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Breeding the Homestead Poultry Flock

This page was updated July 21, 2011.

*Table of Contents for Breeding Section is at bottom of this page.*

For too long, the site has lacked a page on starting chicks in an artificial brooder. I have now added “Brooding Chicks: Two Options”, which contains a good overview of that project. (I'm not the person to advise you about hatching eggs with an incubator, since I’ve never used one.)

I strongly encourage making “deep litter over an earth floor” the key to wholesome manure management in the poultry house. In a guest article, Jean Nick of American Pastured Poultry Producers Association describes her use of a deep litter system when raising chicks in an artificial brooder.

The second half of the new article “Brooding Chicks: Two Options” deals with using natural mothers instead, though there is a more detailed treatment of that topic on the site—“Working with Broody Hens: Let Mama Do It.” If you've been buying your poultry stock as day-old hatchlings shipped through the mail, why don’t you try your hand at hatching your own, with help from the true expert? It’s great fun, and will be especially rewarding if you have children with whom you can share the miracle of life.

Since I'm so committed to hatching with natural mothers, I've begun a breeding experiment to enhance brooding skills in hens of good size—my “Boxwood Broody” cross.

Of course, you'll never hatch an egg if you don't have a cock in the flock to ensure that it’s fertile. “Working with the Cock(s) in the Flock” is a discussion of the special challenges of working with “the boys.”.

“Breeding Your Backyard Flock” discusses general principles of utilitarian homestead breeding.

Of course, breeding our own isn’t just about breeding chickens. Read about “My Long Goose Breeding Saga”—finally successful!

This section ends with a pictorial of the design, construction, and use of my trap nests.

Note that I have moved the article on the Cornish Cross to the Small Markets section. Those interested in breeding a better bird for pastured broiler models can check it out there.