Birds that are now rare but used to be staples on the family farms are often referred to as heritage poultry. They represent a time when everyone had a variety of chickens or other fowl, and are less inbred and hardier than modern commercial stock. Some people like to keep them for this reason, and others.
The most common types of poultry for people to keep are chickens, ducks, quails, turkeys, and geese. By far, most people keep chickens. There are many different heritage breeds of chicken, and they range from the rather odd and spectacular to the relatively plain and mundane.
Keeping chickens isn’t too complicated. Outdoor space for a coop is required, as well as permission to keep them. Many suburbs and some urban areas allow people to keep a few hens for their own personal use, although roosters are typically not allowed because of noise issues. Check with animal control for your local ordinances.
Chickens don’t require a lot of attention to keep in pretty good shape, either. Keeping them clean, well-fed, and protected from predators and the elements is generally all that is required. Older breeds are also popular because they tend to be hardier and more disease resistant, traits that were important before antibiotics and sterilized factory farms.
Chickens can be shipped across the country when they are newly hatched, because the chicks are nourished by their yolk sacs and don’t need food for a couple of days. Many hatcheries sell minimum quantities higher than hobbyists want, but you can sometimes combine shipments with other people. Local farms are great sources of birds, but may only have one or two breeds.
Bantam chickens have become popular in recent years. These are birds that are scaled down to a smaller size, but otherwise chickens in every way. Some are smaller versions of heritage poultry breeds, and others come only in this tinier size. They need less space than traditional breeds.
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