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anyone else raising heritage breed poultry?

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  • anyone else raising heritage breed poultry?

    i'm kind of excited about it!
    we have a couple of acres fenced in really well (4ft woven wire) with a good sized coop and lots of brooks everywhere. plus we took down thirty trees in the area to get going on our future field so there's a ton of bugs and seeds etc.
    we eat chicken several times a week (family of five soon to be six or seven)
    so plan to raise 200-250 for our freezers this summer.

    so after some research i think i'll go for 75 marans for their superior size and dark meat.
    i read that the dorking is also large and has dense and is very flavorful.
    so plus 75 of them and i need another 50-75.

    with those two very large and flavorful birds i was thinking of one more breed a bit smaller and maybe a milder flavor for chicken breast recipes.
    any recomendations?

    what else should i feed them besides lots of bugs?
    they will be free range so what i feed them will be supplemental i hope.
    is a medicated feed necessary? we'd like to go organic if we can, but i've read that without medicated feed and supplements many may not survive.
    any advice for a newbie?

  • #2
    Check out backyardchickens.com This site has a plethora of knowledge and a better place to start if you're new to chickens than a horse forum LOL! If you get your chickens as day olds they will need Medicated Chick Starter. Some people don't use Medicated, but to me, coccidia is too serious a threat to not use Medicated feed. My chickens do free-range but I still provide a balanced ration of feed, oyster shell and grit for as healthy and productive flock as possible (mine are egg layers). Check out the Organic guidelines for your state, a lot of them allow the use for Medicated Chick starter since it's only used for X amount of time. Other breeds you could consider are Buckeye, Wyandotte, Dominique, Jersey Giant and others. Good luck!
    I LOVE my Chickens!


    • #3
      I tried raising heritage birds for meat my first year. The carcasses were very small at 12 weeks. You might have better luck with Delawares but even they will need to go 16 weeks to get a normal size carcass and you'll lose all your profits feeding them the extra time. Now I raise the Freedom Rangers or Heritage Whites...both are broiler hybrids for medium growth versus the very fast growing Cornish Rocks. You get better taste and texture with medium growth birds but a good size carcass at 10-11 weeks and the slower growing birds are much hardier with less developmental problems...and better foragers. For most people buying chicken, they are used to a plump sizable carcass so the old heritage birds are a hard sell. Now if you are doing it for yourself or some specialty market, go for it. If you plan to go to farmer's markets, go with a broiler hybrid.

      I will not/ cannot feed medicated feeds. No one at the markets wants to buy chicken raised on antibiotics. It is a HUGE selling point to have "natural" chicken raised without antibiotics or medications and people will pay good money for it. If you raise them on clean dry litter and get them OUT of the brooder and onto pasture...and move them to fresh pasture frequently, you will not have problems with coccidosis. I rarely loose birds to that and if I have, it was because I got lazy.


      • #4
        We didn't get into heritage poultry as it costs too much for the chickens to get started. For what we're making off our meat/eggs we have a mixture of pretty much whatever we can get for cheap & produces well.

        We raise white rock meat chickens, they actually taste quite good & don't have the same health problems when you let them go outside. It's when you confine them in small spaces and stuff them full of food that they have so many issues.

        Freedom rangers are supposed to be quite good for meat and that might be something you want to look into (we're looking into getting a breeding flock for the future).

        Marans are a great choice though, they make a nice sized bird and have really lovely eggs.

        What DB said about the medicated feed, again it's really no necessary unless you're going to raise the chickens in CAFO style (and I'm sure no one in their right mind with a home flock would!!).

        You do need to supplement them while out on pasture, you can get a commercial chick mix, or just give them some corn since they'll hopefully be getting lots of protein & grit from the paddock.

        Personally I would try to find people really local to you and find out what they're raising and what they've had success with . You want something adapted to your local area so you're not spending extra money to heat or cool or whatever.
        "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
        Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
        Need You Now Equine