Chick species vigor? Your opinions on the healthiest chicks!


6 Years
Mar 24, 2013
Palm Coast, FL
I used to raise chickens 30 years ago as a kid, but am just getting back into it. Instead of buying all of one kind, I chose to 'shotgun' and get a whole bunch of chicks to see which ones I'd like the best.

I got 4 red sex link pullets, 3 white pullets, 4 easter eggers, and two cuckoo marans to start.

I then added 7 Cornish rock, a bantam (unknown variety), a silver laced wyandotte, and a barred rock.

Next came 4 lavender orpingtons, and I thought I was done, but then we adopted 9 rhode island red chicks that came with one ancona pullet.

What I've noticed so far is that the Easter Eggers grow more slowly, take longer to get their feathers, and keep their down longer. They are also the friendliest and love to hang with the red sex links.

The red sex links grow quickly and lose their down the fastest, and the second friendliest, and are the most athletic and adventuresome.

The white pullets (lineage unknown) are FAST growing, quiet, quick, and are good 'mothers' to the others, but generally avoid people.

The Cuckoo Marans both turned out to be roosters (argh!), but grow very well, are curious, but they only socialize with each other, and often start fights with the reds (who hold their own despite being smaller).

The Cornish rock are delicate but manageable, and fit every description given to them.

The Wyandotte is scared to death of people, yet very hardy and resilient. An average grower and has no problem competing for food.

The Barred Rock is athletic, quick-growing, and feathers out quickly, and quite curious. It 'pecks' more than any other, and is quick to scratch and is a good lookout.

The Rhode Island Reds are aggressive eaters, very curious, vigorous, competitive, and I imagine the most hardy chicks I've ever seen. Fast growing and resilient, these guys I imagine if I depended on chickens to survive, would be my mainstay.

The Ancona holds her own with the RIR's, but I had to isolate the Lavender Orpingtons. The Orps seem to grow very slowly, haven't feathered out yet, and were very stressed out to compete and live with other chicks. I've found them to be delicate and peace loving, although VERY vocal, more so than any other chick.

Anyone else have similar issues? I'm particularly concerned about the Lavender Orps.


Steve N Tracee
I have done that where all my chicks are one kind of chicken, with out duplicates although I do have a bunch of CC marans because I hatched some. I have some NN chicks that I think are meat NN, and I do worry about blending them in with my hens. Boys feather later then females. Don't give up on the wyandottes, mine were shy now they are very friendly. I do have one RIR but I suggest not getting a bunch, they can be aggressive as a group. I plan on keeping 3 roos this year.
Thanks for the advice, yeah RIR's are great survivors but not good for a mixed flock! As week old babies they dominate already! How are your CC Marans doing?

So cool that we can talk from 3,500 miles away about this wonderful adventure!

Steve and Tracee
my ccm's are doing well, just put some green eggs in incubator below dad is ccm mom is EE they will probably look like dad though. my incubator the bowl is not water it is for fire safety.
the chicks in the pic below are cc marans, and ee my first batch.

So far all the Maran's we have had where pretty delicate, especially considering how big the are.

Buff Orps and RIR have my vote for sturdiness. We have five breeds and as usual a RIR tend to be the "boss" chickens, but she is a very "good" bosses.
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went to a farm and picked up a dozen blue/green/slate colored eggs. and my friend is saving more too. might have 20 eggs or so by the time I am done.
I've always preferred the more docile breeds, but like a good egg production strain. I want a bird that can be easily handled for ease of management (worming, inspecting for mites, treatment of disease, etc.) I don't like mixing breed flocks much anymore due to the very clannish behavior of chickens. They are tribal animals.

Decisions aren't easy picking breeds since a chicken can easily live 10 years or more, unless you are culling for production. There are many attractive breeds of chickens out there. Everyone has their preference for different reasons. I culled livestock when I was younger and hunted some. I don't readily kill anything but predator animals anymore. I prefer to let mine live their lives to the extent of maintaining health.

I've found that like breeds of dogs that become trendy and genetics suffer as a result, the same goes for chickens. The more you have of one breed, the more chance you have of attaining some healthy breeders for healthy hatches, if that's the route you desire. There are scrupulous breeders out there, it is just a matter of finding the right one. I have bought sickly birds from private breeders as well as commercial hatcheries. I've had very vigorous and healthy birds from both as well.

I've found White Leghorns to be neurotic. I'm sure not all of them are.

Rhode Island Reds are more aggressive, not just among each other, but other breeds.

Orpingtons are the most docile. They will get picked on in a mixed flock.

Aracaunas are good looking birds, but don't lay worth a ****.

Wyandottes are easily handled, but can be bullies to other breeds.

Australorps are great layers, dominant in the flock, but are very docile with humans.

Rocks are much like Wyandottes.

I'm doing things different this year, which is why I settled on California Grey chicks. They are a Plymouth Barred Rock rooster crossed with a White Leghorn hen. I've found them to be easily startled like Leghorns, but are very curious which allows them to overcome fear and accept being handled.
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I can only reply with the limited experience I have over the last few months. I got several breeds to see which I would be interested in raising. All were purchased as chicks and I'm up to 39 birds. I'll be taking that number down to 24 based on what I've seen so far.

Australorps: Quick growers, lively, personable, get along with other chicks, my favs!
Red Sex Link: Run right up to you for food, 2nd easiest to catch, quick growers, no health issues at all
White Leghorns- Quickest growers, fast as heck, hardest to catch, best flyers, curious, a good one to have
Easter Eggers- By FAR the most personable, they come right up to you every time and follow you around, love to eat out of your hand and perch on you, a TAD slower growing, we lost ONE early
on due to illness, but my wife's favorite
Cuckoo Marans- VERY quick growers, curious but standoffish, fast, not easily caught, big bodied, healthy, won't eat out of your hand, good leaders
Barred Rock: Quick grower, aggressively pecks to explore, hard to catch, fast, jury still out on this breed
Silver Laced Wyndotte- cute, quick growing, fast, very ALARMIST and terrified to be caught, but calms down nicely while in hand, healthy and competitive
Ancona- Visible quicker and more stealthy than other birds, more slender, quickest to the food, likes to be held, healthy and vigorous, may get more of these....
Cornish Rock cross- I'll always have some to raise up for meat, but they fit perfectly every description ever written about them- slow, lazy, stupid- research other posts.....
Lavender Orpingtons- By FAR the most beautiful chicken (IMHO) in the world! However, we're getting rid of our 4. Why? Very passive bird, slow eater, slow grower- chicks 1/2 their age are double
their size already. Health is....delicate, had to force 2 to drink when they got weak. Always last to the feeder and stepped on. A specialty breed for those who don't have to worry about vigor
Rhode Island Reds: By FAR the most vigorous, quickest growing, aggressive feeding, personable chicken out there. If I had to live on a desert island and depend on one breed forever, this would
be it! May eventually convert to all RIR's. Had no interest at all in this breed b/c I always raised them as a kid and wanted something different. Now I know why they are so popular!

My 2 cents!

Steve N Tracee

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