Heritage Chickens






Good Shepherd chickens are certified standard bred by the American Poultry Association. A Heritage Egg can only be produced by a Standard-bred Chicken admitted by the American Poultry Association. A Heritage Chicken is hatched from a Heritage Egg sired by an American Poultry Association Standard-bred Chicken established prior to the mid-20th century, is slow growing, naturally mated with a long productive outdoor life.



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The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Definition of Heritage Chicken

Chickens have been a part of the American diet since the arrival of the Spanish explorers. Since that time, different breeds have been developed to provide meat, eggs, and pleasure. The American Poultry Association began defining breeds in 1873 and publishing the definitions in the Standard of Perfection. These Standard breeds were well adapted to outdoor production in various climatic regions. They were hearty, long-lived, and reproductively vital birds that provided an important source of protein to the growing population of the country until the mid-20th century. With the industrialization of chickens many breeds were sidelined in preference for a few rapidly growing hybrids. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy now lists over three-dozen breeds of chickens in danger of extinction. Extinction of a breed would mean the irrevocable loss of the genetic resources and options it embodies. Therefore, to draw attention to these endangered breeds, to support their long-term conservation, to support efforts to recover these breeds to historic levels of productivity, and to re-introduce these culinary and cultural treasures to the marketplace, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is defining Heritage Chicken. Chickens must meet all of the following criteria to be marketed as Heritage.




1. APA Standard Breed: Heritage Chicken must be from parent and grandparent stock of breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) prior to the mid-20th century; whose genetic line can be traced back multiple generations; and with traits that meet the APA Standard of Perfection guidelines for the breed. Heritage Chicken must be produced and sired by an APA Standard breed. Heritage eggs must be laid by an APA Standard breed.
2. Naturally mating: Heritage Chicken must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating. Chickens marketed as Heritage must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.

3. Long, productive outdoor lifespan: Heritage Chicken must have the genetic ability to live a long, vigorous life and thrive in the rigors of pasture-based, outdoor production systems. Breeding hens should be productive for 5-7 years and roosters for 3-5 years.
4. Slow growth rate: Heritage Chicken must have a moderate to slow rate of growth, reaching appropriate market weight for the breed in no less than 16 weeks. This gives the chicken time to develop strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass.


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Chicken Breeds

apa seal

Heritage Breeds



The Plymouth Rock, often called simply Rocks or Barred Rocks (after their most popular color), is a chicken breed that originated in the United States. It was admitted to the A.P.A. Standard in 1874. They possess a long, broad back; a moderately deep, full breast; and yellow skin and legs. The Plymouth Rock was developed in New England in the middle of the 19th century and was first exhibited as a breed in 1869. Plymouth Rocks were bred as a dual-purpose fowl, meaning that they were valued both for their meat and for the hens’ egg-laying ability. The first Plymouth Rock was barred and other varieties were developed later. The breed became popular very rapidly, and in fact, until World War II, no breed was ever kept and bred as extensively in the United States as the Barred Plymouth Rock. Its popularity came from its qualities as an outstanding farm chicken: hardiness, docility, broodiness, and excellent production of both eggs and meat.

PBR Illustration




The New Hampshire chicken is a relatively new breed, having been admitted to the A.P.A. Standard in 1935. They represent a specialized selection out of the Rhode Island Red breed. Farmers made intensive selection for rapid growth, fast feathering, early maturity and vigor, over time a different breed gradually emerged. This took place in the New England states, chiefly in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, from which it takes its name. They possess a deep, broad body with a standard weight of 6.5 pounds. The bird dresses out as a nice, plump carcass as either a broiler or a roaster. They were initially used in the Chicken of Tomorrow contests of 1948, which led the way for the modern broiler industry.




The Cornish fowl known as the Indian Game in its native country of England, is a breed of chicken originating in the county of Cornwall. Dark Cornish were admitted to the American Standards in 1893. A distinguishing characteristic of the Cornish is that the body of both male and female is of the same conformation. A super heavy meat producing bird and the first really meat producing bird in the world. The modern chicken of today is base on this breed. It lost popularity in the commercial world because it is very slow growing but was used in the 1940’s to make the Cornish Rock of today. This wonderful fowl today is very rare and should be bought back to our table. The meat if full of flavor, richness and firmness that can not be beat.

Cornish Illustration



Wyandotte Illustration


The Wyandotte is an American breed. The Silver Laced Wyandotte was developed in New York State in the early 1870s and were admitted into the standard in 1883. The silver laced wyandotte has white feathers with black edges to every feather, an effect called lacing. The tail is black and they should have yellow legs. Their rose comb makes them less likely to suffer from frostbite in cold weather. They lay around 180-220 brown eggs a year, and are layers of good-sized brown eggs. Males reach a weight of 8 1/2 pounds; Wyandottes are good dual purpose birds.




The Jersey Giant chicken was developed between 1870 and 1890 by John and Thomas Black in Burlington County, near the town of Jobstown, New Jersey. The Jersey Giant was recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1922. These typically mellow chickens are impressive in size with mature roosters weighing 13 pounds and the mature hens weighing 10 pounds, making them the largest purebred chicken breed. The standard developed for the birds included rugged gigantic frame, with an angular shape, single comb and black (with willowish tinge) shanks. They tend to grow a big frame first and cover it with meat later.

Jersey Giant Illustration

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