Chicken compatibility

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by AmericanKraut, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. AmericanKraut

    AmericanKraut Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello All!

    I'm starting my first flock this spring and wondering if any particular chickens do not mix well with others. I'm noticing on My Pet Chicken's website, some chickens are noted as Docile or Not Docile. Does this mean docile with humans or likely to be docile with other chickens in the flock? With it being my first flock, I'd like to optimize the best odds for a friendly crew!

    I'm in cold-climate Minnesota so I'm looking in the cold-hardy section and so far considering:
    Buff Brahma Bantam
    Silver-Laced Wyandotte
    Easter Egger Bantam
    Partridge Cochin
    Australope

    Maybe a Double-Laced Barnevelder, Buff Chantecler.

    They list all of these as docile, but note the Wyandotte as having a tendency to dominate. I'd like more than one of those but thought then maybe I should just do one?

    Sicilian Buttercup they list as a very common chicken but I like her familiar farm look, but she's listed as not docile and not tolerate to confinement. Does that mean they are not a good fit for being in a coop over winter (I'm assuming they don't go in the run in Minnesota winters? If they do, at what temperature range?) and not docile, again does that mean they aren't a good fit for a beginner with other breeds of chickens?

    Welsummer I also like but they also list as not docile, so same question.

    Thanks so much everyone for sharing your wisdom and advice!

    Krista
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  2. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BYC!

    Yes, when says they don't tolerate confinement it means they're not a good fit for someplace where you have to keep them in the coop for long periods because of the weather (they may or may not go in the run, depending on how bad the weather is).

    In general, be careful mixing bantum and large fowl breeds and docile and aggressive breeds especially when confinement to the coop could be an issue or when run space is limited. If you want to make life easier on yourself as you start out, pick ONE breed. If you want varied looks, go for something that comes in different colors (e.g. Orpintongns, Easter Eggers, Cohins, or Wyandottes).
     
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  3. AmericanKraut

    AmericanKraut Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great! Thank you, this helps! I've been reading a lot online, this forum particularly and some books, but couldn't find too much on this topic. I appreciate it.

    Given the longer winters here, do you think a larger than usual coop would be better to give some extra space? I don't like the idea of crowding at all, and the idea of them being cooped up through the long, cold months, I want them to be as comfortable as possible. There is a guy here in the city that makes the ark style tractors and people rave about them even in the winter. I just don't know if that gives much space. On the other hand, close together means more warmth. But I could easily provide a heat bulb or something that's recommended, too.

    Do you think I should avoid Wyandotte then for starting out since they're listed as docile but with dominating tendencies?
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    I'd stay away from the smaller coops, and build one just as big as you can afford, with the idea that if you find out that you really don't like keeping chickens, you can always re-purpose the building to something else. Put in LOTS of ventilation. You list some feather footed varieties. Just my opinion, but I prefer smooth footed especially when dealing with frozen winters that never seem to end, which are followed by mud season. Also, pea and rose combs are less prone to frost bite. First flock? I'd definitely recommend getting at least 2 varieties, and at least 2 of each variety. I find that birds of a feather DO flock together.
     
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  5. AmericanKraut

    AmericanKraut Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is really helpful, thank you! It is my first flock. I don't want to mess them up! Mud, I didn't think of that. We get some really wet spots in the spring and any stormy days. I'll rethink the list.

    Thank you!
     
  6. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Be *really* careful about heat lamps in coops. One guy's coop just burned down because of one. So tragic. Most coops really don't need heat, even people living is sub-zero temps all say their chickens do fine without.

    More room is pretty much ALWAYS better (without going completely overboard, LOL!). 4 sq feet per bird in the coop is fine if they're able to get out and use the run all the time. If not, you might want to think more along the lines of run square footage per bird and up your coop size to around 8-10 sq feet per bird. Look at examples in the COOP section. I would absolutely NOT get an ark style tractor if you're going to have periods of coop confinement. Arks/tractors are usually small because they're supposed to be mobile.

    I would avoid breeds like Wyandottes and RIRs unless you want to get JUST that breed. And I'd avoid mixing bantams and large fowl (though some people do it successfully, it's just an additional thing to worry about and why add stress when you don't have to?). You could easily mix Orpingtons, Australorps, and Cohins though. All large, cold-tolerant, and mellow.
     
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  7. AmericanKraut

    AmericanKraut Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yikes! Ok, no heat lamp. If they're ok with sub-zero temps without it then I don't want to add anything unneeded. Good to know about the arks. Just looking at them I wondered about the space. Looks like there's a nesting box on each end and then a narrow strip down the side connecting them. Doesn't seem like much space other than the run beneath. They have a nostalgic old-world appeal but I've been trying to understand where the chickens go besides the run.

    Your sq ft recommendations for the coop help me a lot. I have to think on building it but I have epilepsy and power tools are a no right now. My husband would love to build but I know he isn't going to get to it with his work schedule as much as he'd like the idea of making it. Is it true the ready-made farm and fleet store ones made of Chinese fir are not durable at all? They look nice but it seems people are divided on the forums here about how sturdy they are.

    I'll skip the Wyandotte, etc for now. Keep it easy. Thank you so much for all this great advice. It saves me learning the hard way.
     
  8. AmericanKraut

    AmericanKraut Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just clicked the link to your coop. That's fantastic! I love it.
     
  9. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks. I'm really please with it (though I already want a much bigger run, LOL!).

    The Chinese made coops are not very sturdy (or weather resistant) and they're MUCH smaller than they seem/say. They can fit maybe 2-3 bantams, max. I really wouldn't put large fowl in them at all. They certainly wouldn't work where you are or for what you want. Depending on your budget, there are lots of places that ship "kits" (where all the sides are pre-assembled and you just screw them together. I looked at a bunch of these:

    http://www.chickencondos.com/index.php/tag/product/list/tagId/18/

    http://urbancoopcompany.com/product/round-top-chicken-coop/

    http://cedarchickencoop.com/index.html

    https://www.omlet.us/shop/chicken_keeping/eglu_go/
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
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  10. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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