Why You Should Raise Rare Chicken Breeds

Why You Should Raise Rare Chicken Breeds

Try naming a more recognizable bird than the chicken (Bald Eagle doesn’t count).

Tough, right?

Americans have been raising and eating chickens since the 1500s, and for the most part, the breeds we cultivate today are still the same.

The only thing that’s changed over the last 400 or so years is the number of breeds clucking around the continent.

Before World War II, more than 60 different breeds of chickens were regularly raised in the United States. By comparison, only five breeds of chickens are currently raised for commercial processing, and the variety of available backyard breeds isn’t a whole lot larger.

Every year, the Livestock Conservancy tallies up individual birds for something of a chicken census. Species labeled “critical” boast fewer than 1,000 remaining individuals. So-called “watch-listed” species have populations of less than 10,000.

While there are lots of chicken breeds on these various lists, the designation isn’t a death wish for a breed. In fact, breeds like the colorful Brahmas, or the cold-hardy Wyandottes have formally threatened varieties that have made a healthy recovery.

This brings us to our first reason for raising rare birds:

Raising Rare Breeds Conserve the Breeds

Obvious, right?

Much in the same way that zoos and aquariums preserve declining wild animal species, rare chicken breeds persevere with some help from America’s backyard chicken fanatics.

Even if you opt to fill out your flock with heartier, stronger-laying breeds, adding a few fanciful species to the mix goes a long way to ensure that beautiful and rare chickens don’t disappear forever.

Rare and Heritage Breeds are Hearty

People love growing heritage tomatoes because of their resiliency. People often have the same attitudes about heritage chicken breeds. Rare chicken breeds usually aren’t the most productive egg layers, but they do tend to be self-sufficient foragers, and particularly resilient to extreme temperatures.

Rare Breeds are Good Looking

We hate judging a perfectly good animal by its looks, but hey. A lot of these birds are downright fanciful. Unique color combinations and feather arrangements typify most rare chicken breeds

Beautiful feathers have all sorts of benefits aside from their aesthetic. They can also be used for fly-tying and craft projects after the bird has been butchered.

Check Out Rare Breeds at Murdoch’s

Our yearly selection of rare and show-breed chickens changes every year. But you can count on Murdoch’s carrying a fine selection of chickens for 4-H projects and home raising. Click here for more information about a few of the rare breeds stocked at Murdoch’s.