As you may know, Brian, Chayton and I are currently planning for, and preparing to get chickens this coming spring. We set up the coop last fall and are now spending the winter reading up on heritage breeds and sourcing out local breeders.
Last November, we headed to Red Deer, Alberta to attend the 2014 Annual Canadian Heritage Breeds Urban Farm Show. This is an annual three-day show and we were excited to attend and do a little hands-on research on chickens. The event included a heritage livestock display, a Fancy Pigeon and Racing Homer show, a trade show area, competitions, silent auction, children’s activities, Chicken John’s petting zoo, and a banquet and awards ceremony for those participating.
What is a heritage breed? According to the CHB website:
Giving a concrete definition of the term ‘heritage’ can be a difficult task. The broadest definition of a heritage breed of livestock is: a breed that was developed and used on farms, ranches and homesteads before the advent of modern industrial agriculture. With a few exceptions, they are breeds that thrive in outdoor situations, are able to forage for some of their own food and have a long reproductive lifespan. Our heritage breeds range in age from mere decades to several centuries of history, but common among them all is a unique adaptation to both the farms they come from and the farmers who keep them.
We ended up going on Sunday afternoon when things were starting to wind down but we were still able to view most of the chickens. We are just learning about heritage chickens and are amazed at the incredible diversity of the breeds. It was even more exciting seeing the birds ‘in real life’ rather than just in books. They were all so beautiful (some were quite comical) and I can see how collecting and raising heritage breeds can be both fun and addictive!
I took a lot of pictures and decided not worry about trying to document the names of each breed this time around (there were so many) but rather just enjoyed their beauty in the moment knowing that there would be plenty of time later to learn each of their breeds/names.
Sadly, the pictures are taken through the cages but I hope they are enough to give you a taste of the wide variety of heritage breeds. At the show, the chickens were grouped by their size (small, medium and large) and then further grouped according to their breed.
We also saw ducks, geese and pigeons.
There was also an area at the back with birds for sale.
We really enjoyed attending the show and look forward to attending more shows in the future. We are now in the process of making the final choices and ordering our chicks for the spring. In just a few months, a matter of weeks, really, we will be starting our coop! In the meantime, these pictures are enough to enrich our research and learning about heritage breeds of chickens. I hope you enjoyed them, too.