Hens just for eggs?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by wishful, Jun 6, 2010.

  1. wishful

    wishful In the Brooder

    Jan 2, 2010
    Tacoma, WA
    I know leghorns are good egg-layers, but it sounds like most other birds are more dual-purpose. I'm a vegetarian and don't really want birds for meat. Granted, the reason for the vegetarianism is the environmental and animal welfare issues of meat production, so I'd possibly be willing to eat extra roos since I know they've been raised happily. Not sure yet. The idea still makes me a little uncomfortable, plus after ten years of not eating meat (which would probably be more around 13-15 by the time I get chickens) I really have no desire to eat meat.

    Anyway, the point is - I don't really need a significant carcass on my chickens, so it seems like finding just an egg-laying breed would give me more efficient food to egg conversion. Besides the carcass, is there any real reason to have a dual-purpose chicken instead of just an egg-layer? Do the chickens who put all their attention into eggs burn out sooner or something? Or that's just in commercial settings because the artificial lighting and whatnot is making them lay even more than they would in my backyard? I'd like an egg-layer but if she's going to exhaust herself after a year, I'd rather have a dual-purpose chicken who will continue laying longer, even if it is at a lessened rate.

    If it would be ok just to get an egg-laying chicken, are there any good breeds other than leghorns? I'd prefer a chicken who's not as flighty as I hear they are, plus I like the idea of helping preserve a rare breed - leghorns aren't exactly rare. [​IMG]

    Thanks [​IMG]
  2. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    Portage County, Ohio
    Not sure where you're located at, but a slightly heavier breed, with a smaller comb does better in cold weather. (don't forget this is my opinion!) Lots of people have Leghorns in cold climates, but they are a bird that was developed in the Mediterranean region, so consider the weather they are most suited to based on that. Henderson's Chicken Chart has a lot of information on it that might help you, without too much 'opinion' in it... some I'm sure, but hey, that's life.

    Big floppy combs freeze quite easily, and get damaged in cold climates, but if you have a very good coop, that can be overcome if you find a breed you really want. (it's not fatal to them, just uncomfortable for them)

    Here's the link to the chart, hopefully it will help. I like a nice mixed flock, pretty colors and a few fancies too. I want eggs, but don't care about super high production and also want heritage breed too. http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html
  3. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Personality and appearance (of both bird and egg, lol) might be reasons to consider. Sex-links supposedly burn out early. Never had any, so I can't say. But I've also been told that "regular" breeds will only lay for a couple of years and that is hogwash. Many of my birds are far older than that and lay nearly as often as when they were young.
  4. wishful

    wishful In the Brooder

    Jan 2, 2010
    Tacoma, WA
    Oh yeah, I'd totally forgotten about the comb issue. When I eventually get chickens it'll probably be in western Washington. Not horribly freezing like it can get on the East coast (or at least it wasn't the one winter I've been there so far) but cold enough that finding something at least moderately cold hardy would probably be wise. Thanks for that link - I always forget about that and then someone will post it and I'll be thrilled with its usefulness. I should just bookmark it. -does so-

    And Sonoran Silkies - the appearance thing is a good point. I'd love to have a colourful egg basket, and a varied flock. [​IMG]

    I guess dual-purpose birds are probably the better way to go for prettiness and variety? That and the whole heritage thing.

    Thanks for your responses [​IMG]

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