Sustainable flock of White Dorkings

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by RAM4171, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. RAM4171

    RAM4171 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 24, 2014
    Greetings all, I'm a complete newbie and wanted run something by the experts.
    I moved out to the country this past year and my plan is to have a sustainable flock of White Dorkings for dual purpose. I have almost no experience raising fowl, only experience was gathering the eggs for my grandfather when I was a kid. Below is my plan.
    Build a 15' X 20' chicken house with dirt floor so that I can properly do the deep litter method. I plan on using shredded oak leaves for the litter since I have an endless supply of oak leaves. I plan on setting up automatic watering, large capacity feeders, and an automatic pop door. I want to be able to go on vacation and the house sitter will only have to gather eggs and not much else. I plan on working a selective breeding program with birds that I will get from Yellow house farm, they are kind of expensive but since I only plan on purchasing once I want to get the best quality I can. for the breeding program I plan on banding the new chick once I start the selective breeding to avoid any over breeding. I was planning on starting the flock with 50 straight run chicks. Space is no problem I have more land than I will ever use. I am kind of a go big or go home kind of guy, but do you think this plan is a little over ambitious for someone with no experience but learns quickly? I am building the coop so large because I don't want to have to expand later.
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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  3. SCCooper

    SCCooper New Egg

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    Where are you located? I started a flock of Red Dorkings around 9 months ago. I had minimal experience before hand...had three birds a few years back that came with a house we bought -- that only lasted ~6 months thanks to foxes. My plans this go-around were very similar to yours and I've learned a lot but still consider myself a newbie.

    I started with 8 (six pullets and two cockerels) and lost one a few months in. My Dorkings have be true to everything I read about them and are wonderful birds. Three of them went broody and I let one of them hatch 13 chicks. I could have let them hatch more but pulled the eggs and two of the broodies because I didn't want to get overwhelmed. I've since butchered one rooster and one of the original hens. I now have a total of 18 birds and will be processing some of the cockerels in the coming weeks.

    Anyway, it sounds like you are planning to free-range? What are your plans for predator protection? I over-built my coop and run (I wish I had scaled it back a bit) but don't have any fencing in my yard. Fortunately, I haven't really had any predator problems. We have no idea what happened to the one bird we lost. That said, I think my experience in that regard is exceptional. I am very careful to make sure they are locked up at night. Because the whole structure is so sound, I don't even bother closing the hatch door unless it's really cold. Those automatic doors sound like a waste of money to me but maybe that's just me.

    I'm hesitant to give much advice as I'm still so new to all of it but 50 sounds like a lot to start with, especially since Dorkings are relatively easy to grow a flock with. My layers have done very well, even into the winter, without lights or anything special. I even fed them starter for a while because the chicks were getting it and I found it so much easier to have one routine each day and not have to worry about keeping the younger birds away from the layer feed. They just kept laying gorgeous, tasty eggs...probably the best eggs I've ever had.

    There is also a learning curve with processing birds for meat (at least there is for me). The first one I processed definitely could have been done better and more efficiently (I'll spare you the details) and I could have prepared and cooked it much better. I think it just goes with the territory with dual purpose heritage breeds. When cooked, it was like eating leather, albeit with much better flavor :) I'd like to raise some broilers too this summer but before I do, I'm going to practice my butchering, storing, and invest in some processing equipment. In fact, I started the thread just before this one regarding Whizbang pluckers.

    As for breeding, I've done a lot of *thinking* about it. In practice, I think it's easy to get overwhelmed and probably good to get a little experience raising chickens, develop some routines, learning about your flock, and then venturing into more advanced efforts like a breeding program. Just my humble opinion...
     
  4. RAM4171

    RAM4171 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 24, 2014
    Thanks Donrae, definitely some very go info, already starting to make me re think a few things.
     
  5. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    I do not know where you are from, but it would pay benefits to visit a breeder in your area. See what they do, and why. We all have different preferences, but there is still a lot to gain by what each emphasizes.

    The best thing you can do is see how Joseph manages his birds, consider his selection process etc. You are setting up an mini operation of sorts.

    You do not have to retain many birds year round. How many would depend on who you ask. Consider that you may be able to access the breeder's birds when you need to. Breeding less, and hatching more is generally better. Once you master the selection of a proper and quality Dorking, you can adjust and expand as you please.

    I would think more and smaller houses. Maybe four pens for the breeders. Each being large enough for 5 birds, with an attached run. Then a pen to grow out cockerels, and a pen to grow out pullets. Then extra pens are always handy. There is always a need for some extra pens for the males etc.

    If Joseph is willing. Learn every little bit that you can from him, but ask questions that you were not able to figure out yourself. Buy a couple poultry books on management and breeding. Ask if you need recommendations. Buy a copy of the Standard.

    When you have the opportunity to purchase birds from a quality flock like Joseph has, be loyal to the efforts that has been put into the birds. Do your best to do well by them. It isn't as if a flock of quality white Dorkings is lurking around every corner.

    The best birds are in the top 10%. If you have 50 chicks, five are your best birds.

    Take everything at face value on the internet. Learn for yourself, and think independently, but listen to who you trust.
     
  6. RAM4171

    RAM4171 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 24, 2014
    Thanks for the input Sccooper! I'm located in East Texas basically right dead in the middle between Tyler and Dallas. As far as predators, you name it we've got it yotes, ferel dogs, coons, fox, bob cats, ferel cats, hawks, eagles, I'm almost certain that my wife was woken up a few months ago by a cougar scream from her description and I saw a black panther back in 1988. I am planning on hardware cloth for around the bottom of the coop and most likely chain link for the run with bird netting for cover from birds of prey. Would barbed wirealong the top of the chain link deter the coons from climbing into the run? I know I don't have to worry about them in the day time and the chickens will be in the coop after dark, just curious.

    Thanks Gjensen for the advice. So, in your opinion is would be better to build a few smaller coops rather than one big chicken house? That does make sense since I plan on doing the selective breeding to work on the quality or at least maintain what Joseph has achieved with his flock. So in your opinion one for the breeders, one for the layers, and one for rowdy cockerels? the meat would come from the cockerels and and the layer pen. I could build the layer coop and run first, then order only 25 chicks, which is how Joseph sells them, then work on the cockerel coop in a different location where they can't see the layers, then work on the breeder coop, pick my best trio and transfer them to the breeder coop. Then see how they do and if I feel I need to expand order 25 more chicks form Joseph.

    I do have a breeder close which is where my wife is going to get her "pretty pet chickens" from. She has already let me know that she doesn't want anything to do with the meat birds.this certain breeder doesn't have white Dorkings though.

    I'm so glad I posted, ya'll are really making me rethink my plans. I think in the long run it may be a little more work at first but I will have a happier flock in the long run. I do plan on raising a closed flock and only add day old chicks from Joseph. My wife's little flock will be separate by at least 50 yards or more.

    Again thanks for all of the replies and advice.
     
  7. gjensen

    gjensen Overrun With Chickens

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    RAM4171, any intelligent breeding effort will require multiple pens. Whether that is in a single building or not, is up to you.

    The best recommendation might be to start small. Get a feel for them, get to know them, and take the time to get familiar with the art of breeding poultry. Keep it simple, and enjoy them. Once you start familiarizing yourself with what is good and not, you will have a better feel for how to move forward.

    A basic set up would be 4 breeding pens for the breeders. Two large ones to grow out separated cockerels and pullets to maturity. A brooder. You will figure what you need and want from there. Any pen, house, etc. should be roomy. It also should have a large attached run.

    Good luck.
     
  8. SCCooper

    SCCooper New Egg

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    @RAM4171 I don't know a/b barbed wire. I tend to think there isn't much you can do to keep coons from climbing and poking around. It's not that hard to keep them out with a well built coop and run. I don't like chain link. I built my run out of a dog kennel (link below). It comes in panels and you can buy extra ones if you want to extend it. Since one of the ends of the run was against my coop and wasn't needed there, I moved it to the other end, angled the two panels out, and made the run slightly longer. It also allowed me to adjust the width to best fit my coop width and I put the door panel on the side. I just used galvanized clamps to attach it to the side of the coop. I sort of wish I had bought two extra panels and extended the length of the run but I'm not going to re-do it now.

    http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/store/doc-bobreg;-professional-kennel-10-ft-l-x-5-ft-w-x-6-ft-h
     
  9. RAM4171

    RAM4171 Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 24, 2014
    Well I have to say that I am more than a little disappointed in Yellow House. When Joseph had said on this thread that he didn't think that he would not be selling chicks this year I thought well darn that stinks and I made arrangements with Jeremy. Then I get an email from Joseph saying that he would in fact be taking orders, I was really excited, so I placed my order and sent in a check and it went through. I emailed back and forth with Joseph a few times about when they may be delivered. I've been talking about them to everyone and explaining the breed and so forth. It is now past time when he said that they would ship I've emailed a few times asking how things are going with no response. Well today my wife calls me while I'm at lunch and tells me that I got a letter from Joseph saying that he wouldn't be able to fill my order. That really stinks, I hope that Joseph didn't suffer any loses or anything. I'm waiting on a response from Jeremy to see if he can still fill my order this late in the Spring, hopefully he can. I just feel like I've wasted months waiting on Joseph because his line is supposed to be the best, only to be let down.
     
  10. LindaB220

    LindaB220 Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG] Great to have you. Love the link. They also have a do it yourself 10' X 10' X 6' tall one that is $199. I'm thinking of getting it and putting tin on the top and 3' hardware cloth around the bottom. It's gonna work for me. Plus an 18" apron on the hard ground I have will fix predators. I wanted to get white dorkings but somehow I ended up with Blosl and XW White Plymouth Rocks. Beautiful.
     

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