Can someone give me some good breed choices?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by earlybird10842, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. We started keeping chickens with a commercial mixed breed, highline browns or similar. They were really disease prone, and most died before four years old, several of egg yolk peritonitis. I decided to go with healthier breeds when we got chicks one spring--An Orpington, an EE, a Partridge rock. Of the three, the only one who lays regularly throughout the year is the rock. Since we get hot summers and very cold, wet, winters, weather tends to be the problem--if the weather is tending toward the extreme, the Orp and the EE--especially not the EE--will not lay. We do have a light in our coop, and keep it a decent temperature all year long to try and keep them laying, but to no avail.

    I am considering getting new chicks, so I need a breed that will lay all through the year, dependably. Although I don't want a 7 days a week layer-- An egg every other day or even every three days is fine, I just need eggs in the summer and winter when the weather is a bit extreme. I'd rather have a mix of breeds then a bunch of one breed.
    I know rocks seem to do pretty well this way--at least my Partridge rock does.
    Breeds I've been thinking about
    -Brahmas
    -Barred or partridge rocks
    -New Hampshire reds
    -Sussex
    -Favorelles

    Can somebody with weather that is less then temperate recommend a good breed for year-long laying? Can you tell me how the breeds above do?
    Thanks,
    Earlybird
     
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    I'd recommend Austrolorps for the situation and goals you've described. I'd also recommend giving the BO another shot - it may be just the one you got, because I have had great luck with ours. At the moment our reliable layers are our BOs and our Wyandottes. Our EE and Brahmas have really petered out with the onset of winter.
     
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  3. Thanks. My BO is really a sweetheart, and she lays pretty well when the weather is nice. Its just over seventy and below thirty degrees, the eggs just disappear. Okay, thanks for the Brahma tip. I heard they were not super-great layers, but wondered if they lay more often during cold, since they seem like they would be nice and cold-hardy.
     
  4. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    I've had all of the breeds on your list at one time or another over the years except the Faverolles (a good friend and neighbor of mine raised them) and they are all decent layers (3, occasionally 4 eggs per hen per week) and cold hardy, but none of them do very well in really high heat. I agree with Ol Grey Mare's recommendation of Australorps. I've raised Black Australorps for years and they are extremely hardy. I've raised them where winter temperatures dropped to 30 F below zero, and where summer temperatures frequently reached 117-118 F (123 F once), and in both climate extremes they came through like troopers. They are also very calm and gentle. My children, and now my granddaughter (pictured in my avatar) made lap pets of them. And they are the best layers of the standard brown egg laying breeds. A Black Australorp holds the brown egg laying record with 364 eggs in 365 days, and while none of mine have ever reached that level of production (and likely never will), I've still had a few of them lay over 300 eggs in a year. Whatever breeds you decide to get, good luck with your flock.
     
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  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I love my barred Rocks, and they're great layers. I give my older girls the winter off, no light, but they start right back up in the spring. My experience is they lay through the first winter without and supplemental lighting, so at the 18 months mark I either decide to overwinter nonproductive birds or sell them. If you light during the winter, they'll still take a break to molt but then should pick back up. My best layers have been my hatchery barred Rocks, my hatchery EE and my brown Leghorns, although lots of folks don't want the white eggs from a backyard bird. I was not really impressed by my hatchery Speckled Sussex, although granted I had a pretty small sample. They just didn't lay that well and the eggs were smallish. My hatchery Wyandottes have done well, along with hatchery Welsummers and production reds.
     
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  6. CloeyCoraCamila

    CloeyCoraCamila Out Of The Brooder

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    We have a Golden Comet - she lays daily and might miss a day every month and a half or 2 months - she also lays through the winter months - they are cold hardy - molt doesn't effect her much either - she lets our Orpington boss her around - she is very friendly , when in the house or nest she even lets you pet her cheek, when outside she is a busy body she hasn't got time to be loved on, unless you have food - altho she is active she isn't "flighty" - brown large eggs
     
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  7. Thanks, guys! This info is great!
     
  8. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    I still have a 10 year old Australorp that still lays. They are very hearty in my experiences with them. This is also one of the only breeds I never had to treat for scaly leg. I've wondered whether others notice this. For colder climates I could bet Australorps, Rocks, and Wyandottes would do quite well. I am in a Mediterranean type climate here in northern California. Winters can be very cold, but nowhere near other parts of the country. It has been many years since I've been around Sussex. My folks had Speckled Sussex hens when I was a kid. They were very docile and good layers from what i remember. Cuckoo Marans are another I became fond of for their docile temperment and good egg production. From others I've spoken with, they had consistent healthy egg production and good temperament with Black Sex Links versus Golden Sex Links. I will always be fond of the Black Australorps and Leghorns.
     
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