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Raising Chickens

     “You can’t have a farm without chickens,” so stated one American cowboy from Montana.  In a way, his statement is true.  When one pictures the ideal farm in his head, the scenario could  look something like this:  Cows lazily lounging in the pasture, horses nibbling on the grass, goats causing mischief and yes, cute little chickens scurrying around the barnyard.  A farm scene is not whole without a few chickens around. 

       Having chickens on your farm is not only a good idea, but it is also economical.  Chickens can make money for you?  Many farmers have profited off of their investments of a few flocks of chicken.  They have discovered hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in extra income from their chickens.  Whether you raise chickens for profit or as a hobby, let see how you can benefit from them.

Egg Production
     Let’s first consider commercial egg production.  This is when you purchase chicken breeds that are suited for mass commercial egg laying.  Popular commercial egg layers are called white leghorns.  White leghorns have a great rate of lay.  These chickens will lay well for you continuously.  They have an excellent ability to turn feed into eggs.  How so?  Much like humans, when chickens eat their food (feed), they convert the energy that they receive from the feed into eggs.  They do this well and at a good rate per lay.  Commercial layers will produce at great rates for a couple of years.  Then after that, their productivity will decrease rapidly.  They will still produce, but not as much as they used to.  Your profit could come from these first two years of mass production.  You could sell your eggs to local markets, other families, other farms, etc.  The list could go on.  If you are seeking to profit off of your egg layers, then commercial leghorns would be your best bet.

     Dual-purpose breeds are very popular amongst the hobbyist community.  These chickens do just what their name indicates.  They provide both good eggs and good meat.  Chicken is one of the country’s most popular meats.  If you get a chicken that is suited for both laying and meat, then you’ve got yourself a great deal.  Not only do you get to benefit from good eggs produced, you also can benefit from the tender meats as well.  You may ask: “Which chicken breeds are best for dual-purpose?”

     The two popular ones that come to mind are:  Rhode Island Red and Barred Plymouth Rock.  The benefits of these breeds are that they are friendly and peaceful. This is a plus when you wish to have order in the barnyard.  They are easily trained or tamed.  This is a benefit in itself because you won’t have to worry about them pecking your son’s eyes out.  They lay good rates.  This will make it easier for a beginner as well as a pro.  It’s always nice to have a good laying chicken on the farm.

Raising Chickens for Meat
    
If you wish to only raise chickens as potential meat for your family, the Cornish Cross breed is a perfect chicken for this.  Even if you wish to sell the meat for income, this is still the prime choice of chicken breed.  This breed is easily identified by its yellow toned skin and its rapid growth.  These hens are perfect in the way that it converts its food (feed) into pounds.  If these chickens are fed well, they will grow rapidly into a very desirable chicken.  And who doesn’t love a nice big healthy chicken?  Although Cornish Cross breed chickens are great for meat, they do not produce eggs well.  In fact, the Cornish Cross hens lay ratio is quite low.  These beauties are suited well for meat production. 

     Raising chickens can be a great joy.  There are many things to learn from caring for chickens.  Some points to remember from this article are:

     Commercial producers produce fast and well during the first two or so years.  After that, its production decreases rapidly.  Chickens that are raised solely for meat have a remarkable ability to turn food into pounds.  This makes them very desirable in the market and in your home.  But what is true for one is true for both.  Regardless of their use, with age a chicken’s meat will not be as tender as it was in the younger stages of its life.  Plan well and benefit.

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