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Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by godisgood, Feb 21, 2012.
Do buffs eat more than other heavy breed chickens? Are they good at finding food?
Buffies can eat like little piggies, but what I have found is that they don't eat any more than the other heavy breeds.
They love to free range and forage for earthworms/bugs/grass. But I always recommend good chicken feed be available all day (and 24/7 for chicks under a couple of months old) even when free ranging.
We have gone back to Buffs, and all Buffs. We just like the way they look and their personalities. Eggs are great, too!
If you are concerned about feed conversion, you might consider the Leghorn, which is excellent at converting a small amount of food to eggs. They do fly, though and they aren't cold hardy.
Our Buff Orpingtons eat no more than our Black or Blue Orpingtons. Any heavy breed will eat about the same. Ours free range in smaller paddocks and are always looking for something to eat. However, they have left feed in the feeder to go find their precious bugs!
I have found that the Orps do eat more and lay less than any other DP breed I've ever owned. When dressed out they had massive stores of fat around their vents and organs, as opposed to DPs of the same age fed on the same feed. This fat could have been the factor in their poor egg laying abilties, though I never overfeed my layer flock...they are fed once a day and free range always.
They are also too docile to include in a free range program. Each and every Buff Orp I owned had a bare back...in a flock of 28 hens and two roos. This tells me they lay down every time a roo walks by, which may not mean much to you folks but it means my other hens are not being served equally and I have a bunch of hens running around with compromised skin conditions.
After trying BOs on two separate occasions in my chicken keeping history, I found them to perform the same each time: Big intake of feed, low output of eggs compared to their flock mates of equal size/type, poor hardiness, poor foraging compared to their flock mates.
As for Leghorns..they DO thrive just fine in cold temps. The only reason one could ever say they don't is because of their large combs but this is a fallacy. I have an equal mix of pea, rose and single large combs in my flocks and they all weather the cold in exactly the same manner...no frostbite, good laying in the winter months(particularly the leghorns) and good hardiness in all weather extremes.
Oh yes, I can well see where BO's are not good in Beekissed's situation. They are indeed too docile plus yes, they do tend to have a lot of fat deposits when you butcher them over around 30 weeks. And are good layers but not Great layers. Many other breeds lay better than any Orps. I'm in a different situation though and I love them. They are laying enough that they are paying their way finally. And I personally think they are the tastiest chicken ever. Extra roos don't often leave my property.
The fat doesn't bother me, I collect it and make soap from it lol. Chicken fat makes the most wonderful soap! Not 100% chicken fat but around 30-40 percent it's just a luxury bar.
But they are good at finding stuff and love to forage. Right now, with this spring like weather, there's tons of grass and bugs coming out and mine hardly touch the feeders. Well all except my three piggie ones, one of which is a Dark Cornish. I wish the others were at the feeders more but that goes to show how much the can forage. They are big enough that many hawks won't bother them (never say never!) and mine never fly over the 4' fence here once grown.
How is the Orpington compare to Light Sussex? I know both breed are large and friendly.
Were your's hatchery acquired or from an exhibition breeder flock?
Our males have never tore the backs of their hens. They are also equal to quality of free range foraging as our Buckeyes were. They are heavy breed and a certain amount of fat is expected. The Orpington is not going to lay like a hybrid or a leghorn. Ours lay an average of 200+ eggs a year.
I have had Orpingtons since 1979. Never have i seen any of what you seem to have experienced. However, mine were always from a breeder and never a hatchery. the few hatchery acquired I did get from individuals, were not up to pare with the true blue Buff Orpingtons we have today.
Both breeds originated in England from similar crosses. I have not had any Sussex long enough to compare. Friends have said they are very similiar.
Here are our Buff Orpingtons. Reposted from our classifieds listing on BYC.
BUFF. Nicole calls our Buff Orpington Bantams BOBs. They are from several sources; however all acquired theirs from the Brazelton Line. We have won Best of Breed numerous times. At Crossroads 2011 Joint National we placed 4th.
Blue/Splash. We acquired these from Dick Hortsman. They have placed Best of Variety several times.
Our Splash male is from Superior Farms.
BLACK. We acquired these from Majestic Lane Poultry, via one of our 4-H club members. He showed the hen at Crossroads and won Best of Breed, Junior Show.
Our pure Majestic Lane Black Orpington Bantam chicks. Hatched November 2011.
BUFF. Our Buffs came from Superior Farms. They are Britt, Bacon, Clevenger and Brazelton lines. We have added some from Diamond T (TX) and a daughter of the General from Hincjc Mountain (PA).
For comparison, here is an American Hatchery Buff Orpington male.
BLACK. Our Black Orpingtons are pure Cecil Moore line. These came from the Superior Farms sellout. We are extremely pleased with their quality and size.
BLUE. Our Blue Orpingtons are a composite of several lines. We acquired them from a friend. We are now using the our Blacks to improve size and type. We have two pens set up. Pen #1 has a Black male with a Blue female. Pen #2 has a Blue male with a Black female. Our choice on hatching eggs sent from these pens.
SELF BLUE. Our Self Blue projects. Not APA accepted yet. We crossed a Hincjc Self Blue male to our Cecil Moore line Black hens. We will be mating their offspring Splits this season. We showed these as Blacks at a small 200 bird show this fall and won Reserve Champion Large Fowl and Best and Reserve Variety. We lost the show to our own Buff Orpington hen. These Splits won over their own mothers and a Cecil Moore hatched Black Orpington male, their grandsire. We are very impressed with their type and quality.
WE WILL HAVE LIMITED HATCHING EGGS WITH OUR SELF BLUE.
Email for prices on the Self Blue.
Hatchery stock all the way, HFF. Too bad we don't have Orp breeders in this area, but the reality is that in my state there are few private breeders so if one wants a flock of layers they have to resort to the most expedient source.
I only ever raise chickens from a frugal standpoint...if a bird is costing me more money than she is producing food, then I just eliminate that breed from my roster of good, homesteading breeds. My main goal is producing healthy eggs from healthy chickens for the least amount of money I can possibly spend and thus far have been pretty successful in that or I wouldn't bother to continue.
If I had a breeder nearby that could show me a superior bird that would pay back an investment, in longevity and consistency of lay, I'd buy from that breeder before resorting to hatchery...but not if the price is so high that I could never recoup my investment. Poor folk do the best they can....
Yep, if you want plenty eggs and a return on the investment, I say hatchery stock is the way to go. And I just hate saying that but from my short experience the rangy little hatchery ones do give the best return if you want eggs. And the reason for that is availability and cost. Breeder birds, at least mine, lay just a little less their first year but weigh more than twice what the hatchery ones do. Oddly, I never see two of the breeder ones at the feeder. Some just seem to have a "piggy" gene or something and eat like crazy. Others, not so much.