Heritage breeds?

by Sherri
(Dunnville, ON)

Hello, my family and I are new farmers as of 09'. Our plan is to focus on heritage animals & veg.

Last year our first batch of chickens was an absolute bust, we broke #1 rule and we used dual purpose birds. Our largest bird was 4lbs with most being 2-3lbs!(at 15 weeks).

This spring we will use the standard rock x but if we wanted to also have some heritage birds is there a specific breed you would recommend??

Thanks for everything, I bought your ebook about market gardening before we bought our farm; it played a large role in our choices. We moved from busy Hamilton to a 6 acre farm in SW Ontario.

We have dark, black loam soil that townspeople comment on often. 2010 will be our first garden year. We will be doing chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats & perhaps a cow or 2. We are planning a very diverse farm with a touch of everything. I look forward to any and all newsletters.


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Recommended heritage poultry
by: Scott K

Hi Sherri

that is an excellent question, and thanks for sharing your experience with raising heritage meat birds. My Rule 1 for raising meat birds - DON'T use dual-purpose or heritage breeds - came about because my experience was pretty much like yours.

While there are specialty (or alternative) broiler breeds available to organic/natural producers, they all tend to be slower growing.

These breeds include Redbro, MasterGris and Gris Barre. I don't have personal experience with them, but I do know they are being used in some organic operations, particularly in Europe.

I DO endorse some heritage breeds for laying hens. We have been raising Black Australorps and Red Dorkings since we have been here. They are a great bird for the small farm, they are not aggressive, they are pretty productive, and will set on their own eggs to raise you next years batch of chickens.

Finding these breeds can be tough; ask around the local 'chicken fancier' club, and contact Rare Breeds Canada http://www.rarebreedscanada.ca/ they maintain a list of breeders that might help.

RBC can also suggest other heritage livestock breeds to you, including turkeys, pigs and cows.

Congratulations on making the move to your small farm, and kudos for having the courage to take this on. We need more small farmers just like you.

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