Best breed for free ranging in a forested area

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hiker125, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. hiker125

    hiker125 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is there any dual purpose breed that is better at foraging in a heavily wooded area?

    I am not sure that I am comfortable with this idea or not, but we are planning on moving to a new property that is very secluded and only has a few open areas. I currently have my few chickens locked down like Fort Knox but want to expande my flock. Lots of coyotes and hawks in the area. Will a couple of great pyrenees help with guarding the flock?
     
  2. punky rooster

    punky rooster Awesome

    Jul 21, 2010
    buckeyes! the dogs should help
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  3. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

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    Araucanas. And I mean true ones, not the tailed and muffed/bearded mutts from hatcheries.

    Our Araucanas have been the hardiest, most "wildtype" breed we've had, yet without the aggression and lack of egg production American Gamefowl bring. They're on the small side, but they're able to fly very high and far, so they'll use any trees to their advantage; They may even sleep in the trees if they choose. They're very protective, aware, and will live off of just about any environment. Also, they do not have tails, so even if there are Coyote problems that they cannot run from - A predator is likely to catch a bird by its tail first, which Araucanas do not have.

    You also mentioned dual purpose - Although they are not as big as most "dual purpose" breeds out there, my cockerels give much more meat at an earlier age per bird ratio than any other breed of mine. [​IMG] Their meat is more tender than most others, and the breast especially holds more flesh than other common breeds. They're my favorite in terms of eating chicken.

    I've sold some of my Araucanas to a lady who doesn't have a coop and lives right on the edge of a National Park - They've yet to loose any, and the Araucana cockerels are far better at warning the flock of predators than the owner's previous mixed Bantam breeds.

    Oh, and of course, they are very pretty and lay a gorgeous blue egg. [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  4. racuda

    racuda Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Whatever breed you decide on, you should also consider getting some Guineas. They are very good at taking care of themselves.
     
  5. FlipFlopFarmer

    FlipFlopFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would go with guineas, but you have to raise em there, or it has been my experience that the adults you buy will leave when let loose, I would get a LGD or two if you have coyotes, and I would go with a " gamey" type chicken, like a sumatra, or something more flighty that will roost high in the trees and be leary all the time.
     
  6. hiker125

    hiker125 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Illia - Where do I get my hands on these Araucanas ? Your eggs are soooo pretty.

    Do you have to lock to coop door at night to keep them safe? Do they even go to a coop at night?

    FlipFlopFarmer-I hate to sound clueless, but what is a LGD?

    Thanks to all for these great ideas- I love BYC!

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

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    Quote:An LGD is a Livestock Guardian Dog - Breeds like the Kangal, Akbash, Anatolian Shepard, Great Pyrenese are LGD's.

    Some breeders of Araucanas here on the forum include skyblueegg, cashdl, Hinkjc, wilds of pa, cackleberrycoop, and myself. We all sell hatching eggs (you'd need an incubator though, but it the money paid for one is worth it!) and a couple of us sell chicks and adult birds, too. [​IMG]

    It is safest to have a coop, and yes they will sleep in it. The best thing to do is lock them in at night in the coop until they learn automatically that it is their home at night. Such an exercise usually only takes a few days.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  8. wilds of pa

    wilds of pa Chillin' With My Peeps

    LF araucana and game fowl come to mind......
     
  9. hiker125

    hiker125 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Illia- I will give you all a PM when (if?) we make the big move. I think that I wil wait until Spring to get more. I think that maybe some Guinea chicks may be good too. Any reason not to raise Guineas with Chickens? Do you ever have a predator get into the coop at night?
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  10. Sumatra503

    Sumatra503 Kozy Orchard Farms

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    Sumatras are excellant foragers in wooded areas. My sumatras are very flighty and fly into the trees at the first sign of anything suspicious. they also have a good sense of where home is and where it is safe to sleep.

    Any heritage breed will be able to take care of themselves. RIR, Plymouth Rock, Orpington, etc. They have to be the true heritage strain and not the production strain from the hatcheries. Many of those tend to be frilly and lack common sense.

    I've had good luck with Wellsummers as well.

    If you do buy any birds avoid hatchery birds for sure and stick to just buying from the breeder.

    A good country coop generally has a solid wood floor and perches that are about 4-6 feet off the ground. The door should latch securely. Those coons and coyotes can be really crafty and persistant. the high perches will keep the birds safe even if something does get into the coup. The solid floor keeps them from digging underneath the coup.

    Before i built the more secure coop I was always loosing chickens at night. Coons are ruthless and wasteful and will often kill more than they eat. I've had them wipeout as many as 10 chickens in one night when I was gone on vacation. Be sure you remember to close the door to the coop. My dad never did.

    I've raised guineas and chickens together with little incident. Just be sure the coop has enough room to keep them all happy.

    Another thing to consider with free ranged chickens in the woods is where they will lay. My chickens would always hide their eggs and not lay in the coup. Keeping them locked up until around noon will ensure that most of them have already laid their eggs before they go out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

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