Starting a Mixed Flock in Maine (for eggs)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by goldeaglenest, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. goldeaglenest

    goldeaglenest Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello all! New to chickens this year and so excited to start this adventure!

    I would like to have a flock that produces multi-colored eggs. Originally, I was just going to get 6 Buff Orpingtons, because of their all around good qualities, but now I'm thinking I don't want all the same and I'd love some egg color variety too.

    I am thinking of the following:

    2 Buff Orpingtons
    2 auracans
    2 Cuckoo Marans

    From research these seem hardy for Maine winters and also friendly and fun breeds to have. Will this work? Will they pick on each other? Will it be too difficult to mix breeds for my first year of raising layers? The above choices also reflect what is available at my local feed store. I am trying to go simple and not too expensive for my first year. Are 6 hens enough? Too many? (Space is no issue, lots of land to work with). I'm interested in what people say about the dynamics of a mixed flock and how to select breeds that will do best together.

    Thanks for the advice!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Breed is a manmade thing. Chickens do not recognize breeds, they recognize chickens. Breeds may have certain behavioral tendencies when they have actually been bred for those tendencies (many are not), but you have to have enough for those tendencies to have much meaning. If you only have two of each, those tendencies don’t mean much.

    Chickens that are raised together tend to get along quite well but occasionally you have individual chickens that can be pretty brutal toward other chickens. From what I’ve seen you are just as likely to get one of those whether you mix breeds or if they are all the same breed. I don’t mean to frighten you with this, as long as you give them adequate space the odds are tremendous they will get along very well, either mixed or same breed.

    Do you know where that feed store is getting their chicks, probably from a major hatchery? It is highly unlikely the Araucana are actually Araucana. It’s almost certain they are EE’s. If you ask which hatchery those chicks are coming from you can go to that website and see what you might be getting. There are probably no guarantees you will get colored eggs from them.

    My first flock consisted of Delaware, Speckled Sussex, Black Australorp, and Buff Orps. Since then I’ve added in Ameraucana and Buff Rock. Now I have a flock of mutts, mixed breed chickens. They all got along fine. With that first flock, a Delaware and two BA hens formed a sub-flock and sometimes went roaming together leaving the others, including some BA and Delaware, behind to form the main flock. Those three were the adventurous explorers, they shared a certain personality. But a lot of the time they stayed with the main flock and got along fine with the others.

    I think that is a great selection of breeds. You will have a very pretty flock and should get a nice basket of eggs.
     
  3. goldeaglenest

    goldeaglenest Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you ridgerunner! This is very helpful and makes sense. The chicks are coming from a large hatchery in Iowa. I did wonder about the auracanas because those are said to be rare and I could get them for $2.50 at the feed store. This a good point and many people on here who are talking about their auracanas are saying they lay light brown eggs, not dark brown as they wanted.

    You mention having a "mutt flock" now, and this interests me. I'm guessing you went for heritage breeds so that you could be sure about their genetics? Or is it not as important as I think?
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Some people consider breed very important and consider a mixed chicken pretty worthless, just like some people absolutely have to have a purebred dog. When I wanted dogs I went to the pound and picked out a couple of mutts.

    When I got my first chickens after moving here I reverted to a childhood song that went “red and yellow, black and white” and got some of each color. It’s nothing more complicated than that.

    I do enjoy playing with genetics and have learned how hard it is to breed for color and pattern, but I get bored if all the chicks that hatch look the same. I really do like a mixed flock. But that is personal preference. Others have different preferences.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    I always advocate for a first time owner to get a mixed flock.

    first, it's easier to tell the birds apart.

    Second, you get a variety of egg colors/shades, always something interesting.

    third, you get to experience more breeds. Some breeds look great on paper on the Interwebz, but in person....not so much. And I've had breeds that just didn't appeal in theory, but in practice I totally enjoyed them.

    General rule of thumb is, as long as they're all farm-type birds, they'll get along with each other. Problems can arise when you try adding ornamental birds like Silkies or Polish to a flock of production bred birds, cause they look and act different. But the dual purpose/production bred birds all get along reasonably well, allowing of course for specific individuals that simply won't get along with anyone [​IMG]

    I also like a mixed flock simply for the visual variety. I agree a flock of all buff or white or whatever colored birds would be pretty, but I sure like seeing all my different colors/patterns together.....

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just a reminder - if you're getting these from a local feed store make sure they're selling pullets rather than straight run chicks or you will end up with several cockerels.

    You'll enjoy a flock of different breeds. It's very nice eye candy!
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Welcome, neighbor! Be sure to check in on the Maine thread. Enjoy.

    considerations: Brooding with a heating pad instead of a heat lamp. Fermented feed. Check out the last 2 links in my signature. Also, if you've not yet built your coop: You might want to plan it so you can brood your chicks right in the coop!
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  8. goldeaglenest

    goldeaglenest Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the tips! This forum has already been such a huge help!
     
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    You might also stick a white egg layer in the mix, really will give contrast to your egg bowl. 6 birds should give between 4-6 eggs a day for most of the year. They will vary through out the year, with winter being a much lower rate and summer being pretty high production. Freeze some eggs then, for use in baking in the winter.

    I too have had mixed flocks and purebred flocks, and truthfully I love the mixed flock best. I had a do over, courtesy of a coon...got surprise assortment from Sandhills Preservation, and I am loving the new to me breeds.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  10. Hey there Goldeneagle!Im in ME Aswell!!!!!!! :woot another mainer!

    I would say go with maybe a Wyandotte to, they are EXTREMLY hardy and they are so pretty.Love the breeds you picked out.Never had any of them(well, expect Americauna)
     

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