FREE RANGE LAYER BREEDS

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by wwarren8200, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. wwarren8200

    wwarren8200 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2014
    Florence,AL
    I am about to start a small organic egg farm. I will have 300 hens and a few roosters maybe. I would like 3 breeds. If you have any suggestions or ideas please share. I am considering Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red, Black Star, Gold Sex Link, and Buff Orpington. I need a hen that will lay about 285 eggs a year for two years and can forage well...I also need a breed for roosters that can protect from hawks but will be easy on the hens and aren't too big for the hens. Thanks.
     
  2. wyandottegirl

    wyandottegirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One breed that lays a lot of eggs is ISA browns. They are not a registered breed in the standard but are usually used as battery hens.[​IMG]
     
  3. Prestigepoultry

    Prestigepoultry New Egg

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    Feb 5, 2015
    Wwarren8200, It's a real shame when you don't get much of a response to a legit question, so despite the fact that I live 12,000km away (New Zealand) I will throw in my two cents worth.

    Everything I have read would suggest that well bred Australorps will out produce all the other heritage breeds, with the exception of the Leghorns (which being a light Mediterranean breed is not surprising). So in comparison to the Orpingtons and RIR, the Australorps would be my pick.

    Do a search for Kingbird Farms on Youtube and you will see they still use Australorps in preference to any of the other heavy breeds. I emailed Karma just recently and she confirmed they were still breeding their own 'lorps.

    The sex linked hybrids are another matter. I suspect, from what I have read that despite the hybrid vigour of the sex linked, if they have not been selected for high egg production, then they will not be much better than the pure bred heritage breeds. If you can ascertain that the specific cross the hatchery is offering is selected for egg production then they will exceed the 'lorps any day.

    The other option is Leghorns - which, if white eggs are acceptable in your market, then they will give you (likely) more eggs than any other heritage breed, and as many as an average sex linked.

    Good luck with your venture...
    Duncan
    (New Zealand)
     
  4. Ifish

    Ifish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a small egg business for almost 10 years. At the most we had 200 hens +/- a dozen or so. We used pretty much all Red Sex Links. We were extremely lucky to break even with the egg sales, but it was more of a hobby than an actual business. We suffered a lot of predation issues even with roosters. We learned quickly that roosters die quickly to hawks, foxes, racoons, etc. The best defense is hiding cover and swift reaction times from the hens. The roosters would at least give warning to the hens.

    The Production Hybrids like the sex links, ISA's, and production reds, are hard to beat for egg laying. I have no experience with Australorps to compare them. I did not do any trap nesting to measure egg production, but the birds layed very well. Even in winter we were getting a good number of eggs.

    If you are strictly wanting brown eggs then the Leghorns will not fit, but if white eggs are not an issue the Leghorns are hard to beat. If I were to start another egg business, it would be all Leghorns. They are thrifty on feed, forage well, and are quick and agile compared to the heavier breeds we had in the past. All of which will add to the bottom line when it comes to an egg business. The profit margin is not that large, and every ounce of feed cuts into it.
     

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