Q: Why are your eggs/ chicks more expensive than the hardware store/ online hatchery?
A: Simply put, our chickens are better. We selectively breed our hens for health, vigor, strong foraging skills and temperament. Yes, you can find chicks – even American Bresse – for cheaper online. But we are doing the work and absorbing the expenses of only providing hatching eggs and chicks from our best hens and cocks. It’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of money to raise a batch of young poultry, only to find that you have maybe 1 or 2 good breeder hens and perhaps 1 outstanding cock (note, “cock” is the correct term for a male chicken. the term “Rooster” was introduced during the priggish victorian era because it was no longer “in good taste” to say “cock”. I’ll stick with tradition).
Do you vaccinate your chicks?
A: No. From a practicality standpoint, we don’t have the access or means to vaccinate. From a philosophical standpoint, we strive for naturally healthy, disease resistant chickens.
Q: Do you offer sexed chicks?
A: No. If I was to claim that I could sex a chick, I’d be lying! The best part of American Bresse is that they are dual purpose. Their meat is famously more succulent than other breeds. If you want to be sure that you are only getting hens, please check out larger hatcheries or explore auto-sexing chicks like Cream Crested Leg Bars from another breeder. We may offer these breeds in the future, but they pose another challenge with what to do with the extra roos.
Q: Do you ship?
A: We currently only ship hatching eggs. Due to logistics and costs, we typically do not ship chicks. Reach out via the contact form if you have any questions.
Q: Do you offer a hatch-rate guarantee?
A: In short, no. There are too many variables – including issues with transportation and variations in incubators – that may impact your hatch rate. We are a very small operation. American Bresse is a project of passion for us; one that we are now sharing with you! But we cannot assume all the risks of working with live beings. If you do have a poor hatch rate, especially if you pick up your eggs locally, please reach out to us. We typically see a hatch rate between 70 – 85% depending on the time of year and other factors.
Q: What do you feed your chickens?
A: We start all our chicks on organic feed. As soon as weather permits, we put then in a tractor until they are 12 weeks old and transition them to fermented feed twice daily. At that time, they are free ranged to encourage natural behavior and foraging for their own bugs and seeds on our chemical-free property. At six months they are reduced to feeding once daily. This encourages strong foraging and optimizes feed. We currently are feeding 100% certified organic feed, but we are in talks with local providers of uncertified organic options to help manage costs.
Q: Do you use any supplements?
A: Yes. We mix kelp, brewers yeast, probiotics, and garlic into their feed. Additionally, we add oregano and cinnamon oil to their water supply.
Q: What about scraps?
A: Yes. We give our chickens occasional treats, such as roasted squash, greens, and berries that have gone soft. Since we only eat organic or home-grown food, so does our chickens.
Q: What traits are you breeding for?
A: We aim for an all-around robust chicken, suited for the homestead/ small farm environment. It’s easy to pick just one trait and emphasis it as the negligence of others. So you have to be intentional! The key things we are looking for include:
- Health & Vigor – we won’t breed any chicken that has health issues.
- Foraging skills – feed is expensive! Strong foragers minimize feed requirements and provide wonderfully nutrient-rich eggs.
- Egg production/ fast growth – as a truly dual purpose breed, we want both solid egg production AND fast growth – these traits can compete each other though. Our goal is balance!
- Temperament – Everyone knows someone who has a mean rooster story. This is unacceptable. Roosters complete the flock and offer vital protection to their ladies. For both sexes we select for friendly, approachable chickens. It makes chicken keeping so much better!
We also select for other traits, including broodiness, appearance, and how fast they start laying – but at a lesser degree.