Best breeds for winter production...

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by QuoVadis, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. QuoVadis

    QuoVadis Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a flock of bantams for pets and they are very good layers as well for most of the year. Of course as is to be expected they take the winter off, and in northern Wisconsin that pretty much means late Oct-late Feb. I actually appreciate that they take some time off (and I don't supplement them with heat or light in the winter) because that means they will produce eggs, albeit in more limited numbers, spread out over most of thier lives, which since they are pets will be as long as their natural lifespan ends up being. I do have one Sussex with the bantam hens who lays pretty well, and I am considering getting a couple more LF hens known for laying well in winter.

    I really don't care much if they are super efficient producers of eggs in the summer - I have plenty of eggs then - only that they lay without supplemental light/heat through all/most of the the winter. In fact I would almost prefer a chicken who isn't a crazy great egg layer, just one that spreads those eggs out throughout the year. In addition the breed has to be the absolute most personable/sweet out there in order for me to keep her. - since any i keep will be with me til they die. I am thinking of ordering a variety of breeds for winter production from Meyer or Ideal and keeping my favorites. I would love for some people to weigh in on the breeds I am considering!

    Favorelles
    Brahma
    Rocks
    Buckeye
    Chantaclers
    Cornish (original breed, not the meat kind)
    Delaware
    Australorps
    Dominique
    Jersey Giant
    NH Red

    Any thoughts on these breeds? Any I should rule out?

    I know Wyandotte, Orpington, and RIR are also good, but I have had bad experiences with those breeds from hatcheries, either with egg health reproductive issues as they got older (RIR) or sub par temperaments (Wyandotte, BO). For the same reason I'm not interested in sex links. (However if you have anything to say about those breeds I would still hear opinions!)
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I haven't had all of them but I'd rule out the Cornish for sure since they lay well under 100 a year. Brahmas don't lay that well either but do lay in winter.
    Chantecler, Buckeye and Dorkings are winter layers.
    I think most of the rest will be decent choices but may need a little added light after the finish their molt.
     
  3. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    I've had most of the breeds on your list and the Australorps have been the best of these breeds on your list in my personal experience for laying in cold winter weather. I raised Aussies in northern Kansas where the temperatures dipped as low as -30 F and they were still laying eggs, although at a slower rate than in warmer weather. The very best winter layers I've ever had were Black Sex Links (Black Stars). Not only did they churn out more than 300 large brown eggs per hen per year with double yolks not being uncommon, but I was extremely pleased at how persistent they were in laying in really cold winter weather. There was very little drop off even in subzero temperatures.
     
  4. QuoVadis

    QuoVadis Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the input. I know sex links are great egg layers, but I don't want a bird the burns out that quickly. They lay great for a year or two and then they are pretty much just done. I know most good egg layers (even like Leghorns) will lay well their first winter, but many will take the next winter off after they molt unless you gave them supplemental light/heat... I am looking for breeds that will spread out their production throughout the whole year, not just their first year but beyond that. I guess you could say I am looking for longevity of winter production.

    So I think will take Cornish off the list, and also probably NH Reds. Any other thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
  5. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Actually my Black Sex Links have not burned out as quickly as my Red Sex Links and I've gotten a decent lay rate from many of them for as long as 4-5 years. Even when they drop off some after the first couple of years, they still lay as well as the best of the dual purpose breeds, and interestingly enough (despite the claims that sex links burn out quickly) the oldest hen to ever lay eggs was a Black Sex Link (marketed in the UK as Black Rocks). She was a Black Sex Link named Victoria and she laid 2 eggs at 17 year of age (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ritain-squeezes-eggs-THIRTEEN-years-last.html).
     
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  6. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    I have never had red sex links, just the blacks. My experience with black sex links is similar to Michael's. They laid well to very well for 4-5 years. After that they continued to produce, albeit sparingly, until 11 years of age when they were killed by a coyote.
     

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