Getting started - how many and which breed(s)?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MamaSteph, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. MamaSteph

    MamaSteph In the Brooder

    Aug 7, 2008
    I apologize in advance if this should be in another area. I was having trouble deciding between putting it here or in Breeds in General. Not trying to make more work for anyone!

    We just closed on our new home on three acres this week. We will be moving from a little apartment in a suburban area out to "the country." The first two things I want are a garden and chickens. We've decided to wait until spring to get any chicks because I want to start with babies and I don't want to have to worry about them making it through the winter. But, I would like to decide on what breeds and how many we want now so we can prepare a coop and budget and all that.

    I know that I will eventually want a fairly large number of chickens (50-75), both for eggs and meat, but I can't decide if we should start small and build up to that, or just go full hog from the get go. The breeds that are appealing to me are Rhode Island Reds (I had one as a child) and Buff Orpingtons. I also like the Plymouth Rocks, though.

    Should I just start with a dozen or two now and build up the flock over the next few years, or should I buy as many as I think I want right now? Should I just get a straight run of one breed and then butcher the cockerels once we get to that stage, or should I buy two or more different breeds, planning ahead of time to butcher a certain breed for meat and keep the other over the winter for eggs? I have a lot of questions, so any tips or advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. EllyMae

    EllyMae Songster

    I don't think there is a right or wrong answer...because everyone has different personal preferences and goals. I started out small scale and built up from there. And by doing that-- if you try it and discover you don't like it, you don't have a lot of $$ invested in it. But if you are like the rest of us Chicken maniacs, then you will probably go all out eventually!
    I started out with Barred Rocks but am now looking to try the more ornamental chickies.
  3. americana-chick

    americana-chick Songster

    Jun 18, 2008
    i think that the ones you like are a good choice! because rhode island reds are good layers, buffs are good layers AND good meat birds, and plymouth rocks are cool looking [​IMG]
  4. SandraMort

    SandraMort Songster

    Jul 7, 2008
    Let's see. I'd imagine the PROPER way to do it is to do lots of research, make your choices, set up moderate housing, order a small number and work your way up to your goal.

    I've been doing the research but nothing else is right. I just ordered 138 or so birds to arrive staggered through September. I haven't build the coop for the meat birds or repaired the barn yet, but I haven't even MOVED THERE yet. So I ought to be a bit embarrassed. A bit, yeah, but mostly too excited to care. Moving day is 9 days away!!! Maybe I should start to pack.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Best off I think to start with a small number of birds, maybe straight-run and eat the cockerels if that's your long-range plan (to see how you like it). Your ideas about how many of what kinds you want, and what kinds of facilities you want to build, are likely to alter somewhat once you have Actual Chickens, and starting out with a smaller number means it is MUCH easier to redirect your plans.

    Also, it saves some of the fun of getting more chickens for later, rather than maxing it out now and then leaving you all 'oh, wow, I want more cute chicks, but where would I put them' [​IMG]

    Good luck and have fun,

  6. denahli

    denahli Songster

    Jul 16, 2008
    New Hampshire Reds are friendlier than RIR and they also are good egg layers. They are a bit pinker than a RIR. I was raised primarily with RIR and the modern ones I see now don't have the same temperment as ours did. ppl we know just switched from RIR to NH reds for temperment issues as well....ohhh and they are cuties!

    A friend of mine recently asked me the same question and this was my answer:

    there is a big difference between getting meat and egg birds. For one no matter how you prepare yourself can you get over your emotional attachment? Tell yourself over and over I can do it, but are you POSITIVE? start small. If you are ordering chicks figure in a percentage of loss (though I did and all Also think long range on breeds and expansion. Get a breed you will want to stick with, or try 2 breeds. I would get about 10Pullets and 2 roos. A straight run could land you wth a large roo population. It can be a craps shoot and personally i would rather have some 'control' in place for the population of hens and roos. You'll get used to raising chicks this way in a small controlled number, have eggs and if you want to expand your flock population you can hatch your own eggs and not pay a lot for baby chicks, see chicken production from the begining and also have fertilized eggs to sell.

    Get your babies from a reputable person. Here where I live people see a greenhorn a mile away and will pass off a 4 year old swearing its a pullet! pedigree is important too if you are going to sell chicks or eggs.

    Most ppl I know raise strict meat birds seperate from their egg population for diet control and less attachment. the egg layers get handled and talked to, the meaties are all business. Meat/egg breeds are great if you are gonna have a small population period or are unsure about the future but in the quantity you speak of you will probably want breed specific meaties for weight and taste.

    i would recommend waiting 1 year from when you get your egg layers to getting meat birds. this way you can see the work and expense on a small scale and make the decision right for you. plus it gives you time to do any needed expansion. chicken raising is constant tweeking.

    or you can scream 'GERONIMO!' andjump right in. Either way...pick what seems reasonable for you and good luck! [​IMG]

    HTH- just my opinion [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2008
  7. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Definitely start with about 1/3 - 1/5 of the number you want to have at any given time, if you want them for eggs. The reason being that after their second year or so, egg production will drop somewhat, so if you buy 10-20 every year, you'll always have a reasonable number of chickens laying productively. Two years is also about the time when you think, "Hey, I'd really also like a couple of (breed), and maybe some (other breed), and also those (breed #3) are pretty nice..." and you kinda feel like you know what you're doing.

    This also accounts for the addictive nature of chickens, so that you have room to get some more, and aren't pestering your spouse to build you a new barn/coop/chicken penthouse.

    Did you ever butcher chickens before? If it's a new experience, I'd recommend putting it off until you're comfortable with the egg-layers. It's kinda hard to kill things after you've raised them from cute little fluffballs. It becomes less difficult when you've had to put a few down due to injury or illness, you get the hang of things.
  8. denahli

    denahli Songster

    Jul 16, 2008
    Quote:Good point about the egg laying cycling. And Buyer be ware of hatchery 'specials'. A farmer i know ordered a 50 special of egg/meat and ended up with like 40 roos......Thats why I like to pay the extra pennies to have sex control (though mistake do still happen [​IMG] )
  9. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I'd start out small the first year to get the hang of it. I started with the Rainbow Layers from McMurray. If I had it to do over again, I would have just ordered separate chicks. After having read posts here for three months, if I were to start over again, this is what I'd get (below), no matter the cost. Pullets except where indicated. That would be 18 w/ one roo.
    I just wish I had more of a variety to start. Of course out of that group I could decide my favorites and then build from there.

    1 White Rock
    2 White Leghorn
    1 Light Brown Leghorn
    1 Buff Orpintons
    1 Rhode Island Red
    1 Golden Campine
    2 Easter Eggers
    1 Golden Laced Wyandotte
    1 Red Blue Laced Wyandotte
    1 Golden Phoenix female
    1 Golden Phoenix male
    1 Austalorp
    1 Blue Orpington
    1 Barred Rock
    1 Blue Andalusian
    2 Salmon Faverolles

    What I ended up with from my order:

    7 Barred Rocks
    4 RIR
    2 EEs
    2 Partridge Rocks
    1 White Rock
    1 Red Star
    1 Black Star
    1 Delaware x roo
  10. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    I have all the breeds you mentioned, but my favorites are the Barred Rocks. Then the Buff Orps are a close second. I also have RIRs, but some have great personalities and some don't, especially the roosters. But, then that's true of all roosters, I guess. My main flock rooster was a Barred Rock. He passed suddenly and I'm replacing him with his sons. You cant go wrong with RIRs, Barred Rocks and Buff Orpingtons. My Barred Rocks are just as good layers as my RIRs.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2008

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