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Buying Chickens- What breeds are right for you?

  1. CherriesBrood
    Buying chickens- What breeds are right for you?
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    Buying chickens is super exciting, knowing that you'll be raising them for a purpose... whether it's for egg laying, meat or show. But we all know it's not just that simple. First, we have to do lots of research to decide which breeds are right for us. This article will offer some pointers to possibly make your job a bit easier for you.


    Selecting the right breeds for you~

    Best egg laying breeds-

    There are many great egg laying breeds out there. Most people today are buying chickens to have their own fresh eggs. These below breeds are great egg layers, but there is also a lot more than these! I don't have enough time to go through all of them but here are some of the best ones and most popular.

    Star-
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    The Star breed lays brown eggs, and you should expect about 280 eggs per year. This is one of the most common breeds that commercial egg industries use. They tend to be a very tough and resilient chicken and rarely ever turn broody. So if you are looking for an all year round egg layer who is easy to look after, a Star chicken is definitely the pick for you.

    Barred Rock-
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    The Barred Rock is an ideal pick for a first time chicken keeper who is looking for a hen that lays eggs roughly once every two days. A healthy Barred Rock should lay around 200 eggs a year. These eggs will be medium sized and are a light brown color. Barred Rocks are a large bird that is much better suited to the free range lifestyle. They are very friendly birds who can easily be tamed.

    Rhode Island Red-
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    Rhode Island Reds are known as a ‘dual purpose’ chicken. This means they can be raised for either eggs or meat. They are one of the most popular backyard chicken breeds because they are tough and lay lots of eggs. You should expect a young Rhode Island Red to lay 250 eggs a year. These eggs are brown and medium sized.
    They are more than capable of looking after themselves, and are well known for being tough. Rhode Islands are very friendly and are commonly picked by first time chicken keepers.

    Leghorns-
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    Leghorns are also one of the most common breed the commercial egg industries use. They should lay around 250 eggs per year. These eggs will be white and medium size. They are skittish and flighty birds. They would still make an ideal pick for a beginner, anyone looking to tame their chickens shouldn’t choose Leghorns as they are known for being shy and hard to tame.

    Marans-
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    Marans are another dual purpose hen and are renowned for their vibrant dark brown eggs and exception meal quality. A Maran will lay around 200 eggs a year. These eggs are a vibrant dark brown color and are medium sized. Marans don’t require much space to roam in and are a very gentle hen. With this being said though, they aren’t very tame and don’t make good ‘pets’.

    Best meat breeds-

    Lots of people today have meat birds. With meat birds you can have your own organic meat without having to buy the stuff at the store. These breeds below are some of the best meat birds out there.

    Broilers-
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    Broilers are chickens raised specifically for meat. They grow much faster than egg laying hens or dual purpose breeds. Most broilers have a fast growth rate with a high feed conversion ratio and low activity levels. In five weeks, broilers can reach a dressed weight of 4-5 pounds.
    The Cornish Cross is an excellent, fast growing broiler. Harvest time for a 4 pound broiler is normally 7 to 8 weeks. Their body make-up is superb, with broad breasts, large legs and thighs and a rich yellow skin.


    Jersey Giant-
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    This bird was developed to replace the turkey. A purebred chicken, this Giant’s weight averages 11-13 pounds. Jersey Giants however grow at a slower rate than other meat birds, about 6 months to full maturity, making them undesirable to the commercial industry. While originally a meat chicken, today, the Giant is prized as a dual-purpose bird, laying extra-large brown eggs.


    Best show breeds-

    There's lots of cool, beautiful, funky and funny show breeds! I know I have lots of favorites, but I'll name some of the best show breeds that are known for winning first prize. Usually bantams are the best breed to use for showing.

    D'Uccles-
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    D'uccles have been a favorite for many years, known for their sweet disposition and beautiful colors that they come in. Starting off with the Porcelain, Belgian and Mille fluer. Personally, the Porcelain is my favorite! I have one and she's the sweetest thing... plus her coloration is just gorgeous!

    Golden sebrights-
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    They are kind birds, but roosters may get protective around their hens. They are often entered into poultry contests and often win first prize. Due to their light, flighty nature it might be best to keep them contained to a smaller, fenced off area. Sebrights often will happily live among other breeds as well.

    Frizzles-
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    The Frizzle is a breed of chicken with characteristic curled or frizzled plumage. They are sweet with a gentle disposition and are great for kids. They come in blue, cuckoo, black and white colors. They also have Polish, Cochin and bantam Frizzles. They are known for their broodiness but can be a great show breed too.

    Silkies-
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    The Silkie is a breed of chicken named for its atypically fluffy plumage, which is said to feel like silk, and satin. Silkies are one of the most tame and gentle chicken breeds. They are also known for their broodiness and are great show birds. Silkies are also great for kids. They come in all varieties of colors, bearded and non-bearded.

    Cochins-
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    Cochins are known for their great mothering skills, great personality and wonderful color variety. But of all the unique characteristics of this wonderful breed of chicken there is one that perhaps stands out above all others – personality. Cochins are noted for extremely gentle dispositions. They also make great show birds and have been known to make first prize.


    Thanks so much for reading everyone. I hope this has made it a bit easier for you all to pick the right chicken breeds for your flock. Look for the second part of this article. Buying chickens- What to look for?

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Comments

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  1. birdwrangler057
    Wow, Awesome info! Keep up the good work
  2. lovechicks1293
    very imformational. thx!
  3. ChickenGrass
  4. ChickenGrass
    This is great information,
    I would also add,
    Barbu d'Anver
    Legbars
    And pekin bantams.
    The pekin bantams can be tricky to keep,
    As they have feathered feet.
    Clean legged birds are easier to show for someone starting out with it.
    Goodluck,
    Fionn.
  5. Jack Speese
    Glad they recovered, Cherry. Disease is not a fun thing. Fortunately I've been lucky on that score over the many years I've had poultry (most of my life). I like them all (except perhaps Chinese geese), but I don't like "challenges" and prefer to stick with things that are easy to raise. And most are, as long as you give them plenty of space and clean, comfortable quarters. And don't mix turkeys and gamebirds with chickens because of blackhead, stuff like that. Of everything I've raised, I rate ducks as the easiest, then chickens, then turkeys and pheasants, and bobwhite quail as the hardest. Although Coturnix quail are very easy to raise, no harder than ducks. Guineas are an odd combination, the keets are very fragile and need special care, the adults are as tough as nails. But not even guineas are able to escape a really determined hawk. For quail here in the south, your pen has to be blacksnake proof. A blacksnake has no problem eating a full-grown quail.
  6. CherriesBrood
    I had to treat them for a cold. Just a lot of congestion and sneezing, it affected one of the chickens eye, we tried everything but it kept getting worse we thought she was going to loose it but thankfully she healed and is doing great. Yes I wish we would have learned that sooner, I do agree with you however we have some great "guard dog" roosters who do a fantastic job of protecting our ladies. We have literally had to bullet proof our chicken coop because of predators, and also because of our dog. He's got a very strong instinct in him and is really strong. I mean he's a great guard dog and a great boy, but that's the one thing I don't like about him. We have to put him in a dog pen every time we let our chickens out to roam.
  7. Jack Speese
    That is a neat trick! All my life I've raised poultry but have never heard of it. But it makes sense, as the temperature of the eggs does determine the sex of alligators, and I have heard that temperature can affect the sex ratio or ratio of the sexes that hatch. Our feed store does get locally hatched birds from folks who want to unload their excess babies during the summer, and it is wise to be leery of those. If you buy those, it is probably best to isolate them from the rest of the flock for a while. But the sexed pullets they get in the spring come straight from a NPIP certified hatchery, so I think they are OK. What disease was it that you had to treat for? I'm glad it worked. Hawks and owls are a real pain. Unfortunately bantams are an easier or more tempting target because they are small. But hawks will easily kill a full-grown chicken or duck and just feed on it, even if they can't carry it away. Hawks and owls, and dogs, are the worst predators I've had to deal with. Locking your birds in at night generally keeps them safe from things like raccoons and other nighttime 4-legged predators, but it's hard to stop an aerial attack during the day. You can only build a pen with a top that's so big. A fence will keep out most dogs, but unfortunately a really mean determined one can tear through even a turkey wire fence. I no longer have any tolerance for any of them.
  8. CherriesBrood
    Yep we like to do exactly the same thing as you, I love to experiment with the different breeds when I hatch my chicks. I used to do the same thing and get them from the feed store but we brought a couple home one day and they got our whole flock sick. We treated everyone and thankfully we didn't loose any birds, but I don't want to have something like that happen again and we can loose our whole flock. Yes I have to agree with you on predators, as much as I would love to see them go after they've killed a couple of our hens we usually relocate them far away from where we live. It never occurred to us before that we have hawks and about a few years ago we had our favorite and only bantam taken out you one. We thankfully caught it and took it away, but it was really sad because that was one of our first chickens. It did teach us a lesson though so now we don't allow our bantams to roam. One trick when hatching eggs is to put all of them in the refrigerator for a couple days, when you do this it will kill all of the males so only the females will hatch. I just learned this trick so I'm super excited to try it out.
  9. Jack Speese
    That's always what I've done, gotten half or a third and then more a year or 2 later so I'd always have good producers. And of course some became pets. I've also hatched my own, which is fun, but you end up by the law of averages with 50% roosters and what do you do with them? We've been spoiled by the broiler industry. Not even roosters of large breeds are that great as meat birds compared to broilers, a lot of the weight is bone and the breast especially is mostly keel bone. And you can't keep them all because then they fight and won't leave the hens alone, plus they have to eat and feed is expensive. So I pretty much just get sexed pullet chicks. Our local feed store gets them, which is great because you can get as many or as few as you want. Most hatcheries have minimums of 15 or 25, and even though some hatcheries now sell small orders, the small order surcharges are exorbitant and you pay as much for 2 or 3 as you would for 15 or 25. We are not moving that far away so that feed store will still be an option, but if I can get a coop and pen built I'd like to start them up again this fall, so I'd have to order them, as the feed store only gets them in the spring. Sorry you lost your star, of all the problems I've ever had over the years, predators are the worst. I've been lucky and hardly ever been bothered by disease. I've gotten so I have zero tolerance for predators, if I catch it, it's gone, no matter what it is. I try to keep my flock secure in the first place, but sometimes something gets something.
  10. CherriesBrood
    Yes I have a sensitive heart towards animals. All of them.
    Your right I have a bigger pen, but it has a roof on it so known of my birds can fly out. If birds don't have big enough coops or are cramped in spaces I think that can definitely affect their mood which can effect their laying eggs, but like you said certain breeds will do better in certain situations. I have had one star in my flock before sadly she disappeared when roaming and I couldn't find a single trace as to what happened, but she was a great hen and was a very good layer.
    Sorry that you are havIng to sell your flock, at least now you'll get to possibly experiment with differnt breeds and find out what the best ones are for you, there are so many breeds out there. I have a flock of 28 chickens and almost everyone is a different breed. Can I suggest starting off with about half of the number of chickens you want to get, and then slowly adding more to your flock? This way once your flock gets older you'll still have young ones in your flock to keep your egg production going. This is what we do and it has been a great success for us. : ) Goodluck with your flock.

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