Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, more and more Filipinos are trying to grow heritage chicken in their backyard but the confusion on what breed to raise always results in a lot of questions through social media private messages.
Currently, there are three very common and popular breeds and they are Rhode Island Red (RIR), Barred Plymouth Rock (BPR), and Black Australorp (BA). There are also other breeds like Buff Orpington, Light Sussex, and Brahma but most of them, especially the Brahma, is more on show type rather than for human consumption.
Since the beginning of this year, the supply of heritage chicken day-old-chicks has plummeted and newcomers are having difficulty finding quality breeds. Other people on the other hand are taking for granted selling low-quality, fake, and sub-par breeds.
This results in many questions as to what is the best breed to raise – a difficult question that no definite answer.
First, there are so many questions to consider when choosing the right heritage chicken breed to raise. The following needs to be considered.
Is your purpose for commercial or personal consumption?
If you are planning to raise just several pairs of chicken any of the three breeds will do unless you have your own preference. Rhode Island Reds, Black Australorps, and Plymouth Barred Rocks are all good for eggs and meat productions and you can’t go wrong with anyone of them. However, if you are planning to have a commercial free-range egg production and your choices is only one of them, Black Australorp lays more eggs than the other two. But looking for ready to lay (RTL) hens will be a big challenge.
Which color interests you?
For small backyard chicken growers, color is important. This question can only be answered by you as all three of these chicken breeds are beautiful with shiny plumage.
Do you plan to sell eggs, meat, chicks, or breeders?
This is always a very basic question. Because of the scarcity of the supply, all three are not yet recommended for commercial egg or meat production. If you plan to build a commercial cage-free egg production, there are other hybrids that can provide you a better yield. Dominant CZ and Dekalb brown are highly recommended for brown eggs. For meat, you can always try the Kabir, SASSO, and Hubbard for free-range meat production.
How big a flock do you plan to raise and how big is your initial capital?
Heritage chicken breeds are not yet designed for bigger flocks unless you have a source outside the country. Buying 100 day-old RIR, BA, and BPR, for now, seems impossible.
What are the available chicken breeds in your locality? Do you have a source?
Even with a bigger capital, you will run into a bigger challenge if there is no supply of breeders or chicks. This is the reason why most medium-sized backyard breeders today started with just a couple of pairs several years ago. Due to the unavailability of source, it takes years for breeders to build their flock. This writer started from 3 pairs two years ago before building a flock of 60 hens.
Here is the comparison of RIR, BPR, and BA
As you noticed, there are two types of Rhode Island Reds and also the Bared Rock. RIR Mahogany ar more expensive than RIR production type because they are more beautiful and considered as show type (although there is no show in the Philippines).
The Barred Plymouth Rock with yellow legs is the original and pure BPR according to the American Poultry Association (APA). Those white legs are not pure and product of cross-breeding but since they have the same color, many do not consider this as an issue here in the Philippines. It’s up to the buyer which one to buy.
The biggest challenge face by aspiring chicken growers today is the lack of supply and this is the reason why the price of day-old-chicks is quite high.
If you plan to breed and sell chicks someday, make sure to buy high-quality breeds from reputable sellers. Having quality parent stocks is the key to a successful breeding business in the near future.
If you have been looking to buy for months and still cannot find one, don’t get angry and disappointed. Even us who are in this business for years are having difficulty finding suppliers. It is what it is. Just continue searching and someday you’ll find a supplier.
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