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Breeds to mix with what I have and other newbie ?'s

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by marcym, May 13, 2009.

  1. marcym

    marcym Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 21, 2009
    Iowa
    I'm going to place an order for more chicks so that they will be mostly grown before winter. Keeping in mind that I live in Iowa, what would you suggest to go with the birds I already have? I'm looking for egg layers, will only butcher an occasional surprise roo. I'm not interested in small birds and egg color isn't a big deal. Although maybe some white eggs since I only have brown layers. Coop and run space is not an issue, feuding chickens is.

    I have 12 Buff Orpingtons, 11 of which I'm fairly certain are roo's. They will be going to camp at the end of June. I plan on keeping one for breeding the BO pullets I plan on ordering.

    I have 20 red star pullets, along with a misc roo that was thrown in with them. (Whitish gray with greenish blue legs? The man said it will grow a neat beard?)

    So, what breeds would you suggest that can make it through an IA winter, plus get along with the chickens I already have?

    More newbie questions..... No laughing!!! Well, as long as you still answer my questions laugh all you want [​IMG]

    If roo's breed hens of different types, are the chicks mutts? I have read that a few specific crosses make certain breeds, but in general if I throw several types in together will I end up with a bunch of mutts? Is this a bad thing if?

    Does a hen have to be bred on a daily basis to make each egg fertile? So if a hen goes broody, how do you know she is sitting on fertile eggs? Do you have to candle each one?

    I think that's all for now. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, this site has been very helpful to me in my raising chickens endeavor!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Well, I'm no expert, but I have been reading on here a lot (too much!) Let's see what I can help with. (I'm sure I'll say something you already know; just ignore it if so!)

    I have about 10 breeds, mostly heavy or dual purpose, and my black Australorps are by far the friendliest. I know BO's are considered gentle and friendly. I never had red stars, but I believe they also usually are, so you probably want to stay with friendlier breeds. Most people don't have any trouble with different breeds living together. Sometimes the breeds may group themselves together and sometimes they just mingle. Problems seem more related to the personality of the individuals, or to roosters, though breeds do have personality tendencies. I have read that BO's tend to get bullied because they are so laid back. So in your situation I would stay with the friendlier or more laid back breeds. Here is a link to a "chicken selector tool" that might help: http://www.mypetchicken.com/ And Henderson's breed chart is chock full of breed info: http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html. Both also have info on cold weather breeds. Although, truth is, chickens do so much better with cold than heat. You can get frostbitten combs and toes, but it really doesn't take a lot of coop to avoid that. People in northern Alaska keep chickens....

    Your BO's are a distinct breed, but your red stars are a sex link, which is already a "mutt," or cross breed. The BO's will breed true but the red stars will not. The whitish one with the green legs and muff is an EE, easter egger, which is also already a mutt, or cross breed. (If it does not already have a muff, it may not get one.) SOME of them lay blue eggs. They are usually sold by the hatcheries as Ameraucanas, but they are not full blooded Ameraucanas. You can read on here for hours about Auracanas, Ameraucanas, and Easter Eggers.

    Yes, when roos breed hens of another breed, they make mutts; you will also see them called "designer chickens," a bit tongue in cheek, of course. Many on here feel this is a good thing, creates what is termed "hybrid vigor." Others try to breed a particular breed for certain "desired" characteristics and have a real problem with mixing breeds. I just ran across a really interesting thread on this subject: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=181225.

    You said you have read that a few specific crosses make certain breeds. This sounds like you are talking about sex links. But a bird like a red star is not considered a breed, it is considered a hybrid, or cross, or mutt. Bottom line, if you are OK with mutts, then have mutts! That is what I am going to do.

    Hens store semen for about 3 weeks, and can produce fertile eggs this long after mating. Although, of course one mating might not do the trick. Some breeds have some trouble with mating -- Cochins is one, if I remember correctly, and I'm not sure BO's don't also have trouble at times, because of their very fluffy butts.

    There is a good way to tell if an egg is fertile before it starts incubating -- but you have to crack it open. There will be a "bullseye" spot on the yolk if fertile, and a whitish one if not. A search on here for bullseye will produce some good threads and photos. And yes, if you want to know if it is fertile without breaking it open, you must candle after it has been incubated for a few days. And that is about all I know about candling and incubating!

    Two more things: The only stupid question is an unasked question, and, good luck!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2009
  3. marcym

    marcym Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 21, 2009
    Iowa
    Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge Dawn. It is appreciated!! I have Australorps on my short list, any other suggestions folks?
     
  4. swampducks

    swampducks Overrun With Guineas

    Feb 29, 2008
    Barton City, MI
    I'm very pleased with how my buckeyes and gold laced wyandottes did through the winter. I get temps in the minus 20s often and with just the heat lamp, even with the coop dropping to 6 degrees Fahrenheit, they did great. My Barred Rock Roo however got frostbite on his comb and lost the tips.

    For the heck of it I checked out mypetchicken's breed selector again and though I said cold hardy, it still throws in birds like leghorns and RIRs which have single combs. Sure the breed itself is hardy, but I don't consider frostbite on combs to be a good thing. There are plenty of rose and pea combed birds out there to choose from.

    This year I'm getting some silver laced wyandottes.

    Next year I'm considering dark cornish (they're supposed to be good foragers) and maybe some Dominiques which are supposed to be good foragers and friendly besides. Plus I think the Doms get broody, which the wyandottes and buckeyes don't.
     

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