Three-bird starter flock: will different breeds get along?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hens4jen, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. hens4jen

    hens4jen New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2015
    Utah
    I'm getting close to finishing up my chicken tractor (a modified Garden Ark) for our urban backyard flock-to-be. I've only got room for 3 (for now), and I'm trying to decide if I should get all one breed, or if I can mix it up and they'll still get along. The points I am considering are:

    1. My 6-year-old is excited to help. I want hens that are docile, friendly, and easy to handle. She loves the idea of getting a silkie.

    2. One egg/day between the three is probably sufficient for our needs, but we have friends and neighbors who'd be happy to take our extras. Bonus if the eggs are colored.

    3. Preferably the birds can't or won't be inclined to fly over a 4' fence so we can let them free range some without worrying about the birds escaping into neighboring yards.

    4. We want a hardy breed for our cold winters and hot summers.

    If I can manage to get them all as chicks at the same time, do you think an Orpington or Australorp + an Easter Egger + a Silkie would all get along?
     
  2. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Raising chickens is a great experience for children. My granddaughter (pictured in my avatar) loves our chickens. I've raised all those breeds over the years (still have Australorps, Orpingtons, and EEs in my flock) and they are all great breeds (technically EEs are not a breed, but hybrids) for children. My children made lap pets of the Australorps, Orpingtons, and Silkies. Our EEs have typically been docile and while they don't like being handled, they will tolerate it, and they are my granddaughter's favorite hens because of the colored eggs they lay. Orpingtons, Australorps, and EEs will all get along fine as long as they are not overcrowded. I wouldn't personally recommend keeping Silkies in the same coop/run with the larger birds as they are likely to take a beating. I ending up separating my Silkies from my standard breeds for this reason. Silkies are not as cold hardy as the other three breeds, and you will need to make sure that their coop is well ventilated and dry with no drafts on cold winter days. Conversely, Orpingtons and EEs are not as heat hardy as Australorps, and you will need to make sure that they have good coop ventilation, lots of shade, and plenty of fresh water on hot, summer days. Orpingtons and EEs are both good layers, and Australorps are excellent layers, and you should have no problem getting your one egg per day between the three of them.
     
  3. hens4jen

    hens4jen New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2015
    Utah
    Yes, I wondered about adding the silkie. I've read elsewhere that they don't always get along with other breeds, but sometimes do okay if they are raised as chicks. I am leaning toward the Australorp over the Orpington for heat tolerance. I also want to try at least one Easter Egger, so I just need to decide on the 3rd hen.
     
  4. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Australorps are one of the most heat tolerant breeds in the world. I raised them where summer temperatures frequently reached 117-118 F or more, and while my other breeds were listless, panting with wings drooped open, and had a drop off in egg production, my Australorps went about their normal business like troopers. They are also very cold tolerant and lay well in the winter.
     
  5. Chicken Judy

    Chicken Judy Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 14, 2014
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    What other birds get along with RIR's. I have ordered 4 black australorps but husband wants some leghorns. Any suggestions?
     
  6. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    I don't personally care for Leghorns. They are great layers, but high strung and flighty. Mine screamed bloody murder whenever I handled them (It's why I don't have Leghorns anymore). Other breeds that should get along fine with your RIRs as long as they are introduced slowly and carefully to your RIR flock (see the article at http://poultrykeeper.com/general-chickens/introducing-new-chickens) are Barred Rocks, Wyandottes, and Speckled Sussex. If you don't mind hybrids, I would definitely recommend Black and Red Sex Links, which are hardy, egg laying machines. I've raised them for years and they have been my best layers, consistently churning out more than 300 eggs per hen per year. I particularly love the Black Sex Links as they have been friendlier than my Red Sex Links, and have laid slightly better in really cold winter weather.
     

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