Will be placing my order for (6-8) chicks soon. I plan to get them from my local feed store, because of the high shipping cost of chicks from hatcheries. The feed store has a limited selection:
(Here in order of what I am tending to favor):
Rhode Island Red
Jersey Black Giants
Golden Laced Wyandotte
Silver Laced Wyandotte
I think New Hampshire Reds and Buckeyes would be ideal for my purposes, but unfortunately, those are not among the breeds available to me at this time.
The chickens will be kept in a 5.5' x 10' tractor with a 5'x5' extension. I'm in a cold-climate area (central Vermont), so the chickens need to be cold-hardy. Part of my reason for chickens is for [what I have heard about] their beneficial effects on soil.
I am thinking of getting several each of Black Sex Links and Buff Orpingtons, plus perhaps a couple of Cornish Crosses to harvest early on. I will probably use some of the rest for meat also and only overwinter 3 or 4, as I don't need too many eggs. Am also considering [perhaps only one each of]: Rhode Island Reds, Golden Comets, Barred Rocks and Araucanas).
Is it good to have more than one breed so as to stagger times of low and high egg production? (If winter is a time of low egg production, then I want some good winter layers.)
Are Rhode Island Reds too aggressive to be confined with other breeds? On the other hand, does that same aggressiveness mean they would be good at foraging and defending themselves from predators?
If Black Sex links are a cross between Rhode Island Reds and Plymouth Rocks, does that mean they have similar behavioral (and other) characteristics to both parents (i.e., dominating towards other chickens, aggressive towards predators)?
Are Buff Orpingtons too docile and unaggressive to be confined with the other breeds on my list, and too vulnerable to predators?
These will be my first chickens, so your suggestions are welcome.