Keeping a Mixed Flock

One question I’ve heard raised a lot recently has been whether or not someone should start out with a mixed flock, or if they should stick to the same breed. Let me first be clear that this is simply an opinion post – I’m stating my personal opinion; always do what works best for you!

With that being said, I will 11 times out of 10 choose the mixed flock – for MANY reasons. To start, I am a fan of variety. I like different colors and characteristics and qualities to my animals. With my chickens, I started out with a mixed flock and never looked back. A mixed flock, I believe, allows you to be more connected to each animal and form better bonds with them – it’s easier to tell one from the other, and therefore you can learn personalities, likes, and dislikes. I believe this is why Elsa is such a cheeky and personable gal – she was the dominant chick of the four originals, and I bonded better with her.

Not only do I enjoy diversity, but so do customers. If you’re selling vegetables, but only sell carrots, you’re only selling to a limited market because not everyone needs or wants carrots all the time. Same thing goes for livestock – people appreciate a dozen eggs of varying colors. I’m not saying that a dozen farm fresh white or brown eggs aren’t beautiful, because they are! I’m only saying that a carton with brown, blue, green, white, and pink eggs all intermixed is more intriguing and appealing to the eye. Likewise, I’ve found that meats from different breeds (especially heritage breeds) bring more customers and sometimes even a better price.

An additional reason to keep a mixed flock is increased disease resistance. Certain breeds are more resistant to some ailments than others. Certain breeds were developed with certain traits that can benefit the flock as a whole. Additionally, keeping a mixed species flock (not just mixed breeds) such as chickens and ducks or goats and sheep and cattle can benefit the animals involved and the environment even further. In doing so, one moves closer to a natural ecosystem.

As I said, on my farm, we embrace diversity. It helps to educate us. We learn which breeds we like and which we would rather do without. We learn which animals are easier for us to keep and which are more difficult. We are also able to provide better quality, more diverse goods to our customers, which is also a big plus! All in all, my recommendation will always be for a mixed flock, regardless of what animal you’re raising.

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