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Poultry Breeds for the Small Farm Agriculture and Natural Resources Jonathan Moyle

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Poultry Breeds for the Small Farm Agriculture and Natural Resources Jonathan Moyle
DIVISION OF AGRICULTURE
RESEARCH & EXTENSION
University of Arkansas System
Agriculture and Natural Resources
FSA8012
Poultry Breeds for
the Small Farm
Jonathan Moyle
Poultry Specialist
University of Maryland
Extension
F. Dustan Clark
Extension Veterinarian
Scharidi Barber
Instructor - Poultry
Youth Programs
Tom Tabler
Extension Professor
Mississippi State University
Extension
Arkansas Is
Our Campus
Visit our web site at:
http://www.uaex.edu
One of the first considerations
when determining which breed is best
for your farm is what is your reason
for keeping poultry. Common reasons
people keep and raise chickens are
egg production, meat production, exhibition, insect control around the property and breed preservation. Another
important consideration is to know
your market. If you are selling eggs,
what size and color do your customers
prefer: white, brown, green or blue?
For meat production, do you want
yellow or white skin? Or maybe your
customers would like birds with black
skin and meat. All of these questions
need to be answered in order to
determine which breeds will work
best for you.
Chickens are classified into
groups based on several factors such
as size, where the birds originated
from, shape, color and comb type.
There are two sizes of chickens:
standard (large fowl) and bantams,
which are usually about one-fourth
the size of the standard. Most bantams are copies of the large standard
breeds; however, a few, such as the
Silkie, have no large counterpart.
While bantams do not get the size of
standards, they can still be used to
produce a good number of small eggs.
Additional classification terms that
are used include:
•
Class – Groups of birds from a
common geographical area
such as:
–
American, Asiatic, English,
Mediterranean, Continental
and all other standard breeds.
•
Breed – Birds within a class that
differ in body shape or size, skin
color, number of toes or feathering
on the legs.
•
Variety – Birds within a breed
that differ in feather color, feather
pattern or type of comb.
•
Strain – Birds within varieties
developed for specific traits such
as egg production, egg color or
meat production.
Other important terms are:
•
Broody – When the hen wants to
sit on eggs and hatch them. This
also includes care of the young
as well.
•
Forage – Ability to find their own
feed, such as insects, grains and
plant material.
Climate is another important
consideration when looking at different breeds. Some chickens are better
University of Arkansas, United States Department of Agriculture, and County Governments Cooperating
suited to cold areas while others do better in hot
areas. For example, Mediterranean breeds generally
perform well in hot, humid areas while most American breeds are better in cooler areas. Typically, birds
with large combs will perform better in warmer
climates since they allow the bird to cool better. However, large combs are a problem in cold areas as they
can get frostbitten. Many breeds have varieties with
different combs, so if you desire a particular breed,
you can select the variety that is best for your area.
While birds that are selected for growth and meat
quality typically produce less eggs, some breeds have
been selected for both growth and eggs. These breeds
are referred to as “Dual Purpose,” and these breeds
produce a good number of eggs and a good carcass for
meat consumption.
Dual Purpose Breeds
Dual purpose poultry breeds are what most
people think of as typical small family farm poultry.
These birds will lay eggs and grow large enough and
quickly enough to produce a bird suitable for home
consumption. However, these breeds are not suitable
for commercial enterprises. Additionally, these breeds
will become broody to some extent. The dual purpose
poultry breeds that produce eggs well will typically
not become broody as often as those selected for
growth. Most of these breeds have strains that will
Figure 1. Silver Wyandotte, a Dual Purpose Breed.
either be better at egg production or growth, so it is
important to investigate the breed characteristics
prior to obtaining them. Table 1 lists a few common
dual purpose poultry breeds.
Egg Layers
Table 2 is a short list of the common breeds used
for egg production. While most egg-laying birds have
been selected to not go broody, some breeds still have
a few strains that will. Typically, most layers are
small to medium in size and do not produce a good
carcass for consumption, and the conversion of feed to
muscle is poor.
Table 1. Common Dual Purpose Poultry Breeds.
Breed
Egg
Production
Egg Size
Egg Color
Disposition
Foraging
Ability
Rhode Island Red
Good
Large
Brown
Calm
Fair
Delaware
Fair
Plymouth Rock
Dominique
Wyandotte
Brahma
Orpington
Fair
Large
Fair
Medium
Fair
Large
Fair
Fair
Large
Large
Large
Brown
Brown
Brown
Brown
Brown
Brown
Calm
Fair
Calm
Good
Calm
Fair
Calm
Calm
Calm
Good
Good
Poor-Fair
Meat Breeds
Meat breeds are usually very poor egg layers and
as such are not kept for egg production. These breeds
will grow faster than most standard breeds but not
nearly as rapid as commercial broilers. Additionally,
they are not as efficient at converting feed to muscle
as broilers, thus increasing the cost of production.
But, if you want a slower growing, more colorful
breed, then consider one of those listed in Table 3.
Figure 2. Bovan Brown, a Sex-Link Breed of layer.
Figure 3. A Meat Breed called Freedom Rangers.
Table 2. Common Poultry Breeds for Egg Production.
Breed
Egg
Production
Egg Size
Egg Color
Disposition
Foraging
Ability
Broody
Minorca
Excellent
X Large
White
Active
Good
No
Good
Large
Leghorn
Australorp
Ancona
Excellent
Excellent
Ameraucana
Good
Hamburg
Good
Fayoumi
Maran
Sex-Link
Large
Large
Brown
Large
Blue-Green
Small
Tinted White
Large
Brown
Small
Good
Good
Large
Excellent
White
Poor
Yes
Good
Yes
Very Active
Excellent
Some
Calm
Poor
No
Active
Good
White
Very Active
Good
Bark Brown
Active
Calm
No
No
Poor
Yes
Growth Rate
Skin Color
Disposition
Medium
Yellow
Calm
Poor
Slow-Medium
New Hampshire
Fast
Freedom Rangers
No
Foraging
Ability
Cornish
Jersey Giant
Calm
Good
White
Table 3. A Few Breeds of Meat-Type Poultry.
Breed
Very Active
Fast
Yellow
Yellow
Yellow
Calm
Calm
Calm
Poor
Poor
Fair
There is considerable variation in the disposition
of individual birds. While breeds as a whole may be
calm or active, individuals within the breed may be
very different. Males in particular can become very
aggressive toward people, especially younger children, so care must be taken when they are around.
Also, the foraging ability will vary by individual as
well as by how the birds are managed. For example,
if birds are not given all the feed they want, they will
forage more to make up the difference. This is especially true of broilers, which are often considered the
“couch potatoes” of the chicken world.
There are hundreds of different kinds of chickens
that can be kept as a hobby, as pets, for exhibition or
to forage around the farm looking for insects (almost
400 breeds and varieties). They are available in a
wide range of colors and sizes to fit every need. If all
you want are some birds to keep the insects down
around the house, then consider one of the breeds on
the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy list
(http://albc-usa.org/).
Finally, when selecting the type of chickens you
want to own, make sure you can take care of them
before you acquire them. It is important to know if
your local laws will allow chickens to be kept at your
location. Many cities are allowing birds to be kept
inside the city limits but may place restrictions on
the number or whether or not roosters are kept. It is
important to dispose of the poultry manure in a safe
and legal way. The manure can usually be composted
and added to gardens or flower beds since it is an
excellent fertilizer. Lastly, remember to have fun.
Rearing chickens is an excellent way to teach children about animals and where their food comes from.
Printed by University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Printing Services.
JONATHAN MOYLE is a poultry specialist with University of
Maryland Extension at the Lower Eastern Shore Research and
Education Center, Salisbury, Maryland. F. DUSTAN CLARK,
DVM, PhD, is an associate Poultry Center director of Extension
and Extension veterinarian with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at the
University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. SCHARIDI
BARBER is an instructor - poultry youth programs with the
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in Little Rock,
Arkansas. TOM TABLER, PhD, is an Extension professor with
Mississippi State University Extension Service, Poultry Science, in
Mississippi State, Mississippi.
FSA8012-PD-9-13N
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8
and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Director, Cooperative Extension Service, University of
Arkansas. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its
programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national
origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status,
or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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