Breed recommendations for my future flock?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Nargle, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. Nargle

    Nargle Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2011
    I don't have any chickens right now, I'm just researching and making plans for keeping chickens in the future. My plans aren't really set in stone, but I'd like to plan as much as I can. I was wondering if you guys could recommend to me some of your favorite chicken breeds that you think I might like keeping, too.

    My chickens will be kept just as a hobby and not for profit. I'd like to have free range chickens. I'd also like to raise my chickens primarily for meat for my family (not to sell). I'd prefer standard size over bantam chickens. I'd also very much prefer my hens to be able to hatch and raise their own chicks, so I guess the term is that I'd prefer broody hens? I really like brown chickens, preferably with a pattern, first of all for camouflage (because they will be free ranging) but also for aesthetics. I also don't really need a super rare breed of chicken and I'd prefer a breed that I'll have an easy time finding and buying chicks (Maybe even get them locally so I won't need to have them shipped?).

    A few of the breeds I have been looking into are Speckled Sussex, Dark Brahma, and Partridge Cochin. So far I am favoring the Speckled Sussex. Does anybody have any experience with these breeds that you would like to share with me? Also, if anyone else has any suggestions of other breeds for me to consider, I'd love to hear them!
  2. kyfarm

    kyfarm Out Of The Brooder

    HI just a few random thoughts the folks that purchase our chicks say they like anything but white as predators seem to find them easier. also free range, momma hen and chicks doesnt often mix. think about it hen sitting on eggs for 21 days and predators hunt by smell......the babies are not able to escape well and moms will flee or fight either way could end badly. we freerange when safe, and coop at night. most chickens when they know where home roost is will go by themselves at dusk. i just flashlight to make sure no predators are in with them and lock up. coop has top on and double lock system. racoons are smart. the best free rangers by their nature and abilities are not the best brooders and mothers. flight instinct must be strong on free rangers. from our experience chickens dont move at night making them easy pray. a few times when i came in after dark and didnt have coop open for them they roosted in our buildings with a flashlight i went right up to them picked them up without them moving. that lesson taught me that night time is not when i want my chickens out. everyone has to do what they are able and want to but i believe and others welcome to comment that leaving chickens freerange 24/7 is attracting predators to your property. in the end you do best with the breed that strikes you as the best for you.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I'm partial to Plymouth Rocks but they are not known to go broody very often. Orpingtons are known for ability to raise chicks, good sized bird for meat, lay as well as Rocks or Speckled Sussex and all of them do well free ranging. Your choice of Sussex is a good one. Though I'm unsure of their broody/mothering tendencies.

    ETA- just looked them up. Still go broody but not often. Great.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  4. Nargle

    Nargle Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2011
    Thank you for your input. These kinds of things are great to bring up so that I can avoid making bad decisions and try to be as successful as possible in the future.

    I did not mean that I would have my chickens outside 24/7, what I meant is that they would have access to a large fenced in yard to roam all day, then they would be locked in the coop at night. If this is not free ranging then I apologize for getting my terminology mixed up! [​IMG]

    It's interesting that you say that the best free rangers are not the best mothers. I was not aware of this! Do you think that if my chickens were allowed to roam around in a yard during the day but were protected to the best of my ability, then it might not be necessary to get a breed of chicken that is the "best free ranger," and that instead I could focus on getting a breed with better mothering instincts?

    I have another question, if hens are roaming around a yard and are locked in a coop at night, will they lay their eggs in the coop, or will they make a random nest in the yard?

    ETA: Egghead_Jr I had not seen your reply! Thank you very much for the recommendations! I had not looked into Orpingtons before now but I am very interested now!
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  5. Hot2Pot

    Hot2Pot Fox Hollow Rabbitry

    Feb 1, 2010
    West TN
    I keep my birds in the coop until early afternoon, by then they have laid mostly. But if they are used to laying in the coop, some will return there to lay. Rhode Island reds are good for free ranging and some of them go broody.
  6. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    I think rocks are good dual pupose chickens. I have a partridge rock which is red and black barred, and of course barred rocks are very easy to get. You may not need a lot of broody hens, just 1 or 2 to raise babies, so just pick a couple of good broodies. They can sit on another hens eggs, just by placing a bunch of eggs under a broody hen--they can be all from other hens. I also would like to get a speckled sussex someday--they are more available in the summer than spring or fall from hatcheries.
  7. Nargle

    Nargle Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2011
    Thank you guys! I really appreciate the suggestions.

    Is it okay to have multiple breeds of hens together with just one rooster? Obviously there might be some "mutt" chicks but it shouldn't be a big deal if they're intended for meat, correct?

    ETA: Are Partridge Plymouth Rocks rare or difficult to find?
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  8. Honeysucklefeathers

    Honeysucklefeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2011
    western KY
    My barred rocks are great egg layers and also a really good meat bird. They are also a hardy bird or have been for us.
  9. crperdue

    crperdue Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 30, 2008
    Lake Waccamaw, NC
    Check out this chart:

    can look over all the attributes of each breed and see what matches what you're
    looking for.

    I glanced it over and think you should consider buff orpingtons. They range well, are large
    and meaty, and will hathc their own eggs. They are popular heritage type bird so you
    should be able to find them easily.

    Check out the chart and see what else might work for you.
  10. gumbii

    gumbii Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 7, 2010
    bell gardens, ca
    i have giant (large fowl) blue cochins... love them... they are perfect for me... but i don't let them free range when i'm not there with them... we have hawks and giant cats... well, not scared of cats...

    but, i have had some standard game bird hens free range for years... the neighbors too... they're great free rangers... i'm gonna keep some shamo hens for my cochin rooster... they're also great free rangers, lay huge eggs and are great mothers... and will defend themselves and their babies if anything comes up... also too huge for a hawk to take...

    but i don't recommend shamo as a breed for anyone wanting chickens for eggs and meat... they can and are very mean towards other birds... my large hen beat up my cochin rooster very bad... if she was a rooster, i'm sure she would've killed him in no time... [​IMG]

    and yes you can mix different types of hens with any rooster... they really can't tell them apart... HAHAHAHA...

    you can have a mix of everything in there and be very happy in the end... like some buff orps, buff columbian brahmas, jersey giants (huge eggs), easter eggers (for the blue eggs), marans (for dark brown eggs), a light sussex (they're gorgeous), and some giant cochins and/or silkies as broodys...

    game hens also make great broodys, but they are territorial and mean with other hens or roosters...

    oh, and welcome to BYC!...

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