Best dual purpose breed for sustainability

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Earthologie, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. Earthologie

    Earthologie Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 21, 2011
    Hi! I need some opinions. I hope I can get some great ideas here! This subject is VERY important to me. Given the following information, what breed do you think best describes what i am looking for? I'd prefer to hear from people who have HAD or currently own these dual purpose breeds. I want to hear from experienced keepers!

    I recently overheard people talking and heard someone say "what if people start starving?" With our economy, I immediatly thought of being able to take care of my children.

    Due to this, I have been re-thinking my collection of bantams. If things get worse, I would like to have planned ahead and moved to a dual purpose breed so that I can be more sustainable. My bantams just don't lay often enough to support my family if things were to get worse. I know what I am looking for in a breed, but with all the various sites, I am having trouble finding accurate information. It seems that for each breed I look into, several sites say several different things.

    I want a dual purpose breed that will forage.

    ***Has to lay a good to high amount of eggs. (Coop will have windows for winter time)

    *** MUST be known to go broody to replenish itself.

    Preferably will have a friendly disposition (I have kids).

    Winter hardy (I live in Northwest Ohio)

    I'd prefer the color`variety to be black to help it blend into my woods when foraging for camoflage. Partridge would fit this well too though. (part of the woods is a fenced in "pasture" full of bugs and other yummies)

    Size is not that important. I dont have to have HUGE birds, but enough meat on their bones is good too.


    The breeds I have been looking into are:

    Black Orpington (however, I can get 40+ buff orpingtons eggs right now for FREE)

    Black Wyandotte

    Black Austrolorpe (did I spell that right?)

    PLEASE NOTE: I would be looking for more "utility" in the egg laying department over show quality. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Show qaulity chickens, but for this flock, my interest is SOLELY in production.

    For me, the most important aspects are

    GOOD egg production AND ability to brood.

    I will keep a small flock of silkies as a brood back-up plan....

    I hope that this doesn't sound paranoid. But I dont want to sit there and starve and think "man I wish I would have...."

    Please let me know what ***YOU*** feel would be the best breed....
  2. schellie69

    schellie69 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 8, 2009
    This is a good idea I have a good laying flock of mix of breeds. I have found that hatchery stock is breed for egg laying not going broody. I would look into some of these breeds from breeders. You might even think about a couple of different breeds to see which meets your needs the most then cull the ones out that aren't and breed the ones that do fit your needs. I have 2 Austrlorps and I love mine very quiet and great layers I think they are a good size I also love my barred rocks they lay good eggs and are very easy to handle. I have heard that marens are also a good laying and meat bird since they do get good size Jersey giants are great for egg laying but the do mature more slowly then other breeds. I hope you find the breed that works for you.
    Just to add I have buff orpingtons also and they are good egg layers and sweet personalities. I would think about using a light on a timer for the winter months they need about 14 hours of light to stay laying. I did not use a light last winter and all my hens stopped laying I did this because hatchery stock has a problem with having egg laying issues as they age so this gave them a break since they really don't go broody much. Just due to be hatchery birds. I would love to get some new chickens from a breeder to see the difference.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  3. brahmapapa

    brahmapapa Chillin' With My Peeps

    While my favorite breed of chicken is the brahma, in all its many diffrent colors, having raised many diffrent breeds over the years i have to say that you are going in the right direction with the Orpingtons, and if you have use of an incubator, I would jump on those 40 buff orpington eggs, of course not literally, and see how many you can get out of that hatch. They are great foragers, have a great gentle disposition, feed to growth and feed to egg production is very favorable, and they are great meat producers. You will get enough hens to go broody to replenish without too many which impacts on egg production. If you have any other questions feel free to message me, ill be happy to offer advice. Hope all goes well. Take Care TOM
  4. brahmapapa

    brahmapapa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just another added comment, my birds were kept indoors in an insulated henhouse in the Adirondack Mtns of northern N.Y. with temp drops durring the dead of winter as low as -25 deg. and as long as i provided 14 hrs of light they layed rt thru the winter. I do rest them for a deliberate period of time in late winter so they can rebuild thier bodies for spring egg production again. You have to give them a rest at some point. BTW if you go thru times of over production you can preserve eggs for up to 6 months, see preservation on eggs thread for advice about that. Take Care TOM
  5. gallorojo

    gallorojo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2009
    This sort of topic is brought up fairly often.[​IMG]
    Look, I'm with the OP on providing for my family thru possible VERY hard times ahead. If things are so bad that you really need the chickens for food, or face starvation, what will you be feeding these chickens? "Dual Purpose" breeds WILL NEED TO BE FED SOMETHING. Period. Whether that something is corn, or potatoes, whatever, they simply can't forage all their own food. You will have to feed them something-something that could be feeding you or your children. No dual purpose breed is a good forager when compared to lighter breeds. I have mixed breed bantams, almost feral, on our small farm. I barely feed them at all 9 months of the year, they still lay plenty of eggs, and make plenty of babies, which are just fine to eat. Your bantams would be a fine choice so long as they are not short legged, feather footed, crested, etc-anything that slows a foraging chicken down results in a dead chicken. Best sustainable types I would say, are,

    1) Gamefowl-any sort will do. Amazing foragers, fliers, broodies, great at predator avoidance.
    2) Light Breeds- Hamburgs, leghorns, campines, etc. All of the above good points except seldom go broody.
    3) Bantams- Old english, leghorn , RIR, bantams would all be super choices.
    4) If you were really stuck on 'dual purpose", I'd go with a smaller breed, like Dominiques.

    If you are serious about providing for you family in really hard times, look at 3rd world countries, or how very poor people in the USA did it in the Depression. You can raise chickens with very little feed in the warm months-it has got to be light breeds!!! Eggs ought to be your main protein , not the actual birds-that should be more of an occasional treat.

    I raise Cubalayas, and really think they are great for all that you would be looking for. If I did not raise those, I would raise leghorns, hamburgs, or games.

    Stay away from 'Dual Purpose" if you want real sustainable birds.
    livisfarm and TracyLovesDucks like this.
  6. Domes Farm

    Domes Farm Out Of The Brooder

    May 19, 2010
    SE WI
    The breeds you have listed are all good ideas for your needs. Hatchery orpingtons will often go broody and are very calm and good around people. I also think that you should think about Barred Plymouth Rocks. Their barred pattern makes them very hard to see when free ranging and they do very well foraging and feeding themselves. Rocks are very good egg layers and go broody but not as often as Orpingtons. Hathery dark cornish would probably also fit the bill: Awsome foragers, great mothers, and decent egg layers.
  7. WallTenters

    WallTenters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 16, 2010
    Sweet Home, OR
    Why not consider Dominiques? They are superb foragers, ours are always preferring found food over what's in their feeders, moderately broody (I gave a hen to a friend, she's sitting on some eggs 2.5 weeks now), VERY cold hardy. We had some mornings of -32F here this last winter - very cold. The chickens were still out looking for grub in the pasture. We also haven't lost one to predators, they are very smart and alert, the chicks tend to stay close to shelter/trees and bushes and the older birds are always on the look out.

    I also think they are delicious around 16-20 weeks is a nice bird for a table. Check out the Dominique thread - there are a few folks on there that have strains that are looking VERY nice in the meat department. They are a smaller bird but I've seen a much larger Barred Rock dressed out next to an average size Dominique and the meat left over was very similar - I couldn't tell which one was which after we put the carcasses in the buckets.

    Ours have all had wonderful personalities. They aren't as people-dependant as many other breeds seem to be, but once they realize you mean treats the hens will always run on over to find a goodie. The roos stand by on guard, every once in a while the roos lower on the pecking order will let you feed and pet them, but it seems like the main flock roo is always more stand-offish when he's got his hens and chicks to look after.

    Just a great breed, I can't say enough good things about them and they are perfect for a homestead flock.
    koolestgrandma and jeffsmith13 like this.
  8. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2010
    Anchorage, AK
    Quote:[​IMG] Once again I find myself liking what you're saying! This is all very true. A Leghorn or light breed roo won't provide the butterball carcass we're used to as well fed Americans, but they will make a nice stock and provide some protein for basically free. The price of grain and feed up here is skyrocketing. I am panicking about feeding my rabbits, it would be nice to not have to worry so much about my chickens!
  9. RareBreedFancier

    RareBreedFancier Surrounded by Broodies

    Nov 5, 2010
    Australia :)
    Quote:I agree with gallorojo, game fit nicely with what you want. In my experience they lay well, brood and protect their young, are great foragers so won't need nearly as much feed as large duel purpose and the extra cockerels make good table birds. They also come in your preferred color and should be easily obtainable. You sure won't need Silkies as broodies if you have game. I had large game hens as broodies years ago and they were great. [​IMG]

    At the same time, if you have free eggs on offer and an incubator I'd grab them. You can always sell them down the track.

    Main thing I'd think of is if these are your survival food, the bigger they are the more you will have to feed them, especially in winter. Lighter breeds should eat less and lay more eggs and that's what you really want.
  10. ChestnutRidge

    ChestnutRidge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2011
    Western Virginia
    Quote:This is a fascinating point. I had been thinking dual-purpose myself, but when I think of, say, National Geographic images of areas where people really have to depend upon their livestock for food, you do see the lighter breeds. Thanks for bringing this up.

    My one concern is birds of prey. I had been in part avoiding smaller birds because I'd rather they didn't get carried off while free ranging. Does anyone have any experience with the lighter breeds in areas with hawks and such?

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