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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  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.
  11. Jack Speese
    Hi Cherry,
    It sounds like you and my wife Sherri (rhymes with Cherry!) think alike on raising broilers. I had a flock of red Leghorns and blue Andalusians once, both very beautiful and practical breeds. They had plenty of room and did great. I have heard or read, though, that some breeds will be more content in confinement than others, but I don't think that's a major issue as long as they have plenty of space. But where they are lighter, they can and do fly. That needs to be taken into consideration. A pen that will contain heavier breeds won't necessarily contain lighter ones. But if your pen is very big, they don't seem to have much desire to fly out of it. I've read that the stars, because they have been bred for egg production and will keep laying through the winter even without extra light may "burn out" faster than the pure breeds, but I've had them (black and red) and they've done great. I don't give mine artificial light, I just let nature take its course. They may slow down in the winter but I think as a whole they will lay for more years, at least as far as a home flock is concerned. We are moving in a couple of weeks so unfortunately I had to sell all my birds, but when I can get a coop and pen built on our new place I can't wait to get a new flock started! Am just having trouble making up my mind!
  12. CherriesBrood
    Vincent I love Sussex chickens too, I'm just myself not to familiar with the breed as I haven't raised them yet. They sound like a great breed I might have to look into some soon.

    Montan thank you for the input... I forgot to put black Astralops on the list. I know I should have since I have had a great experience with them myself. I just forgot. Also keep in mind certain breeds do better in certain climates, some may do excellent and lay all year round and others may not it just depends on where you live and how well each breed does where you live. : )

    Jack thanks for sharing your experience. I love leghorns. I have only one currently, but it's surprisingly tame towards me. Really? That's very interesting. I'm not to familiar with meat chickens, because I don't raise them as I can't stand to eat something Iv taken care of, but I will do my research on them. Thanks for your comment. : )

    BY thank you for telling me, I had no idea they were that good of layers, I will edit this article. I have only said 250 based on my experience raising them. I agree with you that they can be tame, my first two were very skittish and not tame at all, but the one I have now is the sweetest thing she loves to jump on my back out of nowhere. I raised them all no differently, but like you said it's all just the personality of each individual bird. Thank you for your input. : )
  13. BY Bob
    I have to respond to the description of leghorn chickens. As you can tell from my avatar, I have leghorns. 250 eggs per year is absurdly LOW for them. I have been traking my Daisy all year and at this point I believe that she has missed 2 days. If that rate holds that means 350+ eggs this year. All of the other leghorns I have had have performed at a smilar pace. They are egg laying machines. This is despite temperatures that fell below -10 degrees in February and have already come near to 100 degress this summer.

    Growing up my father preferred Rhode Island Reds because we could eag them when they stopped laying, but for pure egg production, nothing touches the leghorn in my experience.

    As far as them being flighty and hard to train, I think it depends on whag you want your chicken to do and how much effort you want to put into it. They are not like orpingtons who will crawl up in your lap and cuddle like a cat. However, with a little work I have gotten mine to jump into my lap, to come when called, and even to just hang out with me while I am out in my yard. Daisy will even come to the back door and ask me to come out with her.

    They will fly. Daisy likes to get up on chairs, her coop, our side tables and even our patio table. However she and her friends have never tried to fly over our 6 foot fence.

    I think they are both smart and curious. I you are willing to spend time interacting witn them, I thnk they would make you great companions.
  14. Jack Speese
    I have raised a lot of these breeds (leghorns, RRRs, Plymouth Rocks, Stars, Cochins) myself and have much the same experiences with them. Well-cared for, they all do well. I've been told that the brown Leghorns (color similar to the Wild Jungle Fowl) are excellent free-range birds because of their naturally camouflaging plumage and because they are quick and alert. I have raised broilers in the past, but my wife really doesn't like the idea of raising something and then eating it...somehow it's different when it comes from the supermarket, I guess because she never saw it as a baby chick. But I am intrigued with the new free-range broilers like Dixie Rainbows/Pioneers, Red Rangers, etc. Supposedly these birds don't grow as fast and have more natural breast to body ratios than commercial broilers, thereby avoiding a lot of the health problems, and the hens can be kept as layers. Regular broilers tend to die from health problems before they reach this age. Don't know how economical of layers they are because they are big, but for folks who want the best of both worlds they might be worth considering. I found that even large breeds like RRRs or Plymouth Rocks have a lot of bone, and although the meat is good, there just isn't that much of it compared to a broiler, especially not on the breast. I love cochins, but they are so expensive at the hatcheries!
  15. Montanagirl
    Have to disagree on the egg laying breeds,to me the Black Australorps out do all the others we have had. We have had Rhode Island Reds,Red&Black Star,Cuckoo Marans,etc. none of them can hold a candle to the Black Australorp that is such a consistent good layer,right through winter and molting. After trying the others I'am going back to Black Australorp,I'll keep a few of different breeds just for color but that's it.
  16. VincentVanCrow
    Very informative article. I have to pipe up for my favourite pet chicken breed. I love Sussex hen's and roosters. I've had light and speckled and have found them to be very bright, curious and friendly. And for some reason the two batches of speckled Sussex I've had, years apart from one another, have both been very interested in getting up on people. They will flutter up o to your shoulder or back if you are bent over in the garden or coop. They perch on outstretched legs in lawn chairs and like to look you in the eye. They always make me laugh.
  17. RodNTN
    Thats a great article Cherry!
  18. CherriesBrood
    Yes I know, I just thought I'd give some of the other favorite show breeds. : )
  19. Whittni
    Large fowl birds win poultry shows all the time...in fact, they have their own category. Most county fairs also have pens to show trios of laying hens in as well...meat trios, too.
  20. CherriesBrood
    Thanks so much! : )
  21. austrolover1
    Really good article, Cherry!

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