Choose your poultry well: Egg Layers

You know spring is here when you see the heat lamps turn on over the large metal tubs at the hardware and feed stores.  Before the snow even melts, its time to get some chicks started under a heat lamp in your own home.  IMG_0939

Or, if you are a DIYer, then its time to hatch your own.

But not matter the source, its important to choose your breed wisely by understanding why you want chickens and what you want them for.

If you are like many backyard poultry owners–especially those just getting started or those in the city–it’s eggs you want.  Right?

Well, maybe.

Like dogs, chickens have been bred to offer specific traits.

Some  of the newer “breeds” that have become popular over the past several years include the Red Star and Black Star, which are sex-link hybrids that were bred specifically to lay lots and lots of large brown eggs.  The chicks are different colors depending on whether they are male or female, so you’ll have less chance of getting the wrong sex when you make a trip to the farm store.

If you are interested in maintaining a heritage breed, the Rhode Island Red or Black Australorp are good choices for lots of eggs and easy keepers.

The Livestock Conservancy offers a chart that gives you some comparison between breeds to help you make that all-important choice.

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