There are over 500 chicken breeds throughout the world today. Many people choose to raise a variety of chicken breeds and variations of those breeds on their farms. In the interest of doing one thing and doing it well, we have chosen from the beginning to focus on only one of them.
How it started.
We started out with five hens. We only needed a few eggs per day for our family anyway. It was important to us that we choose a heritage breed, as our plan was to eventually build a sustainable homestead. At the time of our first chicken purchase, Buff Orpington chickens were still included on the Livestock Conservancy's endangered list. We were excited to do our part in preserving a breed which was described as hearty, dual-purpose, and friendly. Apparently, we were not the only ones with the idea. Within our first year of chicken-keeping - Buff Orps became the chicks most commonly found in hatcheries and feed stores. It would be nice to think that we contributed to the surge in popularity, but actually it turns out that we just happened to be there when Orps were the trendy thing.
Inevitably, as more and more people took up homesteading and YouTube videos proliferated, other rare and fancy breed chickens became all the rage. Some were touted to be super layers, others could grow to gigantic proportions, and others, mostly, were just really colorful.
We stuck it out and did all the hard work to establish a great breeding flock. Nature helped with a lot of the initial selection, as only those chickens best-suited to the free-range life will actually live long enough to pass on their genes. We further selected for temperament, weight, and all-season egg laying. Our flock has been effectively closed since late 2015 (with the exception of carefully selected roosters which we add every two years to avoid the unfortunate consequences of perpetual inbreeding) and all of our hens are descended in some way from those original five hens we brought home.
Currently, our main flock is composed of about 35 hens. Our girls are truly free-range. We provide a large coop with an automatic coop door for night-time protection and nest boxes for the more organized chickens, but it is entirely up to the chickens to come and go as they please. A few of our hens are over five years old. The veterans show the younger chickens all the tips and tricks for the free-range life. We do not provide feed for our free-range flock. Their diet consists of whatever they choose to eat somewhere on our seventeen mostly-wooded acres.
What's so great about our chickens?
- Docile and friendly: They make good pets and are kid-safe. Even our roosters are gentle and easy-going.
- Dual purpose: They are a heavy-breed chicken that can also provide plenty of eggs.
- Egg laying: Our girls are great layers of pink to light brown eggs year-round - yes, even on the coldest winter days.
- Cold-tolerant: This breed was built for cold weather.
- Free-range: They are resourceful foragers and their fairly neutral plumage blends in well when evading hawks.
Though we have recently scaled back our hatching here at LeChat Noir Farm, we do still periodically hatch in order to maintain our flock numbers. If we have extra chicks, you can find them on our For Sale page. If we do not have any available and you are hoping to add some of our chickens to your own flock, contact us to arrange a hatch just for you. We do not charge for incubating and hatching your chicks - you only buy the chicks you want at hatch. Text Anita at 769.307.6388 for more information.