Preliminary Flock Research (Breeds, Density, etc)

Brassaxe

In the Brooder
Mar 20, 2019
7
18
29
Soon, or at least, hopefully soon the family and I will be moving. For now we don't have chickens at our house, it's not an ideal location. But I do have Pheasants. 4 Lady Amhersts, 3 female and 1 male as a good beginning step to prepare the family for chickens. I have had many birds in the past (A long time ago) Geese, chickens, conures, parakeets, pheasants, (maybe ducks?)etc. I do not plan on moving them to a new house, the plan is to sell them or give them away. I do not want a yard with mixed birds.

Anyway.. Where we plan to move has a 1/2 total of land. The chickens will be in the back yard which is a 1/4 acre and has 3 sides with three feet of chain link fence. Wouldn't take much to finish it off if I need to. I want chickens to help fertilize the soil, for some eggs (Maybe a dozen a week) and to sorta keep bugs down. As much as they can without getting rocks for brains Guineas. I have no plans to using them as meat birds, just an addition to the soil ecosystem is the main thing.

Question #1 - I want quiet, cold hardy, hot hardy, friendly birds. Temperatures around here go from 10 degrees F to 110 degrees F. With the average range of 20 to 100. I was thinking Rhode island Reds, Buff Orphington, and Barred Rocks. Would these birds fit the bill and "hopefully" stay in the yard?

Question #2 - If I want the yard to be a usable space for people and not a poop minefield. I also want the density to be low enough the chickens don't feel anxious, and also low enough it doesn't feel like a farm. I think if the kids can have a small but not dog like attatchment to the chickens it will help with them taking care of em. I'm thinking 3-5 hens. Is this a good number or should I have more?

Question #3 - I plan on having raised bed gardens. Maybe a foot off the ground. Any issues with the RIR, BO, or BR's?

Last question - With all the above being said. What do you think of 2 Buffs, 2 Barred rocks, and 1 Rhode island for a 1/4 acre "urban" backyard?
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
Welcome! It's great to have previous experience, and to actually plan ahead!
No chicken is actually 'quiet'! They all talk, and it's cute. Roosters crow, of course, and if they aren't legal there, you won't have one anyway.
Guineas are LOUD! No chicken can compare to that volume of sound!
Is it really a three ft. fence? That's not actually very helpful, either from a predator standpoint, or keeping birds inside. Plan for a coop and fenced covered run, walk-in tall, as predator proof as you can make it. Then the birds can roam around the yard when you are there.
I'd get five chicks, not three, because more is better!
Breeds are okay, although there are so many, consider one of each to start, for egg shell colors, variety, and entertainment.
Look at feathersite, and Henderson's Breed Chart, and the Cackle and MurrayMcMurray catalogs for ideas, get some, and see who you like.
Easter Eggers, Speckled Sussex, Wyandottes, Plymouth Rocks in other colors, French Marans; so many choices!
Mary
 

Brassaxe

In the Brooder
Mar 20, 2019
7
18
29
I guess chickens that aren't loud enough to annoy the neighbors would be the idea.

I already have a coup that's 12' x 8' and 7 feet high. It's not going to be fixed to the ground, maybe on wheels or something.

If I had to have a fenced covered run I may as well keep the pheasants. And that would cross out a considerable part of the yard to be honest. I don't think there is anything reasonable I could do to keep predators away AND keep use of my backyard. That being said how likely are the three chicken breeds I mentioned to stay in a yard with a three foot fence. Would they hop over it like it wasn't even there? Would it at minimum be a deterrence?
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
The fence will inspire them to remain inside, as long as it's interesting in the yard. Clipping wing feathers on one wing helps too, although it limits their ability to flee possible predators.
Orphingtons are big fluffy birds who won't be so pleased with 100F, although that's tough for any chicken to handle.
That coop sounds good!
Hatchery RIRs, or any production reds, tend to be feather picking flock members, difficult with many milder mannered hens. It's individual, so not all are like that, but I don't have them any more.
Definitely avoid breed that are noted to range widely and fly really well!
Mary
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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Southeast Louisiana
Question #1 - I want quiet, cold hardy, hot hardy, friendly birds. Temperatures around here go from 10 degrees F to 110 degrees F. With the average range of 20 to 100. I was thinking Rhode island Reds, Buff Orphington, and Barred Rocks. Would these birds fit the bill and "hopefully" stay in the yard?

They'd be as good as any. We all have our favorites but that's just personal preference. Some people might say any of those are a horrible choice while others will think they are great. It's more about the individual hens that the breed. For example some might say do not get the Buff Orp because they go broody a lot. If you are not going to be hatching eggs them regularly going broody is a pain. But my two Buff Orps never went broody in spite of their reputation. Some people will tell you to not get RIR, they are horribly aggressive and mean. Others will tell you that their RIR were the sweetest hens ever. People say the same thing about Barred Rock or even Silkies. It depends on the individual hen.

That's not very cold for chickens as long as you have a reasonable coop, well ventilated but with wind protection in winter. Heat is your real enemy. You will need shade and plenty of water.

The fence is harder to talk about. My chickens of comparable breeds can easily fly over my 48" high electric netting. They don't, with one exception which I'll get to. It's not about whether they "can" or not, it's about whether they want to. The bigger the area and the better the forage and "hanging out" places like shade the less they are likely to want to. Some individuals are more likely to roam than others. It's just different personalities. And once they learn they can, some will.

Chickens like to perch. What often causes a problem is that they perch on the fence and who knows which side they will hop down on. As long as your chain link fence doesn't have a top rail that's probably not going to happen. If it does have a top rail or good perches you can take a wire mesh fence and attach it to the top of your fence so it stands up due to the stiffness. I've done that. Attach 36" wide fencing at the top of your fence and maybe 18" down so you get 18" standing up. It did not look nearly as bad as I thought it would.

Now the exception, which should not be an issue for you. When I had a bunch of cockerels in there they would occasionally fight. If one were trapped against the netting and could not get away any other way, it would go vertical. Sometimes they would land on the wrong side of the fence. I found by avoiding corners sharper than 90 degrees and not having a narrow area (make it more spread out) this problem dropped to almost never.

Question #2 - If I want the yard to be a usable space for people and not a poop minefield. I also want the density to be low enough the chickens don't feel anxious, and also low enough it doesn't feel like a farm. I think if the kids can have a small but not dog like attatchment to the chickens it will help with them taking care of em. I'm thinking 3-5 hens. Is this a good number or should I have more?

If all you want is a dozen eggs a week, don't get more. Egg production is cyclic. During some seasons you will be swamped with eggs, you'll have plenty to bribe your neighbors so they like your chickens. Some seasons it may drop to zero.

It will be a poop minefield. Wherever they go they will poop. They will hang out in certain places, probably shade somewhere so the poop will be concentrated there but some will be dropped anywhere. If they can get to it, a covered back porch is often a favorite hang-out.

Question #3 - I plan on having raised bed gardens. Maybe a foot off the ground. Any issues with the RIR, BO, or BR's?

Plenty of issues with any breed. Chickens love to scratch in mulch or bare dirt. They love plants that are just sprouting. They will eat most veggies we will. They especially like to take a few pecks out of a tomato just before it gets really ripe, them move on to the next tomato. There are issues with landscaping gardens, there are bigger issues with veggie gardens. The only way to manage is to fence the chickens out of the gardens or fence them in another area.

Last question - With all the above being said. What do you think of 2 Buffs, 2 Barred rocks, and 1 Rhode island for a 1/4 acre "urban" backyard?

I answered that above. In my opinion they are as good as any.
 

Brassaxe

In the Brooder
Mar 20, 2019
7
18
29
Corners are a problem for a lot of birds. With our pheasants that's the location they almost always decide to go vertical. We keep that down a bit covering the bottom 24" of their cage in burlap so they can't see out as well. This makes them want to fly out in pretty much any random location instead of JUST the corners. Not perfect but it does help.

So, my takeaway from what everyone has said is probably this.

Probably 4 chickens. Either culled down from more or not. 1 BO, 1 RIR, and 2 BR's.

Get netting to solve two problems. Fence in the gardens and raise the yard fence. I might add 24 inches to the yard fence and lean it inwards a foot to hamper them from jumping over. Either way I could probably get away with doing both with the same type of netting.
 

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