Newbie with breed questions


9 Years
Feb 28, 2010
I am spending this year learning, building a coop, and doing other things to prepare for getting a small flock of chickens next year.

From what I've read, I think I want Rhode Island Reds. But let me tell you what I'm hoping for, and you can tell me if I'm choosing the best breed.

First of all, I want egg production - the more the better.
They need to be winter hardy - tolerating cold and snow well. I live at altitude in Colorado. I can heat the coop, but they'll be outside a lot. (And I want winter eggs.)
I need ones that are fairly quiet, since I don't know how my neighbors will react and we're fairly close together. (I won't have roosters, just hens.)
I prefer bigger birds that could be meat birds as well - less flying.
I need to be able to handle them, so no attack-birds. But I don't need them to sit on my lap.

Thoughts? Advice? Are there more things I should consider? Is there a breed that fits my requirements better than the one I'm considering? I'm completely new to this! Thanks in advance!
I would try something other than Rhode island Reds. They can be very loud, and are mean. I would try black australorps. They are a very gentle quiet breed, are very kind, and are one of the best (if not the best) egg layer of all chickens. If you want to mix it up you could add Easter Eggers or Barred Rocks.

The thing about the breeds is that there are extremes in every breed. In my personal experience, you are just as likely to get a mean australorp as a mean rir. That said, my rir are a little bit noisier than my bo and br, but not too too much.

How close is close for your neighbors?
I would be careful about birds with large combs. They tend to get frostbite in the winter. I like the golden and silver laced wyandottes. They lay large brown eggs and are winter hardy. Good luck.
I was thinking Buff Orpingtons and Barred Rocks. BO are very cold weather tolerant due to thick layers of feathers, and BR are also, but might be slightly better layers. Both are very docile.
I would go with buff or white orpingtons. they are known for being winter layers, they are fairly fluffy so they can tolerate cold well, and i've never heard of an orpington being agressive. They are a heavy class breed of English origin. I love orpingtons, and for you, they sound like a great choice. Of course that's just my opinion, you have to make the decision of what's right for you. Good Luck.
I can't suggest what to get for a cold area ... but I can add that the three RIR's in my first flock were the loudest birds when it came to laying.
They let the whole neighborhood know they had laid!
You could try to get half RIR and half of another breed like the Opringtons (Australorps are a good choice too). Then see which is noisier. Everything I've read in my research says that the RIR can be pretty noisy. Good Luck. I didn't have the patience to wait a year! I'm fast tracking my research and will do the learn as I go method.
Back when having a backyard chicken flock was considered pretty normal, the Plymouth Barred Rocks were the most popular breed because they were such a good combination of egg layer, meat bird, docile, fairly quiet, and cold hardy. I recently added a Barred Rock hen and rooster (to three Golden Buff hens), and have been really happy with them. Both the hen and rooster are friendly and will let me hold them, even though I didn't get them until they were full grown. I live in North East Ohio, we've had a hard winter, and they've done just fine - their coop is basically a stall in our barn and I haven't heated it at all.

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