Choosing your chickens Choice of breed can depend on what you want from your chickens: do you want them for egg or meat production (or a combination of both)? While rare breed poultry tend not to produce huge eggs or the volumes that hybrids achieve, there are breeds that lay well and would keep the average family well supplied with spare for friends and neighbours. Amongst these are the Cream Legbar, Old English Pheasant Fowl and the Sussex which will give an average of 150 to 200 eggs in the first year. For meat production, look at the Indian Game, a bird that is more of a specialist meat variety which produces around 60 or 70 eggs a year. If you want both eggs and meat, the Ixworth is both a good layer and produces good meat. Breeding will inevitably produce cockerels, but you have a number of options. Generally you would know by about 12 weeks which are cockerels. However, autosexing breeds are a good choice if you want to guarantee that the birds you raise are pullets which will go on to produce eggs. As the name suggests, with this group of poultry breeds, you can sex chicks at just a day old as males and females have different down markings from the outset. Autosexing breeds give you the advantage of a period of time before they start crowing to decide what to do with them, whether that is re-homing, or with a good meat breed, stocking up the freezer.