Questions: What Do I Buy!?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Chiks N Stiks, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. Chiks N Stiks

    Chiks N Stiks Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello!

    I am somewhat new to chickens, but not completely green. I need to rebuild my little flock, especially since my it got depleted by predators. I think I have gotten the predator issue addressed now. So moving forward...

    I know I am going to buy these breeds as chicks -- Australorps (4 hens for eggs), Wyandottes (4 hens for eggs), Brabanters (2 hens for novelty), Americanas (2 hens for colored eggs). I have had all these before. The kids and I like mixing it up.

    Here are the questions: Important to note, I want gentle, family, tame chickens!

    1). I was told modern chickens have had most of the brooding instinct bred out of them and to just buy chicks and not try to establish a flock that will propagate itself. Is this true?

    2). I have heard silkies are natural brood hens. If the hens lay fertilized eggs, the silkies will hatch them out. Is this true? I was told to add a couple of silkies, because they will raise the new chicks. If this is accurate, I was thinking I would add two hens. So far, the other birds have proven not great at sitting on the nest long enough to raise chicks. Yes, I had roosters at the time. I had partially baked baby chickies. YUK. The hens would abandon the nest too early.

    3). Australorp rooster? Wyandotte rooster? One of each?

    4). Are mixed breed chickens a problem?

    The girls are pets. I will probably always buy chicks, but raising my own would be fun too.

    Meat Chickens -- I've never done this before!

    The kids, boys, want meat chickens. They want to do the butchering and cleaning -- or so they think. I was thinking about starting out with maybe 4 or 5 chicks to raise up and see how it goes.

    1). Which makes for better mean, hen or rooster? No difference?

    2). What is a good meat breed that is gentle?

    3). Are any meat breeds good at propagating? It would be really cool not to have buy chicks.

    4). Are any of the breeds I've mentioned above also good for meat?

    I know, LOTS of questions! Thank you for your help.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    That is a lot of questions. [​IMG]
    I recommend these excellent breed selection charts to answer your questions.
    http://www.sagehenfarmlodi.com/chooks/chooks.html
    http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/chickenbreedcomparison.pdf

    All chickens are what I would call tame. Some don't want anything to do with you but the hens won't attack you.
    The downside to docile lap pets is that they are vulnerable to daytime predator attacks.

    1. True to an extent but there are many breeds that are still setters. (check the charts)

    2. Silkies are reliable setters but also very predator vulnerable (slow and poor vision)
    There are other breeds that tend to go broody and once doing so, will finish the job. First time broodies are unreliable regardless of breed. (check the charts)

    3. Depends on how many hens, what breeds they are and if you want any pure bred chicks. You want about 1 rooster to 10 hens as a rule of thumb so if you have too many roosters they'll fight.

    4. Mixed breed chickens, if you're keeping them, are just fine and usually more robust.

    Meat

    1. Hens and roosters both taste like chicken. Hens lay eggs so people usually wait till they slow down. Excess roosters are just that, you don't need that many so on a homestead, most meat birds are roosters.

    2. Pure meat birds are all good. Dual purpose birds will vary. Unless you get a mean rooster. (check the chart)

    3. Cornish X hybrids and rangers (true meat birds) aren't great at propogating. Dual purpose birds are. (check the chart)

    4. check the charts
     
  3. Chiks N Stiks

    Chiks N Stiks Out Of The Brooder

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    Perhaps I should check some charts?

    But here's a couple of questions I forgot to include...

    Are roosters tougher (for meat to eat) than hens?
    I heard if chickens are free ranged, they're meat will be tough and yucky, and that I should contain them in a smaller area. Is this true?

    Thank you!
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Any bird using its muscles will have to be chewed regardless of sex. If they run around all day, their legs will be quite firm, depending on their age. If you eat them young, they'll be more tender.
    There are cooking techniques that solve the 'perceived' problem. With any heritage bird that lives longer than the 6 weeks a modern meat bird lives can't be cooked the same way.
    They have to be cooked on low heat and very slowly till the meat separates from the bone.
    The meat will be much more flavorful and won't be mushy like a Cornish X.
    Is that yucky? I don't know.

    Confining them the last 2 or 3 weeks before processing helps.
     
  5. Chiks N Stiks

    Chiks N Stiks Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks. Having never eaten "fresh" chicken, I'm not really sure what constitutes yucky either. I guess I'll find out! The charts are useful too!
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Silkies are usually fantastic broodies, but they can have a hard time fitting in with the main flock. I like my chicks raised in the flock, so I went with bantam Cochins for broody mommas. Docile and usually bottom of the pecking order, but didn't get overtly bullied like silkies can.

    Last year I ordered some Dark Cornish hens to go broody. If you're wanting to raise meat birds, they might be a good choice for you. Not phenomenal layers, but very meaty and supposed to be good broody hens.

    Myself, I'd go with an Easter egger rooster, cause I like the visual variety in both the feather color and egg color. An Aussie rooster would be my next choice, cause they're better layers overall than Wyandottes, but I'm not partial to solid black birds and he's going to give you lots and lots of black chicks.

    If you've never done meat birds, I'd say start with half a dozen Cornish cross. They'll be ready to butcher in 8 weeks, and your guys will know if it's something they want to continue. If so, simply hatch out chicks from your Aussies and Wyandottes, raising the pullets up as replacement layers and butcher the cockerels around 20ish weeks. Those are both nice dual purpose breeds. I'd advise to spend some time reading posts on the Meat Bird section about cooking and eating dual purpose roosters.
     
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  7. Chiks N Stiks

    Chiks N Stiks Out Of The Brooder

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    A completely different breed from my girls for the rooster -- I like the idea of the Easter Egger rooster. I'll probably do that. I think I will have enough hens for two roosters. I am now wondering what would be another good choice for a rooster breed that is not the same breed as my hens will be... Australorps, Wyandottes, Orpingtons, Ameracanas will make up hen population. Put one Easter Egger rooster and one what? Maybe a Sussex rooster?
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I've not been that thrilled with Sussex as layers, personally.

    I'd say wait for the second rooster until next year. Then you'll have a better idea what breeds you really like, and if you want to go the meat bird route. Then you might want a Dark Cornish rooster, or maybe start with some Freedom Rangers or Dixie Rainbows and hold over a rooster from them.
     
  9. Chiks N Stiks

    Chiks N Stiks Out Of The Brooder

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    Very good ideas! Thank you.
    ~~Sure doesn't take long to develop an addiction!
     
  10. mayble

    mayble Out Of The Brooder

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    Just a thought about roosters (or meat birds, for that matter) - judging by the talk around the forum and by the ads on craigslist and facebook, we will probably see a flood of roosters everywhere in a few weeks. Between the hatchery "packing peanuts" and people who find themselves with wrongly sexed chicks, you might find lots of roosters locally if you're flexible and patient.
    Unfortunately I can't have them where I live, so I'll be one of those looking for someone to take any that come my way this spring.
     

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