Guide to buying backyard chickens

The human race has been domesticating chickens since 2000B.C. Although the exact origin is subject to debate, many researchers believe their ancestry can be traced back to southeastern Asia. Today, an estimated chicken population stands at a staggering 22 billion. You can raise your poultry right in your backyard. However, that process begins with choosing the right ones. Here are some of the factors you need to consider when buying backyard chicken.

Choosing the right breed

The American Poultry Association recognizes 53 large chicken breeds. The breed determines the size of the chicken, egg-laying ability, feather density, and survival. Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing a chicken breed.

  • Temperament – You may not know this, but each chicken breed has a unique personality. Some breeds are friendly and don’t mind being around people, others are more hostile and are quick to go on the offensive. If you have kids around, then friendly breeds like Australorps are a safe bet. Docile and friendly breeds are also better at dealing with confinement.
  • Climate – Birds are more adapted to handle weather from their country of origin. Birds with more feather coverage can handle cold weather better. Australorps and Plymouth rocks are better at cold climates. On the other hand, Easter Egger, Bahamas, is better at hot conditions. You will need to make special accommodation arrangements for breeds that don’t handle the local weather well.
  • Egg Production – The last thing you need is to find the coop empty when you collect fresh eggs in the morning. Depending on the breed, you can expect your hens to lay between three and five eggs a week. The top egg-producing breeds are Plymouth rock, leghorns, Hamburg, and Easter Eggers. For blue or pinkish eggs, go for Ameraucanas and Australorps. In addition to the number and color of the eggs, size also matters. Some breeds lay larger eggs than others. Rhode Island red and Isla Browns produce the largest eggs.
  • Broodiness – Your hens’ ability to hatch their eggs may be beneficial if you are planning to grow your flock. The Silkie and the Cochin are the best brooding breeds you can buy. However, if you want to get the eggs throughout without worrying about brooding, then Ancona, Leghorn, and Andalusian are the top choices.

Check the health

Unhealthy chicken can wipe out your entire hens in a day. It may also mean incurring extra expenditure on medication. Fortunately, you can tell whether a chicken is healthy or not. The following are some signs to look for:

  • Go for active chickens rather than withdrawn ones.
  • Check for mites and lice. Scaly legs are a sign of parasitic mites.
  • Check for breastbone; prominent bones mean the chicken is underweight.
  • Check for breastbone; prominent bones mean the chicken is underweight.
  • Inspect the padding on the feet for absence and ulcers.
  • Examine the feathers. Ruffled feathers often mean the chicken is unhealthy. Go for chicken with even feathers.
  • Check the chicken for signs of diarrhea and droppings. Inspect the chicken vent and pen for droppings.

Learn more: Guide to chicken health

Enjoy your pet chickens

Raising backyard chickens can be enjoyable and rewarding. And if you have children, the experience of keeping chickens is exciting and educational. However, that journey begins with buying the right chicken. A healthy bunch will give you less trouble. As a precaution, ensure you quarantine all new chickens for a minimum of two weeks. It will prevent the transfer of infections and parasites to the rest of the birds.

Guide to buying backuard chickens

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