Newbie Q's: Am I selecting the right breeds to raise?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by FossilRokRanch, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. FossilRokRanch

    FossilRokRanch In the Brooder

    Hello all,

    First, we apologize if we selected the wrong forum to start this thread.

    We're newbies, and after reading books, magazines and other chix websites, we've found this site. We're very happy in doing so because both of us belong to forums for other hobbies and have had a great time e-meeting people, and most important, learning and sharing info thru them and hoping for the same here.

    After buying our little 8-acre ranch 3 years ago, we've been slowly homesteading. First garden, then wood/sugar lot, now livestock. Starting where most homesteaders do, we're embarking on raising chickens for both meat, eggs, and that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you look out at your little "farm".

    We've settled (nervously) on the breeds we chose to raise, but could use final comments from those in the know on whether the choices are wise. Comments and opinions would be kindly received. Okay, we'll start.

    For meat breeds, the choice was rather simple. Rock Cornish crosses. I gather these produce meat fastest, and with best feed:weight conversion. We plan on growing 20 of these, staight run, with all being slaughtered when they at about 8 weeks or so, possibly keeping 1 or 2 to finish off as broilers.

    Q: Would this breed be right for meat only?

    Next, for layers, the choice was quite convoluted and perplexing, as there are so many! Reds or Orps? Heavy or light? White or brown? UGH!!! We plan on raising 20 of these as well. Since we live in the northern Catskill mountains of NY, at ~2500', it can an does get cold. While the coop will be both insulated and heated, -15*F and 3'+ of snow can and does happen. So cold hardy is essential.

    While leghorns are great egg-layers, they are not really docile and don't deal with extreme cold all that well from what we've read. Brown layers seemed right for the conditions, can be eaten when culled, and brown eggs just look more "farm-raised". Choosing brown over white was the only easy part. From there it got tricky, as each breed as distinct qualities. Wynandottes? Orps? Reds? Rocks? All one breed, or a selection?

    Since we will have the Rock/Cornish X's for just meat, year-round egg production becomes the most important quality. Since we are mail ordering from a place that allows multiples of 5, as long as the minimum # is ordered, we figured we'd spice it up and not settle on one breed, giving us the chance to see what works best for us. Our breakdown (and reason) is like this:

    5 Silver Lace Wyandottes (a NY breed with great cold weather traits)
    5 Buff Orpingtons (docile, good layer and okay with cold)
    5 Black Australoprs (docile, lotsa eggs and we like the looks of an all-black chicken)
    5 R.I. Reds (prolly the best all-round. Lotsa eggs, decent meat and cold hardy)

    Q: Anyone see problems with the choices? Are the breeds okay to mix together (don't see why not?) Should we stay all one breed, say Reds or Wyandottes?

    Maybe we're just looking for the clearance from ground control before we take the plunge. Maybe one breed would be smarter? As we said above, the choice has been challenging.


    Last edited: Mar 21, 2009
  2. citalk2much

    citalk2much Twilight Blessings Farm

    Dec 22, 2008
    GR MI: TN bound!
    Looks like a great group to me
    I am no pro thou sure someone will come along to help
  3. ChickBond 007

    ChickBond 007 Licensed to Cull

    Feb 26, 2009
    Madison County, Iowa
    Welcome from Iowa!
    Whatever you pick, if you keep reading this board then you will eventually buy more.
  4. Poultra

    Poultra In the Brooder

    May 26, 2008
    First of all [​IMG]

    What a great set-up you guys have and it sounds like you've really done your homework on the chickens. I think your picks sound fine. My orps tend to be bullied a little in my flock but they all have lots of room so they can scoot out of the way when necessary. Another cold weather breed to consider would be Chanteclers (sp?). They are a Canadian breed and do well in the cold, or so I hear, I don't have them myself. I think having a bunch of different breeds to start with would be good since that way you'll be able to observe the different characteristics of each and you can settle on one breed later on, if you so choose.

    Hope I have been able to help a little.
  5. Welcoome to BYC! You picked a great assortment. I think you need some Easter Eggers, though, so get 5 more. [​IMG] My egg customers love getting as many colored eggs as I can give them. Easter eggers (what the hatcheries call Ameraucana or Araucana but they are actually mutts) often lay a pretty greenish, blue egg, although sometimes they are brown, white or pink.

    Good luck!
  6. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    My thought in building my same sized flock was to also consider egg color that way I would know who was laying. With that philosophy I would replace at least one breed with EE's (huge producers of green eggs). I also chose to add in a white layer as well, just tomake it easier on me.
    My experience has been that the Orps, while super sweet, eat a lot and lay the same and tend to get bullied - which is more work for me. and my RIR's are the one doing the bullying although not as bad as the red sex links I tried.
    So I have wound up with;
    EE's - green eggs
    Australorps - brown eggs
    RIR's - darker brown eggs
    Austra whites - white eggs

    i am currently in the process of replacing my RIR's with Buckeye's as I like the heritage aspect and I have heard the personality is less dominant than the RIR's.
  7. FossilRokRanch

    FossilRokRanch In the Brooder

    We've read that the Buff Orps are kinda too docile, and can get pecked too much buy stronger breeds. Is that true? Are the Australorps that way too, or are a bit bolder as we also read?

    Honestly, we could drop the Buffs in favor of Australorps are they latter are supposed to produce more eggs. While we like the looks of the Buff, looks don't make breakfest.[​IMG]

    What do you think?
  8. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    My Buff Orpingtons were with Ameracauna and that was about as peaceful a flock as I could have hoped for.

    I have Black Australorps now and have had them before several times. They are a favorite. The Barred Rocks push them around, however.

    My only RIR was a rooster and he was unusually gentlemanly from what I have gathered from other RIR owners. I can't really say anything about the hens.

    Of the BR's (had them before also), BA's, and BO's - I have to say that the Buff's were not the best layers. I really wish that the Aussies came in more colors. That would be a "mixed flock" choice that would be easy for me.

  9. minna

    minna Songster

    Oct 15, 2008
    Burnsville, MS
    Sounds good to me, although I prefer New Hamp Red over Rhode Island, b/c of the Rhode Island Aggression. All of my breeds are separated most of the times, but I have some BO pullets in with my SLW right now and they don't get picked on. IDK?
  10. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    MY BA's are so docile and sweet to me, but totally hold their own in the flock. They will never be the bully, but they aren't at the bottom of the flock either.

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