Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by DCchicken, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. DCchicken

    DCchicken Songster

    Aug 29, 2013
    I am thinking of adding this breed to my ever growing flock (Americna Bresse, Birchen Marans, Cream Legbars, Bielefelders, Barnevelders, Hedemora, and Swedish Flower Hens). Does anyone have any experience with this breed? I know what is posted on GFF's website, but I would like some first hand experience with them.
  2. akvagabond

    akvagabond In the Brooder

    Mar 24, 2014
    Also interested in this breed and thought I might bump this one up a bit. Wondering about egg laying and cold hardy aspects of this chicken. Thanks
  3. stoneunhenged

    stoneunhenged Songster

    Aug 21, 2008
    We imported them and here's what stands out about them: they are very hardy, and the hens lay a ton of eggs. Very productive ancient crested breed; so much so that it's a running joke on our farm about how many eggs we get out of the Altsteirer pen each day. You never know exactly what you'll get with a new breed, but we've been very happy with the Altsteirers. I took this pic today of a hen that was free ranging.

  4. Melabella

    Melabella Crowing

    Jun 2, 2011
    She is beautiful!
  5. cutipatooti

    cutipatooti Songster

    Apr 24, 2012
    Barryville NY
    I have 3 of these but they are still chicks. I read somewhere that they lay 150 to 180 eggs a year. In my opinion over 200 is a good layer. Stoneunhenged would you say this is accurate or do you think they lay more? Also what do their eggs typically weigh?
  6. Sylvester017

    Sylvester017 Crowing

    Nov 29, 2012
    So. Calif.
    DCchicken - did you ever get any Hedemoras? From everything I've researched about them - because of their thick underfluff - they are best suited for cooler to snowy climates. All the other breeds you listed will probably be okay where temps might rise higher but I don't know how your climate conditions are for keeping Hedemoras. Those Hedies are varied and gorgeous but I hesitated considering them because of their thick underfluff suited for colder climates. I have an APA Ameraucana that has an amazingly thick underfluff and if temps go over 85-90 she doesn't take it very well with all that underfluff, beard, and muffs. If our temps get over 100 I keep the water mister going the entire day especially for her. As soon as temps get cool she gets bright and happy again. Now our Silkies are pretty fluffy but they seem to take the heat very well because they are small and acclimate to heat as well as cold - they'll be panting but still busy foraging while the poor Ameraucana is sitting down breast-deep in damp soil and panting. Heavier or very thick-fluffed breeds have a hard time or perish in extreme heatwaves.

    As for first-hand experience with the breeds you asked about I've only had Cuckoo Marans and my friend has had Cuckoo and BCMs. We are not impressed with the birds. They are very calm aloof birds around their human owners but can be quite snippy, nippy, to downright obnoxious toward other breeds. My Marans challenged my alpha White Leg and the Leg is not a shrinking violet and promptly put the Marans in her pecking order place in the flock! Then the Marans viciously claw-attacked our 6-month-old Silkie pullet so we decided to immediately rehome the Marans into my egg-seller friend's flock where she continues to be unpleasant but on equal terms with hens her own size. The only reason she isn't sent to freezer camp is because she lays about 3 dark brown (never chocolate like the pictures) each week. My friend has rehomed her own BCM because of overly aggressive behavior toward other hens in confinement with her. She has been rehomed to an open-range farm. I think Marans need to be kept with other Marans varieties but never in a mixed flock. Their temperaments vary too much. GFF says their Wheaten Marans are the most easy-going of their Marans varieties but I think the strain determines the temperament you get and I'm not willing to try any more of them. IMO the Marans are sneaky - they'll be all nice around the humans and then turn into bullies when around their flockmates. If I want dark eggs I'll try Welsummers who don't get as heavy as Marans, still have dark or speckled eggs, and slightly easier on the feed-to-egg ratio. With some breeds - for instance an Ameraucana or EE - you can generally be certain of a non-combative good temperament bird, with a Leghorn (Mediterranean class) you know you won't get a shrinking violet but a mind-her-own-business, alert, predator-savvy bird, but with Marans their temperaments are too varied and there's no standard guarantee about what qualities you'll get with a Marans either in egg color or in personality. Marans are beautiful birds if you're lucky to get a good line and many breeders are improving their strains but for me as an average backyarder I'll settle for the easier-tempered breeds in my mixed backyard flock.
  7. DCchicken

    DCchicken Songster

    Aug 29, 2013
    Yes, right now I currently breed:

    Arkansas Blues
    Ayam Cement
    Ayam Kedu
    Birchen Marans
    Cream Legbar
    English Orpingtons (bantam and LF)
    Marsh Daisy
    Svart Hona

    I spent most of this year focusing on my Ayam Cemani and my Svart Hona but I did not forget about my other breeds. The Hedemora did fine in the Summer. But there was a week in the summer that I had jury duty that kept me away from 12 hours a day. So I was worried about the Hedemora and put them inside in quarantine pens.

    The Cream Legbars, Bresse, and Marans did not do so well in the winter. Their combs were so large that they all got frostbite regardless of how much gel I put on them.

    I didn't get to breed the Alsteirers this year but I did do their cousin, the Sulmtalers. They turn out to be very good at being free range birds.
  8. Sylvester017

    Sylvester017 Crowing

    Nov 29, 2012
    So. Calif.
    You picked some interesting chickens to breed! The Alsteirers and Sulmtalers are so similar that only color seems to distinguish them.
    Arkansas Blue is a new one to me! Guess it's still an experimental breed in development with mottled sports showing up occasionally. And with nice light blue eggs.
    Cemani as well as Svart Hona have been reported to be the same breed - but in different areas the strains are just a bit different. GFF has cut their price for a pair in half recently!
    Kedu - I'm not too interested in game type fowl but pretty birds.
    Bielefelders are the new rising stars in dual-purpose and owners love their temperaments! Too large a fowl to add to my smaller gentler Silkies and Ameraucana. I hear the Bielies are not too easy on the feed bill.
    Barnevelders struck me as an aloof tempered bird something like the Marans' aloofness plus the hens can reach 7-lbs. We're keeping our breed weights 5-lb or under.
    Marans - I'm not a fan of any variety Marans - aloof around their owners and sneaky bullies to gentle-tempered breeds so my egg-seller friend and I don't have a high opinion of them. We've never seen an egg chart color higher than #4 on any of our varieties.
    Bresse is worth raising just for the price of their blue-footed carcass!
    Legbar are nice for blue eggs but our gentle-tempered Ameraucana does nice with XL powder blue eggs. CLs have Leghorn in their breed history and Legs are an assertive breed - I don't take chances with breeds that have assertive breeds in their history - never know what temperament will get inherited by a specialty breeding. BRs were bred from Dominiques and then Malay and game bird infused to produce a larger bird. We've had both BR and Dom and I'll take the gentle smaller consistant personality of a Dom over the mixed history personality of the larger BR. I know some strains are great but I don't take the chance with BRs - JMHO.
    Bantam Orps must be cute. My seller friend had a pushy LF Buff Orp. The Orp chicks are quite pushy picking on other breed chicks or ducklings - they seem to be chicks on steroids. Beautiful in all the varieties but not a favorite temperament of mine.
    Hedemora - I'm glad to hear they did well for you. Maybe a couple generations in your climate and they'll evolve with unnecessary underfluff. I love landrace fowl. Which reminds me that I'm particularly interested in the temperament of the Swedish Flower Hens - very curious unafraid outgoing calm birds. When my flock number decreases I may get some in the future.
    Isbars had some bacterial breeding problems earlier in this decade but I understand the newest imports are hardier. I'm not a personal fan of greenish/olive eggs and would just get an EE for mint eggs if I ever want them. Amers/EEs are sweet gentle-tempered non-combative fowl that would rather run than fight. Our friends are in agreement about this and don't hesitate to add these fowl to our flocks.
    Marsh Daisy has the most interesting comb and pretty plumage. I think the Poltava Clay has a more striking comb that shows exquisitely on both the cock and hen similar to Redcaps.

    These are all JMOs and not to detract from any one breed. We all love different breeds for different purposes.

    In cold weather we made the mistake of using vaseline on our Leghorns' combs/wattles and the grease stuck to the feathers so that the next morning dust-bath dirt stuck and stained their head feathers until their next moult. Our vet recommended Vitamin A or E oil for the chickens' combs/wattles/beaks/legs/feet/toenails - protects from frost with the added bonus of feeding the skin. We chose the Vitamin E oil from Walmart pharmacy, applied at roost time and by morning the vitamin oil absorbed into the flesh and never greased up the feathers. No dirt clinging to the feathers when the birds took their dust baths!

    Happy chickeneering!
  9. Dispatch273

    Dispatch273 Chirping

    Mar 13, 2014
    I just got 5 of these little beauties. They are almost 5 weeks old. I love the little crest on their cute heads! Does anyone know when they start laying? I saw an article that they lay as early as 15 weeks? Of course now I can't find the article again.....
  10. Sylvester017

    Sylvester017 Crowing

    Nov 29, 2012
    So. Calif.
    I never heard of any chicken laying THAT early but keep us posted!
    I love crested or bearded or muffed or feather-footed chickens - they always seem to be the gentlest non-combative chicken breeds. Alsteirers are definitely a beautifully feathered bird.

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