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Good chicken breeds? - Page 2

post #11 of 18

All of these suggestions are good ones.  But may I give a gentle reminder that while you may get steady egg production during their first winter when they are still young, the following years you will most likely see a decrease in egg production in subsequent winters.  Some even stop altogether during that time and resume in the spring.  Folks can continue with solid egg production by putting lights on a timer in the coop so that the chickens get 14 hours of light a day, which seems to be optimum for egg laying.  By watching your sunset and sunrise times, you can set the timer to go on in the morning a few hours before actual sunrise to simulate that length of day.  Others set the timer to split those extra hours - before sunrise in the morning and after sunrise in the evening.  My worry with that is that they might not be all settled in to roost as they would with the natural gradual sunset and be caught suddenly in the dark when the lights go off.  It's the amount of time it is light that matters, not which end of the day it comes on.

 

I don't use supplemental lighting in winter, but that's my own choice. I figure Mother Nature set the cycles of their little chicken bodies to do certain things at certain times of the year, and somewhere in there she allowed for molting and a rest from laying.  I still got eggs from my girls all winter, but certainly not the numbers I got during the other seasons.  And that's just fine with me. You may see things differently and that's what's fine for you.  I just didn't want you to get your heart set on a certain breed cranking out eggs constantly regardless of the time of year. No matter what their feathers look like on the outside, the egg assembly line is pretty much the same - some like Red Sex Links (which I am so glad I have) and Production Reds are bred to produce more, but also tend to lay for fewer years.  So you choose what you want to have in your flock, decide if you want lights or not, and there's no right answer!  Fortunately here on BYC the questions are never a test!  

post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blooie View Post
 

All of these suggestions are good ones.  But may I give a gentle reminder that while you may get steady egg production during their first winter when they are still young, the following years you will most likely see a decrease in egg production in subsequent winters.  Some even stop altogether during that time and resume in the spring.  

 

A good work-around to this if you don't want to/can't use lighting  (I don't either) is to maintain a multi-generational flock.  For example, say you started group A this spring and they began laying late this summer, lay through the winter and into next summer, stopping in the fall for their first molt at about 18 months.  Next spring you start Group B - these birds start laying a little bit before Group A begins to molt.  Group B will lay through the winter and into the next year, some birds from Group A may lay during the winter/they may not.  In the spring you have both Group B laying and the birds in Group A coming back online in their second laying cycle.  Lather, rinse, repeat - removing birds here and there to make room for the additions of new birds.  Having a few older birds in the mix can be helpful in bringing stability to the flock as a whole (think the difference between a bunch of teenagers on their own vs. teenagers under the guidance/direction of some responsible adults) - and the second laying cycle is where you can get some really nice eggs as the birds have hit their stride and have bodies that are fully mature and know how to do the job.

Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ol Grey Mare View Post
 

 

A good work-around to this if you don't want to/can't use lighting  (I don't either) is to maintain a multi-generational flock.  For example, say you started group A this spring and they began laying late this summer, lay through the winter and into next summer, stopping in the fall for their first molt at about 18 months.  Next spring you start Group B - these birds start laying a little bit before Group A begins to molt.  Group B will lay through the winter and into the next year, some birds from Group A may lay during the winter/they may not.  In the spring you have both Group B laying and the birds in Group A coming back online in their second laying cycle.  Lather, rinse, repeat - removing birds here and there to make room for the additions of new birds.  Having a few older birds in the mix can be helpful in bringing stability to the flock as a whole (think the difference between a bunch of teenagers on their own vs. teenagers under the guidance/direction of some responsible adults) - and the second laying cycle is where you can get some really nice eggs as the birds have hit their stride and have bodies that are fully mature and know how to do the job.

That's exactly what I did, OGM, and I'm happy with that choice for me.  It does require a supreme sacrifice though.....you have to get new chicks every spring!  Everyone say, "Aw shucks!"  :lau

post #14 of 18

We got our first hens a year ago, I researched heavy breeds which were big layers and went from there, we bought five pullets (at three months old), we got these five; Golden Wyandotte, Dorking, Orpington, Leghorn, and a mystery light-weight which we think is an andalusian.

 

The Dorking, Wyandotte and Orpington are all very quiet and laid back, the leghorn is very confident and the andalusian is very cheeky and into everything.

 

I really wanted to have a mixed flock as I love all the different colours and they look so great together.

 

So far, so good, they all get on, and have started laying regularly, we get around 20 eggs a week at the moment which is plenty.

 

I would research the nature of each breed and try get them to compliment each other and buy your flock all together at the same size. 

post #15 of 18

I agree, and have always had birds of all ages here.  Just starting out, that's not usually possible.  New chicks every spring is the best!  I also have broody raised babies here, and my youngest are just under three weeks old.  Fun!  Mary

post #16 of 18

We've tried a few different dual purpose breeds so far. We are making frequent orders so we can have meat and eggs. We are trying to order a different breed every time - It's easier to tell them apart by age with out using leg bands, and we get to experience different breeds. So far we've had Cherry Eggers, Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, A feed store Mixed bag, Black Sexlinks, New Hampshires, and Buckeyes. We have some Black Australorps coming next week. I'm thinking Rhode Island Reds in a couple of months. My experience is limited, but I haven't noticed any big differences between the heavy dual purpose breeds. They've all been good.


Edited by Buckhowdy - 9/22/15 at 7:04am
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch1ckenlover View Post

Thanks for answering! My yard is split in half, county and city, so if I keep chickens in the county side I guess I can have as many as I want. I think I am going to get 4-5 chickens, depending on what coop I get. I'm also not getting a rooster. The number of eggs doesn't matter, as long as there is about the same number of eggs as there are hens. I don't care about the feather pattern or color. The same for feathered face, legs or head-dress. I think pink, blue and green eggs are cool, but I don't care if they're brown, white or colored. I live in Harrisonburg VA. Again, thanks for answering!

Several suggestions and comments:  You will almost never see each of your girls give you an egg every day.  It sounds like you have a bit of room in your yard.  That will make it easier.  

 

First, I'd suggest that you explore ALL of your options for your coop and run.  You're going to need AT LEAST 4 sq. feet of floor space in the coop, and 10 sq. feet of ground in the run per bird.  If you intend to have a continuous supply of eggs, you'll need to replace some birds every year.  This will require extra space to either grow out chicks or integrate started birds to replace the older ones.  What will you do with the older birds who stop laying?  You need to figure that out before you even get any cute little chicks.  Unless you are going to set up a geriatric wing in your coop, you will need a plan in place for those old birds.  While the advertising on the many smaller coop options paints a pretty picture of happy birds in a cute little coop, reality does not often match that picture.  In order to stay healthy and disease free chickens need space.  If they are crowded, you will see lots of aggressive behaviors that will lead to wounds, illness, and make both you and your chickens miserable.  Ventilation is key.  Many of the coops offered for sale are sadly lacking in ventilation, especially the ones that are less than 4 feet tall.  That ventilation needs to be high enough above the perches that there will be no draft on the birds as they roost.  Then, there are the perches.  Most pre-fabs have cute little perches.  They need to be placed at least 12" from the wall, and allow enough room for the birds to safely get on/off the perches without disturbing their roost mates.  You will need at least 10" of perch space per bird, 12" is better.  And to prevent frost nipped toes, the perch should be wide enough to allow the bird to stand flat footed.  2 x 4 on the flat works good.  Then the coop should have windows.  Often, birds are hesitant to enter a completely dark coop.  All openings should be covered with 1/2" hardware cloth, as anything less, including chicken wire is NOT predator proof.  Explore your options:  For the price of a pre-fab, you can:

* Build your own, most likely 4 x as big, and meeting all of the specs for a good coop.

* Hire someone to build for you.

* Buy a small shed.  Look for used, or end of season sales at the box hdw. stores. 

 

Next:  There are so many options for breeds.  Some people are content to "just go buy some chickens... don't care what breed they are... get some red ones, some black ones, maybe a white one."  While others figure that they'll be spending the money, and will have this flock for at least a couple of years, so... might as well do some studying, and choose the prettiest, best laying, best mannered... (according to the breed reputation) birds that they can get.  I favor a mixed flock.  Don't want all of my birds to look the same!  Look at Henderson's chicken breeds chart.  Sex links are a good option.  They lay very well for the first 2 years.  Then, they may stop all together, may succumb to reproductive issues, or may continue on for a while longer, laying much less frequently.  The pure bred birds, or heritage birds take a bit longer to mature, may not be quite as productive, but may lay for more years.  Your mileage may vary!  Then, there are the barn yard mixes.  Often a good hearty bird, good layer.  But, you never know what you're gonna end up with!

 

*You can start with chicks:  enjoy the pleasure of watching them grow up.  (hatchery chicks delivered in the mail, feed store chicks, chicks bred locally) If so, you'll need to provide brooder heat.  Check out this excellent article:  http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors.  

*You can buy started birds locally, or from a hatchery.  (be prepared to dig deep in your wallet if you buy hatchery started birds)

*Or, you can be non-conventional, and incubate eggs.  Excellent option for the person who loves to experiment, is a bit of a risk taker, and wants to observe the creation of life first hand.  There is absolutely nothing comparable to holding a warm egg in your hand and seeing the baby chick dancing inside the egg when you candle it.  You can often even see their toes!  Then, comes the much anticipated hatch!  You can also take this a step further, and make your own incubator.  I started my flock this way:  hatched eggs in a home made incubator, then added 3 hatchery chicks from the hardware store.  


Edited by lazy gardener - 9/22/15 at 6:57am

Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

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Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

Reply
post #18 of 18


Hi!  All of the posts here have great advice!  I'm going to stick to the original question and discuss what I have and what I like and dislike about them.  Truthfully, I don't dislike much about any of them :love.

 

I have 34 chickens, but only 8 of them are mature enough to lay eggs.  Three of those are going on three years old, so I still get eggs from them, but not as many.  I have 26 other birds that were hatched on June 29th, so they are about 12 weeks old now, and almost as big as my other hens.  I expect them to start laying in the late November time frame.

 

The breeds are many and varied!  I have production reds, red sex links, black sex links, silver laced wyndottes, white leghorns, speckled Sussex, cochins, easter eggers, buff orphingtons, buff brahmas, black australorpes, and a buff polish rooster that was a freebie.  He started crowing late last week.  So far, he seems to be pretty laid back.  He's got a great tophat!   My production reds are the undisputed leaders of the flock.  The Buff Orphintons which are nearly 3 years old are second in command.  The Reds can be aggressive if a younger pullet doesn't scoot fast enough, but otherwise most of them get along well.  I free range, so they are all out during the day and return to 2 separate coops at night.  The younger ones all head for the tractor - I am currently training some of them to roost in the bigger coop with the big girls as they won't all fit when they are full grown.  So far, they keep wanting to go back to the other coop, so I catch 10 or so out at night and put them in the other coop with the big girls.  I can't wait until they start to lay!

 

I read somewhere that a realistic ration was 2 eggs for every producing hen.  So, if you have 6 birds, you can expect around 4 eggs each day.  Some days less, some days more. 

 

Hope this helps!

Peeps61
Location: NW Florida
Chickens since Feb. 2013
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Peeps61
Location: NW Florida
Chickens since Feb. 2013
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