We have a flock of heritage breed chickens which we buy as day old chicks, primarily egg layers so that we may offer eggs for sale at the farm gate. They are mostly considered dual purpose breeds as opposed to some of the modern egg breeds and meat breeds which have been selected for one or the other.
The reasons to keep heritage breeds are many. One of them is to help keep the gene pool going. As is the case with most aspects of modern agriculture, the number of varieties has dwindled significantly over the past century.
Another reason to keep heritage breeds is that they produce an amazing varieties of egg colours with shades of beige, from chocolate brown to an almost pink with some speckling to add more interest. My favourite is the green egg layer which range in shades of robin’s egg blue to what I would call a light fern green.
The varieties of feather colours and patterns also add interest. Colours range from white and buff to black with every colour in between also represented. Bands of colour and differences in the size and texture of feathers are interesting to note. The cochins with their feathered feet are always a nice addition to any flock.
The heritage breeds also tend to be calmer and easier to handle so they are good for those interested in keeping a small flock.
Some the breeds we keep include Orpingtons, Ameraucanas, Brahmas, Wyandottes and Faverolles.