Getting Started with Chickens

I grew up in the northern portion of San Diego county, in a small, rural community. Growing up we had rabbits, chickens, pigs (4H), a few turkeys, and a horse. I'm not sure how old I was when we got our first chicks, but I had chickens throughout my childhood years.

 We had a variety of different colored chickens; some gave us white eggs, others gave us brown eggs. These chickens were the kind that you go down to your local feed store and buy.

Chickens were definitely #1 on my list of animals that a homestead should have (after a dog, of course). Chickens require a very reasonable amount of space and can be used for eggs and/or meat. They offer manure that is wonderful for composting. If you offer them a big enough pasture or use a chicken tractor around the property the chickens will eat weeds, weed seeds, and their poop works to fertilize the soil. So my go to book was The Backyard Homestead: Guide to Raising Farm Animals 



That book gave me the information I needed and kept it simple. It also inspired me to look further into the possibility of growing my own chicken feed for winter (more on that another time). So, first I learned that there were hens bred specifically for being excellent laying hens, and other for being big meaty, fast growing birds. For our little farm, we would like a little bit of each, so I decided to look at the dual-purpose birds. Dual purpose chickens are not the most productive egg layers, and they're not the fastest growing, biggest meat chicken around either - but it does both with adequate success. That's what we need.

The book has a wonderful chart that lays out the different chicken breeds and what they are best used for. After a little bit of back-and-forth I finally settled on the Delaware Chicken. I found quite a bit of information about that particular breed, and the more I read the more I liked. One great source was Mother Earth News.  The American Livestock Breed Conservancy also taught me that that white quill and feather is "an advantage for carcass appearance since white feathers don’t leave dark spots on the skin when feathers are growing in."


So, I am pretty darn sold on the Delaware Chickens. After reading up about the history of the bird, I discovered that the original "creator" of this breed found a rooster that provided him with the most desirable offspring - and that rooster's name was Superman -- all of our roosters will be named Superman.