Here's what I'm looking for in a breed of chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bigoledude, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. bigoledude

    bigoledude Chillin' With My Peeps

    434
    64
    156
    Jan 16, 2011
    SE, Louisiana
    I want them to lay 250 eggs a year. (very major issue)

    They should set every egg we choose to hatch. (Not really a major issue)

    It would be nice if the pullets dress-out around 3 1/2 pounds. If I have to, I will raise a different breed for meat.

    The birds should be great foragers that are more than willing to get penned-up at night. They absolutely must use the nest-boxes I provide for laying. My wheels are failing me and, I cannot go traipsing all over the place looking for nests in the weeds.

    Because I have 10 grandchildren, any mean bird will be instantly "CULLED"! Pun emphatically intended!

    Of course, because so many of these grandchildren are girls, the chickens should be beautiful.

    I would really love to hear of the character-traits (good-n-bad) of y'alls favorite breeds. No kidding, please tell me what it is about your favorite breeds...
     
  2. mississippifarmboy

    mississippifarmboy collects slightly damaged strays

    Well, you are gonna have to go with a production bird to get 250 eggs a year and most of them will dress out at at least 3 1/2 pounds on a pullet. Leghorns some strains of production reds, sex links, things like that.
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder..
    And none of the production birds will set much.
    Nest box use is a matter of training.
    Most will be happy to return to the coop at night if trained to do so.

    Can't really make a recomendation on those requirments, but if you could use a bit fewer eggs, say in the 200 per season range, then most of the dual purpose breeds would be ok.
     
  3. wolftracks

    wolftracks Spam Hunter

    10,312
    100
    328
    Nov 6, 2009
    Modesto
    Quote:These are good suggestions.

    Aussies are know to be good layers and they are nice looking birds and usually very friendly.
     
  4. Kaceyx73

    Kaceyx73 Chillin' With My Peeps

    157
    0
    99
    Dec 14, 2010
    Bigoledude, welcome to the club.

    The one requirement you didn't mention that seems to go hand in hand with your requirements is having a self-sustaining flock. There are those who think there is such a thing as a "perfect" breed for the homestead, and most do not. When I started researching breeds last summer I chose the RIR for being a dual purpose breed. There supposed to make excellent mothers, all but that part about no going broody. I love my girls, and the 2 roosters taking care of them. At 6 months, they just started laying Dec 30, and last weeks numbers already put them on pace for nearly 200 eggs a year... there just gettin started....

    Of course I do want them to raise their own chicks. My best option is to find a better meat bird that also has broody tendencies. Cubalaya are a possibility, but I'm leaning towards Marans since my Vic is at least crossed with a black tail buff maran. I read that Marans improve the meat qualities of most dual purpose birds when crossed, and there's those dark eggs. Sure would make telling which eggs are from which breed.

    If you don't have birds already, is having more birds that lay less eggs than you want a possibility?

    From the folks on here, most birds from breeders still maintain there broodiness, but with less egg production.

    Cubalaya are reported to be great for meat, are gorgeous, great foragers, and great flock protectors, but will only lay a couple of eggs a week. They are broody, as well.

    Delawares are pretty, lay decent, and make great meat birds, but there again they aren't very broody, same with many other common breeds.

    Also, bear in mind 250/year is basically 5/week. There are only a handful of breeds with that kind of production, reliably. Leghorns and RIR (from a hatchery) are the main ones I know of. Individual barred rocks may meet that, but not all of them. You are specific about the 250, may we inquire as to why?

    As for appearances, I don't like the plain white birds. My girls are pretty with plenty of variation between them, but I have seen plenty of roos from hatchery RIR that looked way to plain and skimpy for my taste. My Mr. Roo made a pretty bird with a very nice comb and proud stance.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    458
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Kaceyx mentions some good breeds. I would add Australorps and Orpingtons, both good dual purpose, beautiful birds, and tend to be quite tame, even the roos. Actually an Australorp holds the world record for number of eggs, last I read, at 364 a year. Mine lay 6/week most of the time and are definitely my best layers. I haven't gotten a good broody from my few, but if you have enough, you should get one. The best broody breeds aren't dual purpose, though. You might consider a few Kraenkoppes for broodies; they lay pretty well when they're not broody and make excellent foragers and mothers; mine (I had 3) even helped raise each others' chicks.

    You don't want Leghorns for eating, they are not dual purpose, they are small and skinny, and rarely broody. Also usually flighty and not good pets.

    A couple of links you might like to look at if you haven't already found them:

    http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Broody-Hens-1.html

    http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html
     
  6. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    I would go with orpington or austrolorp may be an ee or 2 for tinted eggs. My niece and nephew love the green eggs
    250 and broody is a tall order and broodys go broody on there time NOT yours. lol they will set when they want to.
    All 3 of these are pretty docile birds. If you dont want aggressive birds then stay away from any roos.
     
  7. Sportsterjeep

    Sportsterjeep Creekside Acres Farm

    Jun 1, 2010
    Mill Hall PA
    As long as you're up for a mixed flock, throw a silkie or 3 in there. They are pretty, and will fulfill your broody requirement, just point your finger at it and yell "SIT", or sneeze to loud, or beg them to lay you an egg.... Yeah, they like to be broody.
     
  8. chics in the sun

    chics in the sun Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,920
    16
    161
    Apr 1, 2010
    St.Petersburg
    I actually thought it was a White Leghorn that holds the wold record, something crazy like 372 eggs in a year. I read that somewhere and can't find proof, though, so it may be the austrolorp- who as I understand it is a big less flighty. I love my White Leghorn - I didn't intend to have one (the pet store lied), but she actually is the only one to have gone broody and raise babies. But that is not in the norm for them. I also think she is beautiful. Like everyone said, though, strong layers rarely go broody. My Marans was slow to start laying, but once she started she has laid almost every single day. And she is eye candy - just gorgeous. At 8 pounds she would fill up a roasting pan quite well, too. The Barred Rock is great with my young son - very friendly and a decent layer - and everyone that comes over thinks she is pretty. Throw in some EE's, too - the grandkids will love the colored eggs. Mine has been fairly productive since she started laying, and has gotten pretty friendly, too.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    20,495
    3,890
    506
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I want them to lay 250 eggs a year. (very major issue)

    Most dual purpose breeds will lay at that rate or better when they are laying well. The problem is that they don't lay equally well throughout the year. When they molt, which is usually in the fall when days get shorter, they practically stop laying. Molt can last from a couple of months to maybe four or five months. Some chickens are fast molters and some are slow molters. From what I know, how fast they molt is an individual chicken thing, not a breed thing. Commercial egg laying operations control when they molt by providing artificial light, but if a hen goes too long without molting, egg production can drop off.

    There is another problem. Many chickens drop off in production when in extreme temperatures. Down in The Parish you don't have to worry too much about extreme cold, but you will probably find that production drops in your hot summers. For egg laying purposes in your climate, you are probably looking at the Mediterranean breeds, like leghorns.

    They should set every egg we choose to hatch. (Not really a major issue)

    Glad it is not a major issue because it is probably not going to happen. Production breeds have been bred to produce. A broody hen does not lay eggs, so she is eating feed, causing extra problems and labor due to special handling requirements, and not producing eggs. There are breeds that often go broody, but in general they are not going to meet any of your other goals. The breeds that go broody a lot are the ones that are kept around for decoration, not production, like Silkies or Cochin. Even these do not go broody when you want them to. They go broody when they want to, which is not always when you want them to. Some production breeds, like leghorns or Rhode Island Reds, hardly ever go broody. Some of the dual purpose breeds, like the Orpington, Australorp, or Sussex will go broody a fair amount, but nothing like a Silkie or Cochin. You may get lucky and get enough broody hens to have a self-sustaining flock, but you may also be looking at buying an incubator.

    It would be nice if the pullets dress-out around 3 1/2 pounds. If I have to, I will raise a different breed for meat.

    Most dual purpose breeds will meet that goal. Leghorns will not. Not sure what your goals are, whether you are raising them for your family to eat on or if you have visions of selling some. Maybe you have a pet alligator that is a picky eater. I don't know. If you plan to butcher a bunch at one time and freeze them, then you might want to look at raising the meat birds, but these are certainly not self-sustaining and require intensive feeding. They are not foragers. Besides, do you want a freezer full of chicken during hurricane season? If you plan on butchering a few to eat as you go, then the dual purpose breeds probably meet your needs. By dual purpose breeds, I mean Orpington, Australorp, Delaware, Sussex, any of the Rocks and Wyandottes. There are others. The Rhode Island Red was developed mostly for egg laying and the New Hampshire for meat, but they would meet this goal. Buckeyes and Chanteclers were developed for cold weather, not hot, but are possibilities. Then the sex links should be considered. These are not a breed but a cross between different breeds that you can tell male from female at hatch by color or pattern.

    The birds should be great foragers that are more than willing to get penned-up at night. They absolutely must use the nest-boxes I provide for laying. My wheels are failing me and, I cannot go traipsing all over the place looking for nests in the weeds.

    Penning them up at night should not be a problem for any of them, mainly a matter of training. I've had problems with younger birds getting picked on by older birds that want to roost out of the coop where they don't get picked on, but breed does not matter about that.

    I find that my broody raised chickens are better foragers than my brooder raised chickens. Mama does a better job of teaching them than they learn on their own. With that said, if you don't provide them food, the ones that learn that they have to find their own food will provide you a flock that has learned to forage on their own. The others, well, they won't reproduce. I think it is mostly a matter of training. Once the flock learns to find its own food, they teach the newcomers, even if they are brooder raised. I have not done it, but I remember Dad getting a dozen chicks from the Co-op, raising them until they could manage by themselves (around 5 weeks old), and just turning them loose with the flock. The older chickens bully them and would not let them hang around real close, but those chicks learned to forage for themselves. We hardly ever lost any of those. Now, if they forage for all their food, their production may drop some and the young ones may not grow as fast.

    Nest boxes are another problem. Most will use the nest boxes in the coop where they sleep, but you will almost certainly find that some look for other places to lay. When I find one not laying on the coop, I lock the flock up in the coop and run for a few days to try to break that hen of that bad habit. It really helps to find her old nest and remove the eggs. That is not always easy. They are pretty good about hiding nests and sneaking on them. I find that if I pen up the flock, the hen that is laying out of the coop paces the fence when it is time to lay her egg, trying to get out to get to her nest. Kind of imagine a hen pacing and trying to cross her legs at the same time. If you let her out when she is like that, she will probably go to her nest, but they are pretty sneaky.

    Because I have 10 grandchildren, any mean bird will be instantly "CULLED"! Pun emphatically intended!

    The dual-purpose birds I mentioned may produce roosters that attack kids or they may not. It is individual with the rooster, not a breed thing. Rhode Island Reds have a bit of a bad reputation for this, but even some of them are OK. But yeah, any rooster that attacks any human has committed suicide. Nice of them to volunteer for the pot.

    Of course, because so many of these grandchildren are girls, the chickens should be beautiful.

    It really is in the eye of the beholder. Get a few different breeds or colors and patterns within a breed. As long as all your chickens don't look alike, your grandkids will pick out favorites. I think it is hard to go wrong with any of these breeds.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    458
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Quote:The 364 for Australorps is quoted on Henderson's chart. I've never seen the Leghorn at 372 thing but also have no idea whether the Australorp record still stands. And you do indeed have an unusual Leghorn; I've also read of very friendly Leghorn roos. Just goes to show they are first of all individuals, doesn't it? My Leghorns were all more usual for the breed, hard to get anywhere near, so flighty they would run from treats then run back. All my Australorps have been gentle and easy to handle, and my favorite roo was a BA, huge and very protective and safe even around small children. I did have one go broody once. They are beautiful birds to me, the black ones, with their green sheen in the sunlight. Probably my favorite breed. Good size for eating, too.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by