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Heritage VS Hybrid

by | Apr 13, 2021 | Meyer Moment

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about heritage versus hybrid. As you begin your search for new flock additions you may come across terminology such as heritage and hybrid, but what’s the difference? And most importantly what’s best for you?

Read Full Episode Transcript

Hey everyone! Welcome back to The Coop with Meyer Hatchery – where we talk all things poultry in hopes of inspiring crazy chicken keepers and educating future flock owners. Each week we like to take a Meyer Moment to cover relevant happenings. 

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about heritage versus hybrid. As you begin your search for new flock additions you may come across terminology such as heritage and hybrid, but what’s the difference? And most importantly what’s best for you?

Heritage, as defined by the Livestock Conservancy, must adhere to four different criteria to be marketed as Heritage. First, it must be 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. 

Heritage breeds must be able to reproduce and genetically maintain it’s traits through natural mating. In addition, they must have a moderate to slow rate of growth, reaching an appropriate weight in no less than 16 weeks. 

Lastly, they should live a long, productive outdoor lifespan with hens remaining productive for 5-7 years and roosters 3-5 years. This means they can not only live but thrive in open pastures with the opportunity to free-range. 

Heritage breeds are important in preserving the integrity of purebred genetics who often have historic levels of productivity. 

A common argument amongst poultry enthusiasts is that hatchery birds are of lesser quality because they are not deemed heritage. Sometimes you’ll hear hatchery birds referred to as “production”. For example heritage Rhode island red versus production Rhode island red.   

As our Breed Flock Manager stated in episode 22, Meyer Hatchery makes every effort to ensure our parent flocks meet the APA breed standard, however, they may not have the traceable lineage. So while not all breeds can be called  Heritage, they are pretty comparable as far as quality. 

Hybrids, on the other hand, are cross-bred from pure breeds and are more common across the commercial industry and as backyard chickens. 

A great example of hybrids are the Eggers, including Easter Eggers, Steele Eggers, and Lakeshore Eggers. Oftentimes hybrids are used to produce specific egg colors. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the Cornish Cross Broilers are considered a hybrid and were developed specifically for fast growth and larger weight for processing. 

So when it comes to heritage vs hybrid is one better than the other? Not necessarily. It depends on you and your flock needs. Are you looking to preserve chicken breeds for genetic conservation or as a breeder? Then Heritage Breeds are right for you! Are you looking to raise backyard eggs for your family, keep pet chickens, or help feed your community? Hybrids are a great choice for you!

And if you’re interested in both, it’s completely fine to raise both hybrids and heritage chickens. We hope this definition better illustrates the difference in chicken breeds and helps you in making your next flock addition. 

Enjoy the rest of your week and as always, thank you for listening to The Coop!

Hosts & Guests

Kendra + Jeff
From Meyer Hatchery

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