Questions about American Game hens...

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Cowgirl71, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been looking into getting some American Game hens. Their broodiness, fierce mothering abilities, hardiness, and foraging abilities make me believe they could be a great asset to my breeding program for a good "farm chicken." According to my research they should be able to perform under these conditions, but I wanted to double check with the experts. [​IMG]

    I'll keep a flock of a rooster and some laying hens (RIR, BR, BO) with 2-3 Game hens mixed in. The Game hens will have the sole purpose of hatching and raising chicks. Once her chicks have hatched she and her family will be allowed to free range over several acres of good quality pasture and shade trees, along with the layer flock. I will not provide any feed for her and her family, they'll have to scrounge it up from the land. She'll have to protect her chicks from predators during the day while they're out free ranging and not lose any or very few in the tall grass. I'll lock everyone up in a predator proof coop at night. Do you think this could work? I'm not expecting 100% survival rate, 50% would be fine by me.

    I want to be able to hatch and raise chicks without needing chick feed from the feed store or electricity for incubators and heat lamps. Basically, I want to go back to the way they did it in the old days, where the hens did it all, and the farmer just collected the eggs daily, locked them up at night/let them out in the morning, and harvested some chicken whenever he got a hankerin'.

    Also, will an American Game hen allow a Buff Orpington rooster to breed her, or is she too fast and non-complying? I think these two breeds would compliment each other very well, making a great farm chicken.

    And how many clutches of chicks will an average American Game hen raise each year, assuming I left the chicks with her for her to "wean" when she decides to?

    Thanks for any help/info! [​IMG]
     
  2. Zaxby's2

    Zaxby's2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2011
    a place
    Well... an American game hen would hatch out maybe two clutches a year, would probably allow a BO to mate her, but would also probably greatly benefit from some kind of feed, whether a quality feed or just leftovers now and then. Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I used to keep flocks of American games on walks as you describe. I am doing so now although on a much smaller scale without benefit of coops or barn.


    Hen number ranged one to 10. Such hens would attempt to rear anywhere from 0 to three broods in a season. The lower the number of hens amd/or better forage quality pushed brood number to higher end. Survival ranged greatly per brood anywhere from 0 to 14 chicks. Hens producing a large brood tended to stop breeding for season. Overall, on a quality walk the average number of chicks surving to harvest was between 6 and 8 chicks / hen.

    Depending on situation, you can expect more then predation to cause losses. Game strains vary greatly in their abililty to make living by foraging and some, like mine, do not as small chicks tolerate scratch well.

    Game hen will allow buff orphington to cover her.
     
  4. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for all the info! [​IMG]

    Just so ya'll know, I DO plan to provide free-choice high-quality feed. [​IMG] But if for some crazy reason the price of layer feed and chick feed soars through the roof in the near future, I want to be prepared. I do plan to provide some table scraps or something at a minimum. I was just wondering if anyone's ever done them without any supplemental feed.


    Centrarchid: I finally looked to see what a Redquill American Game looked like... It looks JUST like a Ginger Red OEG, which is one of my very top favorite colors of OEGs. Sooooooooooo.... I just might be interested in some birds from you, especially if they're reared free range in Missouri. And they don't need to be Redquill, or even purebred for that matter. I'll consider anything that is OEG and/or AG, dark colored, and comes from broody stock. My favorite varieties are the dark colored hens that can be easily sexed by color (such as Ginger Red/Redquill, BB Red, and Duckwing). I'm not in a big hurry to get some, but I'd like some broody hens by spring/summer 2012.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Cowgirl71,
    We did have some of our flocks walked on fence rows or broken down barns. Birds were stocked in a spot with trees that provided shelter from extreme cold cold and wind (pine or cedar) and understory trees to provide cover from hawks. Also had water nearby. Dogs kept most varments out. Birds in those settings had to forage for all their eats.

    Presently rearing two broods free range that are in excess of needs, One is pure game, other is half (mother is red jungle fowl). Both should include wild-type (BB red) and brown breasted brown-red. Color term for latter may not be correct as I am still learning colors. I am supposed to be knowledgeable about genetics but colortype names and supposed genetic mechanisms are tough to find a reference point to start from in games.
     
  6. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Certrarchid: Found this page with a list of chicken/poultry breeders in Missouri: http://mda.mo.gov/animals/pdf/poultry_yearbook.pdf

    It
    lists several Game breeders, including at least one I saw that has Redqills. Just thought I'd pass it along in case it helps you any. [​IMG]
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks Cowgirl71, may enable me to some from a very local source.
     
  8. prariechiken

    prariechiken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    First pic is 1/2 RIR, 1/2 American Game. Second is 1/2 Buff Brahma, 1/2 American Game. Results from old color experiments the wife was doing when she was messing with her Orloff project birds. If you were closer to me here in eastern Kansas I'd give ya some hens/pullets for your flock.
     
  9. Gladiator

    Gladiator Out Of The Brooder

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    I would sugest having a game cock as well to protect the hens and the chicks from predators. There is many cocks that are tender with the chicks and hens but fierce against predators(like hawks for example) I don't know, however, if that would be a problem since he will not tolerate other cocks, unless you plant to keep the BOs enclosed wile the game hens are with chicks and the game cock, and the game cock enclosed wile you are breeding the game hens to the BOs. I also don't know how good of a rate of survival will BOs have in a free range scenario like the one you describe being that there is planty of wilderness and predators as a result.
     
  10. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the great info and pictures! [​IMG]

    After giving it a lot of thought, I think I've decided to just stick with the Orpingtons. Orpingtons are a better meat and egg breed. I also already have them, which saves me time, money, and I don't risk bringing in some disease that my birds aren't resistant too.

    But thank you for your generous offer prariechiken. [​IMG] I'd probably take you up on it if it weren't for gas money. [​IMG]
     

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