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Egg Layers that are good family pets too?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by noahsmom, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. noahsmom

    noahsmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi,

    Its been a while since I have been on here, we've had HRIR's, Silkies, Cochin Chicks..All raised from hatching eggs! However, we kept having issues with our set up/coop living out in the country other animals getting in and killing them sadly. It got to the point I ended up giving what we had left to a friend who keeps chickens to. However, we have now bought a house closer to town but still outside of city limits :) and My wonderful Husband almost has our coop complete. Now I'm really trying to do the research to find a couple chicken breeds that are great layers and make great family pets to. Where we live

    Please tell me about your experiences and knowledge of Orpingtons, Cochins, Americaunas, Easter Eggers?
    What about other breeds who are well known for being more laid back and docile? I know everyone has their own opinions.

    Also, is it to late to buy chicks from hatcheries? I loved the experience of hatching my own eggs but it truly is not for the faint at heart.

    Thanks!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It isn't too late depending on the hatchery. The beautiful things about raising chicks this time of year are that they will be laying eggs in the spring and growing up in cool weather, IMO, tend to feather out better than chicks grown in warm weather.

    KY isn't a tough climate for most breeds of chickens so you have lots of options.

    Orps are a good choice for good laying docile birds. Cochins don't lay as well and go broody often. Orps and Ameraucanas can go broody too. Ameraucanas should be docile and are usually good layers.

    Here are two breed charts that may help you decide. Because there are so many good breeds, some that need support, I'm reluctant to recommend any one.
    http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/chickenbreedcomparison.pdf
    http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html

    If I did recommend, I'd try to find some of the more obscure breeds.

    By pets, do you mean a chicken that will make a lap pet or one that wants to be carried around or one that just won't attack humans?

    For great layers that are prone to be docile: Australorps, New Hampshires, Faverolles and Delawares.

    For good layers that tend to be docile are Wyandottes, Jersey Giants, Sussex, Plymouth Rocks, Barnevelders, Buckeyes, Dorkings, Welsummers and Naked Necks.

    For skittish birds that are aloof and aren't human aggressive that are excellent layers, there are Leghorns, Anconas, Minorcas, Jaerhons, Penedesencas, Hamburgs, Fayoumis, Catalans,
     
  3. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    I've had all of these breeds over the years and as a general rule Orpingtons and Cochins are very calm and gentle breeds. The Orpingtons are good layers. Cochins are rather poor layers, but excellent brooders and mothers. My children had no problems making lap pets of ours. Ameraucanas/EEs have mixed temperaments. EEs are hybrids bred by crossing blue egg layers with brown egg layers and their temperament is largely determined by which brown egg layers are used in the crosses. Our Easter Eggers have generally been docile but not great lap pets. They will usually tolerate being handled but don't really like it. If high egg production is a priority, you might want to consider Australorps or Black Sex Links (Black Stars). Australorps typically have the same calm and gentle temperament of the Orpingtons (not surprising since they were originally bred using Orpington stock), but are better layers. Black Sex Links are very friendly and hardy egg laying machines. I raised them for years and they have been my best layers, consistently churning out more than 300 large brown eggs per hen per year with double yolks not being uncommon. Other breeds that have a well deserved reputation for being calm and gentle as well as good layers include Brahmas, Sussex, and Faverolles. Whatever breeds you decide to get, good luck with your flock.
     
  4. ChickenCooper2

    ChickenCooper2 New Egg

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    I have a small flock of Speckled Sussex and Wyandotte. My biggest Sussex, Smores, loves cuddling and is very curious and playful. Most of my Sussex are good layers as well as the Wyandottes-Oreo is my most second biggest even though she is very shy. Most of my girls love to cuddle and are good layers. Other great breeds include Silkys, Black Stars and Americana.[​IMG]

    This is Smores [​IMG]
     
  5. noahsmom

    noahsmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What an amazing Chart! That was really helpful, Thanks!
    Very interesting that chicks raised now may feather better, and it would be fantastic to have some laying by spring too.

    As far as friendly goes, as friendly as possible! We hold our chicks and give them a lot of extra attention daily from first couple days after they hatch on! I love spending time with them and our will allow me to go in and sit with them and once the bottom of our privacy fence is chicken escape proof I hope to let them free range through our yard in the evenings after work too.
    I also don't mind broodiness, I plan to have around 6-10 chickens starting out and we are soon to be a family of 4 so as long as all of them don't go broody we are just fine egg wise. We also wouldn't mind some extra chicks and have a pretty good demand locally for others wanting them as well. I haven't even gotten this one up yet and already planning a silkie/bantam coop/run...poor DH. lol
    Thanks so much for the extra information!
     
  6. noahsmom

    noahsmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you!
    All great information to know! Im really smitten with Cochins, Brahmas and Silkies...I just love the feathery feet! DH thinks they are ugly lol but I just love how they look! Makes me just want to add one to my flock for appearance if anything. :)

    Aww I love smores, certainly has a fitting name!
     
  7. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    You're welcome. Just a word of caution. Silkies are wonderful bantams; adorable, sweet, friendly, and funny; but if you try and keep them with the other breeds mentioned in this post, they will likely take a beating from these larger breeds. We had to remove our Silkies from the main flock and put them in their own separate enclosure for this very reason.
     
  8. noahsmom

    noahsmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I think I mentioned above in one of my posts that my husband will build a seperate enclosure for my silkies/bantams. My main concern is decent egg layers of course docile ones. Silkies would purely be for enjoyment so maybe this spring ill start thinking about a coop where I can keep them too. :)
     
  9. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    Red stars. Aka Red sex links. I have one as a trial, and she us absolutely wonderful. She lays a beautiful perfect pink egg every day, takes a day off every 10 or so.... Such a sweetheart, and I plan on more next spring :) my red star roo was/is the best rooster I've ever seen, too. He is huge, but very protective, and i trained him very easily; really a great breed for eggs, meat, AND pet :)

    This is "Peaches"

    [​IMG]

    Silkies, awesome for kids, but as mentioned, can take punishment from being the bottom of the pecking order. Mine do just fine, but they are definitely the bottom 3, one is my beta rooster, so he's awesome, been trained by the kids lol ;)

    This is Batman lol
    [​IMG]

    Cochins- bantams... Wonderful as well. My banty Cochin is my lap chicken. When she's not broody, lol.. I got HER for brooding and at 5 months, she has already taken it upon herself to hatch out a chick... So those are good mommies :) Standard Cochin; mine aren't near as friendly as the bantam, but still fairly docile.

    Lap Chicken, AKA Momma

    [​IMG]

    EEs. Not quite as docile as the red stars. But out of the 4 I have, we have one named Chipmunk that is just a doll, jumps up on my shoulder when I'm feeding.... She coos at me and follows me around, great personality. On the other side, I have "Wildie"... She lays the most beautiful mint green egg, and I can't get near her until roosting time at night :p

    Here's Chipmunk taking a ride in the feed bucket ;)
    [​IMG]


    Barred Rocks. My favorite. NOT pet material lol, but they have the neatest personalities, in my experience, anyway lol. They can be your worst enemy, or they can be your best friend and lay eggs in your camper when you're not looking ;)

    This one has no name lol, I have too many BRs to tell them apart :D
    [​IMG]


    The best trick to getting ANY breed to be docile is time. Time and trust. Food helps on the trust part. Hand fed treats force them to come to your hand and learn to trust you. Kids,can help, but they can also make skittish chooks if they chase them all the time. But really, time and treats can help with most breeds, but there are certain " free range" breeds that will NOT make good pets... Ancona, Buttercup, and Hamburgs are the only ones I have experience with, but those 3 breeds are NOT meant as pets, and will tell you just such as they run away time and time again lol ;)

    Spot and Dot

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Michael OShay and shortgrass make great points. I apologize as you and I come at this from completely different perspectives. I carried a rooster around all day at a sustainable living festival a couple weeks ago. But cuddle my birds, I do not. The only time they're held is to inspect them for health issues. For me they're livestock and when you said you wanted good layers, that is the direction I went. I have had well over 30 breeds and anywhere from 20 to well over 100 birds at any time. They are all for eggs and meat. I breed them to improve their production and SOP characteristics. None have ever had a name. However, I can identify each of them even if they're all black. They have numbered legbands colored by the year they hatched. So their names are something like orange 27 (last year) or blue 12 (this year) or white 45 (hatched in 2012).
    I like to be able to open the doors in the morning, let them free range all day and at night lock the doors and expect them all to be in there and alive the next morning.
    For that reason, I no longer keep crested breeds like polish and houdan. They just can't see a hawk coming or anything else in time for that matter. I think silkies are cool but I'd never own one for that very reason. I no longer keep feather footed birds because they have to be out in the mud and snow here and that just doesn't work.
    I like my chickens but since I don't tame them, I like them from arms length. The only birds I've had that I could walk up to and pick up in the field were Orpingtons and Jersey Giants. That's another problem. If they are so trusting, they get killed. I saw a fox on 2 occasions run up behind an orp in the middle of the afternoon and grab the bird before it knew there was anything afoot. The same with the Jersey Giants. The neighbors dogs killed all my whites. I've had hawks take other breeds like buttercup, Wyandotte and freedom ranger. But no more. I now only keep a big fleet Mediterranean breed.
    My life is more relaxed now that I have birds that are all extremely wary, fleet of foot, roosters that can fend off hawks and if push comes to shove, the roosters will give themselves up to save the hens.
    I lost a rooster last month to a coyote in the afternoon. But all the hens and chicks were safe. It's just where one's priorities are.

    As was mentioned, with enough affection and holding, any breed can be tamed. The birds I hatch here are like wild banshees till they're about a year old and they realize I'm not going to eat them (well, not today anyway). A friend has hatched some of my eggs under her turkey and silkie hens. She handled them a lot till she returned them and they were quite passive. I'm not sure I liked that anyway.

    If you want good egg production, I'd still stay away from silkies, and Cochins. They lay small eggs infrequently when they aren't broody - which is incessantly.
    If you aren't going to keep a rooster, there's little need for a broody hen unless you're going to buy fertile eggs regularly.

    For me, there's enough work to this project without having to constantly break setters and not get good production. Just my two cents worth. I like setters but they're sitting on their fertile eggs and that is when I don't have to use electricity for the incubator or brooder.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
    1 person likes this.

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