A sustainable flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jcmoore4, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. jcmoore4

    jcmoore4 New Egg

    Jan 30, 2013
    I am looking to expand my chickens a little to create more of a sustainable system. I have owned a variety of chickens throughout the years and have come to the conclusion to settle on one breed.

    Now here is my take, and please correct me if I am wrong in my thinking.

    I want a single breed. This is so I can maintain the quality of birds, allow the hens to do the raising, and lessen the up keep. My thought process is that I create a system where I have a comfortable amount of hens that will provide eggs of course, allow a few to go broody every year, and raise a clutch. Out of the clutch I will cull the roosters and replace the unproductive hens. Then bring in a new lead rooster every 2 years to deter inbreeding as much as possible.

    First of all: am I correct in this thinking and system

    Secondly: if not, could someone give me a quick run through of what may be best.
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    The only problem I see is that you may not get a enough hens to go broody for replacements. I don't know what your experience is with broodies, but that is the weak link with starting a modern self sustaining chicken flock. They say certain breeds or lines go broody more, but of late the only broodies I have seen lately are ones that are listed as seldom broody. Go figure. If I do get a broody, by the time I know she is broody her eggs are well mixed with the other eggs, so The is little chance that she passes the want to brood on. With more hens of course the better the chances of one going broody. About how many do you want to keep?
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    That's a good approach and what people have done for a long time.
    The trick is to get a breed that tends to be broody but not overly so.
    Or you can keep a couple very broody types and the rest of your flock could be whatever breed you want.

    I keep what I call a closed flock so all replacements come from within, including roosters. While bringing in new blood is a good idea, you have no control over the quality of the new rooster or his progeny.
    Sometimes bringing in a new rooster, while providing genetic diversity, can degrade your flock.

    I like your thought of a new 'lead' rooster because it is so important to have multiples. Roosters get picked off a lot more than hens since they're defending the flock. It sucks to be roosterless.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You could always use an incubator....unless your opposed to using electricity.

    I plan on trying to incubate some very early this year to replace layers in the fall.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    The flaw is that broodiness is usually in inverse proportion to egg production. You can have birds that brood great, or you can have birds that lay like crazy, but the two are usually mutually exclusive. Also, higher production birds don't usually have males that are as meaty for the table.

    If you're going to bring in a new rooster every so often, why not bring in broody hens? I've been using bantam Cochins for a few years and have been very happy with them. This spring, on advice of WalkingonSunshine, I'm going to try some Dark Cornish and see how they do for broodies, just cause I get greedy and the bantam hens can't cover as many big girl eggs [​IMG]

    You could try a breed like an Orpington--they're kind of middle of the road as far as production, and have a reputation for broodiness (although personally I've never had one go broody). They're slower to mature and should make nice table birds.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I have had very good luck with a BuffO going broody, every single one of mine have gone broody. But I have never had a flock of just BO's.

    You don't say numbers or breed that you are thinking. That will make a big difference.

    I love a broody hen with chicks, and generally speaking [​IMG] mine have gone broody the last week in May to the first week in June..... for the last 5 years. Last year, I took a chance and ordered chicks for that time period and got it to work. Broody hens work on their schedule not yours.

    If you want to do a broody hen, I think Donrae gives good advice, if you want a closed flock of egg layers, picking a couple of hens just to be broody of a broody breed, or getting an incubator.

    Mrs k
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    You'll want a dual purpose breed then and it would help if you start with birds that are not sourced from a hatchery or from a breeder with hatchery sourced birds. Search for a heritage line breeder of good repute...there is a thread here where some very nice people will help you with breed selection and with finding breeders for that breed.


    Like others have suggested, you may want to incorporate just a few hens from a more broody but less laying genetic, such as Standard Cochins.

    Other than that your systems seems to be pretty sound. There are three or four dual purpose breeds that I usually recommend, particularly if sourcing from good breeders, that will be reliably consistent with laying, hardiness and the occasional broodiness~Plymouth White Rocks, Black Australorps, New Hampshire, Rhode Island Reds...in that order.

    You'll want to choose breeds compatible with your climate and from breeders close to your location in the country to insure greater success with management of your flock.
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Sounds like consensus for the most part.

    I tend to like more obscure breeds, just because. Sometimes you find a diamond in the rough.

    I like this chart, as it gives comparisons for broodiness, meat quality, egg laying, climate, etc..


    There are still lots of other breeds but that is a good start.
  9. jcmoore4

    jcmoore4 New Egg

    Jan 30, 2013
    Initially I was thinking to use Silver Laced Wyandotte. As far as the number goes, I am thinking of maintaining a 15 hen flock. Now of course that will fluctuate with hatches and what not.

    I currently have a white rock and a black australorpe that are good broody hens, and great mothers. Broody hens are key as far as I am concerned. Chicks can be a major pain to raise, and chicks hatched and raised by hens make much better chickens.

    To get some good opinions on breeds I will give some of my criteria

    Broody behavior
    Good at free ranging
    Large size
    Good layer
    Handle the cold (I live in Western NC)

    Its sounding like I should be thinking about another breed just for broody purposes.
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Your Wyandottes won't be the best at free ranging nor the best at laying out of all the dual purpose breeds. All that I have had in flocks down through the years also had temperament problems and were culled for the combination of bad temperament, lack luster laying, poor feed thrift and mediocre ranging skills.

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