Why Heritage Breeds
Ada's Heritage Eggs
Livestock husbandry has always been one of my favorite things to do. When it was time to make the decision of which laying hen breed to use for our pastured eggs, I was faced with the option of choosing between established or hybrid breeds of chicken. Each has it's advantages and disadvantages. The established "heritage" breeds of chickens have suffered much neglect in the past 70 years as the commercial egg and broiler industry has produced many production competitive hybrid breeds to meet their "need" to produce bigger, fatter, faster, cheaper poultry products. And these breeds do an excellent job at just that. But, they have a huge price. They are not sustainable. You can not breed two hybrid chickens together and get an offspring with similar production qualities. You have to buy them from a supplier. The hybrid breeds suffer much higher mortality and morbidity rates. They grow so fast and lay so many eggs when they are young that their bodies are unable to sustain their health. Their "usefulness" as production animals is very short lived in comparison to established breeds. They are the "genetically engineered" Monsanto of chickens.
Many of the heritage breeds of chicken have dwindled to poor breeding stock numbers and have suffered the decline of the their original production value due to a lack of selective breeding to maintain those original qualities. In the face of their eroded qualities, they have one big thing going for them, they are sustainable and improvable through considerate breeding strategies. It really boils down to make a buck quick with a disposable chicken or fix a broken problem.
We want our farm to be a blessing to our community, sustainable, and self sufficient. To maintain those goals, we had to choose the heritage breeds and I'm confident it was the right decision.