Free Range Chickens - Black Sex Link

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by gilariversun, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. gilariversun

    gilariversun Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 23, 2009
    Arizona
    I have a question that hopefully others here can help answer.

    I have been trying to research exactly what breed or breeds would make the best free range chickens. I consistently come up with Dominique and Rhode Island Reds and Plymouth Rocks.

    Now this said it would seem to me that the Black Rock / Black Star / Black Sex Link - would tend to be as good as it gets in this regard, being half RR and half PR.

    However questions about this breed.

    1) Does anyone have experience with them, especially in this application?

    2) Does anyone have experience in breeding back these black stars to themselves across generations? If so do you have any photos or information of what the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th generations might look / act / be like?

    3) I notice that a PR rooster is supposed to be 9.5 pounds - and a RR rooster 8 ounds. However many hatcheries show a Black Sex Link rooster at 8 pounds. Is there something that makes them - shrink? I would think a rooster would be the average of these two weights - around 9 pounds. Am I missing something?

    Any other thoughts and ideas about this would be appreciated.
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I'm not sure what you are looking for in a characteristic for " the best free range chicken", so I'll just wing it! Are you asking if they are good foragers? Cold hardy or heat hardy? Do well on greens with very little feed supplements?

    I have 5 BS in my free ranged flock. I also have a RIR roo, PR roo, and Blue Orp roo, Doms, NH, WR, BO, BA, and a few mutts. The BS do just about the same as all the rest of the flock, no better or worse than the rest of them in the above categories.

    I will tell you that two of my BS pullets are the first to escape the fencing around my property and will tear my landscaping UP! [​IMG] Also, one of the escapees is my friendliest bird and will follow me around, come close and talk to me.
     
  3. gilariversun

    gilariversun Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 23, 2009
    Arizona
    Hi,

    Thank you for your reply!

    I like your definition for a free range chicken - this is exactly my question.

    --------
    I'm not sure what you are looking for in a characteristic for " the best free range chicken", so I'll just wing it! Are you asking if they are good foragers? Cold hardy or heat hardy? Do well on greens with very little feed supplements?
    --------

    My question centers around being good foragers, doing well on greens with very little feed supplements, and the ability to keep growing and laying on reduced or substandard feed plus what they can forage on their own. I do like your addition to this of cold and heat hardy so I will let that stand also.


    Any other experiences good or bad? Answers to the other questions?
     
  4. har

    har Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 12, 2009
    Rogers,Ar
    My BSL are real hardy and love to forage for there food. They seem to be a very hardy bird. I also would like to know what they would be like after several generations or even one. They seem to be more hardy they the red sex links.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    For free rangers, who are out in all weathers and not confined to a heated coop or shady run area, the heat and cold factors are things I find to be important. I read on here about other people's chickens who won't come out in the run when there is inclement weather and I have to laugh a little.... [​IMG]

    My chickens are out in all weathers and, what's more, they will be out pecking something off the ground when the ground is frozen solid....what in the world are they finding to eat, I wonder? [​IMG] They stay out in the rain, in the heat of the day you will find them in the orchard eating away or lounging in their dust baths, in the snow they are still out looking for anything that may resemble food.

    I think any hardy breed is appropriate for free ranging and the flock can be managed appropriately so that you only retain the genetics that do well under these conditions.

    Good Luck with your findings! [​IMG]
     
  6. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Light colors are not good for free range. Barred patterning or black is best. As for breed, game breeds are best. The farther you breed from the natural type the less they can handle free range.
     
  7. Ole Mule

    Ole Mule Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 5, 2007
    South Carolina
    I keep game chickens crossed on barred rocks for free range chickens. I get medium size brown eggs from most but I do get some dark white eggs also.
     
  8. pascopol

    pascopol Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 6, 2009
    Tampa Bay
    Quote:Do not count on good egg production "on very little food supplements".

    Birds need protein to make eggs, greens alone will not do.

    Also heavy breeds need more food to sustain their body functions and produce eggs, than mediterranen (leghorn family) breeds.
     
  9. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    My RSLs have been very good free range hens. They're out in the rain and light snow. When the weather gets really severe they'll take shelter, though not necessarily in their coop. I do provide layer feed 24/7, as well as free-choice oyster shell, fish meal, kelp meal, and flax seed. The fish meal is the only supplement that I'm refilling regularly (there aren't as many bugs in the winter). My guess is that BSLs would be just as good under similar circumstances.

    As far as breeding them, all you'll get are mutts. Sex links are all hybrids, rather than true breeds, and are therefore unable to reproduce themselves -- at least in terms of being sex linked when they hatch. They may be able to continue being excellent layers over the generations.
     
  10. hollyk

    hollyk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 21, 2008
    Canton, Texas
    I have a buckeye, menorca, blue wyandotte and 7 ameraucanas (EE) they free range everyday, all day. They only come in at night and to lay their eggs. They come to the coop everyday to lay their eggs. I do not keep food or water in the coop. First thing when the door is opened early in the a.m. the chickens head for a drink and then they are off. I do keep out laying pellets free choice, but since we have had a warming spell and bugs have begun to come out- they don't touch it. With that said- even in the winter- I get 2 eggs every 3 days from each bird of laying age. The eggs have the best colored yolk and are so good. Before you take to heart all the "rules" about what breeds are free range, you should speak to those with experience, not just a lot of information they read. My grand-parents always free-ranged their birds and I remember plenty of light colors roaming around.

    My birds feathers are beautiful, they are heavy and healthy. I do have the land to range them on and for me it is the only way to go. I don't know much about the crosses you are talking about, but the chickens I have do awesome. I have 2 acres.

    I also have 16 RIR and Barred Rock chicks that are 6 weeks old and have started to venture out. These are the most daring chicks I have seen. They go farther than the EE's did at this age and are very aggressive at foraging. They have a brooder box in the big coop that is raised so that they can get in and the big birds can't. Everyone gets along and the older birds don't give a hoot about the younger ones. I raised the EE's the same way and haven't lost one yet.[​IMG]
     

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