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The Complete Guide to Poultry Breeds: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

The Complete Guide to Poultry Breeds: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

Автором Melissa Nelson

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The Complete Guide to Poultry Breeds: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

Автором Melissa Nelson

356 pages
4 hours
Mar 18, 2011


With more than 500 breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association, there are different feed necessities, housing requirements, incubation times, egg information, and costs of raising just about any of these various breeds. This book provides the details that every potential poultry breeder needs to start creating detailed plans for purchasing, raising, and breeding their new small farm animals. Each breed will be laid out with complete details about everything you need to know to raise them effectively. You will learn exactly which breeds are best for egg production by volume and quality and which ones are best for meat by taste and quality. You will learn the dietary needs of each breed and what they require from you to stay alive in all four seasons as well. Poultry and small farming experts were interviewed for this book to provide detailed insight into how poultry is selected and raised and throughout the book you will find small bits of information about how each breed is different from the rest, what suggestions are offered for raising that particular breed. You will learn which poultry breeds have been used for hundreds of years. Whether you are starting a farm and need a half dozen good poultry breeds for your coups or are just adding a small area on your property to raise some chickens, ducks or turkeys, this guide will provide everything you need to understand and select the proper breed for your needs.

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice. Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

This Atlantic Publishing eBook was professionally written, edited, fact checked, proofed and designed. You receive the same content as the print version of this book. Over the years our books have won dozens of book awards for content, cover design and interior design including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award for excellence in publishing. We are proud of the high quality of our books and hope you will enjoy this eBook version.

Mar 18, 2011

Об авторе

Roger Nelson started skydiving when he was sixteen. By the time he died at age forty-seven in a skydiving accident, he had amassed more than 10,000 hours as a pilot; 9,000 parachute jumps; 100 hours of freefall time; multiple instructor ratings; national skydiving championships; and skydiving world records. Melissa Nelson, Roger’s oldest child and only daughter, made her first parachute jump with her father when she was five years old. She earned her pilot’s license in 2012 and currently lives in Moab, Utah, where she runs a retail store for BASE jumpers and lives her own “other life” as a BASE jumper, slackliner, and yoga practitioner.

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The Complete Guide to Poultry Breeds - Melissa Nelson

The Complete Guide to

Poultry Breeds

Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

By Melissa Nelson

The Complete Guide to Poultry Breeds: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply

Copyright © 2011 Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.

1405 SW 6th Avenue • Ocala, Florida 34471

Phone 800-814-1132 • Fax 352-622-1875

Web site: www.atlantic-pub.com • E-mail: sales@atlantic-pub.com

SAN Number: 268-1250

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without the prior written permission of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be sent to Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc., 1405 SW 6th Avenue, Ocala, Florida 34471.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Nelson, Melissa G. (Melissa Gwyn), 1969-

The complete guide to poultry breeds : everything you need to know explained simply / by Melissa Nelson.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60138-377-8 (alk. paper)

ISBN-10: 1-60138-377-0 (alk. paper)

1. Poultry. I. Title.

SF487.N39 2011



LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or Web site is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization or Web site may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that Internet Web sites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read.

Trademark disclaimer: All trademarks, trade names, or logos mentioned or used are the property of their respective owners and are used only to directly describe the products being provided. Every effort has been made to properly capitalize, punctuate, identify and attribute trademarks and trade names to their respective owners, including the use of ® and ™ wherever possible and practical. Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. is not a partner, affiliate, or licensee with the holders of said trademarks.

A few years back we lost our beloved pet dog Bear, who was not only our best and dearest friend but also the Vice President of Sunshine here at Atlantic Publishing. He did not receive a salary but worked tirelessly 24 hours a day to please his parents.

Bear was a rescue dog who turned around and showered myself, my wife, Sherri, his grandparents Jean, Bob, and Nancy, and every person and animal he met (well, maybe not rabbits) with friendship and love. He made a lot of people smile every day.

We wanted you to know a portion of the profits of this book will be donated in Bear’s memory to local animal shelters, parks, conservation organizations, and other individuals and nonprofit organizations in need of assistance.

– Douglas and Sherri Brown

PS: We have since adopted two more rescue dogs: first Scout, and the following year, Ginger. They were both mixed golden retrievers who needed a home.

Want to help animals and the world? Here are a dozen easy suggestions you and your family can implement today:

Adopt and rescue a pet from a local shelter.

Support local and no-kill animal shelters.

Plant a tree to honor someone you love.

Be a developer — put up some birdhouses.

Buy live, potted Christmas trees and replant them.

Make sure you spend time with your animals each day.

Save natural resources by recycling and buying recycled products.

Drink tap water, or filter your own water at home.

Whenever possible, limit your use of or do not use pesticides.

If you eat seafood, make sustainable choices.

Support your local farmers market.

Get outside. Visit a park, volunteer, walk your dog, or ride your bike.

Five years ago, Atlantic Publishing signed the Green Press Initiative. These guidelines promote environmentally friendly practices, such as using recycled stock and vegetable-based inks, avoiding waste, choosing energy-efficient resources, and promoting a no-pulping policy. We now use 100-percent recycled stock on all our books. The results: in one year, switching to post-consumer recycled stock saved 24 mature trees, 5,000 gallons of water, the equivalent of the total energy used for one home in a year, and the equivalent of the greenhouse gases from one car driven for a year.

Dedication and Author Acknowledgement

To my parents, Henry and Suzanne Nelson, who instilled in me a healthy respect and love of all creatures great and small.

Writing a book is usually considered a lonely process as the writer spends much time alone researching material and writing text. But no writer is an island and during the creative process many people contribute to make a book successful. First, I’d like to thank those friends and family who supported and encouraged my decision to strike out in writing. Particularily I’d like to thank Karen Hipple-Perez, who always had a ready ear to listen to my ideas and to help sort through things; Jennifer Hipple, a fellow writer; my sister, Rosanna Callahan; and my brother, Terry Nelson.

I would also like to thank the participants in my case studies who really made the book with their real life experiences. They were all very open and willing to share their experiences.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Getting Started: Some Initial Considerations

Chapter 2: Chicken Breeds to Choose From

Chapter 3: Raising Chickens

Chapter 4: Behavior and Production Management

Chapter 5: Butchering Your Chickens


Chapter 6: Turkeys

Chapter 7: Raising Turkeys


Chapter 8: Ducks

Chapter 9: Geese


Chapter 10: Pheasants, Partridge, and Quail

Chapter 11: Ornamental Game Birds

Chapter 12: Poultry Health

Conclusion: Making Your Decisions Easier

Appendix A: Information and Resources


Author Biography


Caring for poultry can be a fun and rewarding project. Birds can provide food, eggs, and pleasure, provided you enter into raising poultry with realistic expectations. This book will provide a small-scale poultry farmer with the information needed to raise healthy, productive birds. It will cover in depth how to choose the right breed, how to start a flock on a healthy road, how to use your birds, how to breed birds, and many pearls of wisdom to make sure your birds are as robust as possible.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a farm as any operation that sells at least $1,000 of agricultural commodities or that would have sold that amount of produce under normal circumstances. Many small-scale farms can easily sell that amount of poultry meat, live birds, or eggs each year to be counted as a farm in official numbers. A typically small-scale farmer will raise fewer than ten beef cattle, or have 50 to 70 sheep or goats, or a small flock of chickens, ducks, or geese. A big point to make is that the average small-scale farmer derives a side-income, not a main income, from the farm.

An important aspect of being counted as an official farm is participation in federal farm programs. These programs vary widely depending upon what product your farm produces and are heavily weighted to support grain farmers. However, livestock and poultry farmers are able to participate in some of these programs from beginning farmer support in terms of loans and technical advice to disaster assistance during declared natural disasters. Each county maintains a Farm Services Agency to assist in determining your eligibility and to guide you in signing up for the programs geared toward your farm operation. You can learn more by following this link to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website: www.fsa.usda.gov.

A few things have remained constant in agriculture throughout the years. It is a tough business requiring physical labor and work in a field of uncertainties due to weather, disease, and injuries. Market volatility is another big uncertainty. All these factors can combine in a disastrous way to drive a well-meaning farmer from their livelihood, or they can build a person’s character and resourcefulness in ways never thought possible.

This book will help you get off on the right foot in establishing a small-scale enterprise. You will learn how to prepare for newly-hatched chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, guinea fowl, and pheasants. You will learn how to recognize the signs of an ill bird and how to treat a sick animal. A large portion of the book will give you information on the many, many breeds of poultry that are available. The Appendix will give you a wealth of resources on where to purchase your birds, equipment, coops, and feed. It will also list organizations and agencies dedicated to providing information and support to poultry owners. In addition, case studies from farmers, poultry experts, and backyard poultry enthusiasts are peppered throughout the book to give you further insight and hints on caring for your own flock. In a nutshell, you will learn the ins and outs of poultry farming, but as with most things, you will learn best by doing. Most likely you will experience a few setbacks during your first year or two, but with practice, research, and determination, your foray into small-scale poultry farming will be a fun and rewarding experience for you and your family.

Before you embark on a small-scale enterprise, you will need to do your research. Research the species and breeds available, the equipment needed, the physical labor requirements, and the markets available to sell the products your poultry produce. To do this, you will have to ask yourself some tough questions: Do you have the resources to finance a poultry enterprise? Is there a reliable source of feed near your farm? Is there an available, nearby market for your product or do you have to create a market? The Complete Guide to Poultry Breeds will help you answer these questions and more.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Chickens

Congratulations! You have taken the first step and decided to get some chickens for your home use or for a side income. Before you make any purchases, you will want to make sure it is legal for you to keep chickens and to determine if you have adequate room on your property to raise a healthy flock of chickens. You will also want to create a rough budget to see if you can afford to keep chickens. In addition, giving a little thought to why you want to raise chickens will help you develop a plan to market your products.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Getting Started: Some Initial Considerations

There are different methods of raising chickens depending on how much land you have available and the zoning laws in your area. Market research may involve investigating where you can sell your poultry meat, eggs, or live birds. Are there any farmers’ markets in your area? They typically welcome new vendors, especially those selling fresh eggs. Does the local food coop need a supplier of organically raised meat or eggs? You can grow your own brand locally and build a steady customer base with the help of a coop. If you are planning to raise chickens for meat you should investigate if there are any local meat processors in your area.

Property: Acreage to Zoning

Finding out if your land is legal for chicken rearing is fairly straightforward. Usually a quick visit or phone call to the county zoning office will let you know if your property is zoned for chickens and how many you can raise. Many municipalities — even large metropolitan areas — allow homeowners to own a few hens. Chickens raised in a city usually must be penned or completely fenced in on their owner’s property. They cannot be allowed to roam at will, but roosters are another story. With their loud crowing and implication in cock fighting, they are usually forbidden inside city limits.

The best place to start is to contact your local government office, which is typically housed in the county courthouse. Zoning laws vary according to local regulations, and even among government offices there may be discrepancies. The county clerk, the animal control department, planning board, county commissioners, or the environmental office may all have jurisdiction over the keeping of livestock. When you get information, make sure you get it in writing in case anyone questions you later on. If you are finding that all these offices are telling you no, you can try to appeal the decision. The law may be an old regulation. Times have changed and you will find that many decision-making agencies may be receptive to keeping a few chickens within city limits.

If you plan to build a shed or coop for your birds you will also need to determine if you need a building permit. Again, a visit to the courthouse and planning board to ask if you need a permit will be in order.

Laws for each county, town, or village will vary greatly so it is not possible to find a complete website listing for each state. Your best course of action is to stop at the local government office and ask them to point you in the right direction. Usually, they will have a wealth of information available and might have information you would not have even thought to ask.

If you find that your land is zoned for poultry, you will then determine where you will house your flock. A corner of a shed can be used for a pen, but try not to use a shed or outbuilding where you will run engines, as the fumes can hurt the chickens’ lungs. Try to have some form of natural lighting and fresh air in the building. A shed or building with windows that open or a door that can be propped open in good weather will make the building chicken-friendly. Alternatively, you can attach a simple chicken run constructed of wood and chicken wire to a door or small opening to the building to give your chickens a screened-in porch of their own with plenty of fresh air and sunlight.

If your plans are to eventually let the chickens roam the farmstead, you will have to be careful if you live near a busy road. Chickens may wander in search of grit or bugs and can easily become accident victims. Instead, you might want to consider constructing a portable pen enclosed with chicken wire to allow your chickens more room to peck and exercise. This will also protect the chickens from their enemies; predators such as rats, cats, dogs, raccoons, owls, hawks, and coyotes all prey on chickens and their eggs.

Pocketbook: Start-up Costs and Feed Bills

While chickens are not as expensive to keep and feed as most farm livestock, you will want to track your expenses to make sure you are not going over your budget. If you are starting from scratch, the following is a list of some items you will need to purchase for your chicks. Keep the receipts for your purchases, as most agricultural items can be tax deductible, provided you meet the IRS definition of a farm.

• One 1-gallon water device per 50 chicks.

• A feeder that provides 1 inch of space per chick.

• One heat lamp (250-watt bulb) per 25 chicks, or one brooder. Sizes vary, so you will need to check manufacturer’s instructions as to how many chicks can be brooded per brooder.

• One to two bags of shavings or sawdust. You will use half of a 3-cubic bag per week for 50 chicks.

• An electrolyte powder picked up at the farm store to mix in chicks’ water during the first few days. This provides the chicks with extra nutrients.

• A commercially prepared bag of chick starter.

Farm stores or farm catalogs are good sources of this necessary equipment. Another option is to scour farm auction sales bills to see if any poultry equipment will be on the auction block. If you are particularly handy, some equipment can also be built from scratch. Free Chicken Coop Plans (www.freechickencoopplans.com) has a great tutorial on how to build inexpensive chicken feeders and waterers.

Prices for chicken coops will vary. A simple coop providing room for 25 hens will cost around $100 to build if you do all the work yourself, but if you need to purchase a chicken coop they can be expensive: Near $1,200 will get you a professionally made coop that houses ten to 20 hens that will last a lifetime with routine maintenance. A small garden shed can also be converted to a chicken coop as well. Of course, if you have existing buildings that are suitable for chickens, your start-up cost for a building will be negligible. Your prior research into zoning laws will help you determine any permits you will need if you are building a permanent pen for your chickens.

FeatherSite (www.feathersite.com) offers links to free or inexpensive chicken coops. Another inexpensive design using PVC pipes and chicken wire can be found at PVCPlans.com (www.pvcplans.com). This plan can be downloaded and printed and within a few hours of work you will have a lightweight, portable pen for your birds.

Further down the road into chicken farming, you will find you will need to purchase supplies to butcher your chickens or to keep your meat and eggs fresh. If you are keeping chickens only for home use, you will probably have most of the supplies right in your kitchen: knives, large pots to heat water, and a refrigerator/freezer. However, if you plan on selling poultry products in large quantities, you will want to invest in a separate refrigerator/freezer and other butchering and storage supplies like plastic freezer bags, egg cartons, and perhaps a chicken plucker, which is a machine that pulls out the hairs and feathers of a chicken. eNasco, a leading provider of agriculture materials, carries all these supplies (www.enasco.com/farmandranch).

After you make the initial investment in equipment and housing, your main ongoing cost will be feed. An adult chicken will eat 4 to 6 ounces of feed a day, while young chicks less than 3 weeks of age will eat less, and the heavier breeds of chickens will eat more. This rough estimate will help you determine how much feed your chickens will eat. A 50-pound bag of chicken feed weighs 800 ounces. If you are feeding ten chickens each 5 ounces of feed a day, the bag will last 16 days, and if the bag is priced at $12, you will spend approximately $24 a month on feed. Of course, as chickens get older they can derive more of their diet from bugs, vegetable scraps, and less-expensive feed than those chickens in the starter and growing stage. Do not be tempted to short-change young, growing chickens by feeding them a poor-quality diet. This will adversely affect their health, giving you weak and nonproductive adult birds. See

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