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Heritage Chicken

Chicken Gallery


About the Heritage Chicken

Chickens can be seen in both the Franklin Farm.

Here at Franklin Park Zoo, we have three heritage breeds of chickens:

  • Buff orpington
  • Lakenvelder
  • Dominique

What are heritage breeds?

With the industrialization of chickens, many breeds were sidelined in preference for a few rapidly growing hybrids. The Livestock Conservancy now lists over three dozen breeds of chickens in danger of extinction. According to the Conservancy, the extinction of a breed would mean the irrevocable loss of the genetic resources and options it embodies. Therefore, to draw attention to these endangered breeds, to support their long-term conservation, to support efforts to recover these breeds to historic levels of productivity, and to re-introduce these culinary and cultural treasures to the marketplace, the Conservancy created the following criterion to be classified as a heritage chicken:

  1. APA Standard Breed
    Heritage Chicken must be produced and sired by an American Poultry Association Standard breed. 
  2. Naturally mating
    Heritage Chicken must be reproduced and genetically maintained through natural mating. Chickens marketed as Heritage must be the result of naturally mating pairs of both grandparent and parent stock.
  3. Long, productive outdoor lifespan
    Heritage Chicken must have the genetic ability to live a long, vigorous life and thrive in the rigors of pasture-based, outdoor production systems. Breeding hens should be productive for 5-7 years and roosters for 3-5 years.
  4. Slow growth rate
    Heritage Chicken must have a moderate to slow rate of growth, reaching appropriate market weight for the breed in no less than 16 weeks. This gives the chicken time to develop strong skeletal structure and healthy organs prior to building muscle mass.

Source: The Livestock Conservancy