american game fowl for near self sustaining meat and egg production? or is this crazy?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MrSmokey, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. MrSmokey

    MrSmokey In the Brooder

    Feb 28, 2014
    if i have this in the wrong section, i apologize, i thought for a while exactly where to fit this, and put it here because i think the topic largely pertains to chicken behavior.

    alrighty, i have been a bit all over the place on trying to figure out what breed to use here on our farm.
    i know what i want as far as characteristics, i just don't completely know which chicken best fits those as i am new to chickens etc.

    to whomever gets through thankyou for your patience, as this is a bit drawn out.
    for the less patient, just skip to the bold at the bottom

    i live in west central NH, have 10 open acres (3ish of that fenced so far but the rest will be) we have lots of open woods as well.

    i have sheep i rotate on those pasture and would like to follow them with the birds in one way or another, but i don't want to get into what i have planned for that in this thread, as im trying to keep this pretty focused.

    while i have not seen them i know there are coyotes, fox, bear, fisher cats, you name it.

    inside the south wing of my barn i have a space i am making for the birds, its around 10x40ish feet and has a sloped roof 6-10 feet high. ill put in a couple more windows and paint the walls bright white. ill put shutters over the windows to close at night, after the horror stories i hear about bears around here when they wake up in the spring.

    perhaps i should be doing turkeys, ducks or geese etc, i know for they forage a good deal better than most chickens. but for this conversation i would like to try to figure out the best chicken for the job, my family really wants chickens.

    anyway this is really what i am looking for in a chicken

    they must be good mothers
    they must go broody
    they must deal with predators well
    forage must be their main source of food, they must be thrifty as possible

    it seems american and english games do all these things in spades

    i dont need huge meat birds, and i dont need tons of eggs (though i am told in peak season some games will average 5 a day)edit, 5 eggs a week and know a large amount of my hens are going to be broody a lot.

    im looking to go in and take eggs from the boxes, candle them and put some back to hatch, and eat and sell the rest.
    right now im looking at having one rooster for around 30 hens.
    throughout and then at the end of the season i will cull out roosters and extra hens for the table, so i only have to bring a minimum of birds through the winter, something like that.

    i could go deeper into these logistics but i feel this is already pretty long winded.

    i originally looked at good foraging dual breeds like javas, and then dominiques and continued to go in the direct of wanting something like the games

    i am more that willing to experiment, the main thing holding up my decision at this point is price.
    game birds, american or otherwise are not cheap, and im sure it would horrify quite a few that i would be raising such birds just to slaughter. the price is high in the beginning but i wont be buying chicks every year.

    so, to summerize
    is it madness to use amarican game chickens for production as a highly sustainable, dual purpose, low maintenance, heavy foraging, predator savy, hardy, self perpetuating bird? or is that a silly waste of money for fancy birds, and i would have better luck with something else that is probably cheaper...?

    thanks everyone! take care, any comments or shared experience are appreciated!

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
    ChristinsCreations likes this.
  2. MrSmokey

    MrSmokey In the Brooder

    Feb 28, 2014
  3. dheltzel

    dheltzel Crowing

    Nov 30, 2013
    Pottstown, PA
    There are so many breeds that would work well for you. The games are not designed for this purpose and they can be pricy. If I were you, I'd see what is available locally, otherwise order 25 chicks from a hatchery. There are a lot of breeds you can try -- Delawares, Sumatras, Red Jungle Fowl, just to name a few. You might even look at Icelandics, then you'd be preserving a rare breed, but the only hatchery I know of that has them is Sandhill and they are likely sold out already.

    If you can find someone locally, you can get birds and advice. I'd recommend Craigslist and eBay (they have an advanced search that you can find local sellers) as a starting point, who knows what you'll find.
  4. Chickadee-23

    Chickadee-23 Chirping

    Jul 29, 2013
    South Carolina
    I have game birds that free range they do pretty good, but i dont use them for meat production i sell there offspring they love to brood babys so i let them i have 3 golden duckwing hens and non games that roam free with my rooster that is a golden duckwing mixed they are pricey i paid $20 per hen on games and rooster was $10 but i got them from a local breeder
  5. Klutch

    Klutch Chirping

    Jan 30, 2014
    West Sacramento
    Your headed down a fun and exciting path and I am doing something similar, I love games for their self sustainability, so I want a hobby flock and also want to create a feral flock. I want the feral flock for no maintenance and minimal feed, so I could just harvest every once while. I know pure game alone is not enough meat, so in the future I am going to use a DC rooster on my game hens. I have DC straight runs chick at this moment (next year's) base. My rooster right now are SS and a CL/CM, I am hatching the chicks from the following hobby hens, Aussie, EE/WL, SS, EE and 2 silver games. So you see I will have good group to select from, to create my own flocks. Have fun and good luck!!
  6. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    Games look cool walking around in the yard but if you want meat & eggs, forget about it. I made the mistake of mixing games with regular chickens once and it about ruined my flock.
    1. They go broody twice a year which puts them out of production for 3 months each time. Combined with the winter slowdown that's 9 months out of the year the hen isn't laying any eggs while still needing to be fed.
    2. They lay smallish eggs, mine were med and a few borderline med/large.
    3. The offspring; you have to feed the males for 8 months before they're big enough to eat and even then the carcass looks like a scrawny buzzard, and the females, well, refer back to 1. & 2.
    Hope this helps.
  7. MrSmokey

    MrSmokey In the Brooder

    Feb 28, 2014
    well, maybe i will just go for the games though i need to double check my budget and make sure i can fit them in. at this point i am not too worried about a skinny bird, if i like these, i might eventually get some hens that are a touch bigger with traits i like and let the rooster breed, and see where that goes.

    its strange, though games were not bred for any of the traits i am asking of them it seems that, they just get retained along with the gameness that they are bred for, as far as i can tell from the folks i have talked with about it.

    im still trying to figure out some of the shorthands i assume EE is easter egger, and SS is speckled sussex? what about ee/wl, dc, and cl/cm?
    thanks for sharing your experience! the birds i am looking at are in the ballpark of around $10 for a straight run from a local breeder which seems pretty decent for them.
    any idea how many eggs you get per week per bird, and around how many before they go broody again? i am still trying to figure out the brooding behavior and how to work with it...
    thanks, i do understand that the games were not bred for it, but it seems the gameness they are bred for keeps those traits i mentioned above along with it. but yes, they are pricy, though i can get them locally. the Doms i found local were bred for show, so i was a little unsure on the, but they are probably fine. i will look into the sumatra, i have not yet. i have yet to find delawares or the RJF locally, though i have found hatcheries with them, but i very much prefer to only buy local at this point. the icelandics sounded great but i wrote them of when was unable to find them... i will call sandhill and see i they are even available, then if so look in a bit more.

    i looked on CL and was not really too interested in much of what i found. and i dont really want stock from one of the farm stores that could tell me nothing of the breeding of the birds they were getting... those games i found locally seem decent... i dono... maybe i will try it. its just a lot of money for playing around...

    i would love to hear more practical experience of those who have tried games, H Ussery says in his book about OEG:
    "If i knew that starting tomorrow i could purchase neither feed nor chicks from outside sources, and could choose only one breed of chicken for my flock i would take the OEG" but he got them from a SPPA member that had preserved them as a farm utility breed. anyone know of whom he is speaking?

    thanks, take care!
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  8. MrSmokey

    MrSmokey In the Brooder

    Feb 28, 2014
    Thanks, im glad to hear your experience, i dont want to spend the money on these and them be a silly mistake. what strain, breeder did you use? what chickens have you settled on that you like?
  9. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Songster

    Sep 4, 2013
    Lower Alabama
    They were just barnyard mutts. Looked to be Black Breasted, Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Red mixtures and all kind of crosses thereof. They were free too. They were also agressive, wild & flighty, not docile and tame like the Modern Games.
    I like them, I'm not bashing games, but I want a more domestic, managable, egg & meat bird.
  10. If game hens lay 5 eggs a day, no wonder they are $200 a peice.


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