Golden Buff hybrid layers are great birds! I had trouble finding info about them before I got mine, so thought I would share my experience.
I bought 3 seventeen week old Golden Buff pullets from Meyer Hatchery. My ladies are very pleasant, friendly, and quiet chickens. I actually named my birds Patience, Prudence, and Charity, because they seem to have such nice characters! The first bird started laying every day at 20 weeks, and within a month all 3 of them were laying consistently every day.
As a pet owner, I really like that their eggs are different shades of brown (from rich caramel to a creamy pale brown). The palest egg below (it was a cream color) was a fairly early effort-- that hen now lays a nice pale brown egg, sometimes with speckles.
Above is another photo of the caramel colored egg alongside a crazily huge double-yolker which was laid by the hen at the top of this page. While most of her eggs are not this huge (!!), she does occasionally skip a day and then lay a double-yolker the next day.
The ladies vary a good bit in appearance, too. I really like the obvious differences, since it has been easy to observe them and get to know their personalities, keep track of who is laying when, etc. One bird is reddish with many buff/white and red-laced white feathers. The second is red with some buff fluff on her bottom and a few buff tail feathers. The third is mostly red, but with buff lacing on her hackle feathers and some buff fluff and tail feathers. All three birds had medium yellow shanks as adolescents; their legs have bleached a bit since they began to lay.
My 3 Golden Buffs generally lay 21 eggs per week. Occasionally the largest hen skips a day and either lays two eggs the next day or a double yolker. My three ladies have a henhouse and yard, but they love bugs and greens (dandelions are their favorite) and definitely still have their foraging instincts intact. In fact, when they are let out of their coop in the morning they quickly (in a minute or two) become more interested in scratching for bugs than eating their breakfast crumble. They are very interested in interacting with me and "talk" to me excitedly when I visit them. It didn't take long for them to become comfortable with me. Two of the birds are fine with being picked up- one scoots away if she thinks I am going to pick her up, but otherwise eats from my hand and is calm and pleasant.
These are definitely NOT squawky or flighty birds. As they have gotten older and grown in confidence they have begun to vocalize more, but in a nice, friendly, soft-spoken way. They do not bother my neighbors at all. Most of the time they are silent, keeping busy scratching and pecking at things. But if something frightens them (for example, during Hurricane Ike part of my chimney flew off and hit their henyard about a foot away from them) they will let out distressed sounds to let me know they need help. As soon as I go out to check on them in those kinds of situations they seem reassured and are fine and quiet again.
Golden Buffs are available as day old chicks or started birds. I bought started pullets because they would be pets, so I wanted vaccinated birds. (I vaccinate my dogs, cat, and horse, so wanted to vaccinate my hens to minimize their suffering, avoid the stress of dealing with sick birds, and hopefully prevent early deaths for my new friends.) I also didn't have a great setup for raising chicks (no garage, and noone home during the day to keep an eye on the dogs, cat, and chicks).
After many years of dreaming over chicken books and magazines, I really wanted Buff Orpingtons or 3 different breeds (a Buff Orp, an Australorp, and a Barred Rock). I decided to go with Golden Buffs because they were available vaccinated. I've found that they are a nice quiet, docile option for backyard henkeepers who just want 2-3 birds. One of the nice things about them is their smaller size (they are not too much bigger than bantam Cochins-- around 4 pounds). That means they can fit into smaller, less expensive housing and be happy in smaller backyard henyards. My ladies roost and lay their eggs in an inexpensive converted two-story solid-floor rabbit hutch, and it works just fine for them and is easy to keep spotless every day (takes about 2 minutes). They need an insulated home for winter, since they are smaller birds, but overall I think the smaller birds are less messy, eat less, need less space, lay more eggs, etc.--- seems like they have it all, just not the fancy feathers.
The downside to started pullets is the beak trimming that is done. For two of the ladies, the damage was modest. However, for one the trim was more severe. Now I feel pretty torn about started birds for that reason. The vaccinations are great, and practically free (pullets are only about five dollars), but I think the beak trimming is a real problem, and it is unnecessary if you just have a few pet hens and keep them in healthy conditions with plenty of food, water, and space to explore. My ladies get along great, with only the mildest pecking order issues observable (one hen pushes past the others for food).
Golden Buffs are really wonderful birds. They are my first chickens, and it has been a great experience. I am fond of the ladies and feel they are very easy keepers and fun additions to our family.I recommend them to anyone who would like a medium sized hen with a quiet, gentle temperament, interesting eggs, and a little variety in appearance.They are perfect backyard hens.
My experience with Meyer Hatchery...
I think the people at Meyers are really nice. They must treat their birds well, since mine were not afraid of people and seemed to have had good experiences with humans in their past. I actually picked up my birds, even though the hatchery was about a 3 hour drive (ugh)-- gas cost as much as postage, but I thought I'd rather spend the Saturday driving and make sure they were safe/not boiling in the back of a Fed Ex truck, since the cost was no different for me. I kind of wanted to check out the hatchery, too, to size them up.
There is a nice little poultry supply store at the hatchery, which also appears to have a nicely run dairy operation. The birds were transported to the front of the farm and waiting in batches in large rolling stacked cages (stocked at a reasonable level even for that short-term situation/not overly crowded). I noted a lot of variety in coloration among the Golden Buffs, and feel my 3 birds represent the range of Golden Buff pullets I saw very accurately.
The employees could not have been nicer-- I really appreciated how helpful they were. When I arrived many farmers (mostly Amish) were there for the monthly scheduled Saturday pullet pickup day. It was a lot of fun to watch the buggies and wagons coming in. Even though the day was very hectic for the staff, with hundreds of chickens being picked up, they were sooooooooo kind and friendly to this first-time chicken owner. I was very nervous (was I doing something crazy? would the chickens be wild? what kind of feeder is best? etc etc etc), and they took a lot of time out to help me, never making me feel like they were too busy. I found the same thing when I talked to them on the phone-- very kind, courteous, and understanding. I highly recommend them as good people to work with.
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