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Best breed for a complete chicken newbie & how many to get? - Page 2

post #11 of 14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by song of joy View Post
 

I'm in Spring Mills, about 20 miles east of State College. 

 

Joy...I know exactly where you are!  I didn't go to Penn State but I sure had a lot of friends that did and/or went to Happy Valley for the Penn State games.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Folly's place View Post
 

Our local feed stores get a limited variety of chicks in spring, and although they are sold as pullets, many cockrels turn up because the hatchery does a poor job of sexing the chicks.  Low prices, but too many boys, and not vaccinated for Marek's disease.  I have done much better ordering from Murray McMurray, Cackle, Ideal, or Meyers.  Pick a list of breed types that interest you, and place an order.  If you get straight run, or include cockrels for meat, 25 is not a bad number of chicks.  Some hatcheries will send fifteen chicks too.  If you happen to live within driving distance, that's even better.  There are so many choices!  Mary

Folly...Technically, I'm within driving distance of Cackle Hatchery but it is a 2-hour trip one-way.  I'm still back & forth whether I want to make that trip or just have them send them in the mail.  Since I'm *so* new to chickens, I can't help but wonder if I would be assured of success...and, therefore, increase my confidence....if I bought five or six 8-12 mo. old hens that were already laying & then add chicks as my knowledge (and confidence) increase.  I would probably make that trip if I could do that.

 

Chickens are also sold here at auctions & often at swap meets but, again, since I wouldn't know what the heck I was really looking at, I'm afraid that I'd get taken by someone unscrupulous who would either sell me meat chickens as layers or sell me older hens that are no longer laying as young chickens still producing.

 

I really appreciate your vote of confidence that I could handle 25 chicks but I have to respectfully say...no way!  Not only could I not use the number of eggs that many chickens would produce & currently don't have an outlet to sell or give away "extras" but I don't know that I'm prepared (yet) to deal with culling the inevitable cockerels for meat.  Yes, I'd be able to round them up & take them to a processor that would "dispatch" them & dress them for me, but I don't know that I'm prepared yet to do the "dispatching" myself.  I figured if I could get all pullets that I'd have 2-3 years to work up the nerve before they stopped laying & I'd be forced to "do the deed" myself.

post #12 of 14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by song of joy View Post
 

 

Frankly, you won't get much meat from dual purpose laying hens that have slowed down with their laying, which happens at 2 to 3 years old.  I've processed 2 and 3-year old Rhode Island reds, buff orpingtons and barred rocks, and usually only get about 1 1/2 pounds of meat from them.  They are "stew hens" as the meat is too tough to cook other ways.  They make a great pot of chicken soup.  

 

I'd recommend 6 to 8 pullet chicks.  Some really nice breeds for a mixed flock include barred plymouth rock, dominique, Rhode Island red, Easter eggers, and black australorp.  I've had buff orpingtons, but don't really prefer them due to their large size and puffy feathers.  They don't tolerate the heat well and they eat more than smaller breeds.  Easter eggers are colorful and they lay very pretty, light green or bluish eggs.  (I love variety in the birds and the egg basket!)  I've had wonderful RIR and some that are a bit aggressive with people and flock members, so that may be a consideration for you.  My friendliest chicken is a dominique, which lays well and is cold and heat hardy.  

 

Best of luck to you!

Actually, 1-1/2 lbs. of meat is about perfect.  It's just me, the dogs, the horses & a barn cat or two so I'm not really looking for a large bird that's going to give me a 4-6 lb. broiler.  Mmmm...I can almost taste that chicken corn soup now!  LOL

 

There's a part of me that wants to try a mixed flock so that I can experience a couple different breeds & then decide which one is "right" for me.  On the other hand, though, I was going to buy all of one breed/color this year (say, Buff Orpingtons), then add a few of another breed/color next year (maybe, Black Australorps) & then a few of yet another breed/color the following year (like White Leghorns).  My thought was that I would easily be able to look at my flock & know by their feather color which ones were the oldest & likely nearing the end of their egg productivity.  IDK, maybe doing it that way is unnecessary.

 

*I* wouldn't have a problem eating the "unusual" greenish or bluish eggs of the EE's but I'd eventually like to start selling some eggs here & there & I worry that people aren't going to want to buy them *because* of their color.  I mean, even in this day & age you'll hear people claiming that brown eggs taste different than white eggs & refuse to eat them.

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by OzarkEgghead View Post
 

 

Joy...I know exactly where you are!  I didn't go to Penn State but I sure had a lot of friends that did and/or went to Happy Valley for the Penn State games.

 

Chickens are also sold here at auctions & often at swap meets but, again, since I wouldn't know what the heck I was really looking at, I'm afraid that I'd get taken by someone unscrupulous who would either sell me meat chickens as layers or sell me older hens that are no longer laying as young chickens still producing.

 

 

Happy Valley is very nice.  Quiet.  Rolling, forested mountains.  I love it.

 

I'd recommend avoiding auctions and swaps.  You've already identified some of the risks, but the even more serious risk is disease.  The chickens may have or carry one or more serious diseases, and those diseases may linger in your flock and soils for years.  Even birds that look healthy may be carriers of a disease that ends up wiping out the rest of your flock.  If you already have a flock, a 30-day quarantine is recommended to isolate new birds from your existing flock (this doesn't apply to day-old hatchery chicks).   

The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by OzarkEgghead View Post
 

 

There's a part of me that wants to try a mixed flock so that I can experience a couple different breeds & then decide which one is "right" for me.  On the other hand, though, I was going to buy all of one breed/color this year (say, Buff Orpingtons), then add a few of another breed/color next year (maybe, Black Australorps) & then a few of yet another breed/color the following year (like White Leghorns).  My thought was that I would easily be able to look at my flock & know by their feather color which ones were the oldest & likely nearing the end of their egg productivity.  IDK, maybe doing it that way is unnecessary.

 

*I* wouldn't have a problem eating the "unusual" greenish or bluish eggs of the EE's but I'd eventually like to start selling some eggs here & there & I worry that people aren't going to want to buy them *because* of their color.  I mean, even in this day & age you'll hear people claiming that brown eggs taste different than white eggs & refuse to eat them.

As you mentioned above, I think it's a common practice to get a different breed every year or two so it's easy to rotate birds into and out of the flock.  However, with a small flock made up of different breeds, I've found that I can easily recognize who lays which eggs.  Each day, I track who lays which eggs and enter this into a spreadsheet.  For me, the spreadsheet tracking is fun and part of the hobby.  This has been very helpful in identifying which hens are good vs poor layers.  To make it easier to track who's laying which eggs, I've added an olive egger, EE, and welsummer to my flock.  With respect to breed selection, it's all about deciding what you want from your flock in the way of egg production, hardiness, variety, and personality.  Since I free-range the flock, I also select for foraging ability and predator-wariness.  There are so many choices, so have fun with it! 

 

It's funny how folks react to the EE eggs.  Around here, they're a novelty and people are really excited to see 1 or 2 in an egg carton full or white or brown eggs.  


Edited by song of joy - 10/13/15 at 5:58am
The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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