why you want chickens
The taste difference between home-raised eggs and store eggs is as pronounced as the difference between a home-grown tomato and its industrially produced namesake. The same goes for nutritional value. The closest commercially available alternatives are “pasture-raised” in addition to “organic”, but not even these can measure up to eggs produced by your own backyard hens.
Plus, chickens are entertaining. What else brings you so much in one package? Food security, home entertainment, superior nutrition, daily soap-opera-style drama, gourmet cachet, laugh therapy, great garden compost.
The heritage breeds were developed for small-flock home situations, the way chickens lived with people until the industrial era. They’re healthy and hardy, easy-going and friendly with people, good at foraging, and they go on laying eggs for years. Many heritage breeds are now rare and endangered; they need to be raised more widely to survive.
Do not get chicken breeds developed for industrial production, often sold at feed stores as “sex-links” or “California whites”. These chickens are bred to lay heavily their first year and then be slaughtered – they won’t lay well beyond that first year, and may develop health problems. Most important, some varieties can be extremely aggressive, especially toward other chicken breeds.
If you live where roosters are allowed, consider including one – besides being fabulously decorative and personable, a rooster will alert hens to danger and even sacrifice his life to protect them. And if you’re going to have a rooster, why not pick some hens to match, and help perpetuate a heritage breed?
In spring we sometimes have chicks for sale, and we occasionally sell starter breeding flocks (well-behaved rooster and several hens). Northern California only — sorry, we don’t ship poultry. Contact us for more information.