Starting a new Flock - Breed selection

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by TinkMagic, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. TinkMagic

    TinkMagic Out Of The Brooder

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    I am New to raising chickens and am starting a new flock, and have a few questions.

    1) What breed(s) should I get.

    Preferred traits
    Friendly birds that like children.
    Quiet brids - won't be too loud and disturb the neighbors.
    Nice Egg production - of course - but not excessive, just for us and possibly extended family.
    Garden scratchers - would be nice to have them work in our garden during the non-growing season.
    Not big eaters - Don't want them to cost more in feed than they are producing.

    I was thinking of getting the following:

    Almost certainly:
    Silkies (Daughter is really wanting one, -do we need more than one? how many?)
    Buff Orphingtons

    Perhaps:
    Sex Link: Red Stars, Black Stars, etc.
    Australorp
    Delaware
    Americaunas
    Easter Eggers
    Golden Comet - don't know much about them

    I had about decided on Silkies and Buff Orphingtons and Red Stars, but heard the Red Stars may not be too nice to other hens. I know both the Silkies and Buff Orphingtons are docile and I don't want to get hens that will be overbearing with them. Especially the silkies.

    We need about 3 eggs a day. Should I stick with just the Silkies and Buff Orphingtons or add one more breed to my flock?

    How many of each breed?

    Do you have Silkies with other breeds? Are they bullied?

    Most, if not all, of these chickens will be pets and garden workers, even when they stop laying. I don't think they will ever see a boiling pot. At least that is how I feel right now.

    Oh I forgot to mention, I live in Alabama, so we have hot summers. Winters are milder than up north, but we do have some freezing weather.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  2. nicalandia

    nicalandia Overrun With Chickens

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    Silkies dont lay much if any... now the Redstars are good egg layers and if you handle them from chicks they can get used to human contact very early... Buff orps are much larger than them and will eat more than they will produce, remember it takes energy to keep their larger frame...

    you cant go wrong with RIR, Barred Rocks, Delawares... basically your Dual purpose breeds....in the long run Restars will outlay them while eating less meaning they are more productive, just get them and hand raise them from chick
     
  3. TinkMagic

    TinkMagic Out Of The Brooder

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    So you suggest the Red Stars and only Red Stars?
     
  4. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Silkies are really fun and make great pets for children. They tend to be very sweet and easy to handle without much effort to tame or train. The other nice thing about silkies (or bad thing, depending on your needs/wants) is that they have a tenancy to go broody. This is nice if you ever want to hatch a few eggs without an incubator. They are not good layers and tend to lay very late and inconstantly.

    How many birds total are you wanting?

    I think you can mix them into a laying flock if that profile fits into your wants and needs. I have no experience with red stars so I can't speak to that. For egg production white leghorns can not be beat but fly very well. I have also enjoyed RIRs, Delawares, Wynadottes. EE's can be fun if you want colorful eggs.

    If you are going to mix with silkies I would get at LEAST 2, 3 is better. They tend to not socializes as well with other birds and some will not roost so they need a friend to sleep with. I had only one in my mixed flock for a period and while I loved her I will never have only one again. Getting all of your different breeds as chicks and raising them together can help with some of the bullying against the silkies. They will likely be on the bottom of the pecking order but thats not necessarily bad. Silkies can not fly at all and have sight issues because of their puff hairdos so you will need to make sure your coop does not have anything too high or too steep.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  5. nicalandia

    nicalandia Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:Atleast 3 Redstars that will provide you 3 eggs per day every day, you can add other breeds if you dont mind paying for their feeds if they are nice to look at while the Redstars do their job at laying eggs
     
  6. TinkMagic

    TinkMagic Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks,
    I thought I would have about 7 or so hens to start.

    DD really wants a silkie. So I was trying to find a good mix for my flock. I don't think I want a rooster. At least not right now. Maybe add one later? My MIL had a rooster that would flog her (we think it may have been a Wynadotte). I want to get them to work the soil in my garden and add to my compost pile, so I think they will be earning their keep even if they don't all give ma an egg a day. I do want friendly birds though. That is very important to me. I would prefer to keep the feed bill reasonable, too.
     
  7. TinkMagic

    TinkMagic Out Of The Brooder

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  8. nicalandia

    nicalandia Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:thats correct, I find that when the hens are all matured and introduced its when the bickering and fights starts, as the pecking order is resolved when they have not matured you wont see any fights when the pullets grow...
     
  9. ocap

    ocap Overrun With Chickens

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    I have had an easy time raising silkies when all my chickens are hatched the same day and raised together. You will find them easy to pet and handle until they have chicks then they become protective moms. I would only get silkies if you are going to have a rooster, they will be broody and I think that it would be sad to watch them try and hatch fake eggs four times a year. My silkies came from Cackle Hatchery in Missouri, I bought an assortment and ended up having three different colors. They were hatched June 3, 2013 and I have two that are on the nest now trying to raise/hatch their first.
     
  10. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your original list is a very good start in selecting a breed. It sounds as though you are cemented on getting a couple of silkies, and while they are very interesting and fun birds, they aren't the easiest. Silkies are not as intelligent as other chickens, and can have some trouble seeing due to all the feathers on their heads. They are also poor layers. They rarely surpass 3 eggs a week (if that). Their pet value is through the roof however. Their personality rivals that of a dog. They are definitely a talking point in a flock. I have to concur with previous posts and suggest that you add two or three silkies, and not one. They don't socialize very well with other breeds.

    As for the other birds, Buffs are certainly a great option. They are very docile, quiet, friendly, and relatively easy to care for. They lay decently, but they are far from impressive, as I get about 4 eggs a week from my buffs in the peak of laying season (winter has been around 3, sometimes 4 from each bird). They are relatively efficient birds with feed as well. About half of your list were heavy breed birds. Australorps can eat, but they are great producers of XL eggs, usually producing 6-7 a week. They are also calm and gentle like the orpingtons. I would not get Delaware Hens, because I have heard of issues with certain ones in flocks acting up and causing a ruckus.

    Easter Eggers and Americaunas aren't a bad choice. The colorful eggs are a novelty and the birds are small/medium in size, so you can add an extra one or two to your flock in place of a heavier bird. EEs don't all lay colored eggs, but a good gene pool usually produces at least green, sometimes blue, and with some luck pink. Americaunas are essentially the same as EEs, but they are recognized by the American Poultry Association, so if you planned on breeding or showing, then you could register the bird as a purebred. Other than that, the two birds are more or less the same. Good personalities, sometimes a bit dysfunctional, but all in all a good chicken in a starter flock.

    Lastly, you mention sex links and comets. These birds have some great value, because you can instantly determine the sex of the bird and they are egg-producing machines, however they have their downsides. Because of their production nature, these birds seem to be more susceptible to health issues and live a shorter lifespan than the average chicken. Some people on here have stated that within the first two years of owing comets and sex links, they lost half of the flock, and we all know losing a pet is very sad. If you don't want to deal with that, you may want to avoid these types of birds. Many people love them, and I have a few as well, however health problems can be an issue in this breed.

    Since you will be using them in the garden to forage, I would go with a heritage breed like an orpington, australorp, or Rhode Island Red. RIR are terrific layers, efficient foragers, and hardy birds. They get along with humans very well and lay steadily as they age. They aren't unique looking, but they embody everything that a good garden chicken should - laying, foraging, and personality.
     
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