Here are some of the chicken breeds raised on Petaluma’s small poultry ranches and in area backyards:
Derived from the Araucana breed from Chile, this U.S. version was developed in the 1970s. The chickens come in several colors: black, blue, blue wheaten, brown, red buff, silver, wheaten and white. Their eggs are a distinctive blue-green color.
Barred Plymouth Rock
This dual-purpose bird (eggs and meat) originated in New England in 1849 and gained widespread popularity in the U.S. until World War II. It comes in several colors, including dark barred and light barred, with bars of white alternating with gray. The eggs are brown with a touch of pink.
Originating in the United Kingdom in the late 1800s, these attractive chickens are the Scarlett Johanssons of the poultry world, with alluring buff feathers that appear golden in the sunlight. They are raised for both eggs and meat and lay light-brown eggs.
Suitable for both eggs and meat, this white chicken boasts black barring at the end of its hackle (neck area), wings and tail. It originated in the state of Delaware in 1940. It’s now endangered and on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, a listing of heritage foods. It does well in free-range circumstances and lays large brown eggs.
It’s difficult to tell hens from roosters when chicks first hatch, but these cross-bred chickens lay different colored eggs for each sex, making the process of separating the females and males much easier. Sex-Link hybrids come in many varieties, including Black Sex-Link and Red Sex-Link, and are good egg layers. The colors of the eggs vary according to the mix of breeds.
This hardy breed originated in the Tuscany region of Italy and was first imported to North America in 1828. White Leghorns are used as layers all over the world, including Petaluma, where a statue of the prolific chicken was erected at the train depot with the inscription: “The Kingdom of 10,000,000 White Leghorns — Petaluma.” Its eggs are white.