Suggestions For Mixed Flock


May 1, 2016
I'd be grateful for some thoughts on chicken breeds for a mixed flock. They will be free ranging in the back yard, some areas exclusive, but others taking turns with the fully free ranging ducks. I don't plan to mingle ducks and chooks atm. I'm in Australia - climate is very hot summers, cool winters and in July we often have early frosts though the chooks will be tucked up in their new coop. I am free ranging them because I want happy hens, but also as mobile pest control. I want eggs, but super layers isn't my priority for every hen in my flock. Can't have roosters, I'm in town.

I have to choose 8 hens, 1 of which has to be a silkie - that's written in stone, my instructions from my young grandson. So - I have to build the rest of the flock round the silkie and hope that they will get on, and that bullying won't be a problem.

I have very close neighbours, though I am not the only one who has hens but I can't take liberties re noise.
I'd prefer if they didn't fly, but I'm happy to clip wings.
They are quite a few household cats in the area (not feral), so I'm assuming (am I right?) that I can't have Belgian d'Uccle?
I have been told that Australorps are great bug hunters, and not too pushy?
I'd love a Sussex - any difference between the types, re temperament?

I'd be very grateful for any thoughts on suitable breeds for my mixed flock - the above are only my thoughts, and the only immovable thing is the silkie.

Thank you in advance :)
I’m not a great believer in being able to determine personality of chickens by breed. There can be general tendencies, but if you read through this forum you can find posts where a chicken of any breed or color of a breed is an absolute brute, while others are darlings. Individual personality varies that much. Besides, you are not going to have enough for averages to mean anything. For you, a lot will be luck.

For you, an all Silkie flock may not be that bad. They can’t fly so you don’t have to worry about them going over the fence. They may not lay really well as individuals but with eight you should get several eggs. Silkies are normally bantams which may or may not be a problem with those cats. Cats normally don’t bother adult chickens of any size, but the smaller they are the more at risk they are from cats. Bantams do lay small eggs so you may need to use more. It’s possible you could find full sized Silkies which solves potential problems with cats and egg size. I would not let the cats stop me from getting a bantam Silkie if bantam is your only choice. You will probably be dealing with broody hens constantly with Silkies. They tend to go broody a lot.

Any other chickens can fly. Whether or not they will go over the fence depends on a whole lot of different things, I’m not going into that here. I would not let that over-concern me in picking out breeds. You can probably deal with it.

I don’t know what chickens are available to you in Australia or what kinds of quantities you can get. You might want to look through Henderson’s Breed Chart to see what strikes your fancy, then go to Feathersite to see pictures of what they should look like. I’ve probably committed you to many hours of frustration as you try to narrow your choices down. Look for ones that handle confinement well.

Henderson’s Breed Chart


For the type of flock I think you want I’d probably start with the red and yellow, black and white approach. Start with one of each. Say a Speckled Sussex, a buff Cochin or Orpington, a black Australorp is almost a must in Australia, and maybe a Light Sussex. That gives you five with your Silkie. I’d seriously consider a second Silkie to make your grandson very happy. I’d do it for my grandkids. For the other two, I’d probably go with Easter Eggers or Araucanas to get colored eggs.

But that’s just how I’d put the flock together. Some people would add a barred hen or a gold laced or silver laced Wyandotte, they can be striking. Plenty of others are acceptable. As long as you provide lots of shade and fresh water, they should be able to handle the heat. I don’t know that there are any breeds that guarantee quiet. Some individuals are quite loud, some are pretty quiet. I’d go for the larger full-sized chickens too. They are less likely to fly over the fence, though they can if they really want to.

None of this is set in stone, we all have our preferences. Just have fun with it.
You might have better luck keeping only bantams as silkies can get bullied easily. Bantam cochins, or called pekin in some countries, are also another good choice as they don't fly well either, especially if you get some frizzles. I also keep d'uccle and they can fly pretty well. I have some cats running around but have never had them bother any of my chickens, but we do feed them. Another breed to consider is polish, they come in bantam and standard which aren't very large, and they mix well with silkies and can be great layers of large eggs. Make sure to tame them down a bit as they can be a bit hysterical if they aren't.

Thank you both so much for such thoughtful replies. I do apologise for not having replied sooner - been a complicated few days. I really appreciate you both taking the time to answer. Oldhen - I like the idea of a Polish; I'd not considered them, but there are people in the area who have them, so I'll make some more enquiries. Thank you for that suggestion. I'd love d'uccles, but if they fly pretty well, then I think that cancels them out at the moment, and I am still worried about the neighbourhood tom cats. They've taken down a pretty large pigeon, so... Ridgerunner - thank you so much for all that information and the links you gave me. That really opened my eyes, and your flock suggestion clarified my thoughts no end. I'm going to get two silkies, for definite, and have got an order in for a grey and a white from a local breeder. I'm also thinking buff cochin as they are so lovely to look at, along with a light Sussex and an Australorp. After your recommendation I have also been given some gold laced wyandotte eggs from a local breeder and I'll keep at least one, hoping they hatch ok. There's an auction coming up this weekend, so fingers crossed I can start building my flock!

Thank you both again for all your advice.
Eight full size birds will need a larger coop, such as one that is 4x8x6 feet. Metric... 1.25 m x 2.5 m x 1.5m approximately. If you went with the bantams, you could go smaller.

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