Dual purpose breed for tick control

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by starfiresr22, Mar 10, 2019.

  1. starfiresr22

    starfiresr22 Chirping

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    I am curious to see what breeds you guys would recommend for me as I'd like to start raising chickens for some meat as well (and I have also spent lots of time searching the forums here). I live in Wisconsin, so winter hardiness is important, and on ten acres.

    My primary purpose for my birds is pest control, primarily tick control. So what I am looking for is a breed (or breeds) that I can keep from April to October that I can free range for pest control and that during that time will have grown enough to be worth eating so that I don't have to over winter them. So, while meat production is something I'm after, I don't need huge birds and don't want birds that gain weight with a huge compromise in their ability to forage (but I am more than happy to supplement feed).

    On top of that, I'd love it if it were a breed with decent laying ability so that I can keep a few hens each fall as layers.

    I've had a lot of different breeds but have never raised for meat and know that I am not interested in cornish crosses. So, I'm looking to see what everyone's exepriences with raising some of the dual purpose/heritage breeds for these needs would be. (I'd also be curious if anyone has experience with rangers)

    Here's the criteria:
    -Excellent foragers
    -Good meat production (but doesn't have to be huge) in about 7 months, they really don't have to hit a good weight before that as that's how long ticks are a problem here.
    -Good laying
    -Winter hardy
    -Broodineess and good moms is a plus but not totally necessary

    PS: I've already tried guineas for tick control and hated them. They were unbelievably loud and always getting themselves stuck stupid places.
     
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  2. Kessel23

    Kessel23 Hi Bug

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    Hi Hannah
    You could try a different meat bird cross like the red ranger. They get big but still walk around and forage for stuff. All the breeds that I have owned can make it through the Wisconsin winter without heating or an insulated coop. Cold hardy should not be a big concern, if the bird is large and has normal feathering and is in a well ventilated draft free coop it will do well. I have leghorns and Egyptian fayoumis get through it without a problem.
    Other larger dual purpose breeds would do well, 7 months is giving them a good amount of time to put on weight. I tried turkens for the first time this year, I like them. I think the red rangers are butchered at around 5 months so if you try those then they should definitely be ready in time.
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

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    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
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  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Puppy Dreaming

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    Why do they have to be winter hardy if you aren't wintering them over?

    Most dual purpose breeds aren't good at making meat quickly, and most need feed to do it.

    My birds free range here but I still feed them. You may have to just choose a meat bird for meat.

    My muscovy ducks are good at bug patrol. They are out all night here.
     
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  5. Kessel23

    Kessel23 Hi Bug

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    Hi Hannah
    Yeah the muscovy duck is another great suggestion. They are silent too so if that's your problem with the Guinea fowl it should not be a concern with muscovies.
     
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  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Puppy Dreaming

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    Plus they breed like flies and are good at meat conversion.
     
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  7. starfiresr22

    starfiresr22 Chirping

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  8. starfiresr22

    starfiresr22 Chirping

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    I'm hoping to keep some for laying hens too, I'm just wondering if I can find a breed that is worth butchering after 6-7 months, because then I could have more here each summer for bug control and not over winter all of them, just a few.

    I have considered muscovy ducks in the past, will they eat ticks though?
     
    Kessel23 likes this.
  9. Kessel23

    Kessel23 Hi Bug

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    Hi Hannah
    They will eat ticks and plenty of other tiny bugs. They are not as noticeably active as other ducks or chickens but that is because they are active during the night and day as mentioned before. I actually set up my trail cameras in the run to try and see what the birds did at night. The muscovy ducks would come over to the feeder and water pretty much every 40 minutes for a snack. It drained the battery on that cam in one night.
     
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  10. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Puppy Dreaming

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    It's pretty freaky to wake up in the middle of the night look out the window and see a bunch of muscovy walking around with their heads down hunting bugs.
     
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