A few questions before I place my order.

ChaoSS

Songster
5 Years
Mar 24, 2014
322
47
103
I've been getting things ready for chickens, hoping to place an order in the next few days here. A few things to work out first.


The plan is to get a dual purpose breed, I want eggs and I want to breed for meat. If at all possible, I'd like to have some broody hens doing the incubating rather than trying to work an incubator/brooder past my initial order.

So here's my plan. Since I haven't found what I want locally, I thought I would order online. I was thinking 15 Buff Orpingtons, to have a good chance of at least 4 hens and 1 rooster. I was also thinking of adding in around 10 Cornish X, just to get some meat on the table faster. In case I get some hens that won't go broody, I was thinking of adding a silkie hen or two.

Now, eventually I'll end up with 4-5 laying hens, a rooster, and the silkies. If the silkies are for brooding only,should I simply keep them separated from the rest of the flock? Should I have two just so one doesn't get lonely? Would I be better served waiting to see if any of the laying hens will go broody often enough to get some meat now and then? I raise rabbits as well so I shouldn't need tons of baby chicks, but more than a few a year would be nice.


As for brooding these chicks, I was thinking (since I only want to deal with doing this once) of just putting two good sized carboard boxes side by side, with a hole cut through so they can walk through, the heat lamp in one of the boxes. Let them move closer or further as needed. I am hoping to be able to keep them in an unheated shed, right now temps are around the 80s - 90s in the day and low 60s at night. Figure that should be good enough?

Soon as they outgrow that is there any reason I can't move them straight into a coop with a heat lamp? The Cornish I was hoping to tractor, the rest in a coop till the tractor is freed up.


So, any problems with my plan? Am I underestimating the room these birds will need? Should I plan to separate the larger meat birds from the smaller ones? Thoughts on the silkies? Should I not do them in this climate? Summers can get over 110 degrees at times.
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,547
436
NEK, VT
Does your coop have a run? Unless free ranging the dual birds they should really have a run. 25 meat birds will require a fair size tractor. You don't give any dimensions so can't say if adequate. Also, once the chicks are ready for coop, which in your climate would be young, they don't need a heat source.

Where are you located? Unless you really want Silkies I'd try harder to find a heritage dual purpose bird from a breeder. The hatchery Orpingtons are not likely to go broody but if you got them from a breeder they would be. Plymouth Rocks from a breeder can go broody too. There are a lot of dual purpose birds with some broody tendencies. Hatcheries breed that trait out so finding something in driving distance would be better in my opinion.
 

ChaoSS

Songster
5 Years
Mar 24, 2014
322
47
103
Yes, there will be a run. The whole idea I'm working on here is a coop that can be closed off if I need to use it as a brooder box, and then can be attached to a run. I'm planning it as a bit of a modular system, so I can put them in one area, which will be semi permanent, and then move them to various areas for a bit to weed a garden bed before planting, or wipe out the weeds in other areas, etc. I really don't have the space to pasture chickens, constantly keeping them on the move, but I do want to be able to move them a bit instead of keeping them always in the same area.

It won't be 25 meat birds, it will be no more than 10 Cornish meat birds, and 9 or 10 or the dual purpose (probably the BO) that will be destined for meat, once I figure out which ones I want to keep.


I don't even know where to begin looking for birds in my area that don't come from a hatchery. If I found that, I'd be ok with just buying the ones I want, rather than a bigger order, but I don't know. I've looked on Craigslist, and din't find anything worthwhile. Unless I'm missing something, the For Sale section on this board seems pretty difficult to dig through to find what you want in your area.


I'm in Central California, if anyone reads this and is selling BO birds that will go broody near the Visalia/Fresno area, I'm all ears.
 

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,547
436
NEK, VT
http://fresno.craigslist.org/grd/4414141871.html
Black Copper Marans, you could ask if they have chicks or birds for sale and if their line goes broody.

http://modesto.craigslist.org/grd/4386439056.html
Two variety of Wyandotte. Ask if line has broodiness.
Blue Copper Marans chicks, heritage line. Ask how broody they are. Marans wont produce the egg quantity that Orpington does but still a good layer and considered excellent meat flavor. But that could be French folks being uppity about their food. I'm Canadian French descent.


http://fresno.craigslist.org/grd/4385527336.html
This looks like your best bet. Blue Orpington chicks they'll be hatching soon. I like blue variety as it produces three colors blue, black and splash for a diverse looking flock yet of same variety/breed.
 
Last edited:

Egghead_Jr

Crowing
10 Years
Oct 16, 2010
7,482
3,547
436
NEK, VT
Of course when culling down to 4 or so hens there is no guaranty you'll end up with one that goes broody. But if your goal is a self sustaining flock then a heritage line is where to start. In the past two summers of having heritage birds myself I had one go broody last summer. Which if I wanted to continue that line would be fantastic as she went broody three times over last summer. Asking about the broody tendency of the parent stock of the birds above and telling them your goal of a self sustaining flock is a good start. You will gain a local contact and may even set up a deal to purchase a broody hen of same breed from them later on so your guaranteed perpetuation.
 

ChaoSS

Songster
5 Years
Mar 24, 2014
322
47
103
A lot of dark colored birds there, do they do ok in the high temperatures we get around here? That's probably a question for the local breeder but I tend to be a little untrusting of people who want to take my money.
 

Percheron chick

Crowing
8 Years
Apr 12, 2013
4,653
3,149
391
Hudson, Colorado
Your chickens will stay out of the sun in the hottest part of the day and hang out under some bushes or in the coop so color isn't really a concern. I would stay away from the fluffy birds like BO and cochins that are better in cold weather. When it get's too hot for them, they will stop laying and that defeats the purpose and just costs you $$. A hot miserable non laying hen is not going to be brooding.

It would definitely be worth the drive to Modesto to check out their birds. They have nice selection and you will have better results when you pick up the eggs and chicks locally.
 

ChaoSS

Songster
5 Years
Mar 24, 2014
322
47
103
http://fresno.craigslist.org/grd/4414141871.html
Black Copper Marans, you could ask if they have chicks or birds for sale and if their line goes broody.

http://modesto.craigslist.org/grd/4386439056.html
Two variety of Wyandotte. Ask if line has broodiness.
Blue Copper Marans chicks, heritage line. Ask how broody they are. Marans wont produce the egg quantity that Orpington does but still a good layer and considered excellent meat flavor. But that could be French folks being uppity about their food. I'm Canadian French descent.


http://fresno.craigslist.org/grd/4385527336.html
This looks like your best bet. Blue Orpington chicks they'll be hatching soon. I like blue variety as it produces three colors blue, black and splash for a diverse looking flock yet of same variety/breed.
The Marans don't seem to be the strongest layers. Guess they aren't too bad, but seems a little low in the production end for eggs.

The Wyandottes seem ok, but at least according to the McMurray hatchery page, they aren't good for broody hens. But maybe that's just their line, I don't know. Like I said, though I tend to not trust people too well when they are trying to sell something. I'll email those people on those pages you listed, see what they say though.
 

ChaoSS

Songster
5 Years
Mar 24, 2014
322
47
103
One more question, how bad is inbreeding in chickens? If I spend 15 dollars per chick, I would be hesitant to buy too many of them, knowing most of them were going to be eaten. If I bought ten, and only three turned out to be hens, is it bad to hatch a few eggs and breed the hens back to their father?
 

Percheron chick

Crowing
8 Years
Apr 12, 2013
4,653
3,149
391
Hudson, Colorado
DP breeds are never going to be the best of both worlds. They are going to be moderate to good layers and be slower to finish with good weight. Marans are better layers than most and a quite popular bird right now. Quality bred extra cockerels might be worth more to sell as breeding stock than to put in the freezer. My marans are better layers than my wyandottes but the wyandottes have more meat on them. You might be better off just picking up more cornish X or other meat bird (rangers are popular as well) when you need to supplement the freezer. There seems to be a good market just about everywhere right now for pastured meat birds.

Most breeders have multiple breeding pens or pens with multiple roosters so there should be genetic diversity just with the chicks you get. Inbreeding doesn't have the problem with chickens that it does with other animals.
 

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