The hybrids tend to be specialist strains developed for the commercial market to produce either eggs or meat. They tend to do one or the other very well, but not both. There are a number of hybrid strains of poultry specifically developed for egg production. These include Black Rocks, Lohmann Browns, Warrens and Bluebelles.

A hybrid is simply a cross between two pure breeds. If you breed from hybrids, they will not breed true to type.

Black Rock henBlack Rock hen: a hybrid of a Rhode Island Red cockerel and a Barred Plymouth Rock hen

The hybrid strains tend to lay lots of eggs in the first season, but production will fall away thereafter. Second season hens will produce enough eggs to keep the backyard poultry keeper happy, so sourcing these birds from a commercial producer can be a useful way of getting hens at a reasonable price.

There are also specialist meat strains – Hubbard and Sasso for example. These are available as hatching eggs or day-old chicks, depending on where you are located. These birds will be ready for slaughter at 10 to 14 weeks and will produce a meaty carcase of excellent flavour.

Rosemary Champion

About Rosemary Champion

Rosemary lives on a 12 acre smallholding in Angus, in the east of Scotland, where she keeps Ryeland Sheep, Shetland cattle and assorted poultry. She was destined to be a smallholder from an early age.

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