What is Purebred Poultry?
When you think of purebred
poultry, what comes to mind? The barnyard
rooster that provides the morning wake-up call?
The flock of production hens that provides eggs?
The roast turkey on your dinner table? It is
more than this. Besides providing the useful
eggs and meat, we see creatures of beauty to be
bred and admired. The large Light Brahma with
elegance and class, the spritely Sebright with
beauty and energy, the stately Toulouse goose,
the magnificent Royal Palm turkey, the talkative
Call duck, and much, much more. There are
literally hundreds of breeds and varieties in
chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys, each with
their own unique beauty and qualities.
There is no "best breed" of poultry for
everyone. Personal preference as to shape,
color, size, temperament, etc., go into a
decision as to what to choose. Different areas
of the country, with their varieties of
climates, will have some impact on a decision as
to a choice of breed. Poultry is divided into
large chickens (also called large fowl),
Bantams, waterfowl and turkeys. In addition to
full size, or large chickens, poultry fanciers
have developed a miniature counterpart of each
large chicken called a Bantam. Bantams are
normally one-fourth to one-fifth as large as
their full-size counterparts, and in addition
there are breeds that exist only as Bantams.
There are also breeds of Bantam ducks. Bantams
produce smaller eggs and have less meat, and are
generally not kept for production, but are a
prime consideration where space is limited.
A "breed" is identified as having a particular
body shape or style .Breeds are further divided
into varieties, usually by differences in color
or pattern of feather markings. In addition
special features determine differences in
varieties, such as comb shape or extra feathers
such as a "beard" or "top-knot."
Select the breed that appeals to your taste,
whether chicken, waterfowl or turkey, taking
into consideration locale, space available,
climate and/or availability. The American
Poultry Association publishes a breed standard
book, the APA Standard of Perfection. It is a
book that describes all the breeds and colors
recognized by the organization, and the
standards or guide lines by which all poultry is
judged. Please see ordering information on the
When you decide on a particular breed, locating
them is not difficult. Attend a poultry show and
look the birds over, breeders will often have
birds there to sell. There are many reputable
breeders and hatcheries that provide birds in a
variety of price ranges, from eggs to chicks to
full-grown birds. Many breeders will welcome a
visit to look over their birds and facilities
and are more than willing to answer questions
and provide you with birds, or give information
as to where you can find the breed you are
looking for. The most important thing to
remember is to buy from a reputable breeder or
NPIP (National Poultry Improvement Plan) member
hatchery, and that the birds are free from
and representative of the breed. In general, if
the owner takes good care of his or her stock
and is proud of them, you will have made a good
For some people owning and reproducing some of
these elegant creatures is enough reward, but
for others the show hall is the focal point--the
true measure of the hobby's rewards. The
competition of the show, whether it is a
youngster in 4-H or an "oldster" in retirement,
is a gratifying experience. In addition to the
competition, it is a chance to meet and talk
with people who share a like interest. The best
way to learn about showing poultry is to
actually attend a show--look at all the birds
and talk to exhibitor.
To prepare a bird for show, the bird needs to be
healthy, free of broken feathers, clean and
presentable. Information on "fitting for show"
can be found in many of the books and pamphlets
available from the A-P-A, or simply by asking
someone who shows. Add up the benefits of family
sharing, friendships and the challenge of
breeding hat perfect bird and I think you will
agree it all adds up to a very enjoyable hobby.
Give it a try!
Caring for your Purebred Poultry is really quite
easy. Your birds will require adequate
nutritional feed, fresh clean water and a dry,
clean place to live. Housing can be as simple or
as elaborate as you like. Some consideration
will have to be given to the type of housing as
you are deciding on a breed. Large fowl and
waterfowl will require more room than the Bantam
chicken or duck. A good rule to follow is one
square foot of floor space per bantam, or three
square feet of floor space per large fowl. Ducks
and geese require somewhat more. Your housing
should provide for easy cleaning and adequate
ventilation (windows or openings), be
draft-free, offer protection from the elements
and from wild animals.
If the birds cannot be let out for exercise and
sunshine, then provide them with a screened-in
area for this purpose. If you have access to the
outside, it should be well-fenced, dry, have
shade available and grassy areas if possible.
For the housing litter can be hay, straw, pine
shavings, or any other absorbent material that
is available. It should be kept clean and dry.
Fresh feed and clean water are also keys to
healthy poultry. Do not let your feed become
exposed to the weather, and protect it from rain
and vermin. Change water daily and wash out
water pans regularly. Commercial balanced feeds
are available from local feed stores and come in
pelted, crumbled or mash forms. These feeds
contain needed vitamins and minerals and are
available for all types and ages of poultry.
Grains can also be fed along with a commercial
balanced ration. In addition, provide grit
(there are no "hens teeth") necessary for
digestion of foods and oyster shell for laying
birds. Let the birds out on the lawn if you can.
They will scratch around, eat some grass and
maybe a bug or two. This is healthy for the
birds and provide you with the added enjoyment
and peacefulness of just watching them going
about the business of life.
Association PO Box 306 Burgettstown PA 15021 (724) 729-3459
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