Help me find my first rare breeding flock!

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Hemlock Hollow, Aug 26, 2016.

  1. Hemlock Hollow

    Hemlock Hollow Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 30, 2016
    New Ringgold, PA
    Hi everyone,

    I've raised chickens for almost ten years, but my flock has always been mixed odds and ends. Due to being away at college, I'm down to my last 3 chickens. I thought it would be really cool to have my own flock to breed, grow, sell youngsters from, and help perfect. I don't show birds and don't really have an interest or time for that, but I do appreciate the importance of confirmation.

    I've done some research, but having never delved into the world of pure breeds, I still am ignorant on a lot of things. Are there any breeds recommended to fit?

    Here's a check list of my dream flock. Do you think some of the breeds I listed below would fit?

    -Rare or Heritage Breed- I feel since I would have a small flock (no more than 25 birds, though a lot more land for them to free range) I could help a breed grow healthy and strong.

    -No bantums

    -Good foragers, with alertness due to the fact I live in the middle of the woods Also, we got chickens originally to help keep our snake populations down.

    -Decent Egg Layers, but I'm willing to butcher excess roosters for meat, Medium-large eggs or better

    -Pretty to look at, maybe some variety or colors so I can tell apart individuals.

    -Occasionally broody (but there are other ways I could circumvent this problem)

    -Cold is more of a problem than heat

    Breeds that caught my eye so far: Are these reasonable?

    -Blue Andalusion
    -Cream Legbar- They autosex which is interesting to me... But can they be shown or anything like that by other people?)
    -German Bielefelder
    -Swedish Flower

    Thank you!!!
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I have and like Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock. The breed is in good standing but this variety is of few flocks. This variety also is in need of work. Depending which line you pick up there are different issues that need addressing to bring it back to standard. The line I have is the best I've seen overall confirmation though have seen pictures of Wynette's flock(line) that look really nice too. Both of these lines have the issue of being under sized to deal with. Lay a large to extra large egg and high propensity to brood. You'll need to know how to recognize early and break brooding birds or your egg count will plummet. Think each of my hens tried to brood three times this summer. Another line has more work to do in regard to red leakage and cusions but have a bit more size though still not to standard.

    I don't have any photo's of current line but a few from last years line to at least show you how pretty these birds are. About 19 weeks in this photo. The cockerel has more growing out to show full coloration of this variety but the pullet directly behind is a good example of the penciling. She is a little spotty on the chest but overall crisp and clean. Further back is a prime example of a cusion at the base of pullets tail and brownish hue with muddied penciling. Was plenty to work on in this line but had a chance to skip a few years of work by getting another line of same breed this spring in Maine. From few bred this spring did manage to produce 75% good crisp silver based pullets and 20% of cockerels without any red leakage. So made progress but this other line is years ahead so going that route. Kept 6 hens for layers and may keep the best cockerel to try a test mating but basically phased out of last years line.

  3. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    I am in Ligonier, PA. I agree about the cold. The polar vortexes of the past few years have had me working with frozen single combs. Very frustrating as the boys seem to be infertile until the combs heal, pushing the breeding season forward to May and June. Way later in the year than I intended, sigh. So I am looking to start over again with a breed with a small comb I like the Chantecler with the tiny cushion comb. They play outside in the snow at 30 below zero. Also the rosecomb breeds. Buckeye, Rhode Island Red, etc. Another thing, if you have not built a coop yet, trot on over to the thread on building coops. Search for the Woods Open Air Coop. The guy was a Dr. and real talented with chickens. We are building one this year. The physics of the coop is very interesting. It lets in cold air in such a fashion that the combs do not freeze without heating the coop! A win-win for me. So I think in PA, the coop makes the difference in overwintering your birds.
  4. Hemlock Hollow

    Hemlock Hollow Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 30, 2016
    New Ringgold, PA
    These are beautiful birds! I've never seen them before. Where do you find these kind of birds? Can they be bred with regular Plymouth Rocks in order to incorporate characteristics or are they their own breed? The birds look great!
  5. Hemlock Hollow

    Hemlock Hollow Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 30, 2016
    New Ringgold, PA
    Thanks for all of the information! I'll check those out!
  6. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 28, 2008
    Plymouth Rocks aren't limited to just the barred variety. They also come in white, buff, partridge, columbian and silver penciled. White would be the easiest to work with. Here is a thread on working with silver penciled Rocks as an introductory breed. They aren't easy.

    As for some of the other breeds you listed, Swedish flower hens, Biefelders and cream Legbars are not yet accepted APA varieties. There is no standard to work with on those breeds, not sure if that would be an issue. Finding good Campines and Javas may be a problem.

    For a start you may want to consider a "heritage" breed that still has good numbers (so you aren't searching endlessly for a good start), and consider one that is solid colored. White Rocks, Rhode Island Reds (single combed or rose combed), New Hampshires are options. Another less common, non solid colored option, is Yellow House Farm's rose combed Anconas. If I had the room for another breed this one would be it. If you are interested in colored eggs look for true Ameraucana breeders on the breeders club page , or Marans at .
  7. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 16, 2015
    I'm giving some thought to something similar in the coming years, and trying to narrow down these options. I'm actually looking at maybe two different breeds, that I can marry for sex-linked chicks.

    Current leanings are towards Delaware and either Buckeye or New Hampshire. True DP birds, that would provide decent enough layers for the sex-linked pullets, and meaty enough cockerels to make it worthwhile to grow them out to 12-16 weeks. It's ambitious. Quality breeding stock isn't easy to come by or inexpensive. I know I want to undertake some sort of a sustainable flock project, I'm just not 100% sure which direction I want to go.

    I have a few hatchery Delaware hens right now. They seem a little more true to standard than say my australorp or Sussex hens, and I like the look of the bird. My New Hampshire hen is far to leggy and upright to trend towards SOP, but red birds from hatchery stock is all bastardized anyway, so you can't really go by that. I know several people in the area have found Buckeye stock that they have been happy with, so I may investigate that further.

    It really comes down to what your final goals are, and what you like to look at.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by