Any suggestions for breeds ro add to my flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by dandymandie, Dec 17, 2016.

  1. dandymandie

    dandymandie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This has been a sad start of winter for me. 2 weeks ago one of my beautiful Cuckoo Marans X Silkie girls disappeared (suspected hawk). Then, a few days ago my favorite Silkie hen (and my first hen ever) was killed by a falcon in the yard. These were my first loses in my almost 2 years of keeping chickens. My Silkie didn't even have a huge crest or anything, her sight was fine, I am sure it got her by surprise. I am left with a Silke rooster, 3 Cuckoo Marans, 3 Minorcas, 1 Cuckoo Marans X silkie pullet, and her brother. They free range during the day in a forest like area with lots of cover and go to the coop at night. I let them out every morning. I thought my smaller birds would be easier to manage but I find myself needing harder to catch chickens for the birds of prey. Im also going to put lots of netting high up in the open areas they hang out in.

    My question is, does anyone have suggestions about what breeds would be best to add to my mix? I made the mistake of getting the Minorcas without realizing these girls can fly pretty well. I found them in the driveway outside of our fence all of the time before I clipped their wings finally. And they still get out! But they are great gardening companions and foragers. The Cuckoo Marans are awesome for me as well. We keep them for eggs and as pets. There is no hurry for them to lay. We just like the diversity in our flock.
    Some of my considerations: Buckeye, I've read great things about them on this site. I think my location (Northern CA coast) is suitable for them. Rhode Island Red, great foragers i have read? And Barnevelder, docile and friendly. I slowly added breeds to my flock without much thought and it worked for me but I want to make sure I get breeds that work for my situation from now on. I would appreciate any suggestions or experiences with these breeds. Thank you all for your help!
     
  2. chippy99th

    chippy99th Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have Rhode Island Reds, they are indeed great foragers. Mine are not super friendly but neither are they particularly skittish, you could definitely make good friends with them if you wanted. They are good layers and I've never had one try to escape.

    I would also suggest Barred Rocks and Buff Orpingtons. Those three breeds plus Australorps form most of my flock (Aussies are great too, they just tend to go broody a lot in my experience). Orpingtons in particular are one of my all-time favorite breeds. Excellent layers, tend to be quite healthy, weather tolerant. They're a heavier breed and rarely try to escape. Also, they are SUPER friendly, happy birds, full of personality. Great if you have kids or if your birds are pets as well as farmyard animals. :)
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    If you're looking for birds to avoid predators, look at the Old English Games. They are wonderful foragers and free range well, and they come in a ton of different colors to add variety to your flock.
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I would also suspect fox and coyote, both can make chickens disappear and will return until you run out of chickens or you put a stop to it. Most birds of prey need room to maneuver and having good cover seems to stop them. I would recommend keeping roosters if are to free range as they will keep a look out for predators.
     
  5. dandymandie

    dandymandie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! The Rhode Island Red seemed like a great breed for foraging from what I have read and that is definitely on my want list for new chickens. I will look into Buff Orpingtons as well. I have seen them a lot but don't know why I have never considered adding them to the flock! Seems their color would help them sort of camouflage on the woods, too. Plus we love friendly birds! Thank you for the suggestions!
     
  6. dandymandie

    dandymandie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You have me at "avoid predators"! This is they kind of chicken I need. I see mixed reviews about temperament. Some say flighty loud and aggressive but it doesn't sound any worse than my Minorcas, little trouble makers they are. I could see testing a couple in my flock. Thanks for the suggestion!
     
  7. dandymandie

    dandymandie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the heads up! We actually have two roosters right now as I can't find a home for the young one. My older Roo usually does a great job at alarming the rest of the flock. So good in fact he actually alerts me! But he is a small little fella. I know my favorite hen was lost to the falcon because my partner actually caught it in the act. It flew out from one of the bushes they use for cover and there she was. I don't know where the ravens were that day But they usually get rid of the lurking hawks for me. I love the ravens for that. But we will keep an eye out for the other possibilities as well. Thanks again!
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Well, "flighty" means "not going to set around and get eaten", so I'd consider that a bonus in your situation [​IMG]

    I've only had hens, not males. But my hens have not been loud or aggressive. They're scrappy, for sure, and don't take any crap from the other birds, but they never went looking for trouble. Decent enough layers of smallish eggs, and wonderful broody momma hens.

    Sheesh, I'm about to talk myself into ordering some more.....
     
  9. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi. [​IMG]

    Sorry for your loss. [​IMG]

    I think it really depends on your purpose.... fun, looks, eggs, meat, chicks, broodies?

    A young cockerel will not protect a flock at all because he hasn't matured into it yet. Also, a Silkie doesn't Quite count the same as a full size rooster would (IMO). They seem so slow and just not capable. Even my hens alert to danger, so that isn't enough reason to keep a roo. 1 of my boys (still maturing) actually runs toward the sound of his girls in trouble when they are out of his sight and hears them startle. [​IMG] When you talk about free ranging, how much space are we talking about? And if you already hatching chicks and can't get rid of boys what will you do with the future ones? Silkies are edible to, just a little smaller. [​IMG]

    Sounds like you could use some color in your egg basket! [​IMG] Maybe Easter Eggers? They are always docile and it's like a mixed bag of personalities, plus they don't usually look exactly alike as many breeds do. Mine are among the most active, all over the place. Some are leery but I have 2 that hang out on my lap and one of them runs to get into my daughters arms.I love feeling like a kid when I collect eggs, it's a surprise everyday. I do have a BO, and she already went broody once. She jumps into my lap. Have Barred Bock, they always run my flocks. They are friendly enough, 1 hangs out in my lap (when it's convenient for her). Had a RIR in my last flock. Middle of the pack and plenty spry. Confident and treat motivated. No matter what breed, they will still have their tendencies but EACH will be an INDIVIDUAL. I was originally going to breed Lavender Orpington because of the friendliness and meat/egg qualities, but decided not to go with the Lavender gene blah blahs. So decided on another breed. But I am enjoying the LO girls I did get. So I guess I might do a double vote for something in the Orp variety.

    I'm a little farther north of ya, in Crescent City.... so plenty of rain. And I'm not crazy about the heavily feather footed ones, everything just sticks to them. But I do love my silkies and my buff Cochin is a sweet and super docile bird, Though she hangs by my feet she doesn't enjoy my lap and the silly girl walks in circles like crazy. [​IMG] The lighter feathers on my Marans don't seem to bug me as much.

    Soon, feed store will have breeds a plenty. I think you should think about what color and how many eggs you want them to lay. Also what kind of eye candy you would like in your yard! And maybe try a few different breeds. You can call the store before you go and ask what breeds they have or are getting in on which date. MY 2 LFS get shipments with a few different varieties every two weeks starting early spring. So you could google what they have in the day you are going or maybe plan your purchase around when they are gonna get what you want.

    Best wishes!
     
  10. dandymandie

    dandymandie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I guess I got carried away with my crazy break away from school. I was also considering just letting my flock be. Keeping the girls I have and not adding any at all. My little girl Grey just meant so much to me. I was feeling guilty as well, she was my first and I felt like I didn't protect her enough. Appreciate the added suggestions from you both! I have a better idea now about my flock and i thank you all!

    You make a strong case! In fact, after clipping the flighty Minorcas wings they only went away for about an hour and haven't been away from our yard since they really started laying regularly. They are great chickens but I wouldn't get more. All three of them are bullys and they bully me too, always pecking at my feet and my hands!! Hahaha. But I see now how flighty can be in my favor in avoiding losses in my flock. I always thought it was on the con side of having backyard chickens but I see the pro in it now, thanks! Do you have any suggestions or further personal observations with keeping Old English Games?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017

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