7 Cold Hardy Chicken Breeds

Delaware Chickens
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If you want eggs all year long but live in an area with harsh winters, you will need cold hardy chickens. A chicken is considered cold hardy if it can weather frigid temperatures, and it may even produce eggs, but do so at a lower rate. There are a few different characteristics that help make a chicken cold hardy, such as a small comb or large size. Here are seven cold hardy breeds for you to consider as additions to your coop.


This breed was created specifically to endure Canadian winters, so it is tremendously cold hardy. This chicken has an extremely small comb and is a bit on the chunky side. They weather the cold so well that they can continue to lay eggs in the deep mid-winter.


Developed by a woman in Ohio, these dark brown hens can lay all year long. They are good foragers as well, meaning you will not have to increase their feed as dramatically during lean months. They are also quite docile and do well with children.


Delawares are another good foraging breed, and they are known to lay between 200 and 280 eggs every year. Their single, small comb is more frostbite-resistant that larger-combed hens. They mature quickly and are good for both eggs and meat.


One feature that makes Ameraucana hens different from other cold hardy chickens is that they lay blue eggs. For that reason, be careful about hatcheries that sell Easter Egg hens in place of this breed since they are less cold hardy but still produce blue and blue-green eggs. These beautiful eggs make them a breed that is always in high demand, so you may need to get on a waiting list if this is the breed you want.


This active and friendly cold hardy hen can produce about 180 eggs or more each year. Their comb has extended tips, which means that while they can weather most winters, they are not ideal for the most extreme places.


When you have especially harsh winters and mild summers, Dominique is a good choice. They are not very heat hardy but produce well in the winter months. This is another breed with a look-alike, the Barred Rock. To tell the two apart, notice that Dominique has a rose comb while Barred Rocks have a single comb.


This breed has a very dependable layer and an easygoing nature and is quite cold hardy. They are usually heavy bodied and come in a few different sub-breeds. One particularly beautiful one is the Silver Laced Wyandotte, an American-made version of this old breed.

Getting eggs all year long is easy to achieve when you have chickens made for the unforgiving cold of winter. These seven breeds are all quite popular for areas that experience cold winters. Look for hens with small combs and heavy bodies to know if they can handle the cold. On the flip side, there are also heat hardy breeds you can look into if you have harsh summers.

Freedom Rangers: A Meat Bird Alternative

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A few months back, a customer emailed us wondering about “Freedom Ranger” chickens. A friend of his was raising them and he was curious. I had never heard of them and got curious, too. So I started doing some research.

The name gets your attention, doesn’t it? Makes you think of America, and self sufficiency, and independence! All the good stuff, right?

OK – stop right there because the good ol’ Internet has an awful lot of misinformation floating around there about these guys!

Courtesy of Wendy Smoak FlickrTHE NAME GAME

First, there’s a good reason for that catchy name, kids: marketing. Yep, the Freedom Ranger is a brand name for a hybrid chicken. There’s also Red Rangers and Black Rangers. That means you can’t breed ‘em at home. They come from a cross of 4 different breeds so if you hatch out the eggs, they won’t be the same as the parents.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. Most of the chickens sold specifically as meat birds are hybrid birds, created from a cross between a few different breeds, designed to grow fast and plump and be little eating machines. And the most popular of these are the Cornish and White Rock cross breeds.


But you’ll find sites out there calling these a “heritage breed” and forums where people talk about how wonderful they are so they can raise their own meat birds from the eggs of these chickens who will sit on them and be broody hens. Not true. There are sites that say the Cornish Cross breeds are “genetically modified”: also not true except that they’re bred for certain characteristics, just like that early producing tomato I grow every year to guarantee some tomatoes by July.

There are sites that seem to claim they can get most of their food supply by free ranging. Not true either. Without a high protein, but balanced food source, you’re gonna end up with birds that have health problems (one may be incurable: death) and birds that will take a looong time to reach an eating weight.

We’re not going to get into any of the big thorny issues that people raise about monopolies on breeding stock and who controls what and “Big Agriculture” business; that’s a whole other story for another day so don’t ask!

Take a deep breath. Don’t get sucked into the nonsense.

THE MATH (FOR US REGULAR FOLK)By Jessica Reeder (P1080817) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

When you’re raising a bunch of birds strictly for meat, it makes a lot of sense to do them all in a big batch: you get all the chicks at the same time, raise them all together for a few weeks, and then butcher and process them all at once. You’re then set with your year’s supply of chicken for the family or to sell. These are the breeds the “big guys” like Perdue use and the organic, pastured poultry guys like Joel Salatin use.

And it makes a lot of sense to raise these birds as fast as possible, as cheaply as possible, in the most healthy way as possible. You want to lose as few chickens (ideally none!), have no health issues, and make your profit margin as large as possible:

cost of feed + care + cost of chickens / by pounds of meat after butchering = cost per pound of meat


Now I don’t care if you’re raising these for a business or for your family but I know you do not want to end up paying some ridiculous price for your efforts (if you do, please call me and let’s discuss a business venture!)

Your cost difference comes down to the amount of feed you have to give the birds. That can be kept lower by reducing the number of weeks until they’ve reached a butchering weight; it can be kept low by free ranging to reduce the amount of feed you have to buy. So far I haven’t found anyone who has done a test that compares exactly the same type of feed and the same type of free ranging between the two breeds and offered any kind of definitive answer.


The advantages of the Cornish Cross hybrids is that they convert their feed well and efficiently. They’re economical. The Freedom Rangers do, too, but at a little slower of a pace which helps them mostly avoid the health problems that faster growing meat birds can be prone to like leg problems and heart attacks (due to overeating). With the reduction of leg problems you’re trading off for less breast meat (so less white meat) and either a lower weight bird or a few additional weeks to slaughter, compared to the other meat breeds. You’re still not escaping these problems entirely and have to watch. But keeping a feeder full of food of them at all times isn’t recommended for either breed. We’re talking chickens with some eating issues here…

Courtesy of Cowgirl Jules FlickrHOW MUCH LONGER DO I HAVE TO FEED THEM?

So to give you an idea of what to expect, the Freedom Rangers are supposed to reach their butchering weight of 5-6 pounds in about 12 weeks.

Cornish Cross breeds generally – and the same variances apply here – you’re talking 5-6 pounds in about 7 weeks.

By the way, you will find this differs depending on your source because it’s gonna depend on the feed and the protein levels and the specific genetics of the breeding strain you’ve bought. Don’t take any one source’s word for the gospel truth.

Also keep in mind a few things: Males get plump faster than females; and either way, there’s definitely a learning curve involved with raising these breeds. But don’t let that scare you off. Trust me – it’s possible (and not as hard as you’d think!). But you will be relieved come butchering day because regardless of breed, compared to any laying hens you’ve raised, these puppies can eat!


Now, to get a little technical, Mother Earth News had an article in 2010 by Harvey Ussery – who’s written extensively on chickens and homesteading for many years – where he wrote about the details of raising Freedom Rangers compared to Cornish Cross. He started the birds out on relatively high protein feed (24%) but started to see extremely fast growth and leg problems so he dropped down to 20% feed and then, a few weeks later, to 15% and supplemented it with whole oats.

In another article, the producer raised them using only 17% protein feed but did lose some birds and they were slower to reach a good butcher weight. I find this very interesting since I’ve always started my Cornish Cross out on the highest protein feed I could get (actually it was a game bird feed, at 28% protein). I like the idea that using a lower protein, and less costly, feed can have the same results. However, it’s still cautioned that you should not always have feed available as they can tend to overeat, just like the Cornish.

FREE BIRD?Courtesy of Green Mountain Girls Farm httpeatstayfarm.com

The advantages of the rangers seems to be more of an ability to forage for their food. They’re better adapted for free ranging and have more energy than the Cornish do for it. The Cornish will forage and free range but not quite as aggressively as you’ll see with the “old timey” breeds who will knock you down to get to that flying insect. Some of mine are more eager to plop down on the grass and relax. Of course, they’ll still eat the grass around them, just from a non-moving position!

Another big difference is when it comes time to butcher. The Freedom Rangers have dark pinfeathers. If you’re raising these to sell, consumers aren’t used to seeing that on the skin; you’re family isn’t either if you’ve been used to grocery store chicken. It’s not considered as attractive and is definitely something to consider if you’re trying to make a go of a business or even if you want the kids to eat the dinner you made for tonight without dealing with the “Eww…it looks weird” thing.

PARLEZ-VOUSE FRANCAIS? Photo ID 556170 UN PhotoRick Bajornas

Back at the start of this post, we mentioned the name was for marketing. However, the genetics for these Freedom Ranger birds come from France – specifically from a company that developed chickens for a strictly government regulated quality labeling system called Label Rouge. These are chickens that are required spend a certain amount of time outdoors with a specified amount of space for each. The label is considered top of the line there. Maybe this is more patriotic than you think considering the French gave us the Statue of Liberty and they do have Bastille Day on July 14th, kind of their own version of our “Independence Day”?

Some good reputable links for more information:



And, I’m not sure how definitive this is, since it’s just one farm, on one season but it is interesting:


Photos courtesy of: 1. Wendy Smoak Flickr 2. Jessica Reeder (P1080817) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licensesby-sa2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 3. Cowgirl Jules Flickr 4. Green Mountain Girls Farm http://eatstayfarm.com/ 5. Photo ID 556170 UN Photo: Rick Bajornas


Best Beginner Chicken Breeds

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There are hundreds of different chicken breeds out there from which to choose. Large or small? Meat, eggs, dual-purpose, or merely for  looks? Colors, shapes, sizes, feather designs, temperaments, hardiness, and personalities vary just as much. A beginner’s mistake when raising chickens is to set one’s heart on a particular breed without knowing much about that breed. Chicks may look alike, but the chickens they will become could not be more different. One might choose the unique-looking Aseel, for example, without realizing that the breed likes to fight and  tends to be quite strong and aggressive. The Malay chicken truly stands out from the crowd in looks and height, but they are likely to fight, are not meaty, and do not lay eggs frequently.  The wide variety of chicken breeds out there may be overwhelming, but fear not. Here are some of the best chicken breeds for beginners.

Top Layer—Try the White Leghorn

The White Leghorn is one of the best layers out there. This medium-sized, white bird with a striking red comb lays frequently and their large, white eggs are extremely popular. While not particularly docile and broody, this breed is hardy, active, and quite intelligent. They produce about 300 eggs per year. They are not that great for meat and can be flighty and nervous. Still, when it comes to egg laying the White Leghorn is hard to beat.

A Friendly Dual-Purpose Choice—- The Orpington

This UK breed is not only large and fluffy, but extremely docile and also excellent dual-purpose birds great for both laying eggs and meat production. Unlike White Leghorns, the Orpington thrives on human contact and tends to enjoy being held. Their inability to fly for long distances is another quality that makes this breed a good backyard bird. Orpingtons are thick and meaty birds while also producing around 200 eggs annually. They are a great breed for beginners, experienced farmers, and families alike. While not extremely flashy or brightly colored, they are extremely easy to care for. If you have children, the Orpington is a breed that is hard to beat.

Best Bet Chicken Pet—The Silkie Chicken

Are you looking for a striking chicken that truly stands out from the crowd?  Small, unique, and known for their silky smooth feathers, the Silkie Chicken is extremely tame and loves human contact. They are popular pets and love to be held.  If you want a pet chicken and are not overly concerned with eggs or meat production, this may be the breed for which you are searching. This ornamental breed lays around 150 small, cream colored eggs annually and is extremely broody. They will even hatch eggs from other chickens. The Silkie Chicken is a fantastic pet for children and is a soft, adorable addition to any backyard.

Hardy and Easy-to-Care-For— The Rhode Island Red

Docile, easy-to-care-for, and tolerant of both cold and heat, the Rhode Island Red is an excellent chicken breed for beginners. A good layer, the Rhode Island Red produces around 200 large, brown eggs each year. This bird is making a big comeback on small farms and in backyard coops throughout the United States and with good reason too. They are very hardy, produce well, and don’t require much care. They are loving and friendly too, although roosters have been known to be mean. If you want a hardy, dual-purpose chicken, the Rhode Island Red is a beautiful and useful bird to have around.

A Visually Appealing and Useful Bird- The Barred Plymouth Rock

The Barred Plymouth Rock adds flair to any backyard with their black and white checkerboard patterned feathers (other color varieties exist too). Laying 200 cream-colored eggs annually, the Barred Plymouth Rock chicken is a great layer and a great meat bird too. This bird matures and grows quickly and also enjoys a long lifetime.  She makes a brood mother hen. Most Barred Plymouth Rocks are friendly and love human contact. They are a fantastic bird for any beginner.

Now Here’s a Bird That Stands Out From the Crowd! The Golden Laced Polish Chicken

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This bird’s wild feathered top hat, or bouffant, is probably the first thing you’ll notice about him. He bumbles around the chicken run, his feathered fringe partially obscuring his vision and causing him to bump into things and startle. The birds big personality is another noticeable trait, making this breed prized for their personalities as well as their ornamental looks. Largely a show bird, the Golden Laced Polish Chicken is one fantastic fowl that will surely add some pizazz to your backyard flock.

A Little bit of History

The Golden Laced Polish Chicken has been raised in Eastern Europe since the early 16th century and may have originated in the Netherlands. They were brought to the United States in the 1830s and 1840s and became quite popular by the 1850s due to their unique looks and decent egg-laying capabilities. Polish Chickens were admitted to the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1874; the Golden Laced Polish Chicken has never officially been registered with the APA.

Mainly Ornamental, But Fun To Have About

While it does lay around 120-200 small white eggs annually (sources vary widely here!), the Golden Laced Polish Chicken is mainly a show bird. It rarely goes broody and is admired for its wild crest of feathers. Bearded and nonbearded, this breed comes in a variety of colors. Because of their feathered crest, the bird can’t see that well and startles easily. However, the breed tends to be friendly if slightly flighty. If handled frequently and gently from a young age, this breed will grow into a friendly and gentle bird. Also keep in mind that this breed has been known to be aggressive toward others of its kind; plenty of living space is an excellent solution to this problem.


Due to their obstructed vision, this breed is an easy target for predators. Make sure that they have a wide enclosure that keeps them safe from prey. Loud noises startle them and they tend to run into things—be careful of your chicken’s living area.

Another consideration is climate. The Golden Laced Polish Chicken is not as cold-hardy as other breeds and if they drink water in winter (which they must do), ice may build on their crest.

This breed is widely available online from a variety of hatcheries. A simple web search will yield multiple hatcheries selling Golden Laced Polish Chicken chicks. In most of these hatcheries, chicks hatch from March through September.

This funny breed will offer some amusement to your backyard flock. The Golden Laced Polish Chicken is an instant conversation starter as well as a wonderful backyard bird.

Golden Campine Chickens

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One of the more interesting birds on the block is the Golden Campine. The Golden Campine’s striking golden head, white ears, perky upright tail, and beautiful barred body create an unusual and strikingly beautiful bird. Originally from Belgium, the Golden Campine is also an excellent layer. This rare breed would make a unique addition to your backyard coop!

Temperament and Characteristics

This beautiful bird lays around 150-200 eggs annually and while they are not generally raised for meat, they can certainly be dual purpose birds. Reports on temperament vary. According to some sources, these birds are friendly and fun to be around. Other sources claim that the Golden Campine is not affectionate, don’t care much for human contact, and are quite flighty. It must depend on the individual bird’s personality as well as the amount of human contact and interaction they have from hatching. Active, curious, and great at foraging, the small Golden Campine generally makes a fun and amusing bird to have around. There is a silver Campine variety too.

An Interesting History

The Golden Campine chicken can trace its roots to Belgium, where they’ve been raised for several hundred years. The first Golden Campines brought to the US arrived in 1893, but by 1898 the breed had been dropped from the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection because the breed was simply unpopular. The second attempt at importing Campines in the early 1900s failed to catch on too. The APA added Golden Campines to their Standard of Perfection in 1914 and they’ve remained a recognized breed ever since.

On the Verge of Extinction

The breed almost disappeared altogether after World War II, where even in Belgium the number of Golden Campines was extremely low. A few dedicated breeders brought this breed back from the verge of extinction.  In the US, the breed is in the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Conservation Status of critical. There are around five breeding flocks of 50 or less Golden Campines in the entire United States. It doesn’t help that the bird rarely goes broody. One way to help perpetuate this breed is to take any fertilized eggs your Golden Campine lays and put them in an incubator or get one of your other broody hens to hatch the eggs. Backyard farmers are this breed’s only real hope of continuing into the future.

Not Best for Beginners

If you are a beginner or want a friendly pet chicken, the Golden Campine is probably not the best bet. Flighty, susceptible to frostbite, and eager to fly, it is not the easiest bird to care for. If you have some experience with chickens, the Golden Campine is a great endangered chicken breed that would make a lovely addition to most backyard flocks.

What are Sex-Link Chickens?

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When one orders a batch of young chicks, they can generally expect at least half of the birds to be male. For those who wish to raise chickens for eggs and don’t have the space or desire to deal with roosters, this can be a problem. Out of 25 chicks, who wants to deal with 12 roosters? Sex-link chickens take the worry and guesswork out of raising chicks. If you want to buy five hens, you’re practically guaranteed to end up with five hens should you purchase sex-link females.

Sex-link chicks are cross-bred chicken breeds whose color differs upon hatching according to their gender. Black sex-link chicks are a cross between a Barred Rock hen and a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster. A Red sex-link chick is a cross between a White Rock, Delaware, Rhode Island White, or Silver Laced Wyandotte hen and a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster.

The distinct color differences between male and female sex-link chicks takes a lot of guess work out of raising chicks. In large factories, chicken sexing is done to distinguish the genders and separate male from female chicks. An egg farm might use sex-link chickens to distinguish between future egg-layers and unwanted roosters. Unfortunately, chicks of the wrong gender are often killed because they are of little use to the factory or breeder.

A small-scale chicken farmer or backyard enthusiast can benefit from sex-link chickens because they can choose to purchase only hens if they desire a brood of egg-layers. Or, they could choose to add rooster or two and would be certain of their choices. When one orders a regular batch of chicks, it’s a mystery which babies are male and which are female for a while.  Sex-link chicks make their gender apparent from the beginning. If one hatches sex-link chicks, they’ll immediately know the male-to-female ratio and can plan accordingly.

What many people don’t realize about their sex-link chickens is that when they breed, their offspring won’t be sex-link birds. The third generation may possibly have sex-link chicks within its rank. Genetics is a fascinating thing. Sex-link is not a breed, but a hybrid gene combination with interesting results.

Sex-link chickens make fantastic layers, known to produce over 300 eggs annually. Males make great fryers. The birds commonly bear the best traits from their parent breeds and are docile and calm. While not recognized by the American Poultry Association because they are not a unique breed, many people love raising sex-link chickens. These hardy, attractive birds would make an excellent addition to any backyard.

What Exactly Is a Bantam Breed?

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If you’ve spent any time researching chicken breeds, you’ve likely come across the term “bantam.” The tiny Booted Bantam is pretty, sweet-tempered, and makes a great pet. The showy Japanese Bantam doesn’t serve much of a purpose for eggs or meat, but is a great pet and show bird who will happily rid the yard of bugs. The Silkie Bantam is an adorable and friendly ball of fluff. No matter their name or looks, a “bantam” is much smaller than the average chicken. There are some things a backyard farmer should know before choosing bantam birds over standard chicken breeds.

Fully grown bantam chickens are only 1/3 to 1/5 the size of their standard breed cousins. Most standard breeds have a miniature counterpart, but a true bantam has no large counterpart. Their small size makes them an excellent choice for those with limited space. Whether kept for a pet or for production, bantams don’t require as big of a yard or a coop as do their cousins. Bantam hens are frequently broody and can even be used to hatch other bird’s eggs. They are great show birds, love foraging, and lay small, delicate-looking eggs. Some bantam breeds lay up to 150 eggs annually, but their eggs are only ½ to 1/3 the size of regular eggs. Other bantam breeds lay very infrequently. If you’re after egg production, do your research to find the perfect breed before buying chicks.

Named after an Indonesian port city, bantam chickens were a favorite among sailors due to their small size. What better way to obtain fresh food on a long journey? These birds didn’t take up much space and were easy to care for. Among the more popular bantam breeds are the Sebright, Belgian d’Anvers (Bearded or rumpless), Pekin, Rosecomb, Dutch, and Serama. The American Bantam Association currently describes 57 breeds in its Bantam Standard.

Be extra careful for predators, because the bantam chicken’s small size makes them very vulnerable to cats and other backyard prey. Foxes, hawks, coyotes, and wild cats will make an easy meal of your flock; some sources say that the average lifespan of a free-range bantam chicken is 1-3 years. That’s pretty poor odds. Provide your birds with a secure coop and always put them inside at night. In the winter, be sure to provide them with a heat source. Bantam chickens eat the same feed and have the same watering requirements as standard birds.

Bantam chickens are an attractive and loving addition to any backyard. So long as there is a little grass, there’s room for a bantam or two. Active, friendly, and docile, bantam chickens are raised as pets far more frequently than they are for food. Provide them with adequate shelter and protection, nutritious food, space to roam, and social interaction and you’ll be enjoying your bantam chicken’s company for years to come.

Best Chicken Breeds for Beginners

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“We see a thousand miracles around us every day,” American clergymen, writer, and Christian radio broadcaster S. Parkes Cadman once said, “What is more supernatural than an egg yolk turning into a chicken?” It is indeed an incredible feat to witness. Children can learn so much from the incredible miracle that is an egg hatching into a living, breathing chicken. They’ll learn the value and fragility of life, the importance of responsibility, and how to care for and raise a living being. What is better than that?

If you have the space available and the time and energy to devote to raising chickens, incubating eggs and hatching chicks is one of the most meaningful and amazing projects you can do as a family. With proper care and nutrition, your baby chicks will grow into healthy chickens and entertain and teach your family for years to come. Yet before you purchase your eggs and commit for the long-haul, consider this: some breeds are great for the novice while others are much more difficult to raise. Don’t order a specific chicken breed just because you fancy its looks.

When considering breeds, look for a common breed that is friendly, tame, and easy to care for. If you want a layer, choose a breed known for good egg production. If you want to raise your chickens for meat, choose a broiler breed known to gain weight quickly. Orpingtons are fantastic chickens for families, friendly, productive layers, hardy, and full of personality. Plymouth Rocks, Cornish breeds, and Silkies are also great bets. Other popular breeds include Wyandotte, Sussex, Cochin, Brahma, and Jersey Giant. Do your research to find just the right bird for you. There are many great choices!

Then there are breeds that aren’t quite as promising. While one can certainly be successful, these breeds are not as easy to raise to adulthood. Belgian D’Anver and Sebright chicks are difficult to rear. Japanese Bantam Chickens are beautiful but difficult for beginners; its form and plumage is difficult to achieve, 25% of chicks die shortly before hatching due to an allele combination common in the breed, and the breed is not cold-hardy. Aracauna chickens are great to raise, but a lethal gene combination common to this breed means that some of the chicks will die before hatching. This can be pretty depressing.

Certain chicken breeds tend to be aggressive too, making these poor choices for families with children. Breeds known for aggressive tendencies include Crevecoeur, New Hampshire Reds, Dominiques, Old English Game Fowl, and Rhode Island Reds. Tendencies vary by bird, too, and roosters are more likely to be aggressive than hens.

Raising chickens is a great opportunity for learning and well as a healthy way to bring food to your family’s table. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to purchase the first eggs or fluffy chicks you come across. Looks can be very deceiving. Take your time to find a docile, friendly, easy-to-raise breed and you’ll have a much better chicken-raising experience. Good luck!

Raising Araucana Chickens

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A Heritage Breed that originated from Chile, the Araucana Chicken is most well-known for its unique eggs. Ranging in colors from blue or green to pink or yellow, their eggs are prized and were advertised in the 1970s as the ultimate Easter eggs. This breed is also unique because of its lack of a tail.  It was first introduced to the APA in 1976. Raising Araucana Chickens can be a fulfilling pastime.

A Deadly History

Variants of the Araucana breed were bred and raised by native Chilean tribes. In the early 1900s, an animal scientist named Dr. Ruben Bustros began developing the Araucana Chicken into a standard breed. After years of crossing two breeds, the Colloncas and the Quetros, he developed the “perfect” rumples, blue-egg-laying chicken.

There was a big problem with the Araucana chicken bred, however.   The gene that produced the bird’s unique neck tufts also caused chick mortality. If a chick inherited two copies of the gene, the mortality rate was nearly 100%. This is still a risk today, although some breeders have tried to breed the tuft out. Still, breeding two Araucana chickens does have risks. A lethal allele combination will cause some of the resulting chicks to die. Up to a quarter of a hen’s chicks will inherit the allele and die before hatching. Even if only one copy of the gene is inherited, the chick has a 20% mortality rate. This is a risk a pertinent breeder must be aware of before breeding Araucana Chickens. Because of their allele issue, the Araucana is more difficult to incubate and hatch than most other chicken breeds. The rumpless trait also makes it difficult for this breed to reproduce.

Colorful Egg Layers

The Araucana Chicken is most famous for its colorful eggs and for this reason it’s often referred to as the Easter Egg Chicken.  The breed is available online through hatcheries, but as it is often mistaken for the Ameraucana Chicken you’ll have to be diligent and make sure you’re actually getting the correct breed.  This medium sized bird comes in a variety of colors, including black, silver, white, buff, black breasted red, golden duckwing, and blue. These chickens have tufts of feathers on the sides of their heads and necks and a pea comb too. They come in standard and bantam sizes. According to the American Poultry Association’s Standards, pure Araucana Chickens must lay turquoise or blue colored eggs. Any other color is a disqualifier, but they are not uncommon, especially when the Araucana is crossed with any other chicken breed.

Easy To Care For and Useful Too

The Araucana Chicken is a great dual-purpose bird which lays around 180 eggs annually. They are smart, broody, love to forage, and have friendly dispositions. Excellent fliers, these birds do well free-range and can escape from predators better than some other chicken breeds. They bear well in confinement too, if need be. The Araucana chicken is beautiful, unique, and unlike any other. It’ll make an unusual but useful and friendly addition to your backyard or small farm.

Raising Rhode Island Red Chickens

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The state bird of Rhode Island and the quintessential American, old-fashioned chicken, the Rhode Island Red has a lot to offer. This large bird is an excellent layer known for its bright red single comb and its red coloring. It was once one of the most popular chicken breeds in the United States, although its popularity diminished with the disappearance of many small farms throughout the 1900s. Today, the resurgence in small farms and backyard chickens has helped the popularity of this plucky bird rise once again.

A Hardy, Multi-Purpose Breed

Developed in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the 1800s, this deep red-colored bird has a very strong constitution and is cold-weather hardy. Rhode Island Reds produce an average of 200-260 large brown eggs per year and are also excellent birds for meat. Its friendly disposition makes this chicken an excellent backyard bird.

The breed was officially recognized by the American Poultry Association Standard of Perfection in 1904. The perfect feather coloring has been debated over the years. Today’s standard calls for “lustrous, rich, dark red” in both the hens and the roosters and the actual shades within the breed vary from red-orange-hued to nearly black. Breeding for dark red coloring in some ways contributed to the downfall of the breed. The silky, dark feathers take a long time to develop, so the breed’s usefulness as a quick-to-raise, quick-to-table meat bird was greatly diminished. Today’s Rhode Island Red Chickens are once again rising to popularity as backyard birds. They take longer to raise for meat than some breeds, but they are fantastic chickens.

Acquiring Rhode Island Reds

If you want a good, basic chicken, purchase your Rhode Island Reds from your local farm supply store or order them from a hatchery. If you want a show bird, only purchase from established breeders with success records. A Rhode Island Red from a feed store and one from a breeder may look very little alike. A quick web

search will get you on your way to the right bird for you. There are impressive variations within this breed.

Caring For Your Flock

Rhode Island Red Chickens are very easy to care for. Commercial feed will take care of their nutritional needs and they also enjoy table scraps and foraging. While they will tolerate confinement, this breed thrives when allowed to live free range. Keep in mind that even free range birds need a safe place to escape from inclement weather and predators, so a protective chicken coop is necessary. If predators are a problem where you live, an enclosed chicken run or a chicken tractor may be the perfect compromise. This way your birds will get the free range lifestyle they crave while also being protected from lurking predators. Regardless of their living arrangements, your Rhode Island Reds will need a constant supply of water, a place to lay their eggs, and a clean coop. One nesting box is recommended for every 5 chickens. Clean out your coop every few weeks to minimize the chances for disease within your flock.

An Old Fashioned Bird with Modern-Day Importance

The Rhode Island Red Chicken is the classic brown egg layer and most modern brown egg laying chickens are crosses with the Rhode Island Red. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists this breed as “recovering” and by implementing a Rhode Island Red or two into your flock, you’re helping in the recovery process. These hardy birds are excellent layers and meat producers, good natured, resistant to disease, and tolerate both heat and cold. Whether you are just starting out with your first chickens or whether you’ve been raising chickens for years, the Rhode Island Red Chicken may be the perfect addition to your flock.