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What Are Heritage Chicken Breeds


Heritage breeds of chicken are becoming a food of the past. They are being replaced by commercial and, industrial breeds. Heritage chicken breeds are quickly becoming endangered and, some breeds are now rare or, critically endangered. 

A heritage chicken breed is an old fashioned dual, multi-purpose breed of poultry that is also a natural breeder, not requiring artificial insemination. Heritage chickens lay eggs, breed naturally and brood clutches of chicks. These types of poultry derived from the rain forests and jungles. Heritage chicken breeds are excellent foragers and they thrive on open, free range. They peck, scratch, dig and fly up high at night to roost. They roost up high to protect themselves from predators. 


Heritage chickens thrive on native diets consisting of decaying organic matter, bugs, fruits, berries, vegetative edibles, grubs, worms and, they can peck a carcass clean, leaving behind a pile of bones. Chickens require high protein, high fat and a plethora of living micro-organisms.  

Jungles and wet forests do not offer pastures for wild chickens. In captivity, pasture-raised chickens are usually fed a compromising diet fortified with grains such as corn, soy, wheat and, barley. Cereal grains are not considered a natural part of their diets especially since they are not found in the natural terrain of forests, jungles and, wet forests.


On the other hand, commercial chickens are, by human design, These are genetically designed to grow very fast on a diet comprised of grains. Some reach full market weight in an little as 3 weeks. Others, may take a bit longer. There are many types of commercial chickens utilized by organic and pasture-based farming systems. Some commercial breeds are designed to mimic the old fashioned, heritage breeds to suit a growing market. 

Poultry from chickens under 12 weeks of age are not nutritionally dense. In nature baby chicks take their sweet time to develop. This time gives their body time to adjust and allow their organs, muscles, bones and central nervous system to develop properly.  When you consume poultry from faster growing breeds and, they are under 12 weeks of age, you are consuming inferior meat which, does not contain all of the potential nutrients. Young birds are still within the growing stages and are still utilizing all the food for growth and development. Therefore, during the growing stages they do not have adequate amounts of stored nutritional density.

Besides the high density nutritional profiles, the seasonal flavor profiles of properly grown ethical, heritage chickens are far superior in every way. It's no secret that grains contain mycotoxins which, are partially responsible for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and, cancer. When pasture-raised chickens are supplemented or, fed a diet comprised of organic or non-organic cereal grains then, it becomes obvious that the chicken in question has a compromised immune system. "You are what you eat" does not just apply to people. The rolling snow-ball effects of our actions, are real. 

Most poultry farmers buy their baby chicks as day-old from hatcheries. They are artificially incubated and, hatched without, a mother hen. Here's where it gets interesting. When a mother hen broods her clutch she, transfers critical immunoglobins and beneficial bacteria to her baby chicks. This contradicts the standard of vaccinating baby chicks to prevent poultry diseases. Understanding they "why vaccinate" behind factory farmed and, factory hatched poultry is important. Factory hatched and, grown chickens are without a strong immune system. This poses tremendous risk to the spread of disease and, influenza. This is "why".

When people consume chickens that have been systematically vaccinated, de-wormed with anti-parasite drugs these drugs accumulated inside the chicken. The accumulation is not restricted to the parts that we do not eat but also, to the soft tissue, muscle and, bones. Therefore, it stands to reason that we can compromise the integrity of our own gut bacteria and, digestive enzymes. Ethical, heritage chickens are naturally vaccine-free. They are vaccine-free because they are bred, hatched, raised by their flocks. They have stronger, natural immune systems and, this is good for the flocks and the consumer

When you consume ethical, heritage chicken, you are also helping to protect and, preserve old fashioned heritage breeds. You are providing the most nutritionally dense food for you and your family.  Heritage breeds are beneficial to the ecological system. Seeking out grain-free poultry is also beneficial because growing grains is one of the biggest problems with ground water contamination since, they require pesticides (even certified organic). Another issue with grains is that they are very thirsty and, require tremendous amounts of water which, has led to global water shortages. In addition, grains, even organic grains are contaminated with "mycotoxins" which, are dangerous molds. 

Xenia Stavrinides

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