The Best Chickens for Homesteading. Why I chose the Breeds I Did For My Homestead
My baby chicks have finally arrived! Yes, I got a late start in my ordering of the chickens since we have been remodeling 2 homes, but they are here now! I have never ordered chicks online before, so it was a bit nerve racking for me waiting for my babies to arrive safely..and alive! I ordered 14 beauties from Ideal Poultry and they ALL arrived healthy, happy and chirping excitedly to go into their new coop!
It took me several weeks to finally decide on the “perfect” chicken breed for my homestead. The chickens we have are for eggs only and they had to be a very hardy breed since we live over 8,000 feet in the Colorado mountains. I do not want to heat my coop and really have no need to heat the coop since it is insulated, solid and very sturdy.
We live on 18 acres in the Colorado mountains, 40 minutes from any town or grocery store. I need to rely on my chickens for fresh eggs, and I need the security of knowing they are hardy enough to survive our cold, sometimes brutal Colorado winters. I usually choose chickens breeds that have smaller combs and wattles, since the combs and wattles are where the chickens release their heat. The smaller the combs and wattles the less heat will be released.
I raise my own chickens because I KNOW what I feed them and what I will be eating. A must read article about store bought eggs from Living Traditionally can be read here. Even buying organic eggs from the store can be hazardous to your health! I buy my chicken feed online at Scratch and Peck Feeds. It is organic and a trusted brand. I can easily ferment it or give it as is.
Below are the breeds I chose and why I chose them for my homestead. All are considered good dual purpose birds meaning they are good egg layers and good meat birds.
The Black Australorps are excellent layers of brown eggs. They are calm, friendly and considered a heavy weight breed that can tolerate very cold climates. The smaller pea comb it well suited for cold climates for minimal chance of frost bite. They are a heritage poultry breed not a hybrid and are good winter egg layers. These chickens are very docile and don’t mind staying in a coop.
2. Ameraucana – The Ameraucana is another small pea comb chicken and has muffs and beards. They are very winter hardy and lay beautiful blue eggs. They are known for a very good lay rate and the eggs can be from medium to large size. I have to admit, I did purchase the Ameraucana for purely selfish reasons. I want blue eggs! Plus, as I stated, they are a very winter hardy breed.
Buff Orpingtons –
The Orpington chicken is probably the most popular chicken breed for farms, ranches, homestead ect, since it is a heavy weight cold hardy ,dual purpose chicken that is the most docile and family friendly. It is also a heritage breed. This breed will go broody more often than other breeds and are wonderful at raising baby chicks. They lay a cream colored to light brown eggs.
Cuckoo Marans- Cuckoo Marans are known as the “dark chocolate” egg layers. The are considered very winter hardy, a heavy weight breed and look very much like a barred rock breed. I have to admit, once again, I purchased the Cuckoo Marans, just as I did the Ameraucanas, for the color of the egg and the winter hardiness of the breed.
Barred Rock- Barred rocks are considered heavy weight heritage breeds that are excellent layers of brown eggs. Considered to be very docile and a popular breed for homesteaders.
My chickens will not be free rangers outside of my fenced in yard and their large pen, since where I live they will be “easy meals” for all the fox, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, raccoons, chicken hawks..well you get the idea!
If you choose to free range your chickens on a large and open homestead, I suggest you look into some of the lighter weight breeds that will be able to fly away from any predators.
I also keep chickens for the rich compost they provide for my garden. They are the perfect insect control on our homestead in my garden. It seems they know the harder they work, the more yummy treats they will get from the garden bounty!
Just wanted to add new photos of the chickens now that they are 3 months old. I did get 2 roosters out of the batch of 14.
They are super friendly and very spoiled! I will keep one of the roosters and give one to a friend. The Buff Orpingtons are probably the sweetest and always run up to me when they see me. The cuckoo marans rooster is sweet, gentle and quiet, while the black astralorp rooster is loud and very protective of his girls. I will be giving him to a friend who free ranges and will keep the cuckoo marans rooster.