Everyone wants the perfect chicken. Of course, what qualifies as “perfect” varies depending on your needs. Some are looking for heat tolerant birds; others want cold tolerant birds. Some want heritage chicken breeds, while others just want the best layers. Then there are the folks who are looking for a flock that will help them survive the impending Zombie Apocalypse.
Yeah, I hear you laughing… but you’ll want to have eggs for breakfast whether zombies are roaming the streets or not, right? And do you really want to live without meringue or angel food cake for the rest of your life?
I thought not.
Even the CDC (the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention) got into the act last year with a blog post full of advice on how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. No joke. There’s something to be said for disaster preparedness, no matter what the disaster is, right?
At My Pet Chicken, while we don’t expect that the complete end of civilization is coming anytime soon, we can still offer some advice for choosing a great end-of-times chicken breed, in the interests of being prepared! In addition to the list of emergency supplies the CDC suggests having on hand at all times (water, food, medications, tools, etc.), and in addition to the more zombie-specific suggestions made in the comments section of their zombie preparedness post (a baseball bat for clearing a path through the hordes, running shoes, ammo, etc.), we’d like to suggest some chicken breeds that would be good, sustainable choices for long term survival.
In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, you will be looking for chickens that can forage well on their own.
Just remember, you won’t be able to simply pop down to the local feed store for more feed when the zombie hordes have invaded. There will be no ordering feeds online, either You’ll need to have chickens that are good foragers. They still won’t be able to survive without care and feed from you, of course, but you don’t want birds that eat a lot and produce very little; you’ll want to choose economical breeds.
When it comes to foraging ability, Gail Damerow’s new Chicken Encyclopedia has a nice list of chicken breeds that are good foragers, as well as a list of chickens that are excellent foragers. This might be a good reference guide to have on hand for the invasion, along with the latest edition of Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens and The Chicken Health Handbook.
There are a few other things to consider when choosing a breed for the zombie apocalypse. For one, you can’t simply pick any breed from Damerow’s “self sufficient breeds” lists and presume that your zombie preparedness worries are over. Some breeds forage well, but also need to eat a lot of feed to produce each egg! For instance, Brahmas are listed as good foragers–and they do forage very well. But because they’re such big birds, they still require a LOT of food, compared to how many eggs they lay. They also don’t lay prolific numbers of eggs, so Brahmas may not be the best choice for your apocalypse needs.
A second caveat is the broodiness factor. In addition to having a good foraging ability, the chickens you want to keep after the zombie apocalypse will need to occasionally go broody, so there will be future generations. For example, a flock of Andalusians–aggressive foragers according to the Chicken Encyclopedia!–aren’t going to help you survive the apocalypse long term. Like Leghorns and other Mediterranean breeds, Andalusians very seldom go broody. That means that unless you have a generator to run your incubator for 21 days so you can hatch new chicks, then once your original flock is done, there will be no more! For the zombie apocalypse, you’ll need to choose a breed that will also go broody and raise chicks.
Finally, you’ll need to find a breed that can survive in your climate. Fayoumis, in the list of aggressive foragers, would do well in hot areas–but would do very poorly in cold. Buckeyes do well in cold weather, but are less tolerant of extreme heat! You’ll also want your chickens to have some natural camouflage so they can hide from predators–and you’ll want them to be active and alert enough to avoid the occasional attack! A good breed for this is the Speckled Sussex. Although listed only among the “good” rather than the “aggressive” foragers in the Encyclopedia, in my experience they keep up with the best in my flock.
For my money—which (if the apocalypse comes) will be meaningless in the new barter economy—the best chicken breed to help you survive the Zombie Apocalypse is….
(Drum roll, please)
… the Welsummer.
Wellies are aggressive foragers. Plus, the hens are a heathery brown with reddish hackles, camouflaged so they are hard for predators to spot in the brush. (Zombies aren’t known for their keen eyesight, anyway.) Welsummers lay large, chocolate brown eggs with speckles, so even the eggs have camouflage. The hens are very good layers, too, laying four or more eggs a week. They can do well in both heat and cold. They do occasionally go broody (although not so often that you’ll be fighting to get them back to laying again)… and they’re among the sweetest birds in my flock, to boot. It’s nice to think that when the zombies come, I’ll have some friendly chickens to keep me company.
- Aggressive forager? Check
- Natural camouflage? Check
- Cold tolerant? Check
- Heat tolerant? Check
- Good layer? Check
- Large eggs? Check
- Will raise chicks? Check
- Can avoid predators? Check.
What else is there? While there may be other breeds that will do well in your particular environment, the wellie is a good bet for most places here in the United States.
Zombies, our Welsummers are ready for you!
My Pet Chicken would also like to give away a copy of The Chicken Encyclopedia to one of our readers! The winner will be chosen at random from among the people who comment on this blog entry. Make sure to tell us your recommended breed for the zombie apocalypse! Contest ends March 31, 2012.