decent breeding for the backyard?


14 Years
Mar 24, 2008
Salt Lake City / Sugarhood
Hi Folks, I am new to chickens. So please forgive me if this is a dumb question.

I am planning to have a backyard flock, not planning to show. As I enter the realm of chickens, I read about big hatcheries, and I am concerned about hatcheries and the genetics of chickens -- the same as I get worried about the styrofoam tomatoes one buys at the supermarket (even in the middle of the summer!).

I grow heirloom organic vegetables, I plant native plants. So, as a backyard chicken owner, how do I get a quality chicken, instead of made-in-China-quality hatchery junk?

My local feed store orders from Ideal Hatchery, but I am not at all sure that's what I want. It's also disconcerting that there don't seem to be many hatcheries in New England (I live in Vermont). I'm used to buying local.

I am not planning to breed myself, as I live in the city and so roosters are not in the plan. I would like to have some quality hens who might live a while and lay for a few years - ok with me if their production slows down after the first year or two. I am not against slaughtering, I just don't want to go through the chick phase as often as some do.

How would you recommend that I go about finding some decent quality birds for a small backyard flock?

My list of breeds I'm interested in:
Partridge Plymouth Rock, RIR, SL Wyandotte, Specked Sussex, and Buckeyes. My eventual goal is to have 3-4 good hens, as I live on less than 1/8 acre.

Should I just order from Ideal or Meyers, and not worry about it?
Should I track down breeders for each breed I am interested in? There do not seem to be many local to VT or even NH?
Are the smaller or "game bird" hatcheries any better, or Sandhill Preservation Center?

Thanks, Becka
You could go through the Buy Sell Trade section here and get something probably from a member here. RIR are supposed to be good all around and excellent layers. I heard the "heritage" breeds last longer (lay longer) over more years. I think Buckeyes might be a heritage breed and also Sussex might be. There are some smaller breeders on here that do ship birds/chicks.
It is somewhat of a personal choice what you want to do. Weighing the pros and cons. I personally try to not buy from hatcheries but when the catalogs come out I sure get excited. I have also heard much better things about the Barred Plymouth Rock than the Partridge Plymouth Rock. And I dont think Wyandottes lay very big eggs.
So, I am speculating on a lot of this stuff as I really dont have the answers for you. It is definitely personal choices you must make. Maybe someone else with more insight than me will have something to say. Good Luck

And Welcome
What part of VT are you in? Most hatcheries have large minimum orders. I suggest you order through your local feed store and order all girls. That is really the best way to NOT get roosters. Most local feed stores let you order 6 pullets min. Most local breeders dont sex the chicks, so you are really better off with the feed store. There is nothing wrong with them......just not show quality.......but even from a breeder it is not necessarily going to be either. Good Luck to you....... and welcome to BYC
Hi and welcome,

I am in the same boat as you. I am looking for the best expamples of the breeds I like. Getting breeders to understand that your wanting Hens for a backyard flock and not for breeding or showing can be a chore but there are some very nice and helpful breeders out there. I ordered all of my birds from hatcheries last year and they were great birds in that tey were free of disease and friendly. However some were OK examples of the breed standard (not show quality but not bad) others were just wrong! The difficult thing is you just do not know what you are going to get. I get most of my chicks from Ideal and they are great, I like working with them but so far this year I have been hatching out my own babies from breeder eggs. It has been So much fun and I recommend you look into it. Sometimes you can buy started birds from breeders but they will most likely bee thier culls (unwanted birds). From what I have heard I would stay away from Sandhill, they supposedly are EXTREMELY difficult and the stock is not that great to put up with it. Try Gordie he has some nice birds and he will send you photos of his birds. You just have to be patient as he is very busy and it may take a while for him to get back to you.

Good Luck
My SLWyandotte hens are just about 2 years, and it's rare for me to get a large egg out of them. They are consistant layers of light brown medium eggs.

Mine are from Ideal, and of the 9 SLW hens, only 3 have nice lacing on the feathers. The other girls, you can tell they're SLW hens, but they're more mottled than laced.

Here is a pic of 1 of my 2 SLW roos from Ideal:

He's gorgeous, but NASTY ... scheduled for the stewpot, LOL. (Anyone want a roo? LOL)

I think you get the breed you want, but not neccessarily how the breed should look.

I must agree with Tiki.... I love all my chickens, but my FAVORITES are my Barred Rock Hens, faithly getting two LARGE (maybe even a jumbo) egg daily. Even through all bad weather they came through for me. Very calm and good with my two daughters that hand feed them snacks.
If your looking for great egg producers, and you want white eggs, go for White Leghorns. They lay a long time and they lay a lot. The eggs are big too. If you want brown eggs, I would definitely get Barred Rocks. could even mix those two if you wanted too. I know you said you can"t do roosters, but you can find fertile eggs of these mixes on this board. I sell them myself, but I have a small waiting list right now. They are $15.00 a dozen + 12.00 shipping. Thats if you want to hatch your own eggs. Now..if you want young pullets, you can see if there is an auction around you where they are selling some hens. But hens that are ready to lay are more expensive. For example, 6 laying hens might cost you about $65.00 and up. I too try to stay away from hatcheries. I hatch my own and then when I have enough for the season, I sell the rest.
I find the smaller breeders to be a great source of hens and eggs, as well as roo's for that matter. Especially the people on this board. Good Luck!
dont quote me on this but I think Speckled hen sells some nice Barred Rocks and some nice Orpingtons. Now these two breeds are friendly and calm and do lay nice big eggs!
I am in southern VT, and I have found a few people down here that have some decent birds. I know hw you feel trying to find a local breeder, cause there are not many in the area. There is a woman in Wilmington, VT that has a large order coming in at the end of April, that she is recieving from a livestock show she went to in NY. If you PM me I can give you her info to contact her.
Good Luck:cd
I've got most of my chickens from a feed store. They in turn get them from hatcheries. I've got chickens from both Townline and McMurray. For what you need chicks from the feed store is probably the most cost effective way to go. The local store here had chicks in and we were able to pick out what we wanted (sexed and separated by breed). Even if the chickens don't meet breed standards, so what?? Mine are close to the standards and they are all very healthy and good layers. Are they "decent quality birds"? Yes.
I also have Partridge Rocks. They are large birds and matured slowly. Did not start laying till about 6 months and now that they are close to a year old the eggs have finally increased in size in size to large/xlarge. At first I was disappointed in them, skittish and puny eggs, but now they are very friendly and have become some of my most reliable egg layers. In contrast, all my ISA Brown's (hybrids) had egg binding issues in their 5 to 6 month. They started laying at 4 months and -boom - started laying large to xlarge eggs immediately. I'm lucky I did'nt lose any of them. So if you are looking for long term egg layers they will probably do just fine. You just have to be a bit patient with them as they take a long time to mature. My Barred Rocks are not that friendly but they did start large egg production sooner. Others talk about how sweet they are and mine are starting to let me touch them.
Oh, by the way, none of them have "China" stamped on their butts.

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