Taking the leap and starting with our first 25 - help me pick!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LA~Poulet, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. LA~Poulet

    LA~Poulet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2009
    near Lake Charles, LA
    Hi! I'm new here but trying to dive in and get all my chicks in a row (so to speak) for starting our backyard operation.

    We have raised chickens before, but never more than a small handful at a time that were pets.

    Could you please share your advice on the matter of building a flock for someone interested in trying out a few different breeds? My oldest son is very interested in Black giants, son #2 is intrigued by egg color variety (BC Marans, Ameraucana) and I am interested in a couple heritage breeds.

    We want them for eggs and pets/fun, and will use dual-purpose ones for meat when it is necessary to cull, but eggs are our main objective. I like the idea of having several breeds to try out and see which fits our family the best, and the enjoyment of watching the variety of personalities. Will ordering, say, 5 chicks of 5 different breeds create problems in the future? I would (ideally) like to keep a roo and several hens of each type, hopefully free range for much of the day (we are on 6 acres). Should I plan on separating them all from the beginning, or is that enough space that the roosters can work out their differences? What about coop time? Will they need separate ones (one for each rooster?)

    I know someone who seems to have everything (many hens/roos) together without major problems but from what I've read here that is looking for trouble. Advice welcome!
  2. LA~Poulet

    LA~Poulet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2009
    near Lake Charles, LA
    [​IMG] Oh, and if you want a gander at the breeds I'm choosing between for my choice, here they are in order of my (so far) pick. If you know a great heritage layer or dual purpose rare breed I'm missing, I'm still taking suggestions. [​IMG]

    Buff Brahmas
    Speckled Sussex

    and I'm intrigued by the white faced Black Spanish, but not sure how they would fit in with the rest.

    Hoping that I'd get at least one momma broody hen in the bunch, I'm not sure know how I'll narrow it down to 2 (maybe 3) breed selections.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    By heritage, do you mean American heritage or are you open to others. In my opinion, some other dual purpose breeds to consider are Australorp, Dorking, Orpington, Favorelle and any of the Rocks or Wyandotte. The Rocks and Wyandottes are American, the others are not. I'm sure I am missing some.

    I'm not sure what kind of problems you are thinking about. If you get 5 straight run chicks from a reputable nuesery, here are the odds of the sexes you'll get. Packing peanuts are not considered and will probably be roosters, which distorts the odds.

    5 male 0 female - 1 in 32 or 3.1%
    4 male 1 female - 5 in 16 or 15.6%
    3 male 2 female - 10 in 16 or 31.3%
    2 male 3 female - 10 in 16 or 31.3%
    1 male 4 female - 5 in 16 or 15.6%
    0 male 5 female - 1 in 16 or 3.1%

    If you free-range the different breeds together, you will mostly wind up with mutts. For me, that is not a problem. I like mutts. If you want to keep the breeds pure, you need to separate each breed in the coop and run all the time once they start egg-laying.

    The recommended ratio of hens to roosters is 10 or 12 to 1 for full-sized chickens. One problem with a lower ratio is that the roosters can injure hens with their spurs by excessive mating. Regardless of the ratio of hens to roosters, there will be dominance issues with the roosters. These tend to be more frequent with fewer hens for each rooster. What will normally happen is that the dominance will be settled, at least for a while, and the roosters act as a team to protect the flock. Each rooster gets his share of sexual favors, but the dominant one gets first choice. Sometimes, though, there will be severe injury and death from these dominance fights. It depends if the losing rooster will accept the assistant position and second choice. As long as the hen-rooster ratio is high enough, you usually don't have big problems. Another thing that can help is to have separate feeding and watering facilities. This somewhat reduces the territorial issues and dominance fights.

    If two roosters share a coop, try to keep the roosts all the same elevation. This could reduce the dominance issues on where they get to roost. The dominant one likes to be higher.

    Hope this helps.

    Edited to add: Buckeye and Chantecler as possible breeds to consider.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  4. georgialee

    georgialee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2009
    Knoxville, TN
    I don't know if you've seen this chart but it's a great way to see what color/how many eggs each breed lays: http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html

    you want some reliable egg layers in the mix I would go with some ee's (americanas), RIRs or one of the other good layers. Also, have you checked out www.mypetchicken.com? You can order individually by breed as pullets or cockerels - that way you won't have a bunch of roos that you need to get rid of or put in rooster jail.

    Another website that's great is www.feathersite.com - you can do tons of research on each breed.

    Have fun picking them out!
  5. LA~Poulet

    LA~Poulet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2009
    near Lake Charles, LA
    Thank you for the recommendations! I've spent much time already looking at breeds-there is so much information out there! I'm interested in promoting ones that are working towards a comeback, so by heritage I meant something that is now rare, but was previously popular (esp. dual purpose birds that are good foragers). Not only American breeds.

    So to keep 10-to-1, for 25 chicks, shooting for only about 2 roosters in the flock would be ideal, granted that they get along. Maybe I should up to 30 pullet chicks to better fit 3 roosters to have a few of different types. Thank you for the odds breakdown. I think it will be worth the slight extra expense to get sexed chicks so we don't have an overabundance of cockerels. We have the space, so if we ever want to get into a purebred breeding program, at that time we could segregate.
  6. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    here's my 2 cents worth

    5 - Americauana, colored eggs
    5 - Black Australorps, brown eggs & super sweet
    5 - Buckeyes, brown eggs & really cool heritage breed
    5 - White Austras, creamy white eggs & feathers (i like the contrast to the others)
    5 - Welsummers, I don't have these yet but the super dark eggs are appealing in mix
    Good luck!
  7. georgialee

    georgialee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2009
    Knoxville, TN
    Another idea that just came to me is that Murray McMurray has an ornamental or rainbow layer collection... I think each is 25 pullets. You could then order one of each roo that you want.
  8. The Chicken Man

    The Chicken Man Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 27, 2009
    I have only just begun my flock (7 hens and a chick I think might be a rooster), but a breed I have been looking into lately for the future is the White Faced Black Spanish. They look like an extremely pretty breed, and they are supposed to be dependable, calm, non-setting layers of large white eggs. I'm thinking about getting a few next year. You should look into them. I believe Murray McMurray and Ideal both carry them.
    It would be very interesting to breed them as they are so rare.

    If I could choose 25 for you, I'd choose these:

    5 White Faced Black Spanish
    5 EEs (lovely eggs and great temperament as well)
    5 RIRs (one of the best laying breeds)
    5 Brahmas, any color (for dependable winter laying)
    5 Dominiques/Dominickers (great heritage breed - said to be the oldest American breed)

    And, if you could fit them in, Welsummers and Speckled Sussex (my SS chick is feathering out beautifully).

    Before you take the plunge, you should listen to some advice from more experienced flock owners than myself.

    Hope this helps!
  9. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    [​IMG] I agree with the other posts. It's difficult to say what you should get for breeds. If you asked a lot different people you would probably get many different answers. Some may agree on the breeds. Here is a great reference book, Gail Damerow's 'Storey's Guide to Chickens' is an excellent resource, as well as this web site which is an excellent source of information.

    These sites are especially helpful in selecting breeds.
    Henderson's Chicken Breed Chart

    Also here are some other good sites and info and more good links.
  10. thedeacon

    thedeacon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2008
    Since you are just planning a flock, I would suggest several different kinds. Get a couple hens & 1 roo of each. After the first year you will have a better understanding of each. I ordered 15 different breeds and will keep RIR, BO, SS and a roo of each and brown leghorn, BL, BR, SLW, SL Hamburg female only. A good variety of brown & white egg layers. Although in my cold climate, will most likely not replace the white egg layers.

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