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Thrifty Chicken Breeds: Efficient Producers of Eggs and Meat on the Homestead: Permaculture Chicken, #3

Thrifty Chicken Breeds: Efficient Producers of Eggs and Meat on the Homestead: Permaculture Chicken, #3

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Thrifty Chicken Breeds: Efficient Producers of Eggs and Meat on the Homestead: Permaculture Chicken, #3

89 pages
52 minutes
Jun 5, 2014


Do you want your chicken habit to pay for itself? 

Many backyard chicken keepers are surprised to learn that they spend more on store-bought feed than they would have paid for eggs and meat at the grocery store. If you're on a budget and want your foray into poultry to save money, not lose money, your first step should be to select thrifty chicken breeds. 

The best breed for the cost-conscious homesteader will be a dual-purpose chicken that forages well, doesn't cost much to feed, stands up well to predators and weather, and lays copiously in the winter. In addition, Thrifty Chicken Breeds covers a variety of other factors that homesteaders should consider when choosing new birds, then explains why a dozen common breeds do or don't make the cut. 

This new installment in the popular Permaculture Chicken series helps make backyard chicken keeping cheaper, sustainable, less smelly, and more fun. Join the thousands of readers who have used Hess's tips to turn chickens into a frugal part of their permaculture homesteads!

Jun 5, 2014

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Thrifty Chicken Breeds - Anna Hess

Thrifty Chicken Breeds:

Efficient Producers of Eggs and Meat on the Homestead

Volume 3 in the Permaculture Chicken series

by Anna Hess

Copyright © 2014 by Anna Hess

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

Visit my blog at www.waldeneffect.org or read more about my books at www.wetknee.com.



History of chicken breeds

Breed vocabulary

What should homesteaders look for in a chicken?

Quick stats on the breeds mentioned in this book

Which breeds do other homesteaders raise?

Most popular breeds

Other authors weigh in

Chicken varieties I don't recommend

White Cochin

Barred Plymouth Rock

Dark Cornish

Cuckoo Marans

Light Sussex

White Leghorn

Chicken varieties I do recommend

Black Australorp

Red Sex Link

Cornish Cross

Chicken varieties I haven't tried, but might

Buff Orpington


Rhode Island Red

Breeding the perfect homestead flock

Choosing the best parents

Culling for keepers

Other helpful homestead birds

Permaculture Chicken series

About the author


Ameraucanas, Araucanas, and Easter Eggers are all types of chickens that lay blue and green eggs. Most aren't an economical choice for homesteaders since the birds' egg output is below average. Photo credit: Darla.

It's easy to become overwhelmed when choosing chickens. After all, there are currently 113 chicken breeds listed by the American Poultry Association and 350 bantam breeds listed by the American Bantam Association. Plus, many of those breeds are available in multiple strains and varieties, making the selection seem nearly endless. But if you're a homesteader looking for a productive hen who won't eat you out of house and home and who can handle rough outdoor conditions, the choices begin to narrow quickly.

This ebook will walk you through my thought processes as I chose my own birds and will then follow up with in-depth descriptions of the breeds I most recommend. By the time you reach the last page, I hope you will have chosen just the right bird for your homestead, or will at least have narrowed down the options to a handful of top contenders. And, hopefully, you'll also have a lot of fun in the process as you research and dream about your future flock.

History of chicken breeds

Cool-looking chickens like this Polish rooster aren't usually the best choice for homesteaders. Photo credit: Sue Loring.

Why are there so many chicken breeds to choose from? A lot of it is just looks. Within the last century, dozens of types of chickens were developed with unique plumage that made them good bets to win a prize at the county fair, but these lookers are unlikely to be prime homesteading birds. Not only is efficient egg-laying and meat production often ignored when breeding exhibition-quality birds, but chickens with feathered feet have a hard time scratching for their dinner, and those with fancy plumes can't glance up. In general, fancy fowl tend to be eaten by hawks in short order, and they usually don't produce much compared to how much they cost to feed. The serious homesteader will be better off giving these birds a miss.

The rise of fancy fowl is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 1868, Charles Darwin (with the help of a Mr. Tegetmeier) published a survey of the currently known chicken breeds, which included Game, Malay, Cochin, Dorking, Spanish, Hamburg, Crested or Polish, Bantam, Rump-less, Creepers or Jumpers, Frizzled or Caffre, Silk, and Sooty. As you can tell, Darwin's descriptions were mostly categories rather than actual breeds as we consider them today, so it's not surprising that only thirteen types made the cut.

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