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Why choose heritage breeds of chickens and vegetables?

We have decided to keep Rhode Island Red and White Leghorn chickens, even though they don't produce as many eggs as some commercial layer breeds.  There are some very good reasons for keeping alive heritage chicken breeds (see this website for a very good explanation):
  • Maintain diversity in the available chicken genetics
  • Stop multinational companies from owning chicken genetics
  • Heritage breeds are more hardy and lay well for longer
  • Some heritage breeds are good for both eggs and meat
  • We can breed them with predictable results (compared to hybrids)
  • They look beautiful! 
eight acres: why choose heritage breeds of chickens and vegetables?
Ivan - our beautiful White Leghorn Rooster
If you're considering keeping chickens, there are hundreds of breeds to choose from, each suited to different climates, chicken pens (free ranging or locked up), egg laying requirements and meat production.  It all depends what you are looking for, but don't think you're limited to the commercial laying or meat hens, just do some research and you'll find the perfect chickens for your situation.

File:Poultry of the world.jpg
see full description here
There are also some good reasons to look for heritage breeds in vegetables (more here), including:
  • The ability to save seeds for next year (free seeds!)
  • The plants can start to adapt to local climates
  • Heritage breeds are usually more disease and pest resistant - less dependent on chemicals
  • The veges usually taste better because they've been breed for taste rather than ease of transport to market
  • You can grow some unusual vegetables that aren't available in the supermarket!
There's more info here, including a list of websites that sell heirloom seeds.  My favourite heritage plant is my crazy, unstoppable, "poor mans beans"!



By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com.




What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.


Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor


Comments

  1. Very cool. Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? Your decisions sound similar to theirs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great reasons for your decisions. I just found out we happen to have the best of both worlds: heritage breed chickens! Sicilian Buttercups (http://homesteadurand.blogspot.com/2012/04/freedom.html) haven't been bred for specific traits and are so rare they're considered endangered. Like you pointed as a positive trait of heritage seeds, our chickens are less likely to subcomb to common diseases or problems like excessive weight or egg size due to human interference with breeding.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have found that heirloom seeds are more readily available in the stores as well. Last year I was only able to buy a handful of varieties of heirloom seeds at my local nursery. This year, because of the high demand, there was an heirloom variety of every single kind of vegetable that I normally grow...tomatoes, beans, peas, carrots, basil, peppers, cucumbers, melons. Hopefully this trend continues.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There's more info here, including a list of websites that sell heirloom seeds.
    I couldn't get this link to work?

    ReplyDelete

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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