Ordering chicks for the first time. Breed Opinions/Rooster questions.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Finelyfound, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. Finelyfound

    Finelyfound Out Of The Brooder

    Ordering chicks for the first time! After 5 years of waiting and planning I'm almost ready to order chicks. I have a good idea of which breeds I will be ordering, but would like some opinions and advice before I make my final decision.
    I am planning to order 25 to 30 layers. Will add some meat birds later in the season.
    I would like to have a variety of egg colors and pretty breeds. I do like heritage breeds of all animals, but for my first chicken experience rare or heritage breed is of lesser importance than the criteria below. My criteria/desired traits in order of importance.
    1. Egg Production (although one broody breed would be nice)
    2. Temperament
    3. Beauty
    I am not partial to the Polish or Frizzles and as a beginner want to avoid feathered feet.
    I'd love to know your favorite breeds that are beautiful friendly prolific layers!
    I am thinking of ordering from Meyer mostly due to their selection of breeds.
    Rooster question. I have no clue what breed of rooster to get or if I need more than one. Most importantly I want a rooster with a good temperament (and I know there are no guarantees). I would also like a beautiful rooster:)
    Thank you in advance!
    Jocelyn
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    One breed that is a good producer, can be broody, and are sweet is Australorps. Sexlinks, both black and red, are outstanding layers. Rocks are a good breed all around, coming in lots of varieties, are solid produces, and have very inquisitive personalities.

    As for a rooster, don't order one. Hatcheries are about 90% accurate when it comes to sexing chicks. That means that the odds of getting at least one accidental cockerel in your order are pretty high. If you get a few Easter Eggers, usually one will be male. And they are very pretty boys.
     
  3. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If I might throw out there a suggestion of a slightly tweaked plan that might also suit your needs or those of folks with similar ideas...?

    After deciding on the breed or breeds of layers you want and how many, you can multiply that number by two and order straight run chicks of those breeds. Gender will be split almost exactly 50-50 (it's almost eery, in my experience). You can raise them all together as one single project and then, right around when your pullets are getting ready to start laying, you slaughter the cockerels--or slaughter some and separate the rest in their own meat bird area, and grow those out a little longer if you wish. Then you have your meat birds in the freezer, and your flock of layers up and running.

    Advantages include:

    -you don't have to make multiple orders for layers and for meat birds, and can raise layers and meaties together, at least most of the time

    -ordering straight run is more humane, because if you order only pullet chicks the hatchery will cull all the cockerel chicks right off the bat--often in ways not too kind or pretty

    -having plenty of roosters to choose from gives you the best chance to find a handsome flock leader (or two who get along with eachother) that you like, with nice traits

    -meat birds from laying breeds, although slower growing, are healthier and hardier and develop more flavor than Cornish X or similar

    Such a plan may or may not be up your alley--I just wanted to throw it out there... As you can tell from my username, I'm personally in favor of that sort of thing. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  4. barkinghills

    barkinghills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love Australorps! They are consistently good layers, pretty in the flock, and friendly. I have two RIR's that are friendly, but not all are. I had two Dominiques that were good layers, calm in the flock and friendly. Many people like Buff Orpingtons and they are definitely docile and frequently friendly, but ours were heat intolerant and too-often broody.

    Welsummers are pretty and nice in a general flock. My personal favorite besides Australorps are Cochins! Not the best layers, but very docile and friendly, pretty, and frequently broody.

    The various red sex-link crosses have a lot of variety in looks and personality, but are definitely great layers. I'm also a fan of the black sex-link. They seem a little more docile in the general flock, and mine are not as dominant as some of my red sex-links.

    Americaunas/Easter Eggers are another favorite of mine and I always have several in my flock. They are generally good layers and fit in mid-flock with the other breeds.

    Best of luck, and have fun with your chicks! It is definitely an addiction.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  5. Finelyfound

    Finelyfound Out Of The Brooder

    Meyer actually has a special of just roosters in a variety of breeds for $1 apiece. So would I just figure out what breeds I got and when to process them base on breed maturity ect.?
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Ordering that many birds, I'd just go with a brown egg layer assortment, or something like that. I'd order all pullets and embrace whatever Oops cockerel(s) I got. Or, if you want a specific breed of rooster later, put the word out in late spring/early summer. That's when folks are hatching and finding out they have their own Oops cockerels and are looking for homes for them.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    As I read this, I was thinking along Donrae's line. Order and assortment of dual purpose layers. I have been in this hobby for many years, and what I have often found is that breeds I think I will like, sometime I don't, and ones that I just got accidentally, have grown into a favorite. It will be helpful if you consider that you won't keep all the birds in this new flock. Some birds are not going to work out.

    Meat birds are going to be closer to what you are used to as food for the table. Dual purpose birds are going to be firmer, (or tough) their leg bones are going to be longer. The meat birds take a little experience, and you can loose a few with the learning curve.

    You did ask for some advice on breeds, but perhaps you would be interested in new chicken owner advice too:

    If you have children under the age of 6, they love to help, so I would recommend NOT doing the rooster thing the first year. Roosters are a crap shoot, and they nearly always go for kids first. First time owners, often don't pick up on the hints or signs that a rooster is getting aggressive. Roosters have ruined the whole chicken thing for a lot of kids. Roosters are cheap and relatively easy to find later on.

    Go with 1/2 to 3/4 you final flock size that you want. This allows you to add birds next year, without culling very heavily. Then by year 3, you can cull more deeply and add new ones.

    Truthfully, I would skip the meat birds this year. You will still probably process some birds, but not a huge amount. This allows you to get your technique down, your supplies and set up.

    You have years to do this hobby, take it slow.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  8. Finelyfound

    Finelyfound Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you Mrs. K. Very good points. I know I'm not ordering meat birds or roosters for meat right now, one thing at a time. I think your line of thought on roosters is a good one. I do have 2 boys under 10 who will be helping plus my mother who will be automatically turned of by a nasty rooster. I have noticed loads of free roosters online some of them very expensive breeds, so I will take your advice and order all pullets and acquire a pretty Roo at a later date.
     
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I hope you enjoy this as much as I have over the years. It is a fantastic hobby.
     
  10. theemerichfam

    theemerichfam Out Of The Brooder

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    When we ordered "Sexed chicks" we decided to get 10 RIR hens. We are about 95% sure that we ended up with 2 roosters out of the bunch. We got them because they have a good track record for being good layers. I cannot wait until the spring time to see the eggs out of these RIR's.

    I am looking to include some other chickens to my flock that have pretty colors.
     

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