I want to be ready for Spring Chickens... well chicks :)

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by chknmamawanab, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. chknmamawanab

    chknmamawanab New Egg

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    I've moved to my homestead in October. I have 5 awesome children an amazing husband and 8 pigs! I would love to let the kids hatch chicks around easter time to raise our flock. I have never had chickens or cared for them. I can't wait to dip my toes in you fountain of knowledge :) I would love to have ducks too. We already have a pond, I figure its meant to be. They will all be free ranging. Just one of my many questions to come; is it better to have layer/meat combos? Or should I have layers and meat birds? Also I'd like heritage breeds. What kinds of birds would you suggest?
    Thanks Heather
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Heather, it kind of depends on your goals. Why do you want chickens and how do you plan to manage them, especially how do you plan to feed them? It sounds like you are trying to get into sustainability. A major part of that is how much money you have to spend to feed them.

    As far as pure efficiency, you can’t beat a broiler chicken though you have to buy the chicks. They are specially bred to be eating machines, packing on weight really fast. But they grow so fast they have to be butchered at a really young age. Since you have to buy the chicks they are not really sustainable, but they can be very efficient. There are some nuances too. Some people are much more effective at pasturing them than others. You can look into the Freedom Rangers instead of the Cornish X broilers too.

    As far as egg laying, you can’t beat the efficiency of the hen specially bred to be commercial egg layers. Again you have to buy the chicks so they are not sustainable, but they are bred to lay a lot of large eggs. Their smaller bodies don’t give much meat, but that allows them to be really efficient at turning feed into eggs. They don’t have to use much feed to maintain a big body.

    Then you have what we call the dual purpose chickens. They lay pretty well and have bodies big enough to provide a reasonable amount of meat. You can keep a rooster with the flock and hatch your replacement layers as well as birds to eat. Depending on your predator pressure, they may be able to forage well enough to pretty much feed themselves during the better months, but in Vermont you’ll need to feed them in the winter. That’s the model most small farms have used for thousands of year.

    Which dual purpose breeds? Basically any of them. That’s why they were developed, to fill that niche. Chanteclers and buckeyes were specially developed for colder climates. Wyandottes have smaller combs which helps prevent frostbite in the winter. If I had to recommend a breed for you, I’d suggest you look at those first.
     
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  3. DCchicken

    DCchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are considering dual purpose, look into Bielefelders. They grow rapidly and to a large size. The hens lay piles of large brown eggs. Bit the biggest bonus to the breed? They are autosexing at birth. Within an hour of hatching, you will know exactly how many males and females you hatched. The boys can then be separated and green to butchering size.

    Because they can be expensive, you might want to start with eggs to keep the cost down. If you start in January with eggs, you could have pullets laying eggs by Spring.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  4. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC!
     
  5. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Hello :frow Welcome to BYC and Happy Holidays!
     
  6. msladyhawke

    msladyhawke Poultry Connoisseur Premium Member

    Hello and welcome to BYC from Pennsylvania! [​IMG]
     
  7. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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  8. petrel

    petrel Chats with Chickens

    Welcome to BYC.
     
  9. chknmamawanab

    chknmamawanab New Egg

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    I'll have to look into what I need to raise the chicks. I can't imagine they would do well outside here. Today it is a toasty 0*F outside. I don't have a heated barn or basement.
     

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