How to Choose the Right Breed of Chicken for Your Backyard Coop

Nankins, Houdans or the Cornish Cross—learn how to choose the right breed of chicken for you and your backyard coop.

| May 2016

coop full of backyard chickens

Chickens, like other poultry, have specific needs. In order to meet those needs, it's important to plan ahead and select the chicken breed that works for you and your coop.

Photo by Fotolia/piizz88

Pure Poultry (New Society Publishers, 2013) is a timely resource for new and experienced poultry keepers who want to raise heritage breeds as an integral part of a more sustainable food system. This inspiring “how-to and why-to” guide combines revealing and often humorous anecdotes with detailed information on everything from housing, breeding and day-to-day care to processing, cooking and preserving. In this excerpt, author Victoria Redhed Miller discusses the importance of deciding which breed of chicken is right for your backyard coop.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Pure Poultry.

Why It’s Important to Decide What Breed of Chicken Will Work for You & Your Backyard Coop

While browsing at the local feed store for treats to tempt the wild birds visiting her backyard, she found herself captivated by the adorable little chicks peeping under the heat lamp. The next thing she remembered was all the noise (and what was that smell?) coming from the living room. Uh-oh, she thought. Now what do I do?

Sound familiar? Well, that’s not surprising. It’s so easy to just bring home the cute little fluffballs and assume that it can’t be all that hard to raise a few chicks. Frankly, it isn’t especially hard, if you know what to do and how to do it. Ah yes, there’s the rub. Chickens and other poultry (especially young birds) have specific needs: housing, feed, water, grit, bedding, warmth, even the company of other birds. And when they get bigger (they do, you know), what will you do then?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but have you actually thought about why you wanted the birds in the first place?

I want to explain why I think it’s important to plan ahead before bringing home your little bundle of joy. Chances are that, once you get started, you’ll be living with poultry for a good long while, so it’s worth putting some time and effort into preparations.

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