The Chicken Codex — Breeding a Better Bird, Part 1: Thoughtful Chicken Keeping

| 12/31/2016 11:48:00 AM

Tags: chickens, rare breeds, heritage livestock, North Carolina, Jeanette Beranger,

The Chicken Codex Logo

Welcome to the first post of what I hope is a not-so-average blog on poultry. I’ve named it The Chicken Codex with the goal of “enlightening” new and emerging poultry keepers by providing a broad perspective on what it takes to breed and perfect poultry. I write this for those that want to take their backyard chicken (and other poultry) efforts to the next level and become competent breeders that produce productive and healthy birds that can provide delicious products for your family’s table.

Over the years I’ve become a certifiable chicken nut but channel that passion into useful breeding projects for the birds on my farm. My current project is with the critically endangered Crèvecœur chicken. It was, in its heyday, the ultimate table bird in France. Sadly, through some unfortunate events, they were nearly wiped out during WWII. They have never recovered and my job, as I see it, is to bring them back to being a premium table bird.

I’ll be upfront in that I don’t raise pets. I produce birds that meet breed standard and are productive for meat and eggs. A lucky few end up as pets for others but typically not on our place. I love the birds and treat them with all the respect and kindness they deserve from when they hatch up until the day we serve them on our table.

As Temple Grandin puts it so eloquently, “Raising livestock and poultry is ethical when done right, but the animals must have a life worth living.” We do our best to make it so on our farm.

Advice for Beginning Breeders

I work for The Livestock Conservancy, so obviously, my focus is on heritage breeds, but all of the topics and principles to be discussed in this blog may apply to any breed, whether they are rare or not. First off, let’s start with the basic philosophies needed to put things in proper perspective for the new breeders reading this blog:

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