Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Traditional Buckeye Chicken Breed Makes A Come Back!

The Buckeye chicken was the creation of Nettie Metcalf in the late 1800s. Nettie was the only woman to create an American Standard Breed of chicken on her own. She was a hobby farmer who crossed one chicken with another over several years to create the Buckeye - a bronze-and-black-feathered, plump and tasty bird.

Popular at the time with local families who kept chickens, due to its hardy nature (Tolerated hot summers and cold winters), great egg laying capabilities and it tasted good as well. It was one of the most popular chicken breeds around until the Rhode Island Red arrived on the scene.

But numbers of the Buckeye are cwindling and there are only 350 documented breeding Buckeyes in the country, whic puts it on the endangered list.

But all that is set to change, as Akron egg farmer Jeff Brunty is expecting a shipment of the birds this summer and plans to breed Buckeyes through a program sponsored by the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy.

Traditional regional breeds, like the Rhode Island Reds, Delawares and Jersey Giants have been left in the dust by broad-breasted birds who develop faster in crowded conditions. That makes the factory birds cheaper, although not as tasty as slow-growing birds like the Buckeye.

"If you put the Buckeye in a barbecue buffet, you might not notice the difference," said Chef Ben Bebenroth of Spice of Life Catering in Cleveland. "But in a six- or seven-course dinner with some chardonnay, you will. It has a more nutty, earth-toney, more developed meat flavor."

And the eggs taste pretty good too. The yolk of the Buckeye stands up firm and it's such a deep yellow it almost looks fake. Tests show the eggs have 50 percent more vitamin E, 35 times the omega-3 fatty acids and half the cholesterol. The meat has 20 percent less fat and twice as much omega-3.

The Buckeye also has a lovely temperament and are easy to handle. Perfect for your backyard flock.

So search out some Buckeye chickens in your area. The best way to find them is to call out 'Buck, buck..buckeye!' and see if they reply. Or you can check with your local poultry suppliers.

The first way is more fun though ;-)