At this time we are local only.
After much thought and consideration, we're sticking with the Black Silver Marans out of the B/B/S line we started with. Their egg color and type is improving with each generation and I'm really pleased with how they're producing on the dual purpose level.
Bresse - American
The Bresse have exceeded our expectations! They've proven to be good layers of a pretty beige egg (5-6 eggs a week per hen) and extra cockerels for the table did not disappoint. We will always have a line of pure Bresse, they're too useful not to!
Purpose Driven Poultry
I have found a methodical and logical approach to the way that we raise poultry, that keeps us well fed and the birds breeding forward to advance their quality and flock refinement. It's a win-win, for the chickens and us.
It took me a long time to admit the truth, the fact that if you hatch eggs, cockerels come with. Several times in the past I had found myself with too many boys, scrambling to find a new flock for them to go to. One day, while I had about 17 cockerels I didn't need at home... while I was looking over the poultry selection at the store... It hit me then... Wouldn't extra cockerel taste like chicken?
If that wasn't a can of worms I had just opened up, I don't know what is. We processed those 17 extra cockerels, Easter Eggers, and were sadly disappointed. No, they were nothing like store bought chicken. Not even close, in a bad way.
That spawned a mountain of research. We went through more varieties of chicken than I had ever had in the past. Everything deemed "dual purpose" that I could get my hands on. Eggs, chicks, birds... you name it, I tried it.
How did they flesh out and at what age? What was the feed conversion? Could the girls really lay a reasonable amount of eggs? So many questions!
How do you finish them? How do you age them? How do you dress them out and preserve them? How do you cook them?
Ultimately, I circled around to "How do you make them better?" because a large part of what we tried, breed wise, wasn't that great.
It was then that I realized that bloodline within a breed matters a LOT, more than I had ever given it credit for... it's that breeding stock that will determine what you get and what you can expect from them.
Looks like I'm going to be a chicken breeder then.
By this time, I had been through so many birds that a lot had started making a bunch of sense. There aren't that many people who put genuine breeding effort into their birds, the results were well shown throughout chickendom. There's nothing I dislike more than chicken shopping, it's too unpredictable. I would read about a bird, order in those birds... and they wouldn't be what I had read about. I was ordering wrong, but that's besides the point. There's not many options when it comes to ordering in what you read about, no matter what you spent on them.
We changed everything about our chickens. We became meat snobs. We expanded our methods and refined our process. We took ownership of the evolution of our flock. We became... curators of our bloodlines.
Once we had found the birds that served the purpose.
In becoming dual purpose and giving a job to the extra males that hatch, we've found a new freedom in how many we can hatch and grow. We can aim to fill our freezer and shop for a nice male for breeding, allowing us to fall into breeding the "best 10%". The 1 in 100 cockerel will look a lot different than the 1 in 10 cockerel. When it comes to selecting a breeding rooster, how many choices do you want to have? It may come down to "How many can you find a home for" or "How many can you eat in a year."
For every cockerel that hatches, there are NOT enough flocks for them all. He may not be of the type to pass on desirable traits and he may not have any business anywhere near a breeding flock. Where is he to go and what is he to do?
We give them the purpose of dinner and the flock is better for it. Your flock is too, if you choose to take ownership over the whole chicken life cycle.
In being dual purpose, you can't forget about the eggs. For that matter, if you're worried about the meat AND eggs, you may as well consider what they look like too. Well, and how they act. How healthy they are. Just all of the things that make them good chickens. When you consider all of those things, that's where the breeding boils down to keeping the best 10%.
In breeding your own, you're looking for the best birds who have the most of everything. Eat the ones who aren't that. Sell the ones that are pretty close. Managing your flock from one generation and to the next, in a constant state of improvement and development. Until you have achieved perfection.
Do that, and you naturally become a breeder of note in the varieties you're working with.
You can "buy" breeding, but you can you repeat it if it's good? Can you fix a bloodline if it isn't already great? Can you make a good bloodline better? That's where I've reached in my chicken hobby.
Every season, I set out to produce better than before. From their table qualities to their laying to the aesthetic for their respective breed... always improve and keep them true to type and function. Let the subsequent hatches tell you what to change in your program. Let the flock evolve.
16 week extra Bresse cockerels and eggs from 1st year pullets.
16 week extra Marans cockerels and eggs from 1st year pullets.
A fridge full of extra Cockerels, large enough to share with friends and family.
A smoker full of chicken, from sandwiches to chicken & rice to stir fry... salad topping... so many options and already cooked!
Marans and Bresse eggs, just enough contrast to keep the eye interested!
Who doesn't like a little bit of chocolate?
The "1 in 100" Black Silver Marans cockerel of 2020
Drop us a line if you have any questions or comments! You can also find us on Facebook for more pictures, stories and goings-on. If we have any birds available, they're usually sold before you ever see mention of them.