black Star,
Black Giants – The original Jersey Giant from New Jersey was cross bred with large black Asiatic breeds. This is a beautiful bird with feathers that shimmer in hues of green. They are good layers of large brown eggs and one of the few breeds that will continue to lay through the cold winter months.
Also try: Buff Orpingtons, New Hampshire Reds, Partridge Rocks, Light Brahamas,
Jumbo Cornish X Rocks – The most remarkable meat producing bird, probably among the finest meat birds in America. We fill our freezer with them every year. Males reach 3 – 4 lbs. in just 8 weeks. In spite of their voracious appetite, they wind up eating only about 12.5 lbs. of feed per chicken and average 7 lbs. by harvest time. You can be sure these birds are much healthier than store bought chicken.
Also try: Dark Cornish, Pioneer, Red Ranger Broiler, Cornish Roaster, Barred Rocks