Newbie Question: Heat Hardy Breeds?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by HillCountryTX, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. HillCountryTX

    HillCountryTX Out Of The Brooder

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    My husband will be retiring at the end of the year, and we just moved into a lovely little house in the Texas Hill Country outside San Antonio which will be our retirement home. I have wanted chickens for a very long time and now - with a little over an acre and farm-friendly county regulations - we'll be able to have a nice little flock. We're going to wait to add chickens to the mix until next spring, because we're having a studio building built and some fencing put in after the first of the year, and I want to make sure the hens are able to get settled in with a minimum of other disturbances for them to deal with.

    In the meantime, though, I've been doing a ton of research about the best breeds for our area. It gets so hot here in the summer that I want to be sure I'm being fair to the birds and not setting my heart on a breed that's just going to be miserable or ill from the high temps. We're looking for standard dual-purpose breeds that are good layers and people-friendly, and I'd like a few that will go broody so we can home-hatch fertile eggs at some point down the road. I'm thinking about a mixed flock of 6 - 8 hens with the following breeds:

    • Welsummers
    • Buff Orpingtons
    • Buff Brahmas
    • Some mix of Marans

    I'd be very interested in thoughts and recommendations from more experienced flock owners out there - does this sound like a good mix for a small home flock? Does anyone have experience with some or all of these breeds in very hot climates?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    [​IMG]

    Not a whole lot cooler here in SW Arkansas. My first love, the birds I still have and will always have, are LF brahma. Had lots of breeds over the years and have now narrowed my flock down to brahmas (my eldest girls are nearly 7 - still laying), cochins and breda fowl; plus a few misc. birds. The cochins are very much like the brahmas, maybe a tad bit more huggable, but my cochins don't seem to do as well in the heat as the brahmas. In the summertime the brahmas habit is to forage mostly in the morning and cooler evenings, laying around in the heat of the day. Sail right through winter, good winter layers too. Not the super layers like the hybrids, but enough eggs for two people with extras to share. Not a brahma on this farm that I can't reach down and pick up anytime I want.

    Hmmmm, trying to think of some cons to the brahmas. Late to mature. My dark brahmas are even more cuddly than my lights or buffs, but it could just be the bloodline of the ones I have. I have read many times that being large birds the brahmas eat more than the hybrids. Here's my experience - I bought four young sex links last spring from a FFA kid. I re-homed them last week, leaving me with six brahmas in that coop. The feed consumption in that coop has dropped by half, if not more.

    If you haven't figured it out by now, there is nothing I don't like about brahmas. Haven't had experience with the other breeds, but I've heard buff orps. are nice.
     
  3. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    I've had all of the breeds on your list at one time or another over the past 50 years, and while all of them are cold hardy, none of them are especially heat hardy. The best breeds for heat are either the Mediterranean breeds or the Black Australorp. I don't personally care for the Mediterranean breeds as they are typically high strung and flighty, not dual-purpose, and not very cold hardy. Black Australorps are incredibly hardy, in both cold and heat. I've raised them in northern Kansas where the temperature dropped to 30 F below zero one winter and they did just fine. I've also raised them in CA where summer temperatures frequently reached 117-118 F (123 F once), and while my Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, and Light Brahmas were panting and suffering in the heat, my Black Australorps went about their usual scratching business like troopers. In addition to being extremely hardy, BAs are calm and gentle (my children, and now my granddaughter, made lap pets out of them), and they will outlay any breed on your list. A Black Australorp holds the brown egg laying record with 364 eggs in 365 days, and while none of mine have ever reached that kind of production (and likely never will), I've still had a few of them lay over 300 eggs in a year.
     
  4. HillCountryTX

    HillCountryTX Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2014
    Thanks for the feedback, Gritsar - can you help me with what an "LF" Brahma is? Still new to the shorthand. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2014
  5. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    LF stands for large fowl as opposed to a bantam. Brahmas come in both sizes.
     
  6. HillCountryTX

    HillCountryTX Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2014
    Michael, thanks for the feedback. I'm not a fan of the Mediterranean breeds either - I really want larger dual-purpose birds. I'll look into the Black Australorps.
     
  7. HillCountryTX

    HillCountryTX Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2014
    Thanks, Gritsar - so, similar terminology to "standard" fowl then.
     
  8. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Exactly the same. Sometimes LF is used when a particular breed comes in both sizes. A LF Brahma is a standard sized Brahma.
     
  9. hebertchick12

    hebertchick12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We recently added some Black copper Maran's to our mixed flock. I was worried about the heat especially considering their color. I have noticed my EE's, RIRs, Barred Rocks, and Wyandottes all panting, dumping the water bowl, rolling around in the sand, etc. I feel so sorry for them and look over at the Marans and they are just standing looking like "what the heck is going on in here". I started keeping 2-liter bottles... I fill them with water, freeze them, and always have one in their water bowl and one in front of the fan in their coop.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2014
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    I am sorry I didn't think to make myself clear. Yes LF = standard, only I've never considered my brahmas to be "standard". When I compare them to the adult size of other breeds the brahmas fall more into the giant category.

    Like I stated before, brahmas are not considered fully mature until two years old. By the time they are two the average weight for a hen should be in the neighborhood of 8 to 9 lbs., compared to say an adult Rhode Island Red hen at 6.5 lbs. Brahma roos can go to 12 lbs. or better, and I did have one that was 13 lbs. in his prime.

    My beloved Thor, lost him a few years back.

    [​IMG]
     

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