How to Build a Better Chicken – Jeanette Beranger










Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:

So you’ve been keeping chickens and want to take the next step by breeding them?

In this session you will learn the basics of setting up a breeder flock and how to determine which birds have the potential to be the most productive and why meeting breed standards is important. Over time you can make great improvements to your flock and ultimately do right by your chosen breed and improve profitability.

  • See an example of taking a chicken breed & improving it.
  • Tips for evaluating and assessing your breeding stock.
  • The #1 most important habit you need to succeed at chicken breeding.
  • How to determine the egg-laying capacity of a hen!
  • Marking your birds for accurate record-keeping.
  • Leg bands vs. wing bands—which is the better choice?
  • How to breed a large flock with a SMALL amount of land.
  • Where to locate heritage chicken breeds.
  • How to structure communal breeding partnerships—so everyone wins!

About The Speaker:

Jeannette Beranger is the Senior Program Manager for The Livestock Conservancy and has 30+ years’ experience working as an animal professional, using her knowledge to plan and implement breed conservation programs across the country.

At home, she maintains a heritage breeds farm with a focus on rare breed chickens and she was recently named one of Country Women Magazine’s “45 Amazing Country Woman” for her work in conserving endangered breeds.

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite chicken breed?


  1. Kerry

    Phenomenally helpful and specific.

  2. Marjory Wildcraft

    Yes, Kerry, the Livestock Conservancy is a WEALTH of wisdom for our heritage breeds at risk, and Jeanette makes the information so accessible.

    What breeds do you have Kerry?

  3. Jean-Guy

    Great presentation … Ty

  4. Jacqui

    I really liked this one, learned alot. Thanks so much.

  5. Caroline

    informative, helpful, well-organized presentation.

  6. JOAN

    Great information. Thank you. I do love the Brahmas. I have a mixed flock at this time. I would love to have some heritage Jersey Giants one day though.

  7. Diane

    Great information. I love my Delawares and want to make them my main breed. Very chatty, sweet birds. Thanks Margory and all for the wonderful summit full of useful information.

  8. Jean

    Thank you Jeanette and your co-hearts at the Livestock Conservancy for the work you do. Your analogy of livestock breeds to an investment portfolio is good. And taking it one step farther, investment councilors advise keeping investments in balance, even “trimming back” ones which have grown out of proportion to the rest of the portfolio, re-balancing yearly to keep several sectors represented. We have an even greater duty to preserve heritage breeds because they can not be replaced by a fast growing start up company if they die out.

    I no longer have chickens but my first included Silver Lace Wyandottes. They were elegant birds. The last flock I had included some brave and feisty leghorn roosters who died defending the flock against a mother coyote. They chose to fly out of their fence and meet her on her turf while she looked forlornly at the electric wire protecting the chickens. Chickens really do not have the capacity to learn by example. I had to clip those beautiful wings to keep the rest from becoming coyote food. My neighbor has a small flock of several breeds including a Polish Crested rooster who declares “All’s Right with the Worrrld!!” several times each day. He is exquisitely doted with dark slate spots on his silver-gray tail which is overlaid with gunmetal black cock feathers. The effect is very formal and sedate in total contrast to the crazy crest of white feathers bobbing on top of his head 🙂

  9. Lisa

    Thanks for all you’ve done. Very helpful!
    Can we please have the link for “The Call of The Hen” free online version?

  10. Luke Rankin Irish potato famine was a cover story for a more disturbing reality.

  11. Sandy

    We have been buying eggs from neighbors with Buff-Orpingtons, a very mild mannered bird. We need a year or two to clear space on our property before starting our own flock. I learned a lot from Jeanette’s previous video on selecting breeds and will use my notes to decide which breeds to try. This year’s breed improvement lesson was more science than I am used to. The breeding chart sent my mind into a boggle. Toe dot coding! But I see the point. We find those elongated eggs in our carton once in a while and are going to have to think of a diplomatic way to disclose that one of their girls has inward curving pelvic arch bones. I have always felt that farmers integrate earth artistry and high science. How else could so many distinctive, beautiful, functionally specific breeds have been developed over just a few hundred years’ time?

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