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Definition: Standard breeds of chickens as defined by the American Poultry Association that are naturally mating, long-lived, and slow growing. The Livestock 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. Where to Find Heritage Chickens Note: The Livestock Conservancy encourages contacting the hatchery directly to determine the breeds of birds available and to determine whether these are in fact Heritage Chickens. The Livestock Conservancy also maintains a list of Heritage Chicken breeders in its Breeders Directory. This is a compilation of images taken of a variety of heritage breeds that were photographed by Conservancy staff at several poultry shows.
It’s difficult, but not totally impossible to determine the sex of a Silkie. There are signs that can help you long before the first egg or crow of a rooster. Behavior and size can be good indications of sex. Roosters are often bold, have that sturdy or stronger look, and sometimes they are larger. These are noticeable traits, even when chicks are still in the brooder. Look for the brighter, or sharper distinctions of color in birds when they reach 8 or 9 weeks. Roosters seem to stand out more, dazzling you with a little wow factor. These Silkies are all just under 3 months old, 2 white, and 2 buffs. The white Silkie pictured below is probably a rooster. He is much larger and has been at the top of the pecking order since the second week of life. The size between pic 1 and 2 is obvious, recognizing behavior traits is something you’ll notice by watching your own birds.
All we really can do is learn the behavior traits of roosters and recognize indications such as size. But I must admit, I’ve been positive about having a Silkie rooster… and been surprised 6 months later when it laid an egg. Gotta love those Silkie Bantams!