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Where to Buy Chickens, Guineas and Farm-Fresh Eggs in Asheville, NC

While we had a wonderful time raising farm-fresh eggs, day-old chicks, free-range chickens, ducks and guineas -- we are currently not raising any poultry for sale.

Unfortunately, 1) we never got comfortable with the butchering process (because half of your eggs turn out to be roosters and most everyone who visits us want to buy hens), 2) we tired of eating eggs with every meal and -- 3) when you are "gabbers" like we are, we found it too easy to spend an hour "talking shop" every time someone came out to buy a dozen eggs or couple $2 chicks.

So, while the cost of getting into the poultry business is minimal, we found it to be a tough way to make any money.

Where to find chickens for sale in Asheville, NC

If we haven't yet discouraged you from buying a few chicks or layer hens, you can almost always find chickens for sale by visiting craigslist.com or looking in the iWanna (our local, penny-saver type newspaper).

"What's the best breed of chickens for meat or eggs (or friendliness around children)?"

We started out with Buff Orpington (which we absolutely loved), then experimented with a few Araucana (John Adams-type beard and lay gorgeous blue-green eggs), Marans (famous for very dark, brown eggs), White Brahman (meaty with big floppy, feathery feet), Rhode Island Red (really meaty), Barred Rock (friendly as all heck), and Black Australorps (reputation of being the world's most prolific layer breed).

We noticed no significant difference in egg production between any of these heritage breeds -- they all produce well for the first couple years but slowed after that. Since they're heritage breeds, all were good foragers, scattering over a couple acres during the day and then tucking themselves into the coop at night.

Roosters from any of these breeds seem to be pretty interchangeable, as well. They all take about 6 months to beef-up and cooked up to be equally tender in the crockpot. It just makes for good conversation to have so many different breeds running around.

We never raised Cornish Rock Cross, which is what most people are probably most familiar with. (In fact, I believe it's is the only breed of meat chicken you'll ever find at grocery stores or restaurants.) They are the breed of choice for commercial growers since they reach full cleaning weight within just 6 or 7 weeks! Our neighbor had a couple Cornish Rock Cross -- and it's true! While our birds still looked like chicks at 7 or 8 weeks, her's more closely resembled turkeys.

"We're wanting Guinea Fowl for tick control. Any suggestions?"

As for guineas, we've had just about every color possible: white, lavender, purple and polka-dotted. To assure a good genetic mix, we hatched eggs (purchased off ebay) from a half-dozen states. Our guineas were fabulous foragers, covering a good quarter mile or so from the coop daily (they seem to have a special fondness for ticks (hooray) and tomatoes (%&#[email protected]!)). If your New Year's resolution is to start getting up earlier in the mornings, having a flock of guineas around the house will certainly help you accomplish that. If on the other hand, you have only an acre or two of pasture, we'd suggest you go with chickens since that's probably not enough roaming room to satisfy free-ranging guineas. Guineas are just a much wilder bird than chickens.

The wonderful thing about breeding guineas, however, is that buyers don't favor the hens over the boys. Both genders are annoyingly loud and equally effective at tick control. (So, we never had to butcher a guinea -- which is good because someone who ended up eating a couple that they purchased from us reported that they were tough as leather.)

And even with hundreds of guineas and chickens, we still had a bad tick problem before we got cattle to eat and keep the grass short. (Cows must munch on thousands of ticks every day and ticks seem to have a difficult time proliferating in short grass.)

Things we found especially interesting about guineas:

Unlike chickens, which lay eggs year 'round, our guinea hens lay only in the summer months, starting around June each year. And guinea eggs take about a week longer to hatch: 21 days for chickens versus 28 days for guineas.

I once found a lone guinea egg in the grass near our coop so i placed it into the incubator along with a couple dozen chicken eggs. Luckily, this guinea keet hatched along with the chicken chicks! Since we've never raised 'commercial' breeds of chickens (like Cornish Rock Cross), our heritage breed chickens take a lot longer to mature. So, for the first couple months, we keep our chicks indoors in a brooder and then separated from the free-range flock in their own separate coop. Because of this, that little guinea HAD to think that he or she was a chicken. He or she had been surrounded by only chicks for those first couple months and had never seen or heard another guinea.

Finally, the day came to release this batch into the regular flock. Our adult guineas and chickens all have access to the same area but they have very little interest in each other so the two types of birds largely stay separate.

That night, when I went to close in the chickens, the little guinea was nowhere to be seen. Dejected, I assumed that it must have gotten picked off by a hawk... even though we've lost very few birds to predators.

After closing up the chickens, I went to close the guinea coop. There, settled in with the rest of the guinea flock was the little guinea!

Perhaps our favorite foul were ducks. They stick close to home, are wonderful egg layers and can always make you laugh.

SORRY: We currently have no free range chickens, ducks, guineas or farm-fresh eggs for sale.

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