It’s that time of year when feed stores sell oh-so-adorable cheeping chicks. Post offices get deliveries of boxes of peeping yellow fluff. I’m not getting chicks this year, but I have friends who are. An ongoing topic of conversation is which hatchery to order from and what breeds to get.
The buzz words these days are “heritage breed.” Everyone likes the idea of old-fashioned chickens that are bred for traits important to the family farm, not the factory farm. These include a docile temperament, longevity, ability to naturally breed, and eagerness to forage. But, buzz words are often co-opted by people who don’t believe in the program. Look at what’s happened to “natural,” “free-range,” and “organic.”
Thankfully, the people at the American Livestock Breed Conservancy (ALBC) have codified what a heritage breed is. They’ve also created a web site that links you to the breeders.
Even if you don’t have chickens, consider joining the ALBC. They do important work, could really use your support, and send out a newsletter with pictures of the most endearing animals. Have you ever seen a Mammoth Mule?