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What You Can Learn from a Chicken’s APA Class

A mixed flock of chickens in a backyard

For exhibition purposes, large chicken breeds recognized by the American Poultry Association (APA) are organized into six classes. Most of the classes represent the geographic region where the breeds originated or were developed. Knowing a chicken’s APA class lets you infer a number of things about the breed, including temperament, laying ability, climate tolerance, and […]

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Caring for Bantam Chickens

A young man holds a bantam chicken

Does caring for bantam chickens differ from keeping larger chickens? Yes and no. Any differences generally relate to the bantams’ smaller size and to their typically gentle temperament. Predator Protection Bantam chickens are so light in weight that most predators can easily carry one away. And because they have shorter legs, they can’t run to […]

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Which Poultry Breed Lays a Black Egg?

A black chicken egg

The internet is rife with photographs of eggs from chickens and other poultry that have black shells. Are they a trick of the imagination? Poor photographic lighting? Or true poultry eggs with inky shells? If so, which poultry breed lays a black egg? Maybe Ducks Among ducks, the Cayuga sometimes lays eggs with black shells. […]

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Ancona Duck in the Rare Breed Spotlight

A group of Ancona Ducks

The Ancona duck originated in the 1910s, yet remains a rare breed that has never been listed in the American Standard of Perfection. Cackle Hatchery® is one of its few long-term breeders, having maintained Ancona genetics since 1977. Physical Attributes Anconas are typically white and black, or any combination of white and color, in irregular […]

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Duck Eclipse and Nuptial Molts — What Do They Mean?

A group of ducks sit on the water on the pond

Ducks, like other birds, periodically replace their worn-out feathers with a full set of fresh plumage in a process called molting. Young ducks go through two consecutive molts. After maturity, the hens renew their feathers annually, while the drakes go through two annual plumage changes —the eclipse and nuptial molts. Most domestic duck breeds in […]

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Heritage Breed Spotlight: Fawn & White Runner Duck

A group of Fawn and White Runner Ducks

The Runner duck is an ancient breed known in the East Indies for at least 2,000 years. Its excellence lies in being a terrific layer that’s agile enough to easily herd over long distances. Runner ducks were traditionally kept in pens overnight. After the hens laid their eggs in the morning, the ducks were herded […]

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How to Tell a Good Egg from a Bad Egg

A chicken walking away from a sign that says "Fresh Eggs"

Homegrown eggs are so tasty they are unlikely to sit around long enough to spoil. However, eggs do occasionally go off. Every chicken keeper should know how to tell a good egg from a bad egg. Why an Egg Goes Bad A bad egg is generally one that has been contaminated, rendering it inedible or […]

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How to Mix Different Chicken Breeds in One Flock

a mixed flock of chickens outside

Like a lot of chicken keepers, you might want to include a variety of breeds in your backyard flock. Maybe you look forward to gathering baskets full of colorful eggs. Or, rather than all one breed of the same color and type, you prefer a more interesting variety of colors, sizes, and personalities. Or maybe […]

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Should You Vaccinate Your Chickens?

vaccine

Deciding if you should vaccinate your chickens depends on how likely they are to encounter infectious diseases. You may not need to vaccinate if you maintain impeccable biosecurity, because doing so significantly reduces your flock’s risk of acquiring a disease. Unfortunately, many backyard chicken keepers either don’t know about biosecurity or just don’t think it’s […]

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