researching breeds -- what's right for us

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by college town chick, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. college town chick

    college town chick Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 4, 2008
    Hi, new here.
    My family and I are considering a backyard flock. We would like to raise dual purpose birds, primarily for eggs.

    Here's our situation: we live in a small city/college town and have a large back yard (about 80'x200') that's fenced in (all but one section is 6'privacy fence, one section is 4') and we're thinking of converting half of our greenhouse (the greenhouse is about 20'longx15'widex10'high, so half that space for the nest boxes and indoors)into a chicken coop and then create an attached permanent run out of part of our existing garden (so the chicks can have free range with supervision and a regualar pen during other times).

    Here are the requirements for any the breeds we're considering:

    -- must be quieter, docile, not flighty, and deal with people and confinement well (we have toddlers and the city allows livestock so long as they are not deemed a "nuisance"), we plan on letting our birds free range with supervision, but at other times they'll have to go in the permanent enclosure and we can't have flying escapees; we also want relatively docile, friendly birds due to the kids

    -- we'd like to have good egg production, with decent table potential (we might be able to keep one or two extra special "pet hens" but due to where we live we can't keep them all when egg laying poops out) -- we're wanting to depend upon the chickens to satisfy almost if not all of our egg needs. We're a family of four, a family of six when the two oldest come home on leave from the Army, and we love eggs; I don't know what that would mean as far as number of chickens needed and egg production numbers, but I'm guessing a fair amount.

    -- ***we live in Illinois! if anyone here is from the Midwest you'll know why that's important -- the weather here can be capricious and extreme. It gets really hot and humid here in the summer, really cold in the winter, and extremes of temperature are the norm -- along with a LOT of mud in the spring and fall. While our proposed chicken coop is on a south facing wall in a protected location, will be insulated and ventilated well, any chickens we get will still be dealing with Illinois' tough weather conditions. So we need hardy, robust birds I'm thinking.

    Those are the most important issues for us. Secondary to that:

    -- we'd like visually pleasing birds and would be very interested in heritage conservancy breeds (maybe a mixed flock, to fulfill the important stuff and a couple of chicks to be "unique"????).

    So far we've been looking at:
    Easter Eggers
    Delawares
    Orpingtons
    Plymouth Rocks
    Speckled Sussex
    Australorps
    Brahmas
    Faverolles
    American Hollands

    Any pros/cons of any of these breeds for our situation, plus any other breed recommendations would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Rosebud75

    Rosebud75 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 31, 2008
    Vt
  3. pkeeler

    pkeeler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2008
    Shamong
    Easter Eggers
    Delawares
    Orpingtons
    Plymouth Rocks
    Speckled Sussex
    Australorps
    Brahmas
    Faverolles
    American Hollands

    I'm not familiar with the last two, but all of these should meet your criteria. Wyandottes and Welsummers would too. Anything on this chart that says Dual Purpose and Friendly would work:

    http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html#b
     
  4. brahma-momma

    brahma-momma Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 18, 2008
    Burnside, Ky
    from your description light standard brahmas is what you need. they are quite, good brown egg layers even in the winter, very cold hardy chickens and great around children if handled while young. and good meat for the table. [​IMG]
     
  5. herechickchick

    herechickchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2007
    Memphis TN
    I would go with Barred Plymouth Rocks. They are sweet and good layers and not flighty and very pretty.
     
  6. camjac

    camjac Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 22, 2008
    Northeast Ohio
    I am in the same situation. I have two kids 5 & 8 that I wanted to be able to help with some of the chores (wishful thinking! LOL) and be able to handle them as pets. I did a lot of research on the different breeds and we came up with light brahmas, black australorps and easter eggers. We are in Northeast Ohio and have a lot of the same weather (although we live in the buckle of the snow belt so we have lots of lake effect snow!). My chicks are 6 weeks old now and I have been very pleased with them so far. They are not flighty and the are pretty friendly and are supposed to be pretty good egg layers. Good luck with your decision!
     
  7. college town chick

    college town chick Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 4, 2008
    Well, I researched my chickens (thanks for the links), and I've come up with the following breeds that I think I like:

    --Plymouth Rock (is there any difference in egg production/hardiness between the Barreds and the Partridge?)

    -- Brahma (again, any difference in egg production/hardiness between the different colors? I think the buff colored ones are so pretty -- also, how would those feathered feet hold up in IL mud and wet? we had a lot of flooding here this year)

    -- Speckled Sussex, but they're more pricey than the others and seem a bit harder to come by, so don't know if it's worth it

    -- Barnevelder, again, maybe too hard to find and too pricey, also have heard they are a bit lively? (I don't want escapees afterall) -- would satisfy the conservation/unique factor though I suppose

    -- Australorp, are they all they're cracked up to be as far as egg production compared to the others on this list? how do they stand heat/humidity?

    -- Orpingtons, again are they all they're cracked up to be as far as being gentle compared to the others on this list? and how are they in the heat/humidity?

    -- Delawares, would make me feel good for supporting an heritage breed in need of conservation

    -- Easter Eggers, the "unique" factor I suppose

    Do any of these birds have special needs in the care/keeping department, or would they be too large for my backyard arrangement?

    Please let me know -- picking out chickens is about as bad as picking out candy canes!
     
  8. fullhouse

    fullhouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    MI
    I love our Sussex! I also like the Delaware, but from what I gather some hatchery chicks do not have the desired temperament. I would say the Delaware have good meat potential. Our two young roos are wide and big at 14 weeks. They are not nearly as nice as our EE or Black A boys. I don't really like our Buff O's, but love the Black A's.

    I have kids too, and they do share space, so flighty/ill tempered doesn't work here.

    ETA: I have a 60x240 lot, no worries, you have plenty of room!
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008
  9. herechickchick

    herechickchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2007
    Memphis TN
    There should be no difference in egg production in the different colors of the same breed.
     
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:Brahmas are the only breed I will comment on here because they are basically the only breed I know well. There is no difference in egg production or hardiness between the different colors. I have found differences in the temperment between the colors, but that may just be a breeder thing, since mine were from a hatchery. My lights are very easygoing, also very independant. The buffs are my favorites as far as looks go. I have one buff hen, Lilith, that is gorgeous (everyone comments on her beauty), yet her markings are very far from the breed standard. My darks are the most aloof, hard to get real cozy with. The exception being my little Airhead who is a mama's girl. If I go in the house, she's lost without me and waits by the door for my return. I carry her everywhere and she will let me do most anything with her. NONE of my brahmas are unfriendly and all can be handled without any fuss at all; including my two roosters. If I had to do it all over again I would only have buffs and lights, but I wouldn't trade my little dark Airhead for love nor money.
    Some people that live in areas that have muddy springs avoid the brahmas because of the feathered feet. They can get messy in the mud, but it doesn't seem to bother the chickens themselves. They are known to be decent layers, even in the winter; when some other breeds slack off. I have been continuously amazed by how well mine are handling the heat. We've been having 100 degree plus days alot lately and they are handling it real well. So that's all I can tell you about brahmas; not that I'm trying to push em on ya or anything. [​IMG]
    ETA: The brahmas are on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy watch list; listed as "watch".
    Good luck with your chicks, whichever you pick.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2008

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