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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

HOMEGROWN Life: Why the Buckeye Needs to Make a Comeback

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Meet Big Red. She’s a two year old Buckeye. She’s also one of my favorite hens. b 

The Buckeye is a threatened breed of chicken according the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. They were originally developed during the turn of the century by Mrs. Nettie Metcalf of Warren, Ohio – the only chicken breed developed completely by a woman. Buff Cochins, Barred Rocks, and Black-Breasted Red Game were used in their development. Their pea combs and

HOMEGROWN Life Big Red Buckeye Chickenwattles are incredibly small – nearly non-existent – which makes them very cold tolerant birds. I always recommend them for people that live in cold areas because of their tolerance to frigid conditions. Even though we live in a milder climate than most of the country, our Buckeyes consistently lay medium, brown eggs through the winter unlike our younger hens.

From the ALBC’s Buckeye page:

They also have a unique personality. If you can get past the fact that they always look angry they are actually very friendly, though quite active. We have a batch of 4 week old chicks right now, including 3 Buckeyes. They are the only ones out of the group that actually allow us to pick them up and carry them around perched on our fingers. Big Red is our “event chicken” because she’s so friendly and doesn’t shy away from large groups of people. They are great foragers, however, and don’t do well in confinement. They have a reputation for hunting rodents rivaling the hunting ability of cats. The roosters can make a huge range of sounds including a dinosaur-type roar.

The Buckeye is a dual purpose bird with hens weighing 6-7 lbs and roosters weighing 9lbs. Readers of Mother Earth News rated Buckeyes as the best for meat and flavor. Back in early 2011 we raised some Buckeyes for meat and they were definitely tasty and grew out relatively fast for a heritage, dual purpose breed at 16 weeks.

Of all the breeds we’ve raised so far, if I had to choose just one it would be the Buckeye. Now if only I can find a dinosaur-roaring rooster . . .

Rachel Dog Island FarmMy friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!