At Hawthorne Ridge Heritage Farm we raise a variety of heritage chicken breeds, which are chosen for their breed characteristics. There are literally hundreds of different chicken breeds as these have been bred around the world for thousands of years. Global statistics place chickens at about 24 Billion in 2019, so you can see that there are a lot of folks who fancy the taste and versatility of chicken!
We have a mixed flock that at any point in time includes Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Rocks, Leghorns, Buff Orpingtons, Americanas and Copper Marans. A distinctive inclusion in the Canadian Chantecler Chicken, which originated in the early 1900’s when the monks at the Abbey of Notre Dame du Lac at Oka Quebec worked to breed a chicken that could better tolerate the harsh Canadian winter conditions. This robust, pure white chicken has very reduced combs (the fleshy bit on top of their head) and wattles (the dangly bits under their chin) so that these are not subject to frost bite as is common in other European breeds.
We do also raise a lovely red-feathered heritage mixed breed for meat production. These do not grow as quickly as commercial broiler birds, but they forage well and produce a lovely 4-6 lb bird over the summer months. Our birds are 12 -14 weeks old at maturity.
Because we use “chicken tractors” – a mesh predator-proof enclosure – our birds have ready access to grass and bugs and dirt to scratch. We do provide a grain-based supplement to help them meet their caloric needs, and of course they have access to fresh water 24/7.