[repost from my Capper Farmer blog: http://www.cappersfarmer.com/blogs/falcos-poultry.aspx]
Heritage breed birds have an immense amount of genetically passed down skills that are a resource for poultry-raisers to utilize. From parenting skills to foraging abilities to predator evasion, a heritage breed bird outshines their industrial breed counterpart.
There was quite a hull-a-baa-loo occurring outside. Rushing outdoors, 22 in hand while still putting on my boots and jacket, I came upon the scene. What an incredible scene it was! My Dominique rooster flew out of the electric netting and captured something in his feet – midair. By the time I reached him, “Mister” (the name for all my roosters) had pecked to death an owl! Barn owls have been hunting chicks and poults for the last couple of weeks and I imagine that Mister was fed up. I have seen roosters defend hens against an attack from coyotes, but a bird of prey for chicks and turkey poults? Mister actually attacked and killed an owl and lived to see another day, without mussing his feathers. See, skills.
I understand why a farmer would choose to use industrial breed for production, but each time we selectively breed livestock to produce bigger, faster and more, we lose these all important skills. This is just something to consider when you order your next batch of hatchlings. When we breed out these life-saving skills, we farmers have to work much harder and longer and spend more money to make up for the loss.
Mister, you have earned your keep for sure. These skills will be passed down through your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Color me impressed!