Question about bird breed ratios

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Usagi, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. Usagi

    Usagi Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 27, 2013
    Pacific Northwest
    Question about mixed flock ratio.

    I’m looking to get a total of three different types of birds for varying reasons and I was curious about some details of mixed flocks. I do understand that one can do whatever they can and sometimes chickens still wont want to live together. That’s fine. I’m going to do what I can, and I will be hatching all of these together if I can get my hands on eggs. If for some reasons the chicks all grow up to absolutely hate each other and feathers fly on too regular of a basis, I can do separate coops and feeding areas. So the chickens I’m considering and why are:

    1)Siklies. They are cute and known for being more shy and docile. Interestingly, they were the most shy out of the adolescent chicks I saw at a recent feed store. These are mainly to be fun pets. The other ladies who will be helping me with the chickens are wanting silkies because they are just so darn cute. Silkies can sometimes be good brooders and parents I’ve read. I have deep respect for the “nanny” bird. J

    2)Ameraucanas. These are wanted to have pretty colored eggs. That’s all. They seem nice enough.

    3)Wyandottes- I, want wyandottes because they are gorgeous and might make a good third egg layer to have a more consistently high supply. I’m under the impression that special colored egg layers don’t have as high of yields, so it seems like a nice standard all around good egg layer might be nice. I’m under the impression you can also eat wyandottes, but I’m not sure if I plan on buttering this year. Lots of other projects like a cob cabin, a dry cedar sauna (relief for my fibro next winter!) and a big garden. Luckily there are 5 of us to keep up these 5 acres, but butchering chickens is just low on my priority list.

    So I could use some help mixing and matching these breeds. In total I would like to have around 30 chickens. Since I will be breeding next year, I will take that into consideration with my number. I’m not too familiar with chicken psychology, so I’m curious about how many silkies I should get, if this mix can work. Is it better if there is a large number of silkies so that the other birds don’t pick on them? Or is it best to have a few silkies so that the other birds just mostly ignore them. Also, for my third breed I was looking to get a roo as well. I was considering mixing my Ameracaunas with the roo from my third breed to make some Easter Eggers. I was actually eyeing black copper marans for the pretty eggs as well….but noticed a slight pattern with mean roos….so maybe no marans. I would really like a silkie roo also, because I’m sure I’ll want to breed silkies, but I know sometimes roos aren’t too friendly with each other.

    I’m also aware that it’s 10-15 girls per roo, correct? Do I need to pay special attention to the amount per group here? Just...split it into 10/10/10?

    (I hope this isn't a ridiculous question. I am prone to over-thinking.)
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
  2. niqueie

    niqueie Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have all 3 of those breeds, plus a lot others. I love our Americana, she's a lavender. She is lovely and sweet. Our BLRW is a gorgeous bird. She is more shy but wonderful too. I think that if you had equal amounts of both of those it would work out well. The silkies are so darling. They have character and have not seemed shy to me. If you had at least 3-4 silkies, they would work into the group okay. They don't lay a lot and are very broody. If they are raised together you have a great chance of everyone getting along. You could have a silkie rooster and a full sized rooster. The silkie will probably not be the dominant rooster and will take his place on the lower rung of the social chain. Hope this helped.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    If you read enough threads on this forum you will find where chickens of any and all breeds get along great. You’ll also find where some chickens just don’t get along, either different breeds or the same breed. Part of that is just differences in the individual chicken’s personality. Part of that could be how they are managed. I think some of it is that some people think chickens being chickens and setting up the pecking order and the flock hierarchy is them being brutal. Most of the stories come from when they are adolescents with hormones running wild, even with adult supervision. Any chicken can turn out to be a pure brute, but I find giving them adequate room can really help alleviate this. I wouldn’t get too concerned about mixing the breeds as long as you give them adequate space. If you have a bully you may be surprised which one it is.

    We all have our wants, goals, and desires. I can’t tell you how many of any to get. That has to be your decision.

    You can get sexed full-sized fowl, but a lot of times Silkies are bantams. Most hatcheries don’t even try to sex bantams. Maybe something for you to think about in deciding how many Silkies you want if you are buying baby chicks instead of started pullets.

    Unless you are buying the Ameraucanas from a reputable breeder, you won’t get Ameraucana. They are already EE’s. Some of the hatcheries had their colored egg laying breeding stock before the Ameraucana breed was even developed and recognized. So don’t expect them all to lay blue or green eggs.

    Wyandottes should be fine. From your stated goal of eggs and eventually meat from them there are a tremendous number of different breeds that would suit you. You might even look into the “specials” at the hatchery. Hatcheries don’t hatch exactly the number of breed and sex of chicks they sell. They always have extras because they hatch spares in case nature has its way and something goes wrong. You need to read the description of the specials carefully and maybe even call the hatchery and chat with them, but you can often get a mix of different breeds for less cost. You don’t know what breeds they are going to be, rainbow mix refers to the hens’ feathers not the color of eggs, things like that, but for someone in your situation that might be something to consider.

    You can eat any chicken, regardless of sex, age, and breed. Some have more appetizing meat or skin color, some have a lot less meat than others, and age and sex determines how you need to cook them. The older they are the slower and with more moisture your cooking technique needs, but there are plenty of ways to cook even an old rooster that come out delicious.

    I really don’t believe in magic numbers for chickens for much of anything. There are some guidelines floating around this forum that are just that, guidelines, suggestions of a good place to start, like the 4 square feet in the coop along with 10 square feet in the run per chicken. But that space guideline is geared toward someone keeping a small flock of only mature hens in an urban back yard. In your situation those magic numbers don’t mean a lot. You can check out the link in my signature for some of my thoughts on space requirements.

    That hen to rooster ratio you often see here is like that. It comes from the way the hatcheries produce eggs for the incubator. They have found that in a specific method, pen breeding, they need a ratio of around 10 to 1 hens to roosters if they are full sized breeds. For bantams, 15 to 1 works OK. This is the specific situation where you keep maybe 20 roosters and 200 hens in one pen and the only goal is to ensure the eggs are fertile. It has nothing to do with hens being over-mated or roosters fighting. If you are using a management technique other than pen breeding or your goals don’t include ensuring fertility, that ratio doesn’t mean much to you. In a small flock one rooster can usually keep 15 to 20 hens fertile, but that depends on the individual rooster. Some have more vitality than others. It also depends on the hens, they have their part to play also. I do recommend you keep as few roosters as you can and still meet your goals, so don’t go overboard on the roosters. That’s because the more roosters you have the more likely you are to have a problem, especially if space is tight, but this kind of stuff does not come with guarantees. Those ratios make for a nice flock but don’t get too hung up on magic numbers.

    I tend to over-think things too. Anything I build is probably going to be overdesigned. But as long as you provide food, water, shelter from the environment suitable for your conditions, protection from predators suitable to your situation, and don’t crowd them, you are probably going to be fine.

    Good luck with it.

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